If you just sat down to read this, you might want to pull up the link on your iPad and take it with you to the John – this is about to be a long post.
From the moment I stepped on my plane to Munich, I could tell I would like Germany. The plane was the same as the city – very clean and modern looking. If I could sum up the Germans in one word, it would be “beautiful.” It [almost] made me wish I had chosen to study there if just for the attractive men. Sorry, Paris, but the men in Munich weren’t all half my size or smoke two packs of cigarettes a day.
I arrived in Munich late Thursday night and luckily, because of my uncle’s couch surfer he hosted last spring, I had a connection to a free place to stay that night. When we woke up Friday morning he had prepared a traditional Bavarian breakfast for me: pretzel, sausage, sweet mustard sauce, and yes, a beer. It was delicious. After feeling sufficiently buzzed just around 11am, we made our way to Oktoberfest (Weisn) and walked straight into a tent called Hacker. While it took us five minutes to get inside the tent, it took us 30 to find some place to sit. But once we did find a place, we didn’t get up. We spent Friday afternoon making new friends, singing German songs (Prost = cheers), and drinking lots and lots of beer.
Friday was more of the same, minus the 6am wake up, waiting in long long loooong lines all day for tents, beer gardens, and toilets, and the pouring down rain. It was fantastic. I started out at a table of about 30 Santa Clara people but once I went outside to meet up with some others, we could never get back inside the tent. It was an unfortunate change from the day before, but we still managed to get inside the beer garden and get stamps on our hands so we could go in and out as we wanted. I snuck out for a bit to see my friend from the Netherlands whom I haven’t seen in about four years, and I thought of all the places to meet, Oktberfest has to be the most insane. When I got separated from my friends towards the end of the day, I made the most of it and bought a bratwurst and walked around the shops even though I was drenched and cold. Once I got home I almost wished I could go back just to steal a beer stein like my friends did…
Oktoberfest is like the Olympics. The insides of the tents remind me of the great hall in Hogwarts. Except everyone is drinking beer. It has a great atmosphere, one of the best I have felt, and everyone (except the security guards and some of the waiters), was super friendly and from all around the world. I would love to re-visit Germany under a different context and I wished I had more time there.
When falling asleep Friday night in Munich, I couldn’t help but feel a little homesick for Paris. Being in Munich was fantastic, but it’s still one of the first times I have been in a situation where I can’t understand a language. Yes, everyone speaks English, but it made me lust to be back in an environment where I feel confident and comfortable knowing the language. I thought a lot about how for the first time I was homesick for my NEW home, not my old one.
Before I left, I was thinking about how I came to be so happy in Paris. I love to be a tourist in my own city. At home in Seattle, no matter what time of year, you can find me visiting the zoo, aquarium, Space Needle, Science Center, or many other major tourist attractions. However, I also love discovering the small things. This summer, I came across a little teashop on Capitol Hill that became my urban hang out spot. I brought back my friends three or four different times within two weeks, since I had only discovered it at the end of the summer. I also stumbled upon a tiny vintage market in the same afternoon as a random music festival that was happening at the park. When you really know a city, you know the things that no one else knows. I can tell people so many fun things to do at home in Seattle that they could easily find online. However, it’s the sentimental places that no one can find just by Googling them on the internet.
I lust for that in Paris. I want to know it like no one else. And I realize that this is an unreasonable thought at this moment after being here for three weeks and only staying for three more months, but one day, I know I will.
Every day when I walk home, I feel comforted when I turn the corner just before the apartment and see the Eiffel Tower. I hear a lot of criticism for this great structure, just like I always hear about the recent changing color of the Space Needle. What makes these two landmarks so awesome? They’re just giant buildings of metal. But sans existence, their city’s skylines would be incredibly mundane (at least in my opinion). Both cities have this thing that sets them apart, and that fact makes me feel at home. Perhaps Santa Clara or San Francisco will never truly feel like a home for me – there’s a lack of connection between those places and the place I grew up. I am coming to find myself more and more at ease in this big city.
Madame told me after dinner last Tuesday that I am the best French-speaking student she has had yet. I’m only number six for her, but I feel proud that she said that. Learning this language is hard. I embarrass myself every day I’m sure. The funniest story I like to tell people is about my first time with Roxane and Claire when I kept reading the word “Bonheur” around town and asked what it meant. The response: “a pee-ness.” In my mind, that turned out like “a penis.” I kept saying “No, no, I’m sure that can’t be right…” but time and again Roxane’s dad told me over the dinner table that’s what it meant! Then, on one of my last days there, I saw a coffee table book called “Le Bonheur something something” and said, “Okay! Now this cannot be a book about a pee-ness,” and their friend said “No! It’s HAPpiness.” Those damn French, can never say their “H’s” right.
This week is going to be more low-key, but I am looking forward to seeing my “fruncle,” galavanting around Paris, day trip to Giverny, and la nuit blanche.
Finally allowed to post pictures on the blog tomorrow. So check back for those!
Prost to all! That’s about the only German word I obtained from this weekend. When I tried to replicate some of the words I heard, it just came out sounding like I was blowing my nose and gargling at the same time. Not the most flattering language, German, but definitely funny to imitate!