Monday, September 04, 2006

Auf Wiedersehen Germany

My last few days in Germany flew by! I was a mix of emotions—full of anticipation to see everyone at home, but of course sad to leave. Wednesday was yet another day of new experiences. I officially “unregistered” with the district of Wilmersdorf (quick and painless,) shopped at new stores in Kreuzberg and ate at a new restaurant in Charlottenberg with Matthias. Thursday was the wrap-up day. I gave the apartment keys back to my landlady, mailed my last box home, and decided that unfortunately I needed to check a 3rd bag at the airport. Between shipped boxes and checked bags, I sent home more than double my weight in papers, books, clothes and “stuff!”

Thursday afternoon was wonderful! I walked up Pfalzberger Street, my street, one last time. Quiet and tree-lined, upscale, but very livable, it was a fantastic place to plant my roots for a year. My tour continued down the Kudamm to the Kranzler Eck café for a latte macchiato. As the bells of the Memorial Church tolled and Berliners bustled along the street below, I chatted on my cell phone, reminisced about my year and tried to savor my last moments of café culture. In the evening, I headed to Kreuzberg for one final cheese spaetzle dinner. Best of all, it was one last dinner with a big group of my beloved BUKA fellows:-)

My last journey back across town on the U1, through Kottbusser Tor, past the driving range and Potsdamer Platz, gave me some time to reflect. I leave Germany with thousands of fun memories, many exciting adventures, lots of new friends, just a few regrets (all learning experiences,) and no worries—I will never forget my wonderful year. Understanding how we (Americans and Germans) are different and even better, how we are similar, has been one of the most fascinating and worthwhile experiences of my life.

At the end of “Back to the Future,” Michael J. Fox pulls away in the Delorian and you immediately see the words “to be continued.” There is no doubt there will be a sequel. “To be continued” is how I would like to leave this blog. Is it time to go home for now? Yes! But would I live Germany again? Absolutely! I don’t know where my life will take me. But if I have any control over things, one of these days I will be back:-)

As for my immediate future, I’m going through culture shock. I’m finding it hard not to compare absolutely everything to “how the Germans would do it.” An additional shock was flying in past the NYC skyline and realizing that I will soon live there!!! In some ways, the NYC culture is more unknown to me than German culture was when I landed in Germany just one year ago. To decipher this “foreign” culture, I think a new blog will be in order. So give me a couple of weeks to get on the ground, but check out New York Adventures ( to see how I fare in the city that never sleeps!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Start spreading the news…I’m engaged!

As my year in Germany races into its final days, I suppose it is time talk about the future.

I’d like to begin with a little song…
“Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today. I want to be apart of it, New York, New York…”

After much thought and deliberation, I have accepted a position at the British General-Consulate in New York! As a local hire, I am considered a Locally “Engaged” Employee. (I think I have a lot of British lingo to learn!)

(Do you get the title now? ;-))

Wow, so New York City! Never in a million years would I have guessed that I would move to NYC after my year in Germany. I’m the DC girl, the Michiganian from Philadelphia, the American Frau who wanted to stay in Germany… but not a New Yorker! But alas, I am super pumped about the many new things I’m about to experience.

The move resurrects some questions that I had just about one year ago…

1. Will I be an Ossi or a Wessi? Where will I live--the Upper EAST Side or the Upper WEST Side? Or perhaps a brownstone in Brooklyn or a high rise in Long Island City will be more of my speed. Who knows!
2. How will my workplace be culturally different than before? My great grandpa was British and served in the British Navy, so I know I’ve got some Brit in my somewhere. I need to channel him to help me avoid new “international incidents.”
3. Will I make friends? Luckily friends, and friends of friends have come out of the woodwork with advice and warm welcomes. Equally nice, home is just 1.5 hours away.
4. What can I afford? All I can say is “HOLY CRUD” housing is expensive.

So that’s a peek into my future. Does a new city mean new “adventures” to blog about. Very possibly! Stay tuned…

Monday, August 28, 2006


I have been touched and amazed that people have wanted to read this blog. I barely knew what a blog was just one year ago. But as it turned out, I have thoroughly enjoyed keeping a written record of my year in Germany. This blog, however, has only been partially written by me. Many people have been almost as religious about commenting about my postings. This interaction is really what a blog is all about. Just as they do in the movies, my Uncle Dave recently suggested that I should provide a small “where are they now” description of the most frequent posters. Great idea! Here is a sampling...

Anuradha—(she gets the first entry because many people have asked me about her:-)) Anuradha is a friend from college who now works in Philly as a lawyer. Her interests include playing with her adorable bichon “Priti,” singing classical music, and dating (you go girl!) In the future, Anuradha hopes to work for Amnesty International or raise bichons.

Jennie- The queen of Pad Thai is also a friend from college and was my cohort in crime in Freiburg. This fall Jennie will be making a move from super Census Bureau employee to super-duper UCLA PhD candidate.

CJS—otherwise known as “Corey Coffee Pot,” my cool older cousin is a lawyer in Nashville. When not at home being suburban with his wife Niki and loveable dog Connie, Corey moonlights as the 3rd Jug Sister in the Nash Trash Tour.

The Exit- The mastermind behind Hauptstadt blog the and The Exit blog, Matthias is my oldest German friend. When not working on his PhD, cooking or going to the opera, Matthias enjoys planning outings with friends and family. In the future, Matthias will probably run a company…or a country, you just never know!

Erica— A friend from college and former roommate, Erica is currently a 3L at Georgetown Law. She has spent the summer in Kenya at an internship with the UN. Her “highest” achievement was climbing Mount Kenya. Erica plans to return to DC in the fall, where she will focus on working for the environmental law journal and meeting boys.

Katie- Katie is my favorite little sister:-) Her hobbies include running, sandwich making and cuddling with Leland. Currently, Katie IS the grass roots advocacy department of the national heath association in DC. One day, she will be in charge of the Boston Marathon. Katie is interested in dating an athletically inclined, funny, politically moderate guy!

G&G- Granny and Grandpa Lee—Kappy and Lee are happily retired in Michigan. When not on the golf course, volunteering, or in the garden, Kappy enjoys cooking and sewing. When Lee is not golfing, waiting for Kappy at the sewing store or working in the yard, he enjoys playing on the computer and doing Suduko. Both enjoy being Bush Pioneers and spending time with family and friends;-) In everyone’s opinion, Granny and Grandpa are “Good Things.”

Niki—the ying to Corey’s yang, Niki is a crocheter-extraordinaire who works for her alma mater, a well-respected university in Nashville. When not playing with Paisey and Chewy or listening to “Corey stories,” Niki enjoys spending time with her family in California, Indiana and Arizona.

Mom- Martha is the world’s best mom, wife, daughter and art teacher. On the weekends you might find my mom scoping out the Golden Nugget flea market, shopping at TJMaxx, reading an art book or working in the garden. One day, she and my dad dream about living in the Manitou Island Lighthouse in Northern Michigan.

EightyOne81- just as I am an American in Berlin, Jonas was a Berliner in America, California to be exact. He found my blog earlier this year and we have enjoyed exchanging perceptions about our adopted homelands. Now back in Berlin to finish up his degree, Jonas could just be the next Annie Lebowitz or Ansel Adams. Check out his blog!

Lexy- The queen of Kreuzberg, Lexy was a fellow BUKA this year. She can bake and knit like no other and spent her year in Berlin collecting teaching materials about the GDR. This fall, Lexy will begin her masters in Library Science at the University of Wisconsin and start to plan her wedding to Emil!

Kelly- the newest newlywed of this year’s BUKA group, Kelly (and Lexy) formed the core of the Midwestern BUKAs. She is the only person I know to have gotten married to the same guy three times:-) (state, German and US.) Down the road, Kelly will either be a professor or a CIA agent stationed in an Arabic speaking country

Anonymous- “Anonymous” is funny, has a quick wit and likes to be a bit secretive. He/she probably spends a bit too much time surfing, but has picked a great site to visit (if I do say so myself:-))

If you’ve posted as anonymous or stopped by without posting and want to reveal yourself, post your own bio. I’d love to hear from you!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Letter C

Today's blog posting is brought to you by the letter C-- for Cologne. It's been another few days full of "holy moly, it's cool to be in Germany" moments. I flew to Cologne on Wednesday evening and thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Torsten and paying one more visit to a city I have had lots of fun exploring this year. Unfortunately, Torsten is under the weather (gute besserung-- being sick in the summer sucks!) But we still managed to see some neat new sights.

A definite highlight was the modern art musuem-- the Museum Ludwig. Simply put, it was the most extensive and impressive modern art collection I have ever seen. Picasso, J. Johns, Warhol, Mattise, Lichtenstein, Max Ernst-- you name an artist and his work is in the musuem. There was also a thought-provoking exhibit on sexuality and the arts in the last 60 years. Though I was startled by some of the images, (certainly not art postcards to send home to mom) I was fascinated to get a glimpse into different types of sexuality that I know basically nothing about.

I also shopped (gummi bear store!!), met a fellow fellow for coffee, visited a local market, the city museum and of course the Cathedral. Yesterday for lunch I tried sushi with real raw fish-- a first for me, and was pleasantly surprised how good it was!

As a related side note, I have officially been in Germany one year today! Just the thought puts a giant smile on my face and crocadile tears in my eyes. I'm writing this entry while I steam towards Berlin on the last ICE train I will take this year. As I gaze out the window, I continue to be amazed by what the country has to offer-- lush fields, factories, red roofed houses and more. I'm equally intrigued by the people inside the train-- the 10 couples traveling on vacation together, the friendly but authoratative Deutsche Bahn officer and the couple eatting thin dark bread cheese sandwiches and drinking coffee from a slender silver thermos brought from home. In many ways, I am sure they are just like my family and me. In other ways, they are uniquely German. I would love to hear all their stories! Listening to Eva Cassidy's "Fields of Gold" and Aaron Copeland's "Doppio Movimento" ("Simple Gifts") adds to the moment but makes me too sentimental so I let my Ipod choose something different. (No more moving songs until I get home, but I highly recommend both those songs to anyone not going into a week of goodbyes and making a life transition:-))

I met with Carl this afternoon and bought a chunk of my favorite German cheese to import back to the States with me. Unfortunately, I am now sick and my body is telling me enough, time for bed! But I will certainly think about my fun year as I take it easy and get over my little virus.

What a year it has been!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The roaming pot head

We have all heard of the "Roaming Nome," but little did you know there is another ceramic creature roaming around... Guenter Pot Head!

He went back the States with my mom and filed this report along the way...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Wonderful Visit!

It was beyond wonderful to have my mom here. Each day we did a bit of packing, sightseeing/shopping and relaxing. Here are some highlights:

1. Espresso at KaDeWe—my mom said she wanted espresso with lunch! Neither one of us had ever had one. I don’t even like coffee. But if you are going to have an espresso, I agree that KaDeWe might be a great place to try one. It was really good! I need not make a habit of ordering them often!

2. High power flush and inspection plate toilets- I enlightened my mom one evening with an explanation of the difference in German toilets. Fascinating!

3. German pace of life and Café culture- my mom now loves both as much as I do. “It’s just healthier!”

4. Church bells chiming around my apartment each morning—mom: “either there’s a wedding or the war just ended.”

5. Bathing caps at KaDeWe—what can I say about this… I think they are hideous and I can't imagine they are hot sellers! (But we did have to wait to take this picture until a woman who was actually buying one finished shopping.)

6. Bank buddy- my mom has a tender spot in her heart for old people. So when a frazzled old lady came into the bank, cut in line and then started telling me all about the friend she just visited in the hospital, my mom patted her on the shoulder and said it would be okay. With that, it dawned on the lady that we were American. In perfect English she proceeds to tell us that she was born in the States, moved back to Germany in ’46, went to school at Swarthmore and was then the secretary to the South Korean ambassador in Berlin. As soon as I mentioned working in DC, she knew exactly whom I had worked for. Small world!

7. “Wunderbar!”-- mom’s new favorite word. She said it to just about every Berliner we met!

8. Helping me pack--I’m 26 and yet my mother had to come across the ocean and to make sure I am leaving myself enough time to pack, finish my paper and have fun! What’s wrong with this picture?!

9. Naked neighbor—the guy who lives across the street came onto his balcony STARK NAKED on Friday morning. That was not a view of German culture I expected showing my mom.

10. “Johnnie Jump Up” Merkel and Almonds—for the most part, we were always together. But when I stopped into an internet café, my mom set off to the Kudamm, discovered a summer festival and was gutsy enough to buy herself some nuts and me a “Johnnie Jump-up” Merkel. Ms. Merkel will have a place of honor in my new apt. The street festival itself was another fun adventure. Both of us just couldn’t get over the fact that we were together, strolling past wurst stands at a festival in Berlin, listening to Caribbean music!

We also visited the Kollowitz museum, Wintercafe am Literaturhaus (wonderfully west Berlin!), flea market and Kollowitzplatz market. I wish we had another 2 weeks together!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Ireland pictures

My telephone and internet connection broke on Friday and the German telephone company doesn't work on the weekend so I have been out of touch since Friday just about killed me! I think I should add "internet surfers anonymous" to the list of classes I want to take back in the States!

my mom thought it was fun to take pictures of me during my time of need

It is now getting a bit late for another Ireland posting, but here are a few more pictures. Ireland is truly a beautiful country! (And I love the accent... "We're meeting between thoo therty and tree.")