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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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Five days and five thousand thoughts

So, right now, the countdown is five days.

Oh mah gawd, my stomach hurts. It’s really quite unreal. I don’t know how to deal with the fact that five days from now, I’ll be getting on a plane in Detroit headed to Paris, en route to my brand new life in Oldenburg.

I’m done working now, so I’ve got the next five days to freak out and panic as much as my little heart desires. Which, let me tell you, is a lot.

I'm euro-rollin'.

I’m euro-rollin’.

I’ve got a ton of Euros in my pocket, just waiting to be spent. Likely on coffee. I’m guessing the first Euro-purchase I make will be coffee.

Next up, a taxi ride from Berlin Tegel to the Hauptbahnhof, leading up to a magical five hour journey, a maximum of three trains, all to arrive in Oldenburg and find a lady I’ve never met waiting for me as I get off the platform.

Last night we had my going-away party. It was wonderful to see the people I’ll miss most for the next year. I even got a few gifts, which I didn’t expect and couldn’t be more grateful for. Big shout out to the established adults monetarily supporting my “prestigious” year abroad!

I also found some real gems at an antique store the other day with my grandma.

1,125 Marks and 1,000 Kronen all for $2.50!

1,125 Marks and 1,000 Kronen all for $2.50!

Old German money! Dating back as far as 1902! German major nerd moment, stay with me now.

This post feels really scattered, but that’s basically the way my brain is working right now. I don’t really know what’s happening and my heart is beating too fast, so, you know. Keep listening, if you would.

I don’t know. Right now, I’m drinking a Bloody Mary and watching Lifetime in my living room. Not my most stable of moments, but believe me, I’m also excited.

The only thing I’m still really concerned about is that I’ve yet to hear back from the Uni Bremen. I’m really banking on doing a Gaststudium there… I really need that SemesterTicket and I want to take classes. I’m only going to be working 12 hours a week, after all. Really hoping to hear about that… hint hint… Uni Bremen, you out there?

Well, I’m officially losing my mind. Happens. So, here we go!

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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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