Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I found a class at the University! And I might actually succeed in it!

It was a little suspenseful-- I was almost late because I couldn't find the room. You see, at this university, the building is not quite connected to itself. I was in the right building, looking at map so I could find the room, but every time I walked toward where it should have been, there was a wall. It turns out that, even though it is in the main building, you have to exit the main entrance and go through a side entrance to get to this classroom. This section of the building doesn't appear to be connected to the rest.

When my friend Liz and I got there, there was a good number of people the room and pretty much no one in the front two rows. Liz isn't a shy girl (if you knew her you'd know what an understatement this is), so she just walked on in and sat in the front. I'm glad we did-- when the professor started talking, he was realllly quiet.

The class, translated, is called "The lives, legends and teachings of the founders of major religions". It's a twelve week seminar covering Buddha, Confucius, Moses, Jesus and Mohammed. After talking to the professor, we found that the only thing we have to do in this class to get a grade is to either give a ten minute presentation or take a final exam. Naturally, we have to do all the reading (20-30 pages a week) and participate in class, but it looks like I can succeed here.

Score one for Ingrid.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Today, Monday, April 19th 2010, is the first day of classes for the second semester at LMU and TU Munich.

I had picked out 8 classes to visit this week, thinking that after a week or two, I can decide which classes I do and don't like, whittling my real load down to 5 or 6.

I went to bed early last night and woke up bright and early. My first class was at 8, and I didn't know quite where the room was, so I wanted to be early. By the time my alarm went off at 6:40, the sun was shining, and leaving my building I discovered a beautiful spring day.

The class I wanted to sit in on, Elektrodynamik, is housed in the TU campus downtown. There is no U-bahn stop especially for it, so it was a pleasant 10 minute walk to the building. Nothing could get me down. Walking along the street, I would smell coffee every once in a while, reminding me of work, class and productivity.

When I found the building, it was 7:52, meaning that I still had 23 minutes to find the classroom (most classes at German Universities start 15 minutes after the stated time). I went inside and wandered around, hoping to find room 052.

Long story short, I never did. The building was huge, and I wandered around for 15 minutes not getting any closer before I finally broke down and went to a security guard at an information desk. There were no useful maps of the building to be found.

"Excuse me, do you know where room 052 is?"

Pause for the German man to stare at me like I'm crazy.

"Room 052? Do you know where it is?"

Another pause.

"Does it exist?"

"No. . . I don't think so."

"Oh. Thank you! Bye!"

Right now I am sitting in a park, waiting two hours to go to my next class (I know where this one is, by the way).

Does room 052 exist? I have no idea. But as soon as I get access to internet, I am going to check. It was probably some sort of dumb mistake on my part, but it is also entirely possible that people who work there just don't know where it is. The university system here is not centralized and can be ridiculously confusing. A similar thing happened to me last semester when I had a work group that supposedly took place on the 3rd floor of the main building-- a floor that was mostly boarded off due to construction. I never did find that room, and ended up dropping the class.

That's life, I guess.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Coming to Munich in September, I was really excited about Oktoberfest. No doubt I started my year off with a bang. There were something like 5 visitors in my room over the course of one week, all headed to this wonderful drinking festival. When it was over, I had dreams that some way, somehow, I had finished my year here and stayed until the next Oktoberfest. I didn't think anything could top it.

As it turns out, Oktoberfest isn't Munich's only drinking festival.

There's also Starkbierfest (Strong beer festival, where the beer is 7.8 to 9 percent alcohol) and Frühlingsfest, the spring version of Oktoberfest. Starkbierfest I may or may not write about later-- it was pretty mellow and not as centralized-- but Frühlingsfest, Oktoberfest's twin brother, was insane.

Strolling out of the U-bahn, I was greeted by the same rides and attractions that had been around during Oktoberfest. There were fewer beer tents, though, and they were a lot easier to get into.

There were a lot of us and no completely empty tables, so we broke up and sat at two that were back to back. I wasn't as impressed as I had been by Oktoberfest, but my friend, Melissa, rocking a new Dirndl, was glowing. "I haven't been this happy since Starkbierfest!" she said. I nodded, but inside, I was like, "Yeah, whatever, let's get a Maß." I was a little disappointed that we hadn't magically sat down with a table of german guys around our age.

The older Austrian couple we sat down next to turned out to be really nice. The combination of their Austrian accent and the noise all around us made it difficult for me to understand them, but we had a nice conversation. When the Maßs came, everyone was pretty happy. We took pictures of each other, laughed, and made merry. When a group of three german girls sat down at our table, the Austrians remarked that our table was fairly international.

Then the Austrian couple left, the girls scooted over, and three guys joined the table. We were never introduced, nor did we talk to them. The german girls were ignoring us, probably thinking that we couldn't speak german, so we just talked among ourselves. Trying to talk to them never resulted in anything.

I hate to assume, but I think they didn't like us because we were American. It was weird. I've met many Germans, and although some of them have been a little wary of me because they've heard about my country, they've always given me, as an individual, a chance. When, after getting to know someone, they ask if people in America really drive the huge cars they see on TV, or if they wonder if people actually exist in America who don't believe in global warming, I admit that it's true. I know that there are a lot of backwards things in American culture.

And, in their defense, the two tables next to us were filled with the type of people epitomized by MTV's series "The Jersey Shore". In the first half hour we were there, one of the tables broke something like 6 beer mugs. The german girls were probably pissed from being surrounded by loud, American tourists. But no matter how hard I tried to converse, they wouldn't.

Things started to get really awkward. The JYMers were joined by two really drunk German girls, and people started to get up on the table and dance. That's good fun. What wasn't cool is that one of them was wearing a thong under her Dirndl and all the guys on the other end of my table were looking up her skirt. Sensibilities offended, I went over and told her to be careful. She didn't care. Whatever. It's her choice, I guess. I just continued to look at the guys really disapprovingly whenever they acted lewd.

I was surprised that the german girls at our table who were talking to them weren't saying anything, and even encouraging their behavior. One of the main cultural differences that I've noticed since coming here is that German men are much more respectful towards women, and that society in general is less sexist. If anyone should have gotten offended, it should have been the german girls at our table. These girls were just unfriendly, uncaring people.

When one of the guys grabbed a camera to take a picture up her skirt, I grabbed it. "What are you doing?!" I asked in German, "That is so impolite! Stop it!" He nodded and put the camera away when I gave it back.

But they didn't stop staring. I know that the girl was being inappropriate, but I who am I to judge? She might have just been really drunk. I hate it when people take advantage of drunk girls. Who doesn't know someone who has been in that situation?

They started checking out a new friend's butt (she was wearing jeans, btw-- no reason there at all to be a jerk) and pulled the camera out again to snap a picture. She whipped around and glared at them, and they stopped taking pictures. As before, they didn't stop staring. Also, I was really mad because our waitress was taking forever to bring our second beers.


The staring finally stopped. The german girls looked taken aback. I tried, again, to talk to them, (german, quieter voice, insert grammatical errors) "I just think that you should say something when something wrong is happening. Why do they think that that behavior is okay? Germany is one of the best countries to be in if you're female, and they need to know that they can't act like that." Her response? "Oh, he's from Italy-- that's what they do there."

Not wanting to cause a scene, I switched tables. More beer came, and my mood improved. So much so, that when the loud Americans a table over broke yet another glass, and that glass fell on my foot and cut my toe, I didn't care. It didn't hurt, so I thought it would just dry up and stop bleeding. A little later, I walked with a friend to the bathroom to keep her company, and noticed that my foot was sloshing around in my flip flop from all the blood. I grabbed some toilet paper to press on the wound (a shallow, 1 1/2 inch cut), and the girl behind us said that I should really go to first aid. She was german, and really nice. "Flip flops aren't the right type of shoes to wear to these things," she said, "once your friend is done with the bathroom, you both should go to first aid."

So we did. The people there were also really friendly, and surprised and impressed that we spoke german.

First, they had to clean my foot-- there was so much blood that they couldn't see the wound. All my toenails were crusted with dried blood. "This might sting a little," the man said in german, and the woman who was holding my foot started cleaning it with rubbing alcohol. They explained that it was alcohol, and I said (also in german; this whole conversation was in german) "I have a friend who lived in Russia, and she puts vodka on all her wounds." They smiled and nodded.

They touched my foot in different ways, making sure that I still had feeling in it, and then wrapped the whole upper part of my foot in gauze. "Next time, make sure you wear better shoes!" said the man, "we had an injury very similar to this a little while ago."

"I'm from California. We don't have shoes there," I replied, and they all laughed. I agreed to wear better shoes in the future when there was a high chance of foot injuries, and we said our goodbyes.

The walk through the festival and the U-bahn ride was awesome, and completely reminiscent of Oktoberfest. I think that drunk people have a special ability to walk, arm in arm, 6 wide, through crowds, because I don't think I could do that sober. Then again, when I'm sober, I'm too smart to try.

Everyone was laughing and taking pictures, and the U-bahn ride back was really short. When we got back, we didn't want the night to be over, so we all went to the student bar, where we ran into other people we knew. I proudly showed everyone my foot injury.

When the bandages finally came off the next day, one JYMer remarked, "Is that all?". She had seen the amount of blood the day before and couldn't believe that it all came from such a small cut.

All in all, it was a good evening.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I'm not very good at maintaining a Blog

It's been forever since I've updated my blog, but I'm back in Munich for a while now so I have time. Not that it matters too much, but I know that there are a couple people at home who read it when they're actually supposed to be doing homework, and I try to help out with procrastination as much as I can.

My life recently has been pretty good. I spent a month traveling and when I got back I slept for three days straight. I guess I was tired. A similar thing happened this week, right after I came home from Amsterdam, so Amsterdam must be an ultra-tiring city.

I only have a week left of semester break. Maybe it's a good thing. During my travels I drank too much, ate too much and didn't work out or sleep enough, so a schedule might be good for me.

Not too much to say, and too much to say. Instead of trying to list it all here, my plan is to do sort of a play-by-play of my travels, talking about the things I did, saw and experienced.

We'll see if I get to it.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Back from Ireland!

Aka Fairy Wonderland. What an absolutely beautiful country! There's really not much to say about this trip, as the only way I could ever come close to describing the wondrous nature of Ireland is through pictures.

I guess you bring back something different from every place. I have about a billion stories from my circumnavigation of Germany (which I will write down when I'm done traveling), but only 50 good pictures. Ireland, on the other hand, left me with nothing that interesting to talk about, but over 250 pictures, every one of which is beautiful-- I went through and checked.

The weather was very cooperative with us, too. As a wise postcard we found in the gift shop says, "The sun shines when beauty travels." Us three traveling girls caused not only the sun to shine every day, but also caused several rainbows to appear. Rainbows for which we did not have to experience rain!

There's really not much to say here, so here's a few pictures.

Tonight I fly to Greece!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Back to Munich, but not for long

I just got back from my German adventure yesterday afternoon. It didn't go quite as planned-- we never hopped the border to the Netherlands-- so our route looked more like an oval than like pac-man.

I want to write about it, but I'm leaving tomorrow morning to go to Ireland, and have a lot to do. Maybe I'll write a quick post, maybe I won't, but I did write a lot in my journal, so I shouldn't lose too much information by waiting a little longer until I get back from my other trips.

My main observation is that Munich feels really small compared to the other German cities. It was wonderful to roll into Frankfurt and see an actual skyline.

And, of course, it was also wonderful to get a better taste of Germany. I think it will prove useful in deciding where I want to live if I ever come back.

I'll update soon enough!


Monday, February 1, 2010


I know this is a bit late, but I thought I'd do a post about my 4 day trip to Prague with my friends Liz, Ana and Melissa in mid-December. It was an interesting trip, during which I learned many things:

1 Prague can be very cold during the winter

2 It's generally not a good idea to argue with an already strong-minded friend while she's on her period. In fact, a lot of the time it may be better not to talk to her at all

3 If, at any time, you find yourself separated from your friends in Eastern Europe, it's not necessarily because they absentmindedly left you-- and if you decide to just go on without them they might report you missing to the Embassy because they're afraid that you got sold into the Eastern European sex trade

Another note on the cold: I packed for the trip 3 sweaters so that I'd have a little variety in my dress. I ended up wearing all three of them at once for the duration of the trip, and it still didn't keep me from occasionally going numb.

Prague was an unbelievably beautiful and really cheap city. At every corner there was some ornate building or other, usually housing an inexpensive restaurant (not really).

But one of the most memorable things that I saw in Prague might be the English language menu of the restaurant by our hostel. Hot spiny wine, anyone? How about a sundae caress?