Saturday, March 5, 2016

Attempting to Warm Up to Chilly Germany

Hallo! What an amazing and busy month it's been! We started February in Gent, Belgium, then met Julie in Amsterdam, and together we traveled back to Belgium to tie up loose ends. Then, we and our stuff said "Daag!" (Goodbye) and flew to Madrid. Julie and I traveled southern Spain -Seville, Malaga, Granada - which was so much fun. 

After she left I spent a few days solo in Madrid before taking an epic journey (taxi, plane, train, bus x2) to Gréoux-les-Bains, a TINY village in the south of France, to spend time with Joel and pals, who were working their fusion-powered booties off at ITER. After he finished, we celebrated surviving the go-go-go by chillin' for three days on the coast of France (Côte d'Azur) in a great little town called Golfe Juan.

Here are a few pics from the travels: 

La Alhambra in Granada, Spain
Gréoux-les-Bains, France <3
Golfe Juan, France
It was an incredible journey that culminated on Leap Day, when we took our belongings (and a leap....I HAD TO) and boarded a plane to Munich, our new home.

When we arrived that night, Munich was COVERED in snow and still snowing. In the words of Gob, "I've made a huge mistake."

We did meet two incredibly nice people (separately) on the metro who offered to help with our bags and one guy lived in the same area and told us to stop by anytime if we needed anything. So kind. I thought, "Wow if this is a sign of things to come..."

It wasn't. 

My impression of Munich is that it's kind of like America in that it is very keen on efficiency and functionality, except if every American smile turned into a frown, every laugh was silence, and every pleasantry was gruff frightening German.

It doesn't help that our neighborhood is full of concrete and pretty much devoid of anything aesthetically-pleasing. It also doesn't help that I woke up my first day here with a knock-down cold and could hardly get out of bed. But still. I mean, Joel saw a bird house in the park that was literally a grey square made of concrete. Not even a bird house has whimsy!

To be fair, part of it is me. This is my last Euro stop since I'm going home in early April (Joel will be here until the end of July, when he GRADUATES!) and I'm over it. I'm over the novelty and magic of being like, "Wow what a cool word for 'spoon'!" I don't care. I want MY culture. I want to not feel like I'm starting from square one AGAIN. I'm really over being foreign and confused. I know I'm super fortunate to be able to experience this and blabla....I'm over it. I'll miss Joel desperately, but in all other respects, I'm SO ready to go home.

And what a climax, huh? I mean, the first year we had Nancy, France, which HELLO- pastries !! wine, cheese, French sass that made me sad inside but subsequently motivated to learn the language, so much inherent cuteness and romance. Then Gent, Belgium- beautiful castles, stunning canals and architecture, incredible commitment to cycling, stellar green spaces. And now we have Munich. 

Pretty sweet.

There are signs everywhere, but I don't know what any of them mean.

 Oh great, thank you, I was looking for green triangle!

The less-than-lovey feelings with Munich appear to be mutual. Within our first couple days here:

-Joel went to a pharmacy to get me meds for death cold and asked the pharmacist if she spoke English. She yelled, "No! Speak German!" and pointed at the door.
-We washed our clothes at a student laundromat and someone STOLE OUR CLOTHES from the washer. They weren't even dry! Such an irritating and bewildering crime! Especially since I had the bare minimum of clothes already.

*Edit on the clothes: Mystery solved! A woman put in her laundry, and then asked her boyfriend to put it in the dryer, and he picked the wrong stuff by mistake. Thanks to the magic of Facebook, we connected and he brought over our stuff, along with some Haribo and delish chocolate. So that's a positive development!

Why Munich, why. 

As for our housing, we rented what is called a "bungalow" from someone for the month, which sounds exotic and cozy, right? It really just means "tiny ass apartment."

Here's our bed, which is quite small, so we also got an air mattress:

Our bathroom. Am I a giant or is this outrageously small?

Our kitchen/living room combo. What is this, a center for ants?

Fun fact about these bungalows, of which there are hundreds for students, is that they were built for athletes participating in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. Sooo we might be in the space of some epic shot-putter or ball-kicker or the like! (I'm very sporty.) We are very close to the Olympic stadium from that era as well.

Today the snow/ice rain finally stopped and I decided to go exploring, because surely this whole city can't be a soulless hellscape, right? It turns out, it's not. Very close to us is a giant, lovely park (Olympiapark), with hikes up to a nice panoramic viewpoint, which I used to look around for better parts of the city. (lol)

I've been feeling a bit depressed (winter blues and all that), so Joel is endeavoring to cheer me up. We are going to do a couple of outings- we're right by the BMW headquarters so we'll go there next weekend, as well as the Starkbier (strong beer) festival, a kind of Spring Oktoberfest where people drink dark beers in liederhosen.

To get in the mood, last night we ate Bavarian sausages with a local beer. The sausages were DELISH.

Munchner Hell - so they're aware then! : p
I'll try to shake off my funk to enjoy the last month of my European adventure as much as I can, although right now it seems that apathy is the most positive emotion I can muster.

On a higher note, I did lol at a sign I see here pretty regularly- it means exit:

What other kind of fahrt is there, amiright?
Fingers crossed that things improve here. Until next time!