Lots of Catching Up! Very Little Time!

28 Oct

moving truck arrives!

So, we are quickly approaching then end of the 1st nine weeks here at school, which happens to coincide with the arrival of our household goods shipment (basically, our overseas moving truck!) our formerly smooth, clean, sparsely decorated, modern German apartment is now crammed with boxes.

Let me catch y’all up, though, on some recent activities:

We went to Poland. We traveled through Bautzen, Germany (an adorable little European town), shopped for Polish pottery (extensively), visited Auschwitz, and stayed at an adorable hotel called the “Blue Beet Root”

me, in the first of fifteen-ish pottery shops

a basket full of polish teapots

the most comfortable bed ever at the blue beet root

Also, we went to a German-league ice hockey game! It was hysterical. The crowds looked exactly the same, but they were speaking German and drinking beer out of glasses (not plastic cups). The Germans have apparently not mastered the art of keeping the ice frozen yet still maintaining a reasonable temperature for the audience, so it was FREEZING! And, at this point, I still hadn’t gotten my winter jacket or shoes in my shipment, so I was wearing Crocs and a windbreaker while watching ice hockey in a 32° room! The solution to this, I thought, was to buy a hot chocolate. They didn’t have hot chocolate. They had glühwein: hot mulled, spiced red wine. It was pretty much the best and the worst hockey game I have every been to!

hockey night in schweinfurt

glühwein, a drink for cold temperatures!

We visited Bamberg, a seriously gorgeous town about an hour from us (its where our students used to have to go to school) to hang out with some friends who live there. This town truly deserves its own post, so for now, just a teaser:

Bamberg Räthaus

And last but not least, we bought our first furniture from a German furniture store! Woohoo sleek modern German aesthetic!

the golden throne

(let’s pretend you didn’t think i was serious about that purchase…)

For now, we are unpacking furiously, trying to plan an Ikea run to buy some actual furniture (we sold pretty much all of our furniture before we left) and also trying to be professional teachers who process grades in a timely manner (yeah…or not).

Please enjoy this gorgeous shot of sunset over the Main river right here in downtown Schweinfurt…

sunset over the river Main...

♥ love. amor. liebe ♥

Germany is Cool:

10 Oct

So, I hope to show off some cool stuff about Germany every once in a while. Generally, this is stuff that I take pictures of while walking/driving along and say “look! how cool!” but that don’t really have any kind of story or blog-worthy entry associated with them. But, I want everyone to see the interesting things I see!

The Soccer Ball Pretzel:

Soccer Ball Pretzel

There is a bakery that Zack and I love right across the square from our apartment. It is called Bäck Werk (Baked Goods Factory…doesn’t have quite the same ring). They sell ridiculously cheap/delicious sandwiches. Some of them are even served on this pretzel bread that is carved in such a way that, when baked, rises to resemble the pattern of a soccer ball. Cool!

amor.liebe.love.
Señorita Fräulein

A Typical Dinner Out…

6 Oct

This is from back in the days when we lived in a hotel. A hotel that had a restaurant. A restaurant whose bill could be charged directly to our room…

Here are the characters:

Zackifer

&

Señorita Fräulein

We are dining at the Hotel Ross’ restaurant, which was about 20 feet directly below our hotel room and now is about 50 feet away from our current apartment. This was the site of many of our meals while we were living in a hotel room without the luxury of a mini-fridge or a microwave.

First we start off with a beverage.

You can’t really be all that surprised. Zack and I are huge beer lovers, and we knew that coming to Germany would fuel our passion for the glorious amber nectar. To be honest, though, as far as selection goes, we were better off back here. Here in this small town, we have two options as far as breweries: Brauhaus Schweinfurt & Roth Brauerei. Just like Pepsi vs. Coke in the United States, most establishments choose one or the other to populate their bierkarte*. Our hotel, for instance, only serves Roth vom faß*. The hotel we stayed at for our first week here served Brauhaus Schweinfurt. Once you know which brewery your restaurant serves, you pretty much just have one more decision: Pilsner or Hefeweizen. In the photo above, Zack ordered the Pils (on the left) and I ordered the Hefeweizen.

Wait, but whats that wacky little plate of food distracting us from our beer?

That is a little appetizer that they serve before the meal comes. It is a daily selection, a little nibble that the chef works on (with what I assume are surplus ingredients around the kitchen) and serves up to everyone. This one was a little bit of spring lettuce, lachs*, a creamy horseradish, and a small chunk of bell pepper. It is a perfect little taste to get the meal started.

Now, for the food…

Bratwurst "Blau Zapfel"

Bratwurst "Frankische"

Zack ordered the “Bratwurst Blau Zapfel” 3 sausages cooked in white wine, peppers, onions and cabbage. I ordered the “Bratwurst Frankische” which is fried and served with sauerkraut. They were both ridiculously good, but Zack and I both preferred mine! Yes, I win! As an aside, Zack & I have a completely sacred rule that we never break, and that is “Do NOT order the same thing at restaurants.”  This inevitably leads to me being a bit competitive and proclaiming there was a dinner “winner” a.k.a. the person who ordered the most beloved dish. That part about there being a dinner “winner” may or nay not be completely in my head, but you better believe it is a serious competition.

Schokolade Eis

Because we are fancy, we order a kugel* of schokolade eis*. When I say “we” I obviously mean “I”. Look how fancy! A doily! A ice-cream-cone-wafer! A tiny spoon!

Now that we have moved into our apartment, we are gladly eating our old standby’s (thanks to a trip to America a.k.a The Commissary) of Velveeta Shells & Cheese with broccoli and chicken. We can no longer get reimbursed for  fancy dinners out, but we still dream about these meals. We think back to our days at the Ross Hotel fondly, especially when my mind stumbles upon the last few minutes before we paid the bill. The super-hunk waiter would come over, his chiseled face and charming smile beaming from across the dining room, and in his near-perfect English, ask me…

“do you have any desires?”

love. amor. liebe.

P.S. We are going to Poland tomorrow! We have a three and a half day long weekend and a group of teachers are taking a quick three hour trip to Poland!

Glossary

*bierkarte- bier=beer, karte=menu

*vom faß- on tap

*lachs-smoked salmon

*kugel- scoop, ball

*schokolade eis- chocolate ice cream

our german apartment

4 Oct

After a whirlwind week of…to be honest, I couldn’t even tell you what went on this week. It was a seemingly endless cycle of paperwork, bank visits, meetings with our immobilien (rental broker), and whipped cream pie in the face. I kid you not, this week has been real.But it all works out just fine because I am finally blogging from a computer of my own and I am blogging from our permanent home!

i <3 my new imac!

Working for the military in Europe is so great, They take care of you and make it cost-effective for you to move and live here. They buy you a flight over here, and they put you up in a hotel and pay for your food and laundry for up to 90 days while you look for an apartment, which they will later pay for!

the view from the Ross Hotel, our home for the last month...

It is pretty much the best deal ever, except that you must file extensive, lengthy, complicated paperwork and only then will you be reimbursed for all of that loveliness! Which means that we have been paying our own way over here for the last month while all this paperwork has been processed. This has been extremely stressful, but relieved slightly by the fact that eventually we would have a little bit of money. Finally, though, we are in a place that is less stressful and we can begin to relax a little bit.

The biggest hurdle for the teachers over here is finding a place to live. The minute we landed, pretty much, people were asking us if we had started looking for a place. We thought people were ridiculous and we hadn’t even considered starting. On a whim, though, we emailed an immobilien about a cute apartment we had seen on the German version of Craig’s List. We emailed for information, made an appointment to look at the apartment, and…essentially we fell in love. As you can see, the apartment is directly next door to the hotel where we’ve been staying.

the view from our apartment's living room...

The apartment was more than we could have even imagined. It’s not huge, at 104 meters squared. But, it is exactly right for us.

living room with our couch (well...bed until our household goods come!)

The apartment is very modern and, being partly situated on the attic level, oddly-shaped, so the landlord included some custom furniture. Also, he included a weekly cleaning lady!If only you knew how in love I was with that idea! Almost as much as having a sweet dishwasher!

the terrace…

 Having some outdoor space was super important to us. We like to relax & eat outside, grow some plants, see if our favorite döner-kepab place is open…

The best part of this place is the view! Both sides!

sunset from the living room window...

sunset from the kitchen terrace...

In other news, this past week was homecoming here! I stepped outside of my comfort zone a little bit and started participating in the school spirit-y events a little but more. This had some mixed results.

Pros:

Chain-ganging (holding the markers with the chain attached to measure the downs) for the high school football game.

Having the students recognize my crazy chain-ganging skills

Building a bit of a rapport with my students by being involved in out-of-classroom things (aka I can speak English and be a little nicer…)

Cons:

It sure does suck up my personal time that I could use to explore Germany!

Whipped cream in your hair, on your shirt and up your nostrils starts to smell about 7 minutes after it is thrown in your face by a student.

Did I mention I take the bus home from work? Yeah, I was not popular that day…

chain gang...hangin' with the refs...

Anyways, we are now just waiting on our shipment to come so that we’ll be able to actually settle in our new place!

kitchen at dusk...

love. amor. liebe.

Adventures in (European) Dog Sitting

17 Sep

Zack & I at The Olive

So we just finished our very first full week of school! This school functions on a block schedule, which means that we have an A day, where I I have a prep period plus three 90 minute classes. Then we have a B day, where I have a prep period plus three other 90 minute classes. Then Wednesday is another A day, Thursday is a B day, and then Friday is a C day, where I see all of my classes for just 50 minutes each. It’s definitely different teaching for 90 minutes at a time, when I’ve only ever taught for 43 minutes at time. We’re doing a lot of different things: using Blackboard (an online virtual classroom), the SmartBoard and the audio materials in my text book.

At the end of the day, school is school, except everyone is SO nice. I can’t imagine doing this here without the people I have met so far.There is a teacher here who picks us up every morning to take us to school. There is a teacher here who is borrowing a car from another teacher, and she drives us to run errands like going to housing, opening a bank account and going to the grocery store. Another group of teachers invites us along on day trips around Germany! This job seriously is the best kept secret in education.

On Friday after school we did laundry (thanks to yet ANOTHER fellow teacher!) and we went out to dinner at a Greek restaurant called the Olive. The food was so good, the ingredients so fresh! All of us were Friday-cranky, though. Did you know that? That teachers are pretty much unmanageable on a Friday evening? We all might as well just go have a beer at 5 pm, go home and go to sleep at 7. Anyways, one of the teachers and his wife were going to a relative’s house to stay the weekend and couldn’t bring their dog. So, we offered to dog-sit for them. So, this is how we spent our weekend trolling around Schweinfurt with a pup!

Sofia

On Saturday, after we met our friends for the dog-switcheroo, we walked around the town and stumbled upon a little festival.  The best way we can describe it is that it seems that once a year, the town gets a little peek at how their taxes are working. So, the military and the fire department have a little street party. They had a band, with a food tent and a beer tent. Again, we noticed that the beer is served in real mugs, and when you return your mug, you get 2€ back.

Me at the Festival with our Brauhaus Schweinfurt Hefe Weisen

Me at the Festival with our Brauhaus Schweinfurt Hefe Weisen

the main square with the band and all the tables

Along with that, they had the German army recruiting and doing some demonstrations (like playing with the humungous guns and checking out their vintage and current army vehicles).

2 tickets to the gun show

german children practice shooting

The main event, though, was a demonstration by the firefighters. There was a beat up VW Polo in the middle of the square surrounded by firefighters dressed in their full gear. In the car was a guy smiling and getting his picture taken. We were curious why this seemingly innocuous scene was gathering such a crowd.

the crowd gathers...

At some point, however, we realized that this was a demonstration. The man was “trapped” in the car and the fire crew was going to “rescue” him.  So they set about breaking the windows, tearing off the doors, ripping the roof open and eventually pulling the man out. It took all of 30 minutes to completely demolish this car. They even strapped the man to a rescue gurney and gave him a fake saline drip. Everyone was watching this whole thing take place, and at the end, the crowd went crazy, applauding the firefighters.

firefighters surround the man in the car

breaking windows, ripping off doors, peeling the roof back...

All Zack and I could think was, “hmm, I wonder where they got that VW Polo…”

Today is a rainy Sunday, and since nothing is open, I think I will try my hand at taking the bus to school to get some work done. Never in my life have I gone into school on the weekend, but I REALLY need to get some work done!

the buses pretty much never late...

We are looking at an apartment tomorrow, wish us luck! Maybe the first apartment we look at will be the one!

I could rewind, or I could just keep playing…

11 Sep

I am so excited to be able to keep up with friends in a more concise, productive way. It has been tempting to email everyone I love individually with every exciting/scary/awe-inspiring moment since I have been here, but honestly, I would never get a damn thing done.

Let’s just say that I’m in Germany and I absolutely love it. We have been having some problems with official stuff that is holding up our pay and reimbursement for travel expenses and accommodations since we’ve arrived. Even that (pretty darn big) problem has not distracted us from how much we absolutely love this place.

Schweinfurt is picture of our ideal European town. We are staying in the center of the town. We have our choice of dozens of coffeeshops, bakeries, dirndl-shops and bookstores. There’s even an H&M across the street! At the same time, though, we can hear church bells from a few blocks away chiming away all the time. At 11:00 tonight, we hear the church bells again; a softer version than earlier today, but still reminding us, “Hey! You’re in Europe!”

...the view from our hotel room.

School is school. It’s like every day we are transported from our little Euro-haven to a miniature American High School. It is so bizarre, transitioning from our little town square to the Honda that so dutifully picks us up each morning to our little pocket of the United States and back daily. And don’t even get me started on the different languages I interact with on a daily basis. Yikes. The German woman at the gästette (family kitchen/restaurant) asked us, in English, how our meal was. I replied, “muy bien…er…sehr gut…thanks.”

Zeughaus Gästette. Currywurst. Before

Zeughaus Gästette. Currywurst. After

Well, other than the whole going-to-work thing, this is still feeling vacation-y. Which is why it’s a total bummer to have to think about things like bedtime at 11:30 on a Sunday. Especially this Sunday, when all I want to do is stay up all night remembering alongside my fellow Americans. I spent a good portion of the day remembering that day and being so grateful to not have lost anyone 10 years ago and thankful to all those who continue to support my country.

I also spent a good part of my day exploring/falling in love with this city. Pictures to come whenever I figure out how to do that here.

Love. Amor. Liebe.

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