30 August, 2009

The First Weekend

My first weekend in Germany is coming to an end. We made it to Reutlingen only an hour later than scheduled. We spent the rest of our first day in town walking around so that we wouldn't fall asleep before nighttime. I was definitely dragging by bedtime.

On Friday we filled out some paper-work to register with the city of Reutlingen and then went on a tour of the downtown area. After the tour I decided that I couldn't go any longer without a cell phone, so I bought a pre-paid phone for €50. A mobile phone is a very reassuring thing to have in a foreign country.

On Saturday we (by the way, when I say "we", I'm usually talking about me and the other 9 Valpo students who are currently studying in Reutlingen) took a bus trip to the Black Forest. We stopped first at Triberg the home of the world's largest cuckoo clock. That was a quaint little tourist town. We had a very German picnic lunch of bread and cheese. The next stop on the tour was Titisee another tourist town with a very beautiful in-land sea. Erin Dillon, the other VIEP-German participant, and I had some tasty ice cream.

Today I got to really test my German language skills when I went to church on my own. I went to the Evangelisch-Freikirchliche Gemeinde Reutlingen. That means something like Evangelical-Free Church. A lot of the older members didn't speak any English so I had to make my way around in German. It was a challenge but very rewarding at the same time. It's nice to know that if I have to I really can speak a different language. Thankfully the preaching pastor was very good at annunciating so he was very easy to understand. After the service, Gottesdienst, I went out to lunch with some of the young adults from the congregation. They were a joy to be around. They were curious what my favorite food was to which I could only truthfully respond "Macaroni and cheese or PB and J". They said "typisch Amerikaner" and I don't blame them. I can be a typical American sometimes.

After lunch we went on a tour of Tuebingen, a close by town. We had dinner at a local brewery, delicious. I've definitely been enjoying the German beer.

Feel free to check out all of the photos I took which correspond to this post here. If I manage to figure it out, there might be a slideshow of this album on the right side of this blog. For now, though, just click the link.

26 August, 2009

Packed and mostly ready

Well, there's not much to say about my study-abroad experience yet because I haven't actually left the country. I will say that it was a little tricky trying to pack everything I think I'll need for the entire next year in two bags and a carry-on and staying within the weight limit. Thanks to Pastor Scott for loaning me a large hiking backpack in which I crammed as much clothes as I could. I'm really hoping I don't get slapped with over-weight baggage fees. My duffel bag is really close to the limit.
The international studies office recommended that we bring some little items we can give as gifts to host families or Professors. So, Mom and I stopped at Curtis Orchard in Champaign and got some popcorn-on-the-cob which was grown right here in Illinois. I thought that would be a fun and unique gift that I can give people I meet along the way.
I will do my best to update this blog at least monthly. Here's a link to a full description of the program I am participating in, just in case you're interested. Check back here for periodic updates on my experiences or just subscribe or whatever and you'll get an email when I post something.