Tuesday, May 24, 2011
As you can see, I had a very heavy day today. On this trip we will not be going to any concentration camps, but instead we went to the summer home where the so called, "Final Solution to the Jewish Question" was held.
If you don't know what the Final Solution or the Wannsee-Conference are, here is your short history lesson for the day. In 1942 a bunch of officials in power in Nazi Germany came together to solve the "problem" of what they saw as, in short, too many Jews. And by too many I mean any at all was too many in their opinion.
As a German Studies minor/soon to be major and a person who was very interested in literature surrounding that time in Germany through out my live, I of course already knew of the Wannsee-Conference, but I learned a lot more today.
Let me clarify first, the Wannsee-Conference was really just a way for Nazi officials to put in to official documentation what they had already been doing. They were already putting Jews in to concentration camps and working them to death, just as they were already going in to towns and slaughtering innocent people who lived in these Jewish areas. There were already ghettos, and there were already families that had been destroyed. The Wannsee-Conference was again, just a way for the Nazis to make official the horrors that were already taking place (of course,it was after the Conference that specific death camps like Auschwitz and Buchenwald were built).
That was the first surprise to me. The next came as I read through the copy of the Wannsee-Conference Document they have on display in the house. I shouldn't say it was really a surprise, so much as it just deeply disturbed me. It was disturbing how in letters between themselves the officials (including Hitler, of course) had such a cold disposition. They talked about the Jewish people as though they were of less significance than a cockroach infestation. Everything they said in these initial letters was about the, "Solution" not about people. They didn't think of the Jews as people.
In the document itself the language was so twisted. It was so official and cold and so full of false information. There was actually a claim that, "60% of [the Jewish People] are not suitable for work, anyway." There were also a claim that many of the people in the work camps would probably "die of natural causes," Well yes. If you put someone in a gas chamber, starve them, hang them, or burn them, naturally they're going to die.
It was really hard to handle the fact that so many people died (approximately 6 million, and that's counting exclusively the Jewish People) and yet the words "people" or "person" were never used in this document. The Nazis didn't think of the Jews as people. Just pests. Through other parts of the House you could read stories of Nazi propaganda, government officials in the Nazi party, and Jewish families that were destroyed by the Nazis.
It was so haunting that such a horrible document could have been penned on such a beautiful estate...
Friday, May 20, 2011
We finally got in groups to do the project we're all working together on. Its a digital map of Potsdam that you can click and hear sound-bytes on. It will be posted on the U of M homepage, and I can link to it on my blog later this summer when it has been posted!
I chose to do the new world heritage union-y type place in Potsdam, because it JUST opened a few days ago and I don't know anything about it. Being in this group is such an interesting experience, because although there are students of English in the Polish group, there are some who are students of German and don't speak English. In my group, our only common language is German and I am the only American in the group. It is so fun! What an interesting and new experience!
The Polish people are teaching us new words, but not only can I not remember any of them, I can't spell them with my keyboard. The only one that I do remember and can spell is "Jako Tako" pronounced like "yako taco" It means so-so, as in, "How are you today?" "Meh, Jako Tako."
I would write more today, but that's about all that happened and I have to do homework!
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Alright, our first day of doing stuff was Monday. We had a "Schnitzeljagt," or scavenger hunt auf Englisch, to do in Berlin. My partner by luck of draw was Crystal who also felt very unsure of herself reading maps and figuring out train schedules. We took a train to Berlin with two other students who know what they're doing when it comes to trains thinking that we could find an internet cafe downtown and research the answer to our clue there. Thank God we have train passes for the whole trip for Berlin and Potsdam, because it took hours of back and forth train riding and wandering aimlessly just to find a cafe with internet.
When we FINALLY found a cafe (luckily, it was a Starbucks so the internet was free) it took about 5 minutes to find the answer to our clue. We then had to find, photograph, and answer a few questions about the destination in question. The destination ended up being Congress Hall in the Tiergarten park. The questions were "in welche grosse Park steht es?" (in which big park does it stand), and "Was kann man da tun?" (what is there to do?) Obviously, the answer to the first question was easy. Tiergarten. The second gave us more problems because Kongresshalle (as it is called auf Deutsch) was closed. We got a picture (of the back of the building, but it still counts) and made the long trek back to Potsdam, which of course couldn't be easy. But we eventually did it. Yay us. It is three days later and we still haven't presented our findings. What gives???
Second day of doing stuff: That's when we went to Sans Souci. which was great and I wrote a little bit about it and I hope to post pictures eventually, but I don't have time for anything (I hear the second and third weeks are easier). What I liked best about Sans Souci was the Chinese Teahouse which actually has nothing to do with real Chinese culture, rather a French interpretation of chinese culture.
YAY I DID IT!!!! ^^^^^^^^^
Third day of doing stuff: We went to Einstein's summer home in Caputh!!! It was SO cool. Just a little house tucked back in the woods. It was so humble, yet so unique especially in Deutschland. It's not like other museums where the rooms are roped off and you just walk through the house. I touched Einstein's desk that was designed specifically for him!
Unfortunately, we did NOT get the chance to sit in Einstein's bathtub.
After visiting the Einstein Haus, we went to a restaurant plus microbrewery nearby. We toured the Brewery and drank freshly brewed beer, but the tour was a little difficult because I couldn't hear/understand/listen to the guy doing the tour.
Fourth day of doing stuff: TODAY!!! Hallelujah I'm up to date! What a BUSY day! It was our first day of four with the other students. It was also the first legitimately hot day. I did manage to have a little bit of time to steal away and walk around Potsdam. I window shopped, bought some gifts, and bought a German as a second language dictionary. VERY useful. It give definitions of German words in simple terms without using the word being defined! It was a little expensive, but totally worth it.
We also did another Schnitzeljagt, but this time it was in Potsdam and my group had to find "nightlife things" in Potsdam. You know what I did find? A chocolate shop. The end. I can't wait for the next time I have free time and I can go get chocolate. It was SO cool to work with the German and Polish students because it really kept us linguistically on our toes. Some of the Polish students are students of German, and the rest are students of Englisch. With both, the languates they were studying were the only languages we had in common. All evening today we were constantly switching between speaking German and English.
I had a moment today when we were in the seminar room with the other students and I realized, holy crap. this is real. I'm actually doing this right now! Who gets the opportunity to go to another country and learn with other students like this? Not many, and I get to do it! I am so thankful to be here. Even when I feel so cranky or overworked or frustrated with people or anything negative, I just remind myself that I'm HERE. I'm in Germany. Something I've wanted my whole life and I have it now and it's perfect! Ich liebe Deutschland!!!
Beers Drank: 5 (2.3 L)
Best Food: For the sake of doing something different: Hard Rolls
Most Interesting Think Learned since Last Post: Some Polish words that I forgot, and that Einstein's desk had three drawers, but the middle one was on the opposite side, because he didn't want it to get in the way of his belly.
Best Moment: I pet a really cute puppy and a kitty in the same day! :D
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
The beginning of the adventure! (5:30pm US time)
So I had to write this in a Word document because the interwebz at MSP is fucky, but after a sexy pat down (I can’t go through the beeper thinger because of my shunt) I am waiting at get H6 for my plane which is slightly delayed L. After almost a whole yearof waiting and planning and waiting some more, I am FINALLY on my way to Deutschland! Well, actually right now I’m on my way to Iceland, but after that ON TO GERMANY! Actually, after Iceland I’m stopping in Amsterdam for customs, THEN ON TO GERMANY! FOR REAL!!!
Fun thing of the day today, I was walking down past H6, because my step mom is catching a flight at H10 and as I was walking I was looking at the signs for the other terminals. I passed terminal “H8a” and giggles to myself. TEEHEE!!!! Hate-a!
I know I should got get something to eat, but I really have no idea what I might even want right now. I had chipotle earlier (because what else would you eat before leaving the US for almost a month???) so I’m REALLY not that hungry. That being said, I know I’m going to be eating those words (Haha!) on the flight when all I have to eat is shitty airline food, water (cause I want to sleep so pop would be bad), and some little bags of teddy grams and cheez-its, oh right, and beer. God bless Europe.
Ok, seriously, I keep hearing people going on about “oh they have wifi here” but I can’t get any connection! WTF?!?!?!
UPDATE: They have wifi but you need a code and I don’t have a cell phone so I can’t call the place to get it. #$%@!!!!!!!!!
I’m Heeeere!!! (Saturday, 11:30pm Germany Time)
I successfully navigated the airports (even doing all the crazy crap I had to do in Amsterdam, i.e. pick up my bag at the claim, check in and get my boarding pass, get a new destination tag for my luggage, check my luggage, and go through security) and I learned some interesting stuff about Iceland! On Icelandair flights they have TV screens on the back of every chair and before the plane takes off, the TV screens show pictures of and trivia about Iceland. Turns out, the most popular restaurant in Iceland is a hot dog stand, the Prime Minister’s number is listed in the phone book, there are 13,000 km of road through Iceland wilderness, 60% of Iceland’s 300,000 citizens live in Rekjavik, some high percent of Icelanders believe in elves annddd…. That’s all I can remember. Cool, huh?!
At one point, it was either between the US and Iceland (5 hours) or Iceland and Amsterdam (2 ½ hours), I fell asleep with my hand slightly curled like how your hands curl when you’re relaxing. I woke up and my right hand had become so swollen that I couldn’t straighten my fingers before I massaged it with my other hand and moved it around a lot.
So then I got to Germany. You know how when you do something you’ve always wanted to do it takes a while for it to seem real and like you’re ACTUALLY there? Yeah, NOT what I’m experiencing right now. I’m staying in a [really nice!] hotel tonight with two other girls from my course and we decided to go for a walk and find a place to eat dinner. We rode the S-Bahn (underground train) to the city center and walked around and found a restaurant to eat at. I LOVE Berlin! It’s kind of like new York only it’s not disgusting and smelly with obnoxious asshole people everywhere and its really clean so actually I guess that means its not like New York. Its WAY better (I don’t really like New York though).
We went around for a while and found a place to eat. It was a little English style Pub. The waitress (there was only one because this place was little and cute) was SUPER nice and humored us by speaking in German to us regardless of the fact that our horrible broken German probably made her want to cry. I was SO famished because I had eaten very little in the last 24 hours that I Got the Lentil and sausage soup. It seemed the least potatoey Brits and Germans love Potatoes. I ate around the potatoes and had a delicious coke with it. It was good.
In case anyone is wondering, no I have not had any beer, wine, champagne, or anything alcoholic. And since I ate pretty much nothing in the last 24 hours, I feel like that is completely ok and a wonderful idea.
Oh! I almost forgot to tell about one of my favorite parts of the day. The three of us who are staying at the hotel tonight met at the Berlin Tegel airport and took a cab to the hotel together. The Cab driver was AWESOME! He told us all about the historic places we were passing. Imean of course we knew about the wall etc, but he showed us the German parliament building and drove us past this place where the Nazis used to perform public executions by hanging people from meat hooks or guillotine. Creepy and icky, I know, but he showed us things that we never would have known of otherwise.
Well it’s almost midnight here and I am DEAD tired. Bed time!!! Good night (although I’m going to have to post this tomorrow when I get to the Hostel.)
At the Hostel! (Sunday 15/5, 11:28 am Germany Time)
We (Crystal, Mylii, and I) got to the hostel about an hour ago after an hour of travel through Berlin walking, riding the U-Bahn (underground), and the S- Bahn (above ground). It was a fun and scenic trip. I have really enjoyed being a Foreigner trying to find my way around the city. Seriously!!! It’s the best way to learn the area! Today I ate the most heavenly thing I have ever had. A Wurst Croissant. My god, heaven. No hot dogs, not even ambassador natural casing hot dogs compare to this meat, and no croissant ANYWHERE in America compares to this flakey yummyness. I died. I definitely had a moment with the wurst croissant. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Ok I need to stop. I’m going to die. Summed up, best. Shit. Ever.
First though, I'm going to confuse you guys and give you today's low down. I have fallen in love. With Le Crobag. Its a bakery counter thinger that's at a lot of the train stations. They have "Wurst Croissant" there and that's the only thing I've gotten because its the only thing I need to get, ever. Its like pigs in a blanket but a MAGICALLY DELICIOUS german sausage (AKA a natural casing hotdog but 800% better than any I have ever had in America) wrapped in a fluffy flaky croissant. I don't need to say anymore. Stop drooling on your computer, you'll ruin it.
You know what else is surprisingly good? Banana beer. I drank 2 of those (larges, naturally) last night. It was magical. But also I got my ego crushed. the bar tender asked my professor if I was really old enough to drink. "Old enough" for beer in Germany means 16 years old. Hate. So I drowned my sorrows in Bananenweizen.
It's 1 o'clock here and we recently got back to the house after touring Sanssouci which is by the way like 2 blocks from the house. It was WONDERFULLLL!!!!
Here are my stats for Deutschland so far:
Beers Drank: 3 (1.5 L)
Best Food: Wurst Croissant
Most Interesting Thing Learned Since My Last Post: Bananentoaster (literally translated: Banana toaster) is slang for a nude beach.
Best Moment Since Last Post: Ok this is kind of a story here...
The first night when I stayed with two other students in the Hotel in Berlin we decided to go out to dinner. You can read more about where we went and what I ate when I post my other posts. One of the girls i was with got a platter with bread, cold cuts, cheese, and veggies. Pretty much a make your own little sammich platter. Its pretty common in Deutschland. So we're all finishing up and she says, "you guys should try this cheese. Its really good it actually melts in your mouth." I took a little piece and ate it and the other girl took a piece at ate it. My first impressions was that it tasted pretty garlicy. That's when the second girl said, "That's not cheese, it's butter." In girl 1's defense, German butter is a LOT better and tastes different from American butter buuuuttttt...... She ate straight butter. Fail.
I'll have to edit this post and add pictures later, our lesson begins soon! :( But I'll post the older posts I wrote first! :D
Monday, May 9, 2011
I'll just start off by saying that this semester has been wonderful. LOTS of stress as I tried to get everything together for my trip to Germany, starting FRIDAY! Probably about a month ago I went to the office of admissions to see if I could have my "big ole chunk'o monay" scholarships reinstated now that my GPA is beyond good enough and climbing (I got an email in February informing me that I made the Dean's List Fall semester!) and the guy I talked to told me I could send a letter to the scholarship committee and explain that my first semester GPA sucked because, as it turns out, I suck at science at a college level. Maybe using some nicer words, maybe not. He gave me the option to write the letter before Spring 2011 grades come out and risk being turned down because really so far I have had one scheisslich semester, one good one, and one kickass one and it might help to show that the kickass semester wasn't just a fluke.
Since then I've been pushing really hard to get on the Deans List again. I feel like if I can do that this semester I pretty much have my scholarships in the bag. It's going well, and by the way I am learning through finals studying that stats classes are a LOT easier when you read the book. In other words, I'm going to rock the face off of my Quantitative Research Methods and Analysis final and finish with a high B which should be an A but whatever.
After that final I have my Beethoven to The Beatles music class final. Puh-lease. Challenge? I think not. THEN! After THAT final it's home for a day and a half and OFF TO TRAVEL THE WORLD!
I am scared out of my pants for my first trip to Europe. I'll be flying there alone and taking a course for three weeks with 15 other students from UMD/U of M Twin Cities before visiting my liebe Judith for 4 days in her home town of Neuss, which is a suburb of DUESSELDORF! She has told me some of the plans she has for us and I definitely support them. Koeln Chocolate Museum? Yes please!
So I'll be trying to update my blog while in Germany but that might not happen too much has I have to write 2 pages in German JEDEN TAG (every day) while taking my course, but the hostel has wifi, so I'll definitely be Tweeting again(EmmiJo925)!!
I have a lot more to write about, but its late and I have finals tomorrow! I'll just leave you with this last happy little story:
I am so moved by how kind some people can be! I am getting to Berlin a day before the hostel will be ready for us so I asked my professor at the last trip meeting about finding a hotel or hostel for that night. Two other women from my group who I KIND OF know but not very well chimed in and told me that I could stay in their hotel room for that night with them. Its so cool that people would do that for someone they don't know very well and I'm extremely appreciative! It sure takes a lot of stress out of this experience!
So I think that will be it until I'm in Germany! Bis Spaetter, Liebe Leute!