Tag Archives: college

This Post is Basically Just About Food

So I concede, it’s been quite a while since I’ve last detailed the intricacies of my absolutely fascinating life on the internet for all (Mom) to see. Please excuse me, but like, really guys. I’ve been a little busy, you know, doing totally cool stuff and being a badass.

Just to clarify.

Well, a lot has happened since, what, November? Things like Christmas and my 24th birthday and the apocalypse I joined a gym. These are just a few examples.

All of December here was truly amazing, as you might expect. If you remember correctly, December is the time of CHRISTMAS here in the Vaterland. Weihnachten, that is. And Christmas markets. I cannot tell you how much I love the Weihnachtsmärkte. It’s probably my favorite thing about being in this country– for a month in what might otherwise be a dreary time, weather-wise, you can almost certainly be brought into a sort of fairy-tale like world of delicious food stuffs, lights, singing, overpriced handicrafts and, oh you thought I’d forgotten, Glühwein.

Glühwein

Ahh, Glühwein. That most sultry and cinnamony of winter-time beverages.

I do declare that from here on out, never a Christmas season shall pass that I do not sip on this most delectable of treats. As per the usual, I made sure to bring some along to my Christmas festivities at home, because yes, once again, I was most warmly welcomed back into Ohio for two beautiful weeks of family and friends and far too much alcohol.

It was great being home, as one might think. I have a tendency to forget that being around people you’ve known for years and years is pretty cool, and I like that my time spent away (so much time) has allowed me that perspective. Here’s to keeping that idea fresh and fancy forever (we’d hope).

Returning to Leipzig was bittersweet, of course. I’d come to really be used to a steadily stocked fridge and the cozy comfortableness of having absolutely nothing to do all day. Yet I was happy to get back here, see my beautiful roommates, hand out the few little things I’d brought back from my time in the crazy place that is the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (exotisch), and begin preparations for what would be the day that marked my 24th year of life.

For my birthday, I decided we’d cook fajitas.

Fajitas? You might ask. But Chelsea, really, fajitas? Didn’t you just return from America, the magical land that allowed you to eat Mexican food for six straight days in a row while you were home?

Yes, I’d answer. Yes, I did, but get ahold of yourselves. There is no such thing as too much Mexican food.

So! The effort began to bring the delight of fajitas to Germany. It’s not exactly an easy task, since what Germans lack in the Mexican food department they make up in, basically, just sausages. We toiled and shopped and spent a while at the grocery store, but eventually emerged with appropriate supplies. I made guacamole, we had some sort of strange taco-seasoning to add to the mix (in the hopes that it’d impart some of that flavor food around here sometimes seems to be missing), and a whole lot of peppers. Cause fajitas means peppers.

This is not a picture of the fajitas we made.

This is not a picture of the fajitas we made.

And lo– we did it! Fajitas were created. I managed to even find some black beans, cause I love black beans, though they were drenched in some strange chili sauce so I washed them off and they were actually pretty good. Gotta buy me some more of those, mental note. I was pleased, not only by the fajitas, but by the three different kinds of sangria I also purchased as a taste-test to go along with the meal (Spanish/Mexican/whatever, it worked).

Muy bien!

The week after my birthday, dear Eva, my roommate, celebrated hers. We threw a big ol’ party on that Thursday that we got sponsored (??? still confused) and therefore had like 6 cases of free beers and a bunch of free Bacardi to offer our guests. Pretty fly. Good times had by all, and the following day, I departed for a grand adventure to my most favorite of European locations…

If you've ever met me, you  know how stupid happy this sight would make me.

If you’ve ever met me, you know how stupid happy this sight would make me.

Salzburg! My homie Bernie just got there a few weeks ago for his last semester of college, so I traveled on down, aboard a bus, mind you, and spent the weekend in my European hometown. I love getting to continue visiting that place. I made so many of my best friends there.

To top it all off, we got to spend the day in Maria Alm, a little village surrounded by Alps (that were obscured entirely by some kinda wonderful snowstorm) just a few hours away from Salzburg, with my former German professors and their crazy cute adorable bilingual children. And we went to lunch with them at this wonderful little restaurant place named after a Farmer’s Cabinet (no time to explain, the dog’s on fire!) and I ate some Käsespätzle and my life was complete.

You guys, I almost couldn’t leave.

But then I did, because Leipzig, and I reminded myself that I love it here too, in different ways and for different reasons. I got back here at like 5 AM on last Tuesday morning and I was so happy to see that Hauptbahnhof, you guys– this place is fabulous.

Also, while in Salzburg, Bernie and I made the important discovery that my target audience for everything I write/do/say lately is really American people (or people who have a vast familiarity with Americanness) who speak/study German. So, if nothing I write/do/say comes off as funny to you, that’s not my fault. It’s all on you, for refusing to partake in the joy that is the German language.

See like it's your own fault if you don't get that.

See like it’s your own fault if you don’t get that. YOUR SCHULD. Sorry.

Since then, life’s been sailing along pretty smoothly still. Friday night I went with Kim and Vanessa to a party thrown by the university’s sport-department. The theme was Fasching, aka Karneval, aka German Halloween, and I dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood (or Rotkäppchen, if you wanna be authentic) in a cape I sewed myself, out of a 2 Euro red fleece blanket (bargain, eh Madre?), along with a little wicker basket I used to hold my purse.

That was, shall I say, preeeetty fun. Just affirming my belief that Leipzig belongs on the list right next to Salzburg of Chelsea’s Favorite Places on this Earth.

I also finished my graduate school applications! 9 schools, all submitted, almost late just in the nick of time. Just all send out positive thoughts that I don’t suck so much that I can’t even get into one of them. Oh god oh god, why did I even just put that out there.

Oh, and yeah, I joined a gym. Crazy stuff, but shut up. I’ve got a wedding to be in this summer, and I better be lookin’ damn good. No more Schnitzel hips for me, kids.

Dude I've been fighting you for like four years. GET OUT.

Dude I’ve been fighting you for like four years. GET OUT.

We’ll see. Cause really, sometimes that stuff is kind of delicious.

BABY STEPS.

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How to Change the Course of Your Entire Life

My path to learning German has been a long, winding, arduous, frustrating, and unexpected one.

Something kind of like this, without the sheep for comfort.

Something kind of like this, without the sheep for comfort.

And because I’d like a distraction from the things weighing on my mind right now, I’m going to share the story of that impossible journey with you, whoever happens to read this post.

There was a time in my childhood when I became obsessed with learning a foreign language. It’s probably a weird goal for a ten-year-old to have, but I was always a little more “wrap-your-arm-in-a-fake-cast-made-of-masking-tape-and-napkins-for-two-days” than “play-tea-party,” anyway.

My elementary school started us on Spanish in kindergarten, something I’ve learned to appreciate from talking to friends that grew up in different areas or at public schools. Most kids seem to have started a foreign language in middle school– theoretically, I had a good six years on those losers! Unfortunately, the quality of my Spanish language education from kindergarten until fifth grade was, how can I say this… sub-par. I learned nothing. Sixth, seventh, and eighth grade: better, but not by much.

During this time period (ages 10-14), I’d decided on several different occasions to take the reigns from my less-than-capable Spanish teachers and start guiding my foreign-language-pony in a different direction… say, due west, over to Japan. Or across the Atlantic, France or Bust! My freshman year of high school I was reallytrulyhonestly almost serious about learning Gaelic, something I’d figured was probably in my veins, anyway.

Pretend that's a picture of me, and pretend I'm actively trying to learn three of those different languages. GO!

Pretend that’s a picture of me, and pretend I’m actively trying to learn three of those different languages. GO!

Do I even really need to tell you how well that turned out? No? Okay. Fast forward to the second half of my freshman year. Gaelic’s out, I’m taking Spanish I to get my language credit, but it’s sticking about as well as my “Spanish class name” of Graciela (I was later known as Violeta, Alegra, and Violeta again).

Cue life-changing moment: Traditionally, my school hosted German exchange students every year. We didn’t offer German classes, hadn’t since the 80s (we are a very small institution), but the exchange students had stayed around. Luckily for my parents, along with always dreaming of learning a foreign language, since age 10 I’d also dreamt of a foreign sister, flying in from far-away-and-abroad to impart me with cultural knowledge and understanding. Mom and Dad couldn’t say no. Opportunity? A-risen.

Maike entered our home in 2006 and very literally changed everything about the course that my life was on. Becoming so close with someone from another country made the idea of learning THAT language a permanent sticky-note in my brain. I wanted to learn German, and I wanted to learn it NOW.

Sadly, as previously mentioned, there was no German class offered at my school. In the meantime, Maike returned the following year to stay with our family again, and that summer before my junior year of high school, I lived with her family in Germany for a month. It was then that I became an addict. I’d gotten a taste of Europe and was jonesing for it for the next four years.

Before my senior year and after returning from Germany, my obsession had reached a peak. I was no longer content with taking Spanish, a language I’d been studying for, what, twelve years, and could still barely hold the simplest of conversations in. German was a part of my life now, and I was determined to make it mine. I petitioned my school administration and convinced them to offer a German I class as an elective for seniors the following year.

That's me, upon entering my first German class.

That’s me, upon entering my first German class.

Hooray! I’ve succeeded in learning barely anything about the German language in a total of three years. Moving on to college…

I decided to forgo taking a language my freshman year in college and planned on taking German as a sophomore. I could have never guessed that taking that year off would be the best decision I could ever make.

The first day of German 111 in the fall of 2010, I learned about a program that my university’s German department offered, where you could earn credit for two years of German in a single quarter studying abroad. I’d need to take 111 that fall, 112 in the winter, and would take 113, 211, 212, and 213 in the spring in Salzburg, Austria.

At the time, my goal was to graduate in three years, which I was on the path to do, easily. I figured getting my language requirement out of the way in only one year would only help me to fulfill my goal that much quicker. So, I signed up for the program (rather last-minute, now that I think about it), and it helped that I also had a weird, deeply-seeded love of German and Germany driving my actions.

My 10 weeks in Austria changed everything about college for me. The following fall, junior year, I had more friends than ever before, I’d become ridiculously close with the people on my program, I’d learned so much about myself, Austria, and German, and, oh yeah, I’d added German as a second major.

I'm kind of like, way too into this stuff.

I’m kind of like, way too into this stuff.

Continuing on, I decided to apply for a Fulbright in Germany. A few of my friends had done it successfully and I figured, you know what? Why not me, too? I became Vice President of both the German Club and Delta Phi Alpha, the German major honor society, alongside my best friend, fellow Fulbright Grantee, and Salzburg roommate, Ashley, the Präsidentin herself.

Everything I’d thought I knew about myself, my goals, and my ambitions was flipped on it’s head from just a year before. How exciting was that!? And, lo and behold, another surprise comes rolling in: I’ve been picked to be the teaching assistant on the 2013 Salzburg program. I was selected to do it ALL. OVER. AGAIN.

I got back to the USA what seems like just a few weeks ago, at the end of April, from this second trip to Salzburg. While there, I learned that I’d received the Fulbright Grant, as well as a teaching assistant position in Austria. I’m still rather shocked about the things that have happened these past few years in my life. I stayed in college all four years in order to double major in German, I became friends with people I’d never have met any other way, I will be living abroad for the next year in the lovely-looking Oldenburg, surrounded by things and places that I love an unhealthy amount… I could never have asked for anything more.

Except for maybe the Dirndl. That might actually be the best part.

Me and Ashley. Super cute, I know.

Me and Ashley. Super cute, I know.

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