Hi friends!  So, I’ve been writing more reflective posts about my time here, but now it’s time for my random thoughts and things I’ve noticed in the past nine and a half weeks here in Munich.  I report on these in no particular order and with a great deal of love for Germany 🙂

  1. Tracht (traditional garb) – Children in Lederhosen and Dirndls are super adorable!
  2. Milchkaffee – This frothy coffee made with lots of milk is one of my favorite things and I could seriously drink it every day.
  3. Escalators – There are really cool escalators here that are capable of going either direction, depending upon whether or not people are standing at the top or bottom.  Sadly, you can’t change directions once the escalator has started moving – that would really mess with people, after all!  Overall, these escalators in the subway (U-Bahn) work really well, but sometimes they’re out of order.  That’s to be expected – nothing bizarre there.  However, on several occasions, I have witnessed people begin to walk up the escalator, realize that it’s not working, turn around, and then go up the stairs.  Was?!  And the funny thing is, I’ve started to do it, too! All of this reminds me of a stand-up bit by dear Mitch Hedberg, a comedian who left us far too soon (it’s the second half of the skit).
  4. International Relations – A goofy grin, a laugh or a kind word go a long way in international relations 😀  So many times, a smile or even saying Gesundheit to someone on the U-Bahn have brought awesome cross-cultural moments.
  5. Der Lehrturm –  If your class is held in a building called the Lehrturm or “Teaching Tower,” you may be excited because it sounds like something from Harry Potter.  Oooohhh, maybe it’s like the Astronomy Tower!  But, alas, Professor Dumbledore is not coming.  Nor will there be enchanting moving pictures hanging on the walls.  Instead you will find that, like the Astronomy Tower, there are only stairs…seemingly endless stairs to your classroom which is located at the very top of the tower.  And like the Astronomy Tower, I don’t believe there’s an elevator…
  6. Early Starts – Classes for Hebrew and Greek begin at 8:00 am.  That’s just mean… I can barely think in any language at all at that point in time, let alone a Biblical one!
  7. Breads/Pastries/Sweets– The world is missing out because I don’t think people know that Germany has some amazing baking skills.  One of the things I miss most when I’m not here are the delicious breads, rolls and pastries.  Frankly, even if the world knows about the bread, I think Germany’s sweets and pastries are seriously underrated.  Amazing cakes and tortes, sweet rolls with nuts or apples, flaky Strudel and all manner of other treats with delicious fruits and/or sauces.  Just writing about it makes me want to go find something! *mouth waters*

    Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte

  8. Libraries – Each university department has it’s own library; I, for example, use the theological/philosophical library.  The resources here in Munich are really incredible, but within the departmental libraries you are not allowed to check out books.  There is a university library, but if you want to check out a book there, you need a library card.  To obtain said library card, you need a student ID and a personal ID.  And this is where it gets a wee bit ridiculous… When I presented my student ID and driver’s license, I was informed that that would not work because I was not a citizen of the EU.  She would need to see my passport and proof that I had a place to stay here.  For a library card.  Please bear in mind that my student ID was obtained by showing my passport and proof that I had a place to stay.  Yes, the same student ID that was needed to get the library card.  *Face palm*  Oh, and if you want to borrow a book from the library, you have to order it on a computer and wait for it to arrive (3 days!), not because it’s coming from a different location in Germany or Europe, but because they need to get it from one of the libraries in Munich.
  9. Dogs – We discussed this in my language course: Germans love dogs.  And there are tons here!  They travel with their people on the U-Bahn, on buses, and sit with them in restaurants.  But the interesting thing is that they are far better behaved (for the most part!) than dogs I’ve seen back home.  Walking through the Englischer Garten (English Garden), you see tons of people with their dogs and many aren’t on leashes.  However, it’s fascinating to watch because they stay pretty close to their owners, don’t harass others, and most of them return quickly when called.
  10. Mülltrennung (trash separation) – This is something I have continued to be in awe of since I first studied abroad in Germany in college.  While we may complain about having recycling bins and trash cans, there are 5 different containers here!  One is for biodegradable things, one is for paper, one is for glass of various types, one is for packaging and cartons, and the last is for the rest.  Talk about taking your time to try to figure out where everything goes!  But I think it’s a good system because it really forces me to not be lazy about thinking about where my trash/items go.  I find that it makes me more conscious of trying to not waste things and to reuse/recycle as much as possible.
  11. Staying Active! – I have been walking so much since I’ve been here and while sometimes it’d be great to just get to where I’m going quickly by using a car, I have really been loving the walks.  Fresh air, time to move and to think, and being able to experience changing leaves, bright sun or even gentle rain is wonderful.  It makes me feel alive.  Besides, I think it’s saving me from the breads, sweets and pastries from number 7 😉  People use bikes here as well – lots of bikes – which can be intimidating and/or life-threatening if you are standing in a bike lane and miss the ring of the bell that singles you are about to be run down! I would expect that a lot of young people would walk or bike, but older people do too, which always makes me super happy.  It’s great to see 70+ year-old people walking or biking and staying active.  I hope that I can remain this active when I go back and as I become older!

As I said these are just some thoughts and reflections into what I’ve been noticing and experiencing!  What are your experiences away from home?

© 2012. Annabelle Peake Markey. All rights reserved.

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