Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ein buntes Wochenende! :D

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My week of preparation had dwindled down to the last day. With an early start, class, and the final preparations for the Goethe C1 exam, I felt like I couldn't be more ready. I skyped with Barbara and Claude, this time with an intense crash course of corrections in German, just in case this immersion experience of constant German wasn't enough. The day was a blur with not much more than the exam on my mind. For the Germans, however, Obama and his speech in Berlin was the talk of the day.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Up at 5:30am for a solid breakfast and enough time to catch the train to Dresden, it was sweltering by 8am when I arrived for the written portion of the exam (the oral proficiency assessment was the following Monday). I wore my favorite Saarlandish shirt (Ohhh hann isch die Flemm! translation: I really don't feel like it.) to inspire the German within me; I was well-prepared with gum, earplugs, water, apple juice, and enough sandwiches for a small army. 

As for the exam, I was super lucky with the topics/themes - each one was familiar to me, for example, the benefits of bilingualism, globalization, and television programming. The exam was broken down into three written parts: listening, reading comprehension, and writing. I did my best, and I cannot ask more from myself. It was over 90ºF in the testing room, so I cannot conclude if I had lost half my water weight due to thinking so hard and writing like a maniac, or if it was just the heat. Nevertheless, the exam flew by (much quicker than my first experience with the B2 exam). I had a few hours to relax in Dresden before my RideShare would take me back to Leipzig. I found shade in a café and then took a little stroll through the New City (Neustadt) before dozing off on the way back to Leipzig.
My treat to me after the Goethe C1 exam - a strawberry milkshake.

In Leipzig it was just as hot and humid as in Dresden (38ºC/100ºF). Shortly after, a heavy thunderstorm (shocker!) came rolling in. It rained so hard that within two hours, the trams and buses had to stop running due to the flash flooding. Many people fled to the safety of their homes. I, on the other hand, had to head to the city center to pick up Liss (a friend from Frankfurt, who I met my first semester in the I-House). I walked through puddles up to my shins and battled the weakening rainfall and multi-directional winds. I waited a bit for Liss, but then it was like time had not passed between us.

Liss received a semi-aquatic tour from Augustusplatz back to my place. We settled in and met up with Sara and a few of her friends as we took refuge from the weather. Nonethless, between Goethe and his test and the extreme weather conditions, I was beat.

Friday, June 21, 2013

It was a new day - refreshing and sunny! Liss and I enjoyed a genuine breakfast - German style: eggs, cereal, waffles with bananas and nutella...yum! This gave us the energy for a tour of the Leipzig city center. 
(Photo by Liss)
Me in from of the Neues Augusteum/Paulinum (Uni Leipzig) at Augustplatz
(Photo by Liss)
Showing Liss the Marktplatz (Old Townhall on left)

Liss in front of Statue of Bach (the composer)

New Townhall (Neues Rathaus)

After some coffee and picking up some cold cuts, Liss and I rode our bikes to Cospudener Lake - the relaxation destination for those (few) hot, summery days in Leipzig. There we met up with Moni, Benni, Laurits, and Jonathan. Along the way, Liss saw transition from modern and old buildings in the Leipzig center to run-down buildings in Connewitz to the suburban splender of Markleeberg and Cospudener Lake. It was so peaceful at the lake: we played frisbee, chilled and chatted, tanned (just a bit), and even dipped our toes into the water.
Cospudener Lake

(Photo by Liss)
Sandwiches at the Lake 

Being goofy and trying to prevent a sunburn with Moni
Magda and I biking back to Leipzig.
(Photo by Liss)

For dinner, we invited Magda (who showed up later to the lake) to join us for a spaghetti dinner. Her culinary creativity took charge and created a delicious tomato sauce that brought flavor to the pasta that I have yet to achieve. It was a late yet rejuvenating dinner that gave us the energy to go dancing in the Distillery nearby. Liss is quite the music enthusiast and her infectious dancing made it a fun experience.
Magda and Liss in the tiny kitchen

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Today was the big event: the Holi Festival of Colours in Leipzig! (Holi is an Indian holiday (click here to read more) that has been adapted as a music festival. We bought tickets well in advance, and the day and Wilke (also from the Frankfurt exchange with TCNJ and I-House) arrived just in time for all the fun. The festival went from mid-afternoon to (should I mention punctually) 10pm. At the beginning of each hour there was a color toss that was a euphoria of brillant colors that mingled in the wind and floated back down on the crowd. It was a thrill and then the suffocating of inhaling the dust took a little getting used to. In between, a variety of DJs played music suitable for either dancing or chilling. It only got better as the day went on (and after Wilke had to retrieve his forgotten ID to get in to the festival - no worries, there was still enough color to go around).

(Liss, Me, Wilke)

Aina (Spain), Liss, Me, Wilke, Benni, Pau (Spain)

First Color Toss

Moni and Me

Benni and Me

After a few color tosses...
(I still have colorful feet and technicolor snot a few days later...)
(Photo by Liss)

Holi Festival Leipzig 2013

With extreme thirst, caked on color dust everywhere, and smiles on our faces, Wilke, Liss, and I headed back home. We showered, re-hydrated, and re-nourished after such an intense and brillant day. Never has the bathroom been so colorful. The rest of the evening was very low-key. It was still significant because those late night I-House conversations re-ignited between my old I-House comrades. It gave us the opportunity to catch up and share our exciting stories and updates.

Sunday, June 23, 2012

Those late-night conversations naturally make the following morning arrive a little too quickly. After an efficient breakfast, we meandered over to the Völkerschlachtdenkmal (Monument to the Battle of the Nations). The weekend was the best weather that I had experienced in Leipzig. From there, we continued onward to the Südfriedhof (Southern Cemetery) passing by many war memorials, gravestones and a wide variety of flowers, bushes, and trees.

Great view from the Völkerschlachtdenkmal

On the way back, we passed by the German National Library

As quickly as Liss and Wilke arrived, they had to return to Frankfurt. They packed and prepared some food for the bus. Fortunately, we had some free time to try Leipziger Lerche - a sweet delicacy from Leipzig.
Wilke and Me
Liss got her coffee!

Like always, it was not easy to say farewell to my friends, especially since our next reunion remains a mystery. I can only be super grateful for one of the best weekends in Leipzig!
For the rest of the day, I relived the ecstasy of fun from the past few days and practiced with Benni for the oral portion of the Goethe C1 exam. Honestly, my spoken German is certainly stronger than written; I felt more confident about this part, but Benni definitely provided a few poignant corrections and helpful tips for the actual testing situation. Lastly, I got the chance to catch up with Sara as I returned the bike she lent Liss.

Monday, June 24, 2013

It was déjà vu of Thursday all over again. Up early for the final portion of the C1 test, I was ready yet exhausted from the weekend. To boost my positive vibes, I took the advice of TedTalk-giver, Amy Cuddy - a body language expert. It seemed to work well on Thursday, so why not again? The oral portion is also the shortest part of the test, so it was literally over before I could process what happened. I had two topics that I could easily discuss (volunteering) and (what are good options following high school if you're not sure what you would like to do). I gave my best effort. I can expect the results in a week or so.

I treated myself to a pretzel and a hot chocolate as I waited for my RideShare (this time with the train, rather than a car). Before I could process that the exam was complete, I was back in Leipzig sitting in my Monday afternoon lecture. I managed to follow along, but shortly after I hit a brick wall. A nap was necessary, and gave me the energy for a late night movie, The Place Beyond the Pines, with Amber, Moniek, Moni, and Marco. I was ELATED to hear some American English, after drilling so much German into my head for the Goethe test. The movie extended into a heartfelt discussion with Moni as we headed home. It's a bizarre feeling for exchange students to slowly transition back to their home cultures - it's more like a limbo between the two (host and home cultures). Our time in Leipzig is winding down, bu it has only become more important to focus on the present moment because that is all we can truly appreciate at that time.

Tuesday, June 24, 2013

Liss seems to have supernatural powers with the weather. She brought the sun with her and took it back to Frankfurt. The rain paid a visit for the day, making it a slow day for me. I collected my exhausted self after the past few, non-stop days. Brunch was just as good as ever!

Tuesday Brunch at Sara's place :)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What a day: fun and productive! Sara and I managed to complete a powerpoint for a presentation (in two weeks) about Environmental Politics among other academic tasks. Back at home I started packing and reading about Prague because I realized that I leave tomorrow. This weekend I will be visiting Lucka, my Czech friend who I met during my exchange year in Krefeld. We haven't seen each other in over two years, so I'm anxiously awaiting our reunion! Before I could call it a night, I met up with Marco at an Irish Pub - it seems to have an American magnet because I hear "awesome" and "amazing" quite frequently. It was a chilly evening as Marco and I sat outside and caught up with one another - a wonderful discussion to conclude a refreshing day. 

I just wonder if summer is here to stay...because for me 50ºF/10ºC is not summery weather for me. I'll have to just wait and see what Prague has in store for me!

Schönes Wochenende,

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Wir leben's in Leipzig aus!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Today felt a little lonely without my travel companion, Ashleigh. It was a refreshing day, although Ashleigh had to leave for the sun to come out again (I'm sure it's just a coincidence). After class, it was wonderful to sit in the park with Sara and the many people that I meet through her every week - no joke, she introduces me to someone new EVERY week, without fail! I'm impressed I can remember the names.
German rap during lunch outside the cafeteria

As I stopped by the post office, I locked up my bike. My rebellious lock refused to open. I tried countless times. Someone saw me pathetically trying and offered help. It didn't work for him. I went home by tram to fetch my second key for the bike lock. That didn't work. Worried about leaving my bike overnight, I called my first lifeline, Benni. I completed food shopping as he made his way over from the library (fortunately everything is nearby in Leipzig). He tried, and of course, it still did not open. Ingeniously, he let a few droplets of water trickle through the keyhole. VOILÀ - Benni to the rescue! The lock was open! It turns out that the turning mechanism in the lock was dried/rusted out from all the rain - with a little oil from the bike shop, and my lock has been more cooperative. (Knock on wood).

In the evening, Moni stopped by and it was great to catch up - a week felt like it had been forever since we last met up. Overall, everyone loves Moni for her optimism and humor, so that my chicken soup for the soul as I continued to fall back into my Leipziger rhythm.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Today, I was beyond exhausted and, thus, vowed to do nothing. I did just that - Facebook, photos, and relaxation all day. Later for dinner, I ate with Benni (we planned that, and the bike lock was obvious unexpected.) Afterwards, we met up again (this time with Marco and his flatmates, Moni, and Madga) at the colorful Sachsenbrücke (Saxony Bridge) to chill with some beers.
Sachsenbrücke in Clara Zetkin Park

Friday, June 7, 2013

I swear, I had all intentions of going to the library. My bag was packed for school, and I ended up schlepping it around the city center as I spontaneously decided to visit the top of the New Townhall (Neues Rathaus), the Zeitgeschichtliches Forum (German History Museum), and a festival in and around the Marktplatz. Besides, the weather was just too nice to spend the day in the library!

Exhibition in the Zeitgeschichtliches Forum 
(an affiliate of Haus der Geschichte/History House in Bonn)

View from Neues Rathaus (New Townhall)
MDR Tower

I got the chance to skype and catch up with my friend from TCNJ, Ashley. (I promise, at the moment, there are only two Ashleys in my life, but one spells her name "Ashley", and the other "Ashleigh"). It was great to see a familiar face, and then it was dinner Sara's place. All I knew is that there would be empanadas. As I arrived, the group was already in full cooking throttle - dough rolling, meat and vegetarian fillings were prepared, all under the guidance of Enzo from Chile and the music advisory board. I was a dough flattener - my rolling pin was a Club Maté water bottle. The company was hilariously entertaining and conversational; the empanadas were even more incredible; and the gathering a Sara's was a great way to spend my Friday night.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Due to so much rainfall in the past weeks, that extra water had to go somewhere. Massive flooding plagued Prague, Dresden, and other cities along the Elbe River - all the way through Germany through Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Lower Saxony. Fortunately, Leipzig was not severely effected.

It took six weeks to find a date, on which Moni, Moniek, Marco, Amber and I could go to Dresden, like we promised Moni for her birthday back in April. For fear of the city center being flooded, we waited till the night before to finalize our decision. We went for it, and it was a spectacular day! With sunny skies, we covered all sides of Dresden's new and old towns in the city center. The Elbe River was still overflowing (noticeably higher than a week ago with Ashleigh), but the tides has subsided below the bridge, not affecting us. Oh yeah, Happy belated Birthday, Moni!


The ducks liked the flooding...

Amber, Moniek, and Moni with Thüringer Bratwurst

Group picture at Zwinger Palace

Dresden Cathedral

Beer Garden underwater

The VERY HIGH Elbe River
(Dresden a week prior to the flooding - with Ashleigh)

Dresden Viewpoint from the top of the Frauenkirche

In front of the Frauenkirche (Women's Church)
(Me, Moniek, Amber, Moni, Marco)

Kreuzkirche/ Cross Church

Silly pictures with Moni, the belated birthday girl.

We ended our tour at the highest beer garden in Dresden. 
It actually looks more like a mosque than a typical beer garden.

We returned to Leipzig for the City Festival before heading over to Laurits' (from Denmark) place for a social evening.
Stadtfest/City Festival
(Photo by Amber)
Leipziger Stadtfest

Sunday, June 9, 2013

It was a restful Sunday. I spend most of the day in the library before stopping by Sara's place for some tea. It was a good time to catch up on our weekend adventures. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

I don't know where the day went. The highlights were class, a movie with Marco, and then I started to watch Türkisch für Anfänger (Turkish for Beginners) - similar to Modern Family, it is a comedy of a German/Turkish blended family that tries to figure out how to live together. This has become my biggest distraction.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tuesday brunch was back in full swing after a few weeks of hiatus. I finally made it back in the pool - I had missed it since the Deutsche Hochschulmeisterschaft. I also helped Benni practice for a presentation - we repeated the definitions so much that they are still in my head a week later.

Tuesday Brunch is back!

Sara and I made Kugel, one of my American family's favorites!
Thanks for the recipe, Mom!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Sara took a spontaneous trip to Erfurt, so I had to survive the academic marathon by myself (I owed her a free day after I took Wednesday off when Ashleigh was here). I helped Benni again with his presentation - the definitions are only more engraved in my I can help anyone with Coeducation theory in case you're interested.

I have also begun my prep for the Goethe C1 Proficiency Test. I took the B2 (the 4th level of 6) exam last June, so I'm hoping to reach the next level to show improvement in my German (knock on wood). This C1 Certificate would be one level below a native speaker. It happens at least every other day that I get mistaken for a German - it is a great compliment, but on a daily basis, I am exhausted and humbled by this language that I love.

Campus library at 2am
I managed to catch up a bit on the blog that was delayed about a month at the time.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

More C1 Test preparation. I attended the perpetual Culture Night (Kulturabend) by Wilma. The acts were very talented, but each performance could have been cut in half to spare the audience the sauna from which we observed the performances.
Mexican Band - they received an encore

Friday, June 14, 2013

I completed my CA training online for my upcoming position as Community Advisor in the TCNJ International House. They really want us to know our stuff, by testing with 100% accuracy on each training module.
To celebrate the weekend, Moniek and Amber hosted a Hawaiian Cocktail party. It was tropically decorated with frue-frue drinks. Simply put, it was a fun and entertaining evening to took our minds off the stress that comes with the end of the semester. Aloha (Aloa - according to Moniek) and thank you to Moniek and Amber! :)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

I vowed that this weekend would be academic and productive. It turned out to be reverse psychology. First, there was the Bubble Flash Mob at Augustusplatz - over 4,000 people gathered to blow bubbles from 3:00 to 3:05pm. It was simply magical as everyone was a kid in these blissful moments.

Flashmob of Bubbles
Margaux, Tina, Sara, Me at the Flashmob
This tour bus had a pleasant surprise.

Following the Flashmob (again, I don't think Germans have adopted the same definition of Flashmob that is expressed in the English language), Benni and Moni encouraged me to come to Cospudener Lake. Like any other time I try to go somewhere without a map, I took one wrong turn that evolved into this huge adventure. I biked through Leipzig to the outskirts, through the woods, back to the outskirts, through another set of woods before finally finding Benni and Moni at the lake, next to the nudist section. Germans get a glimpse of the sun and instantly show as much skins as they can with an ice cream cone in their hand. It was a rejuvenating day at the lake, and afterwards Benni and I hung out with Moni at her place until we started to slowly dose off.

Chilling at Cospudener Lake
Flower from Moni's room

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Not only is Sara an AFSer (like me!), she is extremely creative with activities she chooses to undertake. Today was the pinnacle of that creativity (...thus far). She invited me to join her for a 45km/28mi bike ride from Leipzig to Halle. Most people would take the train, but Sara suggested trying it by bike. IT WAS AMAZING! Sure I complained too much, but it was so cool to ride along the Elster River. Sara was attentive to ask and verify that we were headed in the right direction - we chatted and sang a few songs to pass the time. It was a cool Sunday, wonderful for a bike ride (...or marathon).

As East Germany's infrastructure was improved after the Wende in 1990, many of the cobblestoned streets were just covered by asphalt. The patchwork is a little faulty.

Bike path along the Elster River

Sara and I made it to Halle an der Saale.

Our route from Leipzig to Halle

When we arrived in Halle, we were welcomed by Anna (who I later found out is a former German CBYXer), a very close friend of Sara. She was the host with the most, and was kind to invite Farina, a classmate from the Marienschule in Krefeld, with whom I arranged to meet up. We had not seen each other in 3 years since my exchange year, but it was a great reunion. After a lavish lunch, we explored Halle for a bit - a very compact and adorably charming city. It was simply a beautiful day that will stick out in my memories of Leipzig. In case you're wondering, we took the train back to Leipzig around 10pm. I said that I couldn't sit for that long on my bike the whole way back.
Farina and I - Marienschule, Krefeld represent!

Anna and Sara

Orchestral Concert at Moritzburg

Viewpoint in Halle

Flooding in Halle

Market Square, Halle at sunset

Monday, June 17, 2013

Back to the library. I have too much to do and too many distractions, but things are slowly getting crossed off my long "to-do" list.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tuesday brunch is back and here to stay. Everyone brings something, and we share food, conversation, and company. We sat on Tsampika's (from Greece) balcony, or technically her fire escape. It was a good start to the day, which I spent getting a haircut and reviewing for the Goethe C1 Test. Benni was extremely helpful in correcting my essay portion. The fine details of the German language can truly make my head spin! Thank God for swimming that enabled me to swim the frustration and anxiety out of me.

Tuesday Brunch

New haircut. 
I feel so loved to receive mail on a weekly basis from my family and once in a while from friends. 

After an intense day (oh yeah, summer has finally arrived and is here to stay, I hope, believe and pray!), I have finally won at this "catch-up" game with this blog. Hallelujah!

Schönen Sommer,
Club Maté <3 p="">