Friday, September 30, 2016

First Week in Munster

We left Marburg in the morning and were in Munster by 2:45 that afternoon. The train station is a little over a mile from our apartment, but we decided it would be best to take a taxi that first time since we had the bags with us. I'm pleased with that decision. We were tired from so many late nights that week leading up to it, so I'm almost certain that walking would have led to angry, tired, pointless arguing. We skipped that and instead got tourism details from our friendly driver. I understood almost none of what he was saying, and Carson understood only a little, but I'm sure he had some good ideas. 

We settled in and were going to go out and explore, but this whole trip my ankle has been hurting since I twisted it in Savannah one week before we left the states. I don't think I really seriously damaged anything because I can walk on it, but it's a nagging pain that happens when I walk a lot, and I had in the past few days and the night before we left, I missed a step in the dark on the walk down from the castle and tripped and hurt it again. All of that, plus being really tired, led to taking naps, enjoying the wifi that we now have (!!!), and getting a pizza (from Dominos, my least favorite chain but the only pizza place C could find where he was walking). 

Because we'd stayed in on Friday, we didn't get a chance to see anything. This was our day! We set out (after sleeping in, a luxury we hadn't given ourselves often in Marburg) to see what this town had to offer.
Here's Carson in front of our new apartment building.

 We live very close to the Aasee Lake. There are sailboats on it and lots of runners doing the 5 kilometer loop around the lake. While we're here, we should use that distance and train for a 5k!

On warm days, people sit on the grass and picnic.

Carson's new office is in this building, part of the faculty of Protestant Theology, for the Institutum Judiacum (an institute of Judaic Studies at the Westfalische Wilhelm-Universitat).

Here is a map of the area we were in. We didn't understand it so well this first day, so we didn't really go where we wanted to go, but that's okay. We saw some great stuff anyway.

The Munster Schloss. This building is right across from where Carson works, and is owned by the university and utilized as an administrative building.

Behind the Schloss are the botanical gardens. Carson HAD to touch the cactus.

We also found part of the Promenade. The middle lane is for bikes only and on either side of that are two walking paths. Munster is super super bike friendly (for a population of around 330,000, there are 500,000 bikes registered, more bikes than cars!).

Making dinner in our little kitchen while Netflixing away.

We google-found a church that's not quite a mile from our apartment. It took us about 15 minutes to get there (we budgeted 30 so we were super early). With the exception of one song in English (Amazing Love), the whole service was in German, so we just really listened closely for words we knew. It was helpful when the words were projected, because I could get some of the words and meanings on context, and Carson filled in the blanks in my knowledge when I didn't know the words. When the service started, the pews were very full. I should mention here that the service began at 10, and probably started the exact second the hand ticked to the 10. Everyone filed in right away and right on time. At 10:01, there was no one milling around.

This building is on our walk home. It's a big insurance company. 

Carson went in to check out the new office and meet the faculty in his department, and I walked down in the evening to meet him and explore more of the city.

We found the market area, which is the area I'd seen on Google Images when I was trying to figure out what sort of a place we were committing to for a year. I think this Altstadt is a lot more grand than Marburg's, and maybe a little prettier. Marburg has a certain quaintness to it that I love. It's a very charming city. This area in Munster just has a very different feel. Munster's Altstadt was bombed quite heavily in the war, so I wonder if it looked like this before as well, but a lot of it has been rebuilt since the 50s, whereas Marburg really didn't have a lot happen to it.

Muesli seems quite celebrated here. These stores are in lots of places, and grocery stores have a wide selection of options as well.

We ended our self-guided tour with a tour of Carson's new office. It's on the third story and is big enough for two people. If asked about his office, he'll exclaim with much excitement, "It has TWO printers".

Carson headed out for more time at the office while I worked on setting up house a little. In the evening for me, I FaceTimed with Morgan and Grayson in Tennessee. He's huge and my heart hurts a little that I won't see him until he's two. 
Carson, meanwhile, Skyped into a session where he talked about his work and answered questions in his undergraduate advisor's CWC class at Moody-Spokane.

After my chat, we decided it was time to walk around the lake. The light was just beautiful and it was a perfect evening.

Our apartment is to the right of those silvery buildings on the left.

A crowd gathered to watch these people reel in a fish bigger than I would have expected to come from this lake. The man who caught it seemed rather surprised (but pleased) at the size as well.

On this day, I finally fully unpacked our bags and set up the closets and shelves. I discovered that I may own way too many shirts with very little color diversity. I have a feeling that some of these will not make the trip back with me because I definitely need to simplify.

We went on a mission that evening for a crockpot. We were unsuccessful in this venture, and we think we've decided that we will probably buy a toaster oven instead. Oktoberfest is a Bavaria thing, but North Rhine Westphalia has gotten into the commercialism a little bit and offers dirndls and lederhosen for those who wish. They can be purchased inexpensively, but these ones were the average price I've seen which is well over 100 Euro. Also, Oktoberfest begins the second week of September in Munich (it started the 15th), despite the obvious name. I looked it up, and I guess they moved the festival forward a little bit in hopes that it would have better weather. It ends the first weekend of October.

These cookies are also an Oktoberfest thing. They're designed to be worn around the neck by the little ribbon attached and were traditionally given to one's sweetheart. The messages are written to all kinds of people now, although I can't picture a huge cookie being a very desirable accessory.

A beautiful sunset that evening!

We stopped by the store for some essentials and also picked up this plant. I'd love to say that I'm going to keep it alive, but I rarely have luck with plants. I am thrilled though to have an apartment with natural light, so at least I can offer that to this poor, probably short-lived plant.

On Thursday, Carson didn't go into the office. The semester won't start until the end of October, and he's on his own schedule anyway. We had a relaxing day and enjoyed some spaghetti for lunch. I wrote a little and we tidied our little space and Carson worked and I painted. 

And that was our first week in Munster! We missed our friends and part of us regretted coming to Munster right away when our lease in Marburg ended the 30th... we could have gotten a week out of our semester tickets! But oh well!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Last Week in Marburg

Our last week in Marburg was very full! On Saturday, I went to Kloster Eberbach and on Sunday Carson went hiking in the Kellerwald and we had the Kochkurs in the evening. 

Before the cooking class, we had our last Durum Doener with friends.

On Monday, we had class and then in the evening, we met up with the other research Fulbrighters. The language course was only offered to thirty researchers. The other 45 already had enough language ability to get by in Germany so they had their orientation Monday through Wednesday in Marburg. They stayed at a hotel near the Elizabethkirche and had a big city tour before heading down to the restaurant where we got to meet them (and have a free dinner, which we were all about, since our free meals only happened during our orientation in August). 

There were about 85 people, so the restaurant was only open for us. We had a great buffet dinner set up in the basement area and we made our plates overflow. 

After dinner, someone suggested that we go to the Biergarten up at the Schloss (we had a delicious dinner inside this rather expensive restaurant on our second day of orientation but the outside is where you can order things not on the full menu). Word got around, and about 30 of us headed up. It had gotten chilly in the last couple of days, so our group of Americans happened to be the only group of people brave enough to sit outside.

Julianne and I debated coming up with the group because we had a big German test the next day, but we decided to go because if we were going to fail (and we were pretty sure we would), it would happen whether or not we studied. So we took this picture to emphasize our irresponsibility in "partying" (it was 9pm) instead of studying. Behind the scenes, those weren't our glasses... we grabbed someone else's empty glasses off the table to take this picture. Super wild. 

The streets of the Altstadt were deserted as we walked down. We realized we didn't have long to make the bus so four of us jogged ahead in hopes that we would... and after jogging 3/4 of a mile, we got to the stop two minutes after it left. Now we were winded and sweaty and sore and had to walk up The Hill, to add insult to injury. 

The orientation group met on the other side of the building where level one had our classes, so Jessie took a picture with their sign as we walked to meet our doom, aka take our German test. In a happy twist, the test was not nearly as bad as expected. My grade wasn't super high, but that was mostly due to the fact that my spelling in German is very bad. I'm okay with that, and to be honest my grade in the class didn't matter at all because I'm not going to a university and I'm not needing to pass a competency test in Germany because I'm a spouse, so the stakes were really low. 

That night, the orientation group came up to the Studentendorf for dinner. We had a really nice buffet and all our teachers were invited and we celebrated the end of classes (even though we still had class for some reason on Wednesday and Thursday). The Flunkyball game we'd played the week before had sounded really fun to people, so we taught some newcomers and some of our language group how to play. I watched, and it may have been more fun to observe the smack-talk and antics of the group playing. 

 On Wednesday morning we had a follow-up meeting with the Fulbright director to review our time in Marburg, offer suggestions and make comments to improve or continue what they're doing for future Fulbright groups in Marburg. During the second half of the morning, we had our last session of actual lessons (we watched a movie in German on Thursday), so I took some pictures of our building just to remember it. 

Our door is the closed one on the right (I was late to class)

We played Taboo in class.

We returned our student cards and got our deposits back at the Mensa, so for lunch a few of us went to Rewe (it's a grocery store) and got some lunch things and had a picnic by the Lahn.

Just look at the salami section. They love their sliced meats here. 

That afternoon, we didn't have culture class, but we did meet with Rebecca to give her a gift we'd all pitched in for and to take our group picture. We are missing five people here: Ivan A, Julianne, Jennie, Joan and Annelyse. We all meant to take a picture at orientation and I think that was probably going to be the last time we were all together in one place to take one, so that makes sense. Oh well.

That night, we had another little potluck thing. We were all going to be leaving on Friday, so contributions were a little random. Here's Patricia's marmelade topped with brie on bread. It was good, but the presentation (platter made from a box of Oreos) maybe left a little to be desired (it was all still eaten). We brought the Oreos and some other random things.

After we ate, we headed over to the fire pit and sat around the fire talking and then playing a card game. 

In class on Thursday, we watched a movie with Kevin Spacey called K-Pax. It's an American movie but we watched the version that's dubbed in German, with German subtitles. The first half of it was easy to follow along with because it was less dialog-centric, but the second half was difficult because the plot became more complicated and more dialog-focused. 

After class, we had lunch at a pizza place and then walked to the visitor's center for Universitat Marburg sweatshirts. On our walk back toward the bus, we had one last ice cream at Aroma. This was definitely the cult favorite ice cream place. It was the best and it was cheap (1 Euro for a cone). 

We were going to go back to the dorms to pack, but Jordyn wanted a sweatshirt once she saw ours, so we walked back with her to get one and then we went through the Altstadt on our search for a place to take visa pictures.

We packed in record time for the Bays. In about an hour and a half, we'd gotten everything packed, the room swept, and clothes set out for travel the next day. We were so proud. 

I'm glad we finished when we did, because done or not, we were going down to the Alte Brauhaus with some people for dinner. The wait for food was long, and like most burgers we've had here, they just didn't measure up to the gold standard, which is a burger made by my dad. 

We walked up to the Schloss from there though, and through the Altstadt one last time.

We sat up at the Schloss, drinking wine and eating little cookies and reminiscing over the last six and a half weeks and wondering how we all got so close in such a short time and how it also went by so quickly. Some tears were shed as we hugged and headed down the hill to the bus (we timed it correctly for the first time ever. Despite sentimentality I was NOT going to walk up the big hill one more time).

On Friday morning, we got up and ready quickly before rolling out to head to the train.

We've taken a picture in front of every place we've lived around the time we've moved, and I figured that if our cherry picker's shack we lived in for two months counted, our dorm room for seven weeks probably counted too. I mean, we did register this address with the city. 

We'd planned to walk down the hill, but our sensible friends talked us into putting our bags in their taxis with them and sharing. Julianne and I got the big taxi. We were surprised when the driver went a different way to the train than we'd ever been, but were informed that the usual way was blocked. Why? Oh, well they'd found a WWII bomb and needed to extract it to take it up to the hills and detonate it. Just a normal day, I guess (I may have mentioned this but a few weeks before, our teacher told us to expect a loud noise at noon because they were detonating a WWII bomb around that time. We never heard the noise, but she acted like it was relatively normal).

These are the bags of four people (I guarded them while everyone else went to get coffee/Lloyd's bags).

I used my semesterticket for the last time. This was such a great unexpected thing! I don't have one in Munster, and I miss it already!

We rode the train to Kassel with Julianne, Annelyse, Lloyd and Sophie. From there, Sophie and Lloyd would head to Kiel, Annelyse to Berlin, and Julianne to a small village north of Berlin. Annelyse missed getting off at the right station, so that's why she isn't in this picture (she eventually made it and was fine), but I helped Julianne get her bags to the train and we took a last see-ya-later picture together before they all headed to their new cities. Carson and I got our our train a few minutes later and were on our way.

Can't believe it's over! We loved our time in Marburg!
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