Jubiläum! (Anniversary)

A year ago yesterday, I arrived on a plane in Stuttgart to begin an interesting new path in life in Deutschland. So today, in German fashion, I brought a cake to school to celebrate with my classmates my anniversary at Vivat Lingua (my school, that I started the day after I arrived- jetlagged and all). I didn’t think much of it, just an excuse to eat cake. But the head of the school, Adelheid, is so nice, she had chocolates and a little plant in a pretty cup for me.

Last summer in Germany. Let's hope this year is a little bit warmer.

Last summer in Germany. Let’s hope this year is a little bit warmer.

It was such a different day today than a year ago.

For starters, Spring is trying her best to come round. We’ve had a few lovely days this week. I even wore a skirt and no leggings today. It was fabulous. Last year at this time, it was not very good weather and it was cold. I remember needing to wear my coat.

Another thing that has changed: my weight, for the better. I’ve lost 15 pounds over the last year. I had gained quite a bit after the wedding and before the move. Unfortunately I haven’t really achieved that awesome all-Euro wardrobe yet, mostly because I lost weight and now I can just wear the clothes I had in Louisiana.

I walk everywhere and only drive two or three days out of the week. (HUGE difference from wasting my life away in that little blue Corolla in BR traffic) … hey maybe this is related to the above…

I’m no longer shocked by the weird hairdos of the local youth.

I have friends from all sorts of places, but not very many German friends. Maybe after I stop learning German in a class with a bunch of foreigners and I get a job.

I finally understand how to sort trash and recyclables the “Deutsch way” (i.e. very complicated).

I came here barely able to ask people “How are you?” Now, I’m in the C-1 level. Today in class we listened to a comedian joke about a European initiative against the privatization of water, then we read a short paper on it, listened to an interview about water conservation and researched on the internet about this initiative. All in German!

A year ago, I really didn’t understand the concept of trying to conserve water. I always thought it was pointless to try to teach Louisiana kids about that sort of thing. We’re surrounded by water there. It’s waiting in the clouds above us for the right time to fall on our heads as we run through a parking lot to our car. It’s under the ground if we dig deep enough. Bayous, rivers, creeks, canals, swamps- you name it, we got it! I couldn’t fathom a world where people actually thought about that stuff. Then I came here. Water out the tap is fairly expensive, and has so much calcium it’ll eat your washing machine if you don’t add a special anti-calc powder. People collect rain water to water the garden. They don’t use the hose. In fact, I don’t recall ever seeing a hose in anyone’s yard. Every appliance has energy efficient what-nots and the toilets have various options for how much you want to flush!

I care more about electricity too. I mean, I cared before in the sense that I wanted to pay as little as possible. But I’ve been hanging my clothes out to dry outside the past few days. Simply because it was so nice outside that I knew they would dry quickly and I could do a few loads.

Speaking of the environment: Sunday, I went walking on a trail on a mountain, through a forest-y type area… and I liked it!

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Long overdure Mardi Gras post- since it’s aready post-Easter

So I just realized I never posted anything about Mardi Gras here in the Schwabish part of Germany. And that is kind of a shame. Because it’s definitely not “Mardi Gras” like we think of it. It’s not even really Carnival. Yeah, ok, so it’s celebrated in the weeks before Ash Wednesday. But while most countries combined the pagan drinking and fertility traditions with the transition into the penitential season of Lent, Schwabians combined it with their old pagan traditions of scaring away winter…

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Wearing creepy masks to scare away Winter.

It doesn’t really lead to the glamor and bright colors of most carnival traditions elsewhere else, but it’s highly entertaining nonetheless. It’s not even called Karnival like in Koln. Here, it’s called “Fasching”. They don’t throw beads, but they do give out little candies and throw confetti on people. I guess one way they are the same is that a lot of people get drunk at some point.

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Drunken witches lay down in the street for a break during their march in the parade.