Friday, February 20, 2009

Course over! : (

A combination of sad and exciting, the Wintercourse ended yesterday. Among sad goodbyes, and with the unwritten Literature essay still hanging over my head, I realised that tomorrow I will get to see Gabi, and Manfred and Fredi and everyone for the first time in 4 years! Yay!

But yes, need to now go and write said essay (finish, I do have the first page) becuase it is due today!

Love to you all!

Monday, February 9, 2009

2 Weeks to Go...

Time has been passing, as it tends to do, and I've just realised that I've less than 2 weeks left in Freiburg. And so many plans that I have yet to realise...

Stayed home today with a headache/throatache/grumpiness combination, but am feeling a bit better now. Have prepared everything so that getting up and dressed should be easy and not too cold... :)

Read today about the terrible losses in the fires - my heart and thoughts go out to all who have been affected.

Love to you all!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Hmm, A Shorter 'Brief' Post?

First of all, apologies for the length of the last post - it was meant to be short!

Apart from forgetting that lessons actually started at 11am today not 9am, not much has happened.

Am currently trying to decide if I can be bothered giving a presentation about Australia, or not. I don't want to research heaps about our 'Ureinwohner' (indigenous inhabitants)!

So on that note, I am going to go amuse myself cooking boiled eggs. : )

(After which I had better do my grammar homework)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Lots of Homework.

So, writing this brief update when I should actually be doing my homework...

Another week (or more) has now passed, and it is now February.

The course is good - I ended up in the top level of the language course, and the content is good. Most of the grammar I did get introduced to last year, but I have still far from mastered it. And every day we do a reading/communication exercise, which will always be challenging (new vocab, having to discuss a scientific concept in German, etc).

Literature and Culture are not nearly as much fun (mainly because the teachers are as good as Claudia, our brilliant language teacher), but we only have to do them twice a week. And I should get to do my presentation for Literature on the short story I wrote my essay on for German last year! :) Cheating perhaps, but yay!

Since I last posted, we have been on a number of excursions:
  • Sankt Peter, which turned out to be a beautiful church, with its associated monastery, where we got to see their amazing library (20,000 books, when books were expensive, with a small collection of poetry, very unusual for a monastery apparently), among other things. I have a lot of photos, which interestingly enough actually turns out to be forbidden, but the guide decided to be nice to the heavily cameraed group of foreign students, and didn't bother to tell us.

  • Colmar, a town in France, where we got a rather frustrating guideless tour of the completely french labelled Museum, but where I also got to take photos of the awesome wardrobes from the middle ages that look exactly like the Narnian one should, as well as suits of armour and a grandfather clock at least twice my height. The frustration of the tour resulted from the absence of one of the french staff - the provider of audio guides - which our tour leader had been relying on, already knowing the insane French approach to labelling... (There were a couple of things labelled in English/German: they said 'don't touch' and 'leave the toilets in the same state as you find them')
    The tour was followed by equally undirected wandering around in the old city, during which I lost everyone but one of the Brazilian boys, which led to an interesting and marginally uncomfortable experience of eating pizza as a 'couple'. Made all the more uncomfortable by the simple fact that neither of us spoke any French, and the waiter didn't speak any German, Portuguese or English. It was very strange. Every time he spoke (french), we just replied in German. Ordering was done by pointing at the desired dish and saying its (italian) name. However, it did result in a very lovely, cheap (we spilt a calzone style pizza) lunch, whereas everyone else paid through the nose for something 'French', and often cold. (And it was freezing enough, that there was no way I was eating something cold.).
    After lunch we met up with some of the others, and took a completely random undirected walk through the old city, luckily still managing to find the Venice-like canals, and taking some wonderful photos. We also through all of our Euro cents into one of the canals for good luck - given the number on the bottom already, it seemed like the thing to do. It's bound to be lucky, or at least healthier, because dragging a million 1 Euro Cent coins with you everywhere is heavy and damn annoying. The twos aren't much better. I can definitely see why we got rid of them. For the pleasure of not having to carry them around, I would happily pay $100 a year.

  • But after the excitement of Colmar, we still had one more task in our list of necessary tourist activities... Taking the (nauseatingly bouncy) bus into Germany, we stopped near the border for a visit to the Geldermann Sekt factory - the German equivalent of Champagne, in this particular factory made to the same standard as that in the so-named valley. After touring through the workings, and learning the process of making good bubbly, we got to try some of said product, and it was indeed the best Champagne I think I have ever tasted. How much of this was fancy, and how much actuality, I don't know, but it was good. I was also the source of much jealous, as we each received one small glass, but I was sitting next to Alex, a Brazilian non-drinker (rare, possibly endangered species, I expect), and thus managed to score a second glass. It definitely should be savoured though, because the end of the second glass, which I had to drink up, as we were going, was not nearly as enjoyable as the first.

  • Our most recent excursion was far less exciting - a trip to Freiburg's 'Uniseum' where the university presents its history... Nothing particular exciting to say about that, apart from the fortuitous coincidence that it was also Lynette's 21st, so we got to eat cake, and sing happy birthday (in 4 different languages - German, English, Portuguese and Spanish), in the room where the students used to sneak in and have parties.

  • Of course, because a day wouldn't be complete unless we tried to pack as much in as possible, then we went to the theatre. Kafka's 'The Process', with stage work that can only be described as magnificently Kafka-esque. The scene opened with a small steep stage, that the characters slid around on (with all but the main character, Josef Karl, being dressed in brilliantly eccentric costumes). This later opened up to reveal what I can only call a small lake - probably half a foot of water covered the entire back area of the stage. From this point on all the characters spend their time from moderately wet to saturated, and a lot of actions are expressed through splashing water at each other etc. At the beginning of the second act, we discovered that the column in the centre of the lake was indeed a waterfall - it was now illuminated, and the mist around the bottom of it, and the ripples could be seen, and the sound of falling water was clear in the stillness. I just hoped that the water was heated - it must have been, otherwise everyone would have be struck down with the flu after the first dress rehearsal. Freiburg in winter is not a good place for bathing in cold water.
    After the play, I headed over to the bar where Lynette was still celebrating her birthday, but ended up not going to the disco afterwards as I had developed a most curious eye-ache. (They felt as if I had been wearing my contacts too long, as if they were all dry and bloodshot, even though I haven't any lenses with me, and despite continued questioning, they apparently looked fine.

  • This weekend nearly everyone went away, as we had no planned excursions, leaving the whole weekend free. A couple of the other stayers and I went to the Saturday market in the plaza around the cathedral, and ate Bratwurst in buns for lunch. We also discovered that Saturday night was going to be a big Faschingesque party, with heaps of Narren (don't ask, I don't know).
    After a number of complications I ended up going alone, but it was definitely an experience. And freezing - I left the house wearing a singlet, two 3/4 tops, a polar fleece jumper, a mid-calf length jacket, a scarf, a beanie, knee-high socks, mini-socks, and warm pants, and ended up getting so cold, I came back home to put stockings on too. But it was worth it. The photos are quite bad (the camera doesn't like low light that much, and I wasn't exactly at the front of the crowd watching the procession), but the masks (mostly intricately carved wood) were excellent, as were the costumes, the flaming torches and the atmosphere in general. The characters were either monsters or witches, with a few other eccentricities thrown in for good measure. The pirates with the really odd wind instruments were a highlight. I also got to eat something tasty and warm whose name I have forgotten. It was a mixture of 'potato noodles' and sauerkraut, or so the man selling it explained to me. After that and a glass of Glühwein, I went home, because an after-party, by yourself, in the freezing cold, isn't much fun. I did have a good time though - hope to post photos sometime soon of all the amazing costumes!

So, apart from that, i haven't done anything much! The non-excursion days are filled with homework, preparatory reading for Literature, and wondering what to eat at the Mensa - whether paying 1,50 EUR is really enough reason to eat pasta with 'meat-sauce' for 6 weeks, or whether Schnitzel and Chips constitutes a balanced meal. And sneaking off to eat Döner (the german version of an Ali Baba roll) whenever humanly possible. (unfortunately, they don't cost 1,50 EUR, or there would be no choice at all!)

However, in my attempt to do the past days a little justice, it is now 10.20, and I still haven't done my homework for Language tomorrow. Better get onto that...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


So, after the first day of long lessons, I decided I could use some time in the Internet after all.

A number of people have asked me about the timetable, so I thought I would post it here.

Monday: 9-12.30 Language lessons
Tuesday: 9-12.30 Language lessons, 2-3.30 Culture, 4-5.30 Literature
Wednesday: 9-12.30 Language lessons
Thursday: 9-12.30 Language lessons
Friday: 9-12.30 Language lessons, 2-3.30 Literature, 4-5.30 Culture

Some days we also have additional excursions planned, and I have the list of them in my room but not here!

Tomorrow we are going to St. Peter in the afternoon. (Whatever that is)

And now I must go and do my homework...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Lessons begin, and catching up with the weekend.

Today we started our German lessons.

Our group of 33 has been divided into 3 levels of classes, though there isn't that much difference in ability between us all.

It's seems we will be mostly focussing on speaking, with all exercises expected to be completed in pairs, or groups of four. We are also going to be doing some grammar exercises, to reinforce or to learn how certain things are done.

Since my last post things have been rather hectic.

Thursday we were paid our scholarships, and then a group of us took at train to Offenburg, a nearby town, for something to do. We walked around, made a tiny snowman, took photos of things, and then came back. This took all afternoon.

On the way to Offenburg I also lost one of my gloves, and bought a new fingerless pair for €1. They are excellent for getting things out of my bag, but not so good for keeping my fingers warm. I often resort to wearing 3 gloves now, my new ones, the one old one I have left, and stick my other single-gloved hand in my pocket.

Friday was an excursion for the whole group, to Basel in Switzerland.

Saturday we had another excursion to Titisee in the Black Forest, where the lake was frozen and we got to walk across it. I hope to go back and go skating on it. We also ate Black Forest Cake with much too much cream.

Sunday we went to lunch at the house in Kirschzalten where a number of the boys in our course live. We then went to the theater and saw the opera the Valkiries, that was written by Wagner.

I could write much more about all of these things - and planned to - but there is about to be a lesson in this computer lab, I must leave!

Tomorrow we have lessons all day, so you might hear from me again on Thursday (my time)....

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Today we went on a tour of Freiburg (of the old inner city) and it started to snow!

The morning started with a little excitment, as I woke at 9.15, and thought that I could sleep until 9.30, before getting ready to leave for the tour, for which we had to meet in the city at 10.20. Having so decided, I was quite shocked to reawaken and discover it was already 10 o'clock. Apparently my ability to reset an alarm while half asleep needs some work - the time was set, but I hadn't answered the last question, so the fact that the specified time had passed was completely ignored...

Luckily, the lady I am staying with has a brilliant apartment that is literally a minute from the main train station, and just outside of the inner city, so I scrambled to eat half a slice of heavy german bread, dress and drink a glass of milk, and was out the door in about 5 minutes, leaving 15 minutes to reach the Rathaus (townhall) from where our tour would start.

Typically, having decided yesterday that it would be best to wear my sneakers as we would be doing much walking, I got out the door to discover that it was snowing - though only lightly. My sneakers have lovely airy material toes, and are not designed to get snowed on... Luckily it was cold enough that the snow was not melting, and even now my feet are still reasonably dry.

But yes, walking fast though the light snow, I managed to make to the Rathausplatz exactly on 10.20, which turned out to be about 10 minutes before our progam leader and the tour guides arrived.

The tour is captured photographically in one of my new Facebook albums (the one appropriately titled).

Since I have now spent about 2 hours fighting the facebook photo program, it is dinner time, and I have run out of impetus to write any more.

I hope to write more tomorrow, but until I do, do look at the photos on Facebook!

(Those of you who don't have facebook accounts, I sent out email invites to let you see them. If I missed anyone let me know.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


After more hours in transit than seemed really necessary, I am finally here.

That is, in Freiburg, Germany, my home for the next 6 weeks.

I am about to sit the German test will will allow them to divide us up into 3 streams of language classes, and two streams of culture classes... I hope not to be in the 1st level of the language course because it starts on Tuesdays at 8 am! All of the rest of the courses starts at 9 am.

I am really looking forward to learning in an immersion environment! Ficve weeks on German lesson, in Germany, should do wonders for my language skills. The lady I am staying with doesnät seem to speak English (I didn't ask), so my German has already got a work out. It seemed to be a little lacking, but the jet lag probably wasn't helping matters either... I definitely was becoming incomprehensible by the time I excused myself to go to bed last night (at 7.30pm!).

In terms of the course, this week looks like it will be mainly orientation exercises, before beginning the actual course work next week. This is good, because it will be a chance to recover from the jet lag before I try to do too much learning...

Tomorrow we have a tour of the city, and then of the University. Thursday we get paid the scholarships. Friday and Saturday we have planned excursions... Friday will will take the train to Basel in Switzerland, and Saturday we are going to Lake Titi (excellently named, I know) in the Black Forest.

I have not yet had time to organise a mobile sim card, but it looks like I should have reasonable internet access - I am currently using a computer at the uni, and can also use wireless here, and the lady I am staying with has wireless as well, but I have yet to discuss with her whether I can use it, etc.

I hope soon to be able to put up some more details about the flights etc, and hopefully some photos, but I had better go now for the test!

Love to you all, Kerryn!