back to school

Vacation is almost over; the semester starts Monday here and I need to get a little more serious about learning German and life in general. I’m still not sure what classes I’m taking and how this whole thing called university works in Germany, but I’m sure it’ll all work out somehow. Most classes here only meet one day a week, so it’s looking like I will have Fridays, and probably Mondays off- four day weekend every week. That’s the life!
The last couple weeks have been relaxing and fun, and sometimes a little boring. The only people who were around were 3 of the American guys who live at FDH, my dorm, but we tried to make the best of it. As kind of a quick overview, a large group of us went to Heidelberg the weekend before class eneded for Herbstfest. It is a beautiful city with an old castle overlooking it. One of the attractions at the castle is the grosses Fass, or large barrel. Words cannot do justice to this thing, nor can the pictures I took because you can’t get far enough away from it to get the entire barrel in the picture. But, take my word for it, it is a huge barrel, once filled probably with a year’s supply of wine or beer for everyone at the castle. The festival was great; truly a German experience.
The next weekend I went to an orientation seminar for the German-American Clubs program that is sponsoring me here in Kaiserslautern. There were lots of formal activities because this coincided with German-American appreciation day (check out the picture, slightly ironic) proud to be an Amercian but we unwound one afternoon by going to a soccer match against Berlin, and that was quite an experience. German soccer fans are insane! To top off the weekend, I learned a German drinking game, and spent most of Saturday night laughing at some of the very drunk American students.
We spent one afternoon last week in Wiesbaden, but though it is a nice, old city, there isn’t much to do there and after a few hours of walking around we were ready to head back home. Last Saturday I went to the 30th anniversary celebration dinner of the German-American club here in the Frankfurt area. The food was very good, a nice change from cooking for myself all the time. The highlight of the evening, and maybe the most painful part also, was the country-western line dancing group that performed. That’s all well and good in Texas, but I really don’t want to watch Germans line dancing. Nevertheless, it was hilarious for a little while.
Yesterday my dad came through Frankfurt for the day on his way home from a business trip in the middle east. It was nice to see him and we spent the day walking around the city, much of it in the rain. But we caught the only 20 minutes of sunshine all day long while we were at the observation deck on top of the MainTower. It has a great view of the entire city from the 2nd tallest office building in Frankfurt and I can’t believe that I haven’t been up there yet. We went to a typical German restaurant with good food, though huge portions, and the local applewine. I was sad to see him leave, but it sounds like these trips may become more regular so he might come through more often. The agenda now is a trip to the grocery store, and a visit to Mainz tomorrow if it’s not pouring rain.

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