One of my favorite nights of 2011 thus far…

Thursday, July 28, 2011

…and the hardest I’ve laughed in a long, long time.

Berg, which is a bierfest that takes place in Erlangen (where I lived!), was even better than Oktoberfest.  I didn’t particularly care for Oktoberfest, it being insanely overcrowded and, if we’re being honest, downright frightening at times, so Berg was the perfect, low-key alternative for me.  I went with my fellow Franken Fulbrighters and, as we arrived a bit early, we were able to claim the perfect table in one of the outdoor biergartens – conveniently situated within earshot of the German band playing American oldies (our favorites being John Denver’s ‘Country Road’, The Stealer’s Wheel ‘Stuck in the Middle with You’ and Van Morrison’s ‘Brown Eyed Girl’).


DSC00987DSC00950  DSC00955chelsea6. 

….because sometimes you just wanna eat a giant pretzel, you know?

top and bottom photos courtesy of emily!

Nazi party rallies in Nuremberg

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

There’s really no way around admitting that Nuremberg’s history is very much enshrouded by a dark cloud of National Socialism.  Hitler’s Nazi party rallies took place there annually during the mid 30s and Nuremberg was even named “die deutsche Stadt” (the German city).  It became a symbol of Nazi pride, as these rallies were very over-the-top celebrations.  Of course, Nuremberg was the same city in which the postwar ‘Nuremberg trials’ famously took place – convicting Nazis of their crimes against humanity.

I visited Nuremberg’s Nazi Documentation Center twice this past year.  Here are some photos of Nazi propaganda posters on display inside the museum area.  The poster on bottom right says “Unsere letzte Hoffnung: Hitler”, which means, “Our last hope: Hitler”.

DSC00890And here is a photo of Hitler being greeted by Nurembergers (and other Germans)  during one of the Nazi party rallies.DSC00895

Left: members of the Hitler youth (or even younger) saluting/“heiling” Hitler upon his entrance into the city.

Right: Inglorious Basterds, anyone?DSC00897Below is a photo of the Nazi party rally grounds (empty), where Hitler would address his people from the grandstand podium (front and center).


In 1945, the US Army held its victory parade at the main grandstand (seen in the above photo).  After the ceremony, the swastika was blown up, symbolizing the end of National Socialism. 


Below is a photo of the American soldiers, standing atop the grand stand, waving the American flags victoriously.DSC00905The paper below lists the “worst” Nazis and their sentences determined during the Nuremberg trials.  The sentences range from 10 years in prison (10 Jahre Gefaengnis) to death by hanging (Tod durch den Strang).  At the top and bottom of the list, the names Goering and Bormann can be seen – two of the the top 4 Nazi leaders (Hitler and Goebelles being dead already, at this point).  To reference Inglorious Basterds once again, “you need[ed] all four to end the war”.DSC00906I took this photo standing at Dutzendteich, facing the Doku-Zentrum.  The area served as the location for the National Socialist cult, for the demonstration of power and mobilization of the masses.  DSC01058 Since 1973, the buildings have been under a historical monument preservation order.  Nowhere else in Germany can the remains of Nazi architecture be seen to such an extent as they are here.  Below, you can see the door from which Hitler walked before addressing the masses from the grandstand podium.DSC01068

I took this photo, below, standing at the same grandstand podium where Hitler once stood to make his party rally speeches.  During the rallies, this area before the grandstand was filled with around 200,000 Nazi supporters, all gathered to cheer on and encourage their Fuehrer.  Today, it is (unofficially) used as a skate park.


what happens after the hospital…

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

makes you wish you’d never left the hospital (and that’s saying something).

  DSC00860 {photo taken during kayla’s rescue-mission-visit}

PRAISE GOD i got through the mound of doctor’s bills and insurance paperwork…and actually got reimbursed. 

only took me hours of form-filling-out, dozens of german-language-induced headaches and 6 weeks of waiting!

seeing that money in my bank account was one of the best feelings i’ve had in a long, long time.

remind me again - why do i have to be an adult…?  childhood was so much easier….

but, on the upside, adulthood comes with its own perks.  like europe (which was not available to me as a child).

the time i really shouldn’t have gone to salzburg

Monday, July 25, 2011

i never told the story of how i ended up in the hospital and i certainly never posted photos of my sliced-open hand*, but in order to fully express the magnitude of what an awfully irresponsible decision this was, i should explain a few things.

you know that scene in the santa clause, in which tim allen’s character wakes up and realizes he has, well, become santa claus?  the scene in which he sleepily glances down and sees a pair of hands that look like latex gloves inflated with a gallon of air?  well, one friday morning in may, i woke up and discovered that i, too, had become santa claus.  actually, my left hand had – just my left hand.  in true jennifer fashion, i said, “eh, probably nothing” and went to work.  you should know that i abhor going to the doctor and the thought of doing so in germany – in another language – seemed all the more frightening than seeing the american doctors i avoid so well at home.

at school, however, my colleague, bettina, noticed my hand and told me to leave.  i asked her which doctor i should see and she told me, “you need an emergency room, not a doctor'”.  and then, bless her, she drove me to an emergency room right away and dropped me off at the door. 

here is the part where we fast forward one hour of this story.  just know that in this hour, a lot of waiting room confusion, receptionist confusion, insurance confusion and jennifer-speaking-german confusion occurred.  it wasn’t a real fun time for me.

i was eventually seen by a doctor, who applied a liquid gel to my hand and said, “hopefully this will reduce the swelling”.  he put my hand in a bandage and told me to return on monday.  foolishly, i thanked him, skipped out of the emergency room, thinking, “the doctors were so nice! they told me my german is great! i love germany! i love my life!  what a great day!” and walked home to pack for my trip to salzburg.

i had planned to go to salzburg for the weekend.  kayla and i were supposed to meet two of our good friends who studied with us there in 2009.  and as we hadn’t seen these friends since 2009, i refused to listen when a friend here advised me, “i think you should stay at home and rest this weekend”.  i thought, “what’s the harm in going to salzburg?  the doctor told me to wait until monday to come back to the emergency room anyway.  what am i supposed to do, sit in my room all weekend?”.  my friend told me that’s exactly what i should do.  he said, “carrying luggage on a train, walking around in the hot sun and staying out late with friends will do nothing to improve the condition of your hand."

obviously, i went to salzburg anyway.

and here is the part where we fast forward the entire weekend.  i was miserable.  yes, it was wonderful seeing my friends but when i think back to this weekend, my stomach begins to churn.  not a minute of this weekend passed without my left hand throbbing and pulsing with pain.  it continued to swell and began to turn brown (when i sent my parents photos, they were slightly convinced i’d contracted a case of gangrene…. ewwww!).  by the end of the weekend, i had thrown up 7 times and you could not see my knuckles from the swelling. 

first thing monday morning, i went to the hospital.  i was told a cyst had most likely exploded in my index finger and that the bones in my hand had most likely broken from swelling (they hadn’t, though!).  when the doctor told me i needed to undergo surgery, i jokingly asked, “so will i get to miss work tomorrow?”.  he told me i’d be in the hospital for a week – that i’d miss work for a week, maybe two.  i realized then that the reason i had thrown up was due to an infection caused by the wound, which had spread, thus necessitating a round of antibiotics and hospital care.

buuuuut, here are the photos from my trip anyway, in which my face tells the story of how one’s mood can change from “pretty happy” to “utterly miserable” in a matter of hours.  please let me know what you think of the cardigan-ice pack fashioned around my left hand!  {you know it’s bad when you go out with friends, walk up to the bar and ask, “no drink, please!  can you just fill up this cardigan with ice so i can tie it around my hand?”}

moral of the story: when it’s your health vs. salzburg, always choose your health.


slightly less happy:


a little less happy:


utterly miserable:


*i did post a few photos on facebook, however, and was told by a friend here that “only an american freak would post photos of their creepy wounds on facebook”. so, in that case, such photos will never be posted on this blog.  can’t have the internet thinking i’m any more of an “american freak” than they already do!

a day trip to munich

Friday, July 22, 2011

When my friend Emily asked if I wanted to join her on a day trip to Munich, I immediately agreed.  Our journey was relatively uneventful; we played Tick, our favorite game!  And then made an obligatory stop at McDonald's (better over here, I promise).


Here is where I’m supposed to insert a fact about this building.  But, in order to do that, I’d need to know the name of said building.


I’d never been to the BMW Museum before, so Emily led the way there.  The two of us looked at cars for approximately 30 seconds, and then sat on one of the nice leather couches and talked about what we think we'll be like when we're pregnant.  You only think I'm kidding...


      I did like this car, though. If I could have driven away in it, I would have.


Not obsessed with cars, am obsessed with Munich… 

The end.

prettiest town square ever?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

{wroclaw, poland}

i certainly think so.  but then again, i’m probably biased.

love living here, love eating at outdoor cafes, and love love love how the exchange rate right now... my euro-salary goes a loooong way at tesco.

Conversations with a Polish boy, part 9.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

^^ homemade nalesniki just for me...with ketchup!! ^^

me: did you know anything about the casey anthony case before we talked about it? was that publicized in poland at all?
him: i knew her last name should have been dias.
me: what?
him: dias.....casey dias.
me: like, cameron diaz?
him: no, like quesadillas.

him: do you wanna move to america and open up a restaurant with me?
me: yes. it should be a half-american, half-polish restaurant.
him: no it shouldn't. it should just be italian.
me: but neither of us are italian.
him: well, you know what they don't have to be a doctor to own a clinic.
me: they say that? who says that?
him: mostly just me.

him: [my friend] said he'd give you a ride to the train station to try to stop you from hating him.
me: he thinks i hate him?
him: well...yeah, he thinks you hate him.
me: why does he think i hate him?
him: i don't really know. i think because i told him you hate him.

him: so, i have to defend my thesis tomorrow at 11:00. i'm planning on getting there around 9:00.
me: why so early?
him: for gossips with my classmates.
me: you mean, to gossip?
him: i guess.
me: what are you going to gossip about?
him: school, my thesis, their exams, etc.
me: i don't really think that's what 'gossip' means...
him: in my english, that's what it means.
me: yeah, well, in your english, 'hottrible' means 'terribly hot'.
him: exactly!

me: i'm not eating nalesniki without ketchup.
him: we don't have any ketchup.
me: i know, and i asked you to get some after work.
him: you did?
me: yes. and you didn't, did you?
him: no. when did you ask me?
me: last night.
him: really? i don't remember that at all. what did you say?
me: i said, "we're out of ketchup".

disclaimer: i mentioned in this post that piotr has a few words which he uses very frequently, and very rarely in the correct context. 'basically' is one of those words.
me: how was work today?
him: good. i met this guy who was basically big and bald.

my little family in franconia

Monday, July 18, 2011

i mentioned in this post the importance of my fellow fulbrighters in franken (franconia) ((whoa, alliteration, much?)) and how, despite living in different towns, the group of us managed to get together regularly.  we liked to meet on the weekends, on the rare occasion that all 7 of us were in franken; usually, at least one of us was traveling. 

i think my favorite gathering of ours was a “franken party” that took place in nuremberg at our friend matt’s apartment – a very old, very cold, very charming and very cozy apartment.  he made a vegetarian chili and i brought a box of jiffy cornbread as well as funfetti cake mix and icing to go along (courtesy of one of my mom’s care packages).

fun fact: matt has a german roommate (aprx. 68 years old) who, like most of the germans i know, takes ‘eating green’ very seriously.  i think this is great – very inspiring.  suffice it to say, though, she was horrified by the jiffy cornbread and the cake mix/icing combo.  every time i referred to the cornbread as such, she corrected me by saying “you mean corn cake” and i more or less made the actual cake under the kitchen table out of fear that she’d inspect the box’s list of ingredients as she had the cornbread (which, as you can imagine, did not go over well).  and thus, the night included an unexpected little lesson in patience/self-control for me, as every time she announced, “i will absolutely not be eating this cake”, i fought the urge to say “that’s terrific! more for us unhealthy americans to consume! yaaaaay!”.

all jokes aside, the night was very pleasant, the veg. chili + cornbread was to die for, the cake + milk was a delicious success (despite the near-crisis of not having a cake pan, quickly averted by using a bread pan!) which tasted just like america (what more can you ask for in a dessert, really?) and we even enjoyed a second dessert, in the form of chocolate chip cookies (made by matt), which strangely resembled the cookies in the berenstein bear books a great deal.

and then we ended the evening with a reenactment of HIMYM’s slapsgiving song.  with a room full of HIMYM fanatics and a piano, it was only inevitable.37649_995542896977_8609134_57477773_250612_n butter dish 1253790_10100479967757610_4920974_62187760_6413102_n247550_10100479967508110_4920974_62187748_5572977_ncannoli247205_10100479967518090_4920974_62187749_2886513_n

My thoughts on The Boy Who Lived

Friday, July 15, 2011

I logged into Blogger last night and the first, like, 15 blogs I saw had been posted in anticipation of The Deathly Hallows premiere.  And then this morning on Twitter, it seemed that nearly every person I follow was tweeting things like, “So sad it’s over” and “Thank you, Harry, for changing my life”.  I’ve never watched the movies, and don’t plan to (for reasons that I am aware are both strange and silly) but all these blog posts and tweets made me a little sad and nostalgic, nonetheless.

At the age of 12, I went to the public library to check out a book for my family’s upcoming ski trip.  I saw Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on the shelf and thought, “I feel like I’ve heard good things about this”.  And I was obsessed from the first page.  I don’t just mean, “Yeah, that’s a great story” – I mean the borderline unhealthy, I’m-having-dreams-about-wizards-every-night, But-why-can’t-IIIII-go-to-Hogwarts kind of obsessed. 

I finished the book in a few days and immediately passed it to my sister, sitting to the right of me in the car.  Her tale of instant obsession is not much different than mine.

Over the next 8 years, I waited and waited, sometimes re-reading the entire series-to-date in anticipation of whichever book was to be released next.  Very vividly do I remember going at midnight to pick up my copy of The Deathly Hallows – I wore my earbuds/iPod through the store so that I wouldn’t hear when the token idiot (almost always a guy) opened to the last page and screamed out the final sentence.  I always heard of that happening….let me just say, I would have attacked someone.

I tried not to finish the book within 36 hours – I tried to force myself to take breaks, to eat, to sleep, to do normal 20-year-old-girl things.  But the end of book 7 (what would be my absolute favorite of the series) came all too soon.  When I felt the final chapters nearing, I said to my boyfriend, who was reading his copy of the same book on the other end of the couch, “You need to take me home.  I have to be alone for this”.  And, oh my goodness….did I ever need to be alone!

Prior to that, I had cried heavily at the end of book 5 (when Harry finds the mirror? and he realizes going to the Ministry was all for nothing? but it’s too late to do anything?!).  Book 7, however, was a different story….a whole new level of hysterics.  The Prince’s Tale chapter – heartbreaking, utterly heartbreaking.  The Forest chapter – tears all over the pages.  The King’s Cross chapter – just kill me now, J.K.  And then, of course, the book ended so flawlessly, reaching beyond my wildest expectations and I realized, “Well…it’s over now” and that brought on a completely new wave of tears.  I remember my mom asking me the next morning, “How was it?” and I couldn’t even finish a sentence without crying.  Eventually, I managed to say, “It was wonderful and perfect and that’s why I’m so sad”. 

I recently decided to re-read the whole series.  Yup, I’m 23 years old and no, a lot of people here don’t understand it, but when you spend the entire month of May in either the hospital or in doctor’s waiting rooms, you have to do something with your time, you know?  And it helps if that something is a thing that makes you happier than many other things in this world. {Oh and I also re-discovered this, which aired a few years ago….all 4 parts are amazing.}

A few days ago, I finished book 7 for the second time.  I was riding a train from Berlin to Poland and I purposely closed the book when I reached the “just a few more chapters to go” part.  I did not want to be the girl bawling her eyes out on a train, young adult’s fantasy book in hand.  So once I got home, I quietly slipped upstairs to finish the book in solitude and cried nearly as hard as I did the first time around.

So, yeah – I guess this is me, more or less jumping on the HP hysteria bandwagon, chiming in with the chorus of, “Thank you, J.K. Rowling, thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing us The Boy Who Lived”. 

And I leave you with the quote that gets me every time – the one that, embarrassingly enough, brings tears to my eyes as I type it right this very moment, “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?


P.S. I’m totally Hufflepuff and totally fine with it.

a day trip to rothenburg ob der tauber

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I’ve been wanting to visit Rothenburg since 2009, so when my friend Taylor asked if I’d like to take a day trip there with her and her husband, I jumped at the chance.
Did you know it was the inspiration for the village in the Disney movie Pinocchio?
Evidently, a portion of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was filmed here too.
{This site analyzes which scenes it could be!}
Taylor and her husband, who you may recall from this post:
I have nothing to say about this bridge, other than that it is a bridge.  Sorry.    
And I’m sure this is something noteworthy but I’m much too lazy to research it.
In case you were wondering what it’d look like with me sitting in front of it:
Rothenburg is known as being a tourist hot-spot but we had it pretty much to ourselves!  I love when that happens.
We walked up to the Burg (castle) to see the castle gardens, which have been around since 950 (the castle wasn’t even built until 100 years later).   
During the 1930s, Rothenburg was a major Nazi city, as it represented to them the classic German ‘hometown’, the epitome of all things German.  They called it “the most German of all German towns” and in the late 1930s, expelled all of its Jewish citizens.  In the castle gardens, there is a small tribute to these Jewish citizens – the last of which were forced out of Rothenburg in October of 1938, their destination unknown.
This sign, below, hangs directly inside that building, above, and reads: ‘We believe in a Germany that is whole and free’.  o
And of course we ended the day eating ice cream in a parking garage – the way all good day trips come to an end.  

for me, a good day in bavaria involves…

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

1.  eating gemüse spätzle1 people often ask me what my favorite thing to eat in germany is.  well, this is it.  not schnitzel, not bratwurst, not sauerkrat….no, gemüse spätzle has been my ultimate weakness since i first came to bavaria in 2009.  vegetables, noodles and cheese – what’s not to like?  piotr once told me that if i ate this every single day, there’s a chance i miiiiight gain a noticeable amount of weight.  i tried it for a week and….well, he was right.  so, this is sort of a special occasion meal these days.  ;)

2.  taking a stroll through a bavarian neighborhood
when i lived in a more rural part of germany, i used to love walking through the neighborhoods and taking photos of all the traditional bavarian homes i passed (and hopefully not looking too creepy while doing so).  they are especially dreamy in the snow!  and even now that it’s sunny, i can’t get over how manicured all the yards are – they almost look too perfect to be real.  i love mentally noting the difference between these neighborhoods and american suburbia as i pass by.

3.  roasted almonds at the market
you can find roasted almonds at all the outdoor markets here!  cinnamon-coated almonds, nutella-coated almonds, chocolate almonds – you can order 100 grams of any kind you fancy and they serve them to you in a paper cone.  i found myself “accidentally” detouring through the main market square in nuremberg (seen above) quite a bit this past year just to treat myself to this snack.

4.  stumbling across a secret gnome family
how funny is this little scene?  i spotted this in the backyard of a house much like the one seen in the 2nd photo (i was standing on a bridge that overlooked a few yards).  i would have loved to have this in my backyard when i was little!  i think i would have rearranged them every day. :)
5.  buying a vespa
ok, i didn’t buy this vespa….but i so wanted to.  it’s what euro barbie would drive, right?  can i be her?

an afternoon at the berliner dom

Monday, July 11, 2011

253790_10100479967757610_4920974_62187760_6413102_n247205_10100479967518090_4920974_62187749_2886513_n247550_10100479967508110_4920974_62187748_5572977_nafter caroline left berlin, i stuck around to attend a conference for my job.  the set-up was quite nice, let me tell you. free transportation to and from berlin!  a week’s worth of lodging in one of berlin’s best hotels!  a room all to myself!  central location! 3 huge meals a day!  had it not been an “all expenses paid” situation, this story would be told very differently.  i mean, it was towards the end of the month and by that time, i’m usually collecting bottles to turn in for money, so, you get the idea (just kidding, mom……a little).

anyway, around around 140 americans attended this conference in berlin.  we had a few activities/panels scheduled for us during the day but ended up having a lot of free time to stroll through the city and enjoy each other’s company.  despite the aforementioned perks of the conference, the real highlight for me was getting to spend nearly every moment with “the franken group” (me + a handful of other fulbrighters who live in the franken region of bavaria).  since september, the group of us have probably hung out once a week, if not more, despite living in different cities (though all on the same train line).  we couldn’t help noticing at the conference that the majority of the other americans seemed a bit isolated, after not having gotten to know fellow fulbrighters in their region; it made me so very thankful that our group put forth such an effort to bond at the beginning of the academic year.  after all, those friendships got me through so many tough times (ie week long hospital stays!) and made my fulbright experience significantly brighter.

one of my favorite afternoons of the conference week was spent lying in the grass in front of the berliner dom (otherwise known as the lustgarten) with the other “franken” friends.  i’ll always remember this day,  i think.  it was pretty perfect. :)



note: the first 3 photos were taken by emily’s disposable camera…aren’t they awesome?

other note:  i think i am asleep in that last photo.  someone had just played with my hair for 10 minutes and….well, that means automatic naptime in my book.