Monday, July 11, 2011

Settling In

I do apologize for the week of not posting. I'm finally settled in and, better yet, have plenty of pictures to illustrate with.

I am taking two classes, both of which are through USAC (and thus the University of Nevada, Reno) although we use Leuphana University's campus. I'm in the beginning German class with five other students--I'm lucky in that one of the lives right across the hall from me, so I can check with her when I'm confused. Which is often, because quite frankly, grammar was invented by the Devil. I'm good with verbs and nouns, though, and can say such useful things like, "my mother would like to kill a snake" and "where is the chocolate?"
Ich bin ein burrito. Passing the test should be a cinch!

A lot of people, especially in stores or tourist areas, speak English. And while it can be frustrating that they'd prefer to switch to English instead of letting me practice German... my German is apparently so bad that no one can understand me anyway. I wanted to grab something quick at the train station (bahnhof) the other day, and spotted what was essentially a hot dog in a croissant, sort of a giant pig-in-a-blanket.

"Ein Wurst Croissant, bitte," I told the lady behind the counter.
She looked at me blankly. "What?"
No, not the English again. "Wurst Croissant?" I tried again, making the "u" rounder and figuring there can't be that many ways to pronounce "croissant."
Again, a blank look.
I pointed.
"Oh,  Wurst Croissant," she says. "Two-fifty, please."

Same thing happened later. I have the aid of a menu while ordering ice cream, so I don't know if it was me or the writing from which the waiter took my order for the chocolate and melon scoops. You see, though, I could clearly see something marked "MARZIPAN" in the case, and it wasn't on the menu. So I say, "und Marzipan."
He looks at me.
"Um, MARzipan?" I hazard.
I point. He gets it. "Marzipan," he says.

In everyday life, though I have little opportunity to make a fool of myself thusly, because usually I'll be in the market, and except that people speak so fast (fluent people speaking fluently, imagine that), I can get along fine.

On a different topic: the scenery! Definitely not all of Germany, or even Lueneburg* looks like this, but buildings in the "Altstadt" or old town do. It really is just so picturesque, even with modern shops selling everything from books to glasses to cell phones.

*The "u" in "Luneburg" should have an umlaut (those two little dots) over it. Apparently the way to write an umlaut if you can't actually type one is to insert an "e" after the umlaut-ed letter in question.

The rest of the city is much more modern, but the style is still something you wouldn't really find in America. This is a neighborhood close to mine (well, I thought it was mine when I took the picture, but it turns out I was lost).
Here in the city, the houses don't tend to have front yards, but most  have a small garden of sorts. Houses are close together so it's hard to see any backyard. And notice how people park? Places might have room for one car, but lots have to parallel park in the street, at least closer to the city center. Big cars, American-style, are a rarity here. I've counted exactly two SUVs and one Jeep Wrangler since I arrived. There simply isn't the space: parking spaces are much smaller than in America.

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