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FOUR MONTHS, zusammengefasst

It’s been an extremely long time since I’ve written on here, but I will not apologize for this absence. Frankly, my dears, I have been having a damn good time and couldn’t be bothered with updating! No offense, or anything, but life is for living, is it not?

The weather has been INSANE and beautiful as of late. Today, it got up to 33 degrees Celsius!

(91 degrees Fahrenheit, I know you were wondering.)

(91 degrees Fahrenheit, I know you were wondering.)

It’s June, time is almost up here in the great D-Land of my heart, but the past few months have not been wasted, and the coming 24 days shall not be, either.

Since we last spoke, I’ve had many things happen, but I will only detail a few of them here.

I went to Berlin and met up with the OU Salzburg group! ‘Twas a delight, truly, and I think I showed them a bit of what Army Chelsea of 2011 was like on all those group excursions. At a time in my life, I was, indeed, a badass.

Bernie & Marianne came to visit in Leipzig! That was pretty sweet, they shared their intimate knowledge of our collective city and I got to find some hidden gems that I’d not yet stumbled upon. Shout out to Substanz, the most delishhhh place in Reudnitz, probably (possibly).

I had the beautiful privilege of visiting my roommate Vanessa in her hometown, Wittenburg! Saw that 95 Theses door, hellooooo Martin Luther! HISTORY COMES TO LIFE SOMETIMES, GUYS.

At times more literally than others.

At times more literally than others.

Another pastime of mine became what I’m now referring to in my head as STADTWALKS, just long, often aimless walks around Leipzig for hours at a time. I’ve come upon some pretty cool things. One day I took a train out to a tiny village 15 minutes away from Leipzig and decided to walk all the way back to my house, a trek that Google maps correctly estimated to be 4 and a half hours. Why would I do this, you might ask, why on earth would I do this!? Well friends, out in the tiny town of Beucha, one finds a truly delightful sight.

MY HAIR IS SO RED

MY HAIR IS SO RED

THIS IS THE BERGKIRCHE BEUCHA! So pretty. So so pretty. I couldn’t deal I almost lost my shit marbles.

On the way walking back from Beucha, I got yelled at by a scary German farmer man for taking a picture of his crumbling barn. He chased me down the street and wouldn’t believe that my intentions were anything but malicious, and told me that you just can’t DO that, this isn’t AMERICA after all.

Preach.

I explored the Sächsische Schweiz! I was treated to homemade, traditional cuisine at my lovely mentor teacher’s house! I went back to Salzburg! Because I love Salzburg. And I can’t not be in Salzburg for very long, apparently.

Stiegl for life.

Stiegl for life.

Luke was here! We went to the zoo! Kat was here! We went to Berlin! Maddy was here! We stayed out until six in the morning really enjoyed catching up!

Goth Week came and went, Leipzig filled up with the darkest of souls for a long weekend and oh my, so many heimliche pictures were taken. I sort of wish that was what Leipzig was like ALL the time, like 1/3 of the city just always walked around in period Victorian wear with dog leashes around their necks, painted from head to toe as a skeleton.

What a world, you guys.

What a world, you guys.

And now, we are in the throws of Stadtfest, what has been a wonderful week-long celebration of Leipzig’s 1000th birthday.

That’s right. ONE THOUSANDTH BIRTHDAY. Leipzig has been around for ONE. THOUSAND. YEARS. Take a moment and try to fathom that, because seriously, you cannot.

The coming days of June promise to be warm, sunny, and delightful. WHO CAN SAY what is yet to come, but I’m going to Berlin tomorrow (again) with Layla and Nathan (not again), so that’s already a good sign.

Perhaps I’ll update you on that trip once it happens, and perhaps not. Holding a grudge is a sign of weakness,

LOVE YOU, CHELS

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Märchenstunde // Storytime : No. 1

This is a story about a girl named Chelsea who hailed from America and had a fondness for German. Even as a young child of only 19 years, this passion for Deutsch led Chelsea down a tangled, twisted, sometimes tortured path. She traversed the Valley of Separable Prefix Verbs, ascended through the infamous Adjective Ending Chart Mountains, and sailed down the deadly but often tedious Subordinate Clause River, where she searched for and, one day, miraculously found the often-sought but seldom-discovered village, curiously named Verb at the End of the Sentenceville.

At the age of 22, she emerged from the Reflexive Forest, herself a victor, herself a conqueror. Such triumphs, though celebrated, were mere hiccups for our fine explorer. Chelsea knew that though her skills had been tested and her quest had been noble, no journey could prepare her for what lay ahead at the end of the map.

Frankly, it wasn't all that easy to follow in the first place.

To be fair, it wasn’t all that easy to follow in the first place.

No, there was nothing to be done that might have allowed Chelsea a glimpse into the future. To a world in which her battles didn’t matter, her successes were but moments in the past, forgotten and made unimportant by the passing of time. To the present day, to miles and miles away, to now, where Chelsea, age 23, finds herself: as a teaching assistant, at two German schools, in Sachsen.

This is a story about a girl, a girl who spent years struggling with German, fighting her aging brain to just please let me have a little more space I only need to shove a few more irregular verb conjugations in there okay guys; it’s a story about a girl who spent many a night alone in her room, a Wörterbuch her only bedfellow, highlighter in hand and crazed glint in her eye, a girl who couldn’t sleep at night for the unending questions rattling against her skull– Is that verb reflexive? I can see how it might be… but I can also see how it might not be. But it seems like it’s reflexive. Oh well, I’ll just go to sleep… actually I better look that up.

For all that time, that effort, that struggle– and what? A decent grasp of the German language, of course. But did that prepare Chelsea to take on a role as an English Teaching Assistant? No. Not at all. Because to be an English Teaching Assistant, knowledge of German is only 5% of whatever I’m vaguely talking about. 95% is making a fool out of yourself and trying not to offend anyone. Only anecdotal evidence may shed some light on what this truly means…

Surprise!

Today with special guest, Angela Merkel!

And now, what follows, are short tales of life in a German school as seen by an American teaching assistant.  Ignore the Erich Kästner in her hands and imagine instead that our German pal Angie up there is reading these little vignette-y things out loud to you. It’ll make everything that much more authentic.

Today, we bring you 3 stories–  all true, all plucked from Chelsea’s daily life, and all not actually presented by Angela Merkel.

 


 

1) The “Beaches” Incident

Chelsea sits in a small “Vorbereitungsraum” with three 9th graders, two boys and a girl, practicing English conversation skills. A few uncomfortable moments where kids tell me their families don’t have enough money to travel to other countries and look at me as if to say “and why the hell is this your business?” I want them to know, it’s not my fault! It’s just the activity I was given! But otherwise so far, so good. Question to discuss: where would you like to go on vacation if you could go anywhere in the world and why?

Noah: I want to go to Monaco.

Chelsea: Oh really! That’s interesting. I’ve never been there. Why do you want to go to Monaco?

Noah: Um… I think for the fast cars. And also for the bitches.

(Other two kids start to laugh)

Chelsea: For the beaches?

Noah: Yes, yes, the beaches. (Noah starts to laugh)

(Everybody’s laughing now. Chelsea is laughing, but she isn’t sure if she should be laughing)

Chelsea: I mean, unless you mean bitches. Or bitches on beaches. Right? Yeah guys? Right? Haha… heh… I don’t know.

 


2) Do You Have a Scorpion for Me?

It’s almost Halloween and Chelsea is preparing a lesson for the kids at the Grundschule. Shopping for ideas, she runs across a bag of neon glittery plastic insects– spiders, cockroaches, scorpions, the like. “Perfect,” she thinks, “the kids will love these. I’ll give them to the winners of the memory game I will go home and spend three hours making by hand, with love.”

Fast forward to the following week. A fourth-grade classroom. Children’s screams echo down the hallways for sure and Chelsea stands in the midst of their source, surrounded by the kids themselves.

Kids: That’s so MEAN. It’s not FAIR that only the winners get them! It’s not even like the game was HARD it was just all about LUCK this isn’t FAIR you’re MEAN CHELSEA.

Chelsea: Blahfweaosdjkfasdljfsladf…?

Kids: THIS ISN’T NICE THIS ISN’T FAIR

Chelsea: (resigned to the fact that she is not cut out for this long-term) Would it help if I bought you guys presents and brought them next time?

One Kid, Conceding: Yes… but can I have a sparkly spider right now though?

And they weren't even as cool as these so I don't get what the big deal was GUYS.

And frankly they weren’t even as cool as these so I don’t get what the big deal was GUYS.

While no children were harmed in the battle of the Iridescent Plastic Cockroach of 2014, a few tears were shed amongst the students. All other classes were told that there were no prizes, there had never been any prizes, and anybody from another class who told them that there were prizes was a dirty, dirty liar.

 


3) Rebel Rebel

Chelsea walks in to a 4th grade classroom. This class isn’t always the most well-behaved, but there’s a certain group of girls who make up Chelsea’s “fan club.” They usually participate and try to impress with their knowledge and enthusiasm for English class.

Today, they grab Chelsea’s arm and notice… her tattoo.

Evita: Is that a tattoo!

Chelsea: Uhh…

Leah: I want one! That’s so cool!

Evita: Me too!

(The girls run to grab a pen. Chelsea sits at the front of the room. Silent. Wondering if this is what parents mean when they call something a “bad influence”)

Katja: Can you draw it on me, Chelsea?

Chelsea: Umm… I don’t think that would be… I don’t know if… Uh, well, you go ahead, I guess.

Yeah... yeah.

Yeah… yeah.

 


So! Meine Damen und Herren, until next time.

This has been the first edition of MÄRCHENSTUNDE//STORYTIME, brought to you diesmal by Angela Merkel & friends. Join us next time for the fun with a different German moderator, just as much unnecessary extravagance, and, most importantly, more tales from the Vaterland about Chelsea, our adventurer, and the ridiculous things that happen when you hang out with foreign children in school all the time.

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I’m not always knitting, I swear

Well, well, well! A month and more has passed since my September 1st arrival in Leipzig, and I’m happy to say that all continues to go swimmingly. I love my schools, I love my apartment, I love my roommates, and I love that I finally got paid last week. This means: I’m now 4 dresses, 2 pairs of tights, and 11 balls of yarn richer. Right?

I've been busy.

I’ve been busy.

While the past few days have mainly consisted of many yarn-related crafts and countless episodes of Gilmore Girls thanks to the “eh”-quality of the weather outside, many delightful things have passiert since my last update. I’m here now to do my best to give a brief, but stunningly interesting overview of each with the most important highlights.

1) I have now met all of my roommates

Big shout outs to the wonderful humans that are Vanessa, Jan, Kim & Eva! Now that university classes are starting up again, everybody’ll be coming home to Leipzig pretty soon and we’ll all be here together and let me just say that I’m SUPER JAZZED about all that will come out of this beautiful union.

2) I’ve made some friends

Now’s the time to shout out to a few more fabulous humans, the other English teaching assistants living in Leipzig this year– we’re only just beginning, folks. Looking forward to the rest.

3) I went to Dresden! And visited Meg before she left

Had a MAGICAL time in that gorgeous city with one Meggelin, which included a splendid tour of the downtown area and a fun evening in the Neustadt, complete with a weird but token free-standing bathroom experience.

Me and Meg, on our way up a mountain in a magical mountain train.

Me and Meg, on our way up a mountain in a magical mountain train.

4) We’ve decided to make going to this English Quiz Night thing at this Irish Pub a weekly occurance

It seems that every Tuesday there’s an “English Quiz Night” at this Irish bar in the kool kid part of town, and me, Nathan, and Layla have decided that we’ve got a standing appointment to lose miserably every week. Maybe one day we’ll get that 25 Euro gift certificate… just maybe.

5) I went on a bus tour of Leipzig with a bunch of teachers from my Sportoberschule

It was great! I love bus tours! They are second only to boat tours.

And I'm not even a tourist cause I tooootally live here.

And I’m not even a tourist cause I tooootally live here.

6) As previously mentioned, I got paid

800 Euro, all for meeeeeee.

7) I Skyped with some of my best girls last night

This doesn’t have all that much to do with my neues Leben in Leipzig, but it was pretty exciting. Me and Abby and Maxie and Sara had a nice little Google Hangout time and all got new titles for the wedding. So, when someone starts referring to me as COO of Wedding Day Shots, don’t be confused. Just down it and roll with it.

8) I got many rubber band presents from small children at the Grundschule

One of the greatest parts of working at an elementary school and not being one of the “real” teachers is the undying adoration I receive from the many little German babies in my classes. Today alone I was gifted a bracelet and a rubber band owl, and promised many more to be presented to me next week. Lovin’ life, guys.

If only the youths put this much effort into literally anything else.

If only the youths of today put this much effort into literally anything else.

11) I registered my address with the city

This, my friends, means that I am a for real // bonafide // echt // non-imaginary // true resident of this fine city named Leipzig. That’s cool. And it’s the first step in the process to get my Aufenthaltstitel, a painful process I’m sure to repeat. At least this part’s over with.

10) I am “officially” enrolled at Universität Leipzig

Now, before everybody goes and gets all pumped about this, I’m enrolled at the university here mostly basically for the badass student card. It gets you all kinds of beautiful benefits, such as free public transportation in the area and discounts around and about! However! I would really like to take a class or so if it were at all possible. This is a cool place, and the university is cool, and I’m sure there are some cool classes offered– I just have to figure out HOW to sign up for them… I’ll get back to you.

I also enrolled for the free tote bag.

I also enrolled for the free tote bag.

What a nice update, don’t you think? I’m happy to have relayed all that information to you, out there, faceless and nameless reader-statistics of the internet.

Tomorrow is “Lichtfest” here in Leipzig, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Peaceful Revolution here in 1989. Shaping up to be quite an interesting event. There’s a bunch of other American assistants coming in from around Sachsen to visit for it, so I think it will be a nice time. Not entirely sure what it all entails, to be honest. But that’s the best way to go into things, don’t you think?

Blindly.

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My Leben in Leipzig, Part 1

Greetings, meine Lieben!

I write to you today from LEIPZIG, my brand new German home. Surprise, surprise, we’re all surprised, but we all think it’s possibly the coolest thing to ever happen, so hurrah for me.

My update is a bit delayed, I got here on Monday, but until today, the wifi at my apartment has been out, on the fritz, what have you. Then, magically, just a few hours ago, I discovered it was BACK, which is great news because my new lovely wonderful roommates are unfortunately out of town for the weekend…

Hello, Netflix!

BAE <3

BAE ❤

It’s cool, though. This will, to be fair, give me a bit of time to explore this fantastic city and get lost get to know the place all on my very own! I sure hope so, at least.

Yesterday was an interesting day. First of all, I’m at two schools this year. A Grundschule (1-4th grades) and an Oberschule (5-12th grades) that caters to sports. Interesting placement for me, you might be thinking, if you know me, or have ever heard anything about me, but I’m up for it! Maybe it’ll inspire me to buy those workout clothes, after all.

But yeah, anyway. Yesterday, I went to the Grundschule for the first time. Unfortunately, I’ve been suffering from jet lag a bit more than I usually do and, deswegen, I was late getting up. I didn’t have time to shower before running out the door with a nectarine in purse and no real idea of where I was going, aside from the name of the tram stop near the school. But hey I made it.

My Betreuungslehrerin at the Grundschule is, let’s say, delightful. The school is adorable, the Schulleiterin was super friendly, too, and everybody there was just like… nice. Like super nice. It was a really happy day.

Maybe I'll get to have my own crayons. You know, standard ETA supplies.

Maybe I’ll get to have my own crayons. You know, standard ETA supplies.

BUT THEN, the chaos came. My dear pal, Bernie, who spent last semester in Leipzig himself, took it upon his wonderful being to organize a bike for me before he left. I arranged to pick up said bike from his old apartment on Thursday, and, lucky me, I’d even been there before when I visited him in March. So, smart Chelsea, I figured I knew where I was going. And I did!

For a while.

After successfully picking the bike up, I began the process of getting the bike home. Now, Bernie’s old apartment was located, I believe, in the part of the city known as Lindenau. My apartment, however, is not located there. It is, actually, located at least 25 minutes away from Lindenau when you’re riding the convenient (and yet sometimes terrifying) Straßenbahns.

Seeing as how I wasn’t entirely sure where I was going, I decided to walk the bike home rather than ride it. This idea, I thought, was logical, and might only take about an hour at most. I wasn’t too worried about it, since I hadn’t showered that morning anyway, and, what’s an hour’s walk, really?

GUESS WHAT. I was mistaken about everything.

May as well just have gone down this street.

May as well just have gone down this street.

I got lost A LOT. I used up all the data on my phone because of our lack-of-internet at home, so Google Maps was super slow and little help. At one point, I walked past this park and continued my journey for 25 minutes or so only to SUDDENLY REALIZE that I was walking past the exact same park on the exact same side of the street somehow. So that was super fun. And then I almost got hit by a Straßenbahn. It was ringing its little bells at me all angry and everything, and I still managed to almost let it kill me. Whaddayaknow, eh?

Finally, though, FINALLY, looking a hot mess and having to walk directly through the center of the city, I found my way back to my happy, not sweaty apartment. Two hours after beginning my trek. And mind you, it was very hot outside. The weather here’s been pretty mild this week, but it was really warm that afternoon, I swear.

Anyway, that’s been the only rough patch in my life thus far. So, I’d say I’m doing a-okay.

Then today! I went to the Sportoberschule. It was also great! I met the Schulleiterin there, got a little tour from my other Betreuungslehrerin (who is also amazing, and bought me a flower on Wednesday–so sweet!), and met some of the other teachers.

So, yeah. My outlook is positive.

And my Friday-night plans are firmly in place!

And my Friday-night plans are firmly in place!

I can tell this will be a lovely experience, a lovely year, in a lovely city, with lovely roommates in a lovely apartment.

And on this LOVELY note, I leave you, dears. I’ve got a super hot Netflix date and some 2-Euro Austrian wine calling out my name…

Tschüssi!

[Side note: I just went and checked my website statistics, and it appears that my blog has been found twice thanks to searching “lederhosen for little boys.” So. Progress?]

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Let’s do the time warp again

And so, it appears I skipped May entirely. Well, for the best. Who needs it? Some good things did happen, though…

This is not Las Vegas!

This is not Las Vegas!

1) I went to Paris!

If to you this is not already an indication of the good things that May brought, I could not begin to fathom continuing this conversation with you. So, for your sake and mine, let’s imagine that you were equally excited as I wanted you to be the first time around. Paris! That’s right!

I took to the streets of the city of love with one Ashley and one Morgan, Ashley’s cousin who came over to visit for a week. The first part of this trip (i.e. the 11-hour bus ride to get to Paris) is not even worth mentioning, so I’m going to pretend it never happened.

After Ashley and I found each other, we successfully navigated our way to a train station, put our bags in lockers, at some food, drank some coffee, watched some Parisians being Parisian, and shelled out 20 Euro each for tickets to and from Charles DeGaulle to go pick up Morgan. Laaa-aaame, if you ask me. Somebody should really check that ticket price and knock it down, yo.

Once Morgan was in our midst, the real fun began. The next several days were a whirlwind of walking tours, mussels, wine, the Mona Lisa, crepes, cemeteries, cheese, tampons (no comment), baguettes, weird Indian snacks, postcards, Oscar Wilde, and Metro stations. Not to mention, the most important highlight of them all: macarons.

THESE ARE NOT PRETTY PATTIES

THESE ARE NOT PRETTY PATTIES

GUYS GUYS GUYS we went to Laduree and ate macaroons and I wanted to die I was so happy. My macaron obsession comes full-circle: goin’ right to the source. Pistacia Vera ain’t got nothin’ on that shit. Pardon my French (wink!).

To sum up this entire experience, Paris was awesome. I got to see Brittany, the legendary babysitter from my childhood, we went up the Eiffel Tower at night to see the lights and experience the bitter cold even higher up in the sky, we ate decadently and deliciously. I was not disappointed.

2) This weird thing happened at school called a “Maigang” and some teachers and I reenacted (and rewrote) select scenes from “Rocky Horror Picture Show” on camera.

Not sure when my acting debut will be, but someone, somewhere, in the back halls and dark rooms of my Gymnasium, there exists footage of me improv-acting auf Deutsch. My break-out moment is truly when my throat is cut and I die but somehow manage to come back to life seconds later to a rousing chorus of “All You Need is Love.”

I’m not sure, either.

Just me, as a dress-up-German interpretation of "Janet"

Just me, as a dress-up-German interpretation of “Janet”

3) Another thing happened where I made random friends from Wilhelmshaven and did a solitary early-morning hour-long walk home… but that’s really all that needs to be said about this.

4) “Vatertag” / Christi Himmelfahrt

Not entirely sure about the inherent mutual exclusivity of these events, but it seems that in Germany, Vatertag (father’s day) is always celebrated on the day of Jesus’ ascension into heaven. It just so happens that the Germans enjoy their drinking events, and Vatertag seems to be no exception.

Ruth and I were taken under the wing of my dear Betreuungslehrerin and shown what Vatertag is really all about. We went to this place called Drögen Hasen, which, surprisingly, has nothing to do with drugged-up rabbits.

Don't look so shocked, an umlaut makes all the difference

Don’t look so shocked, an umlaut makes all the difference

Instead, it was a field near a restaurant called Drögen Hasen where a cool little festival thing was set up. There were beer wagons, food wagons, there was a dance floor, and there were portable bathrooms. What more can you really ask for when embarking on a day-long drinking adventure?

AND NOW IT IS JUNE.

When the hell did it get to be June already? And MID-June, at that??

How can it possibly be that there’s only — count ’em — EIGHTEEN DAYS left until I make my merry way back home? I’m just as confused as you are, guys. I thought it wasn’t possible to speed up time, but I have in fact been proven wrong.

In making with the fun and attempting to wring out every last squeezable drop of enjoyment from this fabric called LIFE, June has been keepin’ me pretty happy thus far. There were already two, TWO five day weekends this month. Now that’s my kind of month! The first weekend in June (which was rung in with Vatertag) and this past weekend, thanks to something I’m still unsure about called Pfingsten.

Hooray for church holidays being state holidays!

This past weekend was lovely, and included such headliners as the delicious “MC Wok,” the ever-elusive “Skype,” the fickle friend “Karaoke,” my longtime companion “Wine,” with special appearances made by “Hafenfest” and the always-charming “Nordsee.”

This photo is called "Three Ladies on a Beach Making Kissy Faces at One Another"

This photo is called “Three Ladies on a Beach Making Kissy Faces at One Another”

Tomorrow, I make for the Nord again and head to Rostock for one last mini-vacation. Luke will also be showing his freckled-face, so it’s what I like to call “REUNION TIME” up in here. Excited for that, and the happiness that will ensue.

But seriously, how is it June. I feel like my birthday just happened, but in all actuality I’ve been 23 (apparently) for like 6 months now. I’m barely 23 anymore. I may as well be 24, I’m about as close to that as I am to 23. How weird! Am I right?

Guys?

I love me some Google image search.

Google Image Search kills me.

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