Day 4 (Tag vier)European Union, Summer 2012
Day 4 (Tag vier)
We start the day a bit unorganized. When we arrive the Kansas group has just arrived. Apparently other groups study in Freiburg other than the EU 6 (European Union; 6 because there are only six of us). There is an environmental group from Kansas and an architecture or civil engineering group from Texas. Oh well, more orientation. Last day of the boring stuff but you gotta get it out of the way, right? We go get lunch at the Mensa, the place Zach took us to yesterday. Today I get a piece of fried cheese over a bed of rice with a side of carrots.
I have no idea the name of this dish, I was a bit too hungry from my lack of breakfast. I have yet to go grocery shopping, I’ll do it tomorrow.
When we get back, German class. Carolina, our teacher is very adamant about us having folders for class, but no one has made an effort to get one. Oh well, we’ll do it this weekend. After class we walk around the city and tour the Cathedral, Münster as they call it.
It’s funny how the most popular monuments and tourist attraction to the city is a church but the town is not very religious. I wonder if this is foreshadowing the future. Anyway, we stop for a snack at a café. The guys order Pils, the local choice for Beir (beer). Caroline and I share a 601 (Pair of boiled veal sausages and pretzel with sweet mustard). I love the fact that we just learned our numbers today and here we are at a restaurant ordering by number; practicality.
We sit and talk, the discussion goes from the EU to politics to the upcoming election, and back to Europe. I bet we sound educated, at least in English. In German all we do is say, “Hello, my name is” and then start counting. During our relaxing snack we see a street performer, but he is playing an unusual instrument, the bassoon (fagott). I played bassoon in middle school. He’s pretty good. I kinda like this city.
For dinner we let Batu take us to a Turkish restaurant. He does some brief chatting with the owner, the usual “what city are you from? Oh me too.” Batu doesn’t believe he’s from Izmit. You know it’s that feeling that you get when you know people just aren’t being genuine with you, a feeling you often get when someone in the past has lied to you. But we get our Kebaps and we feast. (sorry, no picture) Apparently this isn’t authentic Turkish food but rather German Turkish food. It is like American Chinese food, fake. So Americas not the worst country after all, Germany fakes other culture’s foods too and they’re closer (geographically).
After dinner, its time to party. The Germans don’t party like Americans, so I’m told. For us (college students) the night consists of a quick meal, pregame, the party, the afterparty (optional) and the late morning or early afternoon the next day which a recap of the previous night is often replayed as a comedy. Each event when replayed is funnier than it was in the moment, often because they are hyperbole. Nonetheless, this cycle occurs weekly. For the Germans, the drinking does not start after dinner in the pregame phase but during dinner, in some cases there was actually drinking during lunch. The difference is the type of drinking as well. Here, beer is drunk as a part of the meal. However, after dinner is still a pregame phase which is often held in a bar type setting. Shots are still taken and mixed drinks are acceptable as well. By the time the party phase starts it is nearly 2AM which is different from in America the party phase begins around midnight. According to one of our HT’s partying can last until sunrise.
We begin the night at Uni Café, Alex is tired and feeling the red wine from earlier so he calls it a night. Sam and Sarah are still going strong despite my preconceived notions that they would be typical American girls who pretend to be drunk at the first sight of alcohol. It’s good that I was wrong because in Germany it is actually embarrassing to be drunk in public. Odd huh? Everyone drinks but drunkenness has a negative stigma.
We are supposed to meet up with Sam’s roommate so they can show us how the German’s party but we end up wandering aimlessly down the street. I’m sure we stick out like sore thumbs. Not only do we speak nothing but English but we also accidentally cross the street while the signal is red. In Germany, jay walking is a crime punishable by social chastisement. The stares one can receive from simply walking across the street at an inappropriate time could hurt a small child’s feelings. Anyway, we proceed into Othello, the loudest place within 50 meters of us. We walk down the narrow stairs into a room no larger than a 1 bedroom apartment. The bar is in the center, the DJ is located a few meters from the stairs and the bar is in the center of the floor. Also in the center of the room, hanging from the ceiling is a disco ball with multi color lights. We stand around awkwardly for a few moments and then proceed to the door. Once we get outside, we vow to not give up until we can find the club where Sam’s roommates are.
The next stop on our journey is Schlappen. It is crowded. All of the walls are covered in album covers. All of the music is foreign to me. Not a single thing I recognize. We push our way to an open table in the back of the bar near the smoking area, Batu and Alex smoke and occasionally Caroline and Sam join. Then we hear our first American song of the night, New York by Jay Z and Alicia Keys. All of the Germans around us know the words. It was amazing how they know our music even better than we do.
The next American song I hear is Happy Birthday, which reminds me that today is my mother’s birthday. Happy Birthday Ma.
Batu and Sara go to the bar to get drinks. When they get back they tell us that the bartender spoke perfect English, almost as if it were his first language but then according to Batu “suddenly German.” Confused and frustrated, they come back to the table.
It is hot. And not just any kind of hot, the kind of hot where you notice that your boxers have begun sticking to your inner thigh and the moisture on your underarms has made its way through your undershirt and to your top shirt and is becoming uncomfortable. Batu begins fanning himself, one hand holding a menu and the other hoisted on his hip as if cemented in place.
Hot and bothered we decided to venture back to Othello, “at least it was cool.” The first American song we recognize is Kanye West and Jay Z N*ggas in Paris. It’s funny how none of the Germans know this one but later when Montell Jordan’s How We Do It comes on the room lights up… “I’m kinda buzzed and its all because.”
According to the older people we’ve talked to Germans don’t drink like Americans, to get drunk. Being drunk is a negative thing. NOT! College students are college students. The German college students take shots just like Americans. One particular drink that caught on like wildfire, no pun intended, is B 52. Batu started the trend, it is a shot that is served lit on fire and you drink it through a straw, but you have to be quick or the straw catches fire as well.
Although the drinking was the same what came next was not. Dancing is the U.S. for college students is typically grinding, “sex with clothes on” as one of my teacher’s put it. But for Germans, at least in this one bar in Freiburg, the guys are in a circle and girls have their own arena. Each group dancing and having a good time with their friends. No one is harassing anyone to “dance” with them as I am used to seeing. The guys talk to the girls but after the conversation is over, numbers are exchange or whatever, they return to their domains; guys with guys and girls with girls.
When we’ve had enough of Othello we try once more to find Sam’s roommates and whatever club they are at that is so fun. We ask several groups of people how to get there but no one seems to know. We even asked one of the Dirk twins. (There were two tall, 6’5 at least, German guys that Sarah named Dirk and Dirk, Dirk Nowitzki is a German basketball player.) One guy we asked said he had never heard of the club before but then proceeded to give us directions. Where to? I have no idea, we just decided to go back to Vauban (the dorms). We’d had enough fun for one night.
This concludes the 4th Day
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