I played with a group from Kiel in the mixed volleyball state tournament on June 13th, and we won!

So sehen Sieger aus:

Meerbauer Kiel


Hallig Hooge

For the last weekend in May, we went on a trip to the North Sea. First, we made a short stop in Husum and visited the North Sea Museum. It was mostly kinda boring, unfortunately,  but they did have some neat models of farm houses and and mills and things. I think that the Freilichtmuseum Molfsee (see last post) was more interestingly done.

After visiting the musuem and taking a quick walk downtown, we took a bus to get to where our ferry was going to take us to the hallig. A hallig is basically an island, but this type of island only occurs in the north sea where the tide is so extreme.  Because of the tides, the ferries run at different times every day. Nature decides. That was one of the main things that made an impression on me throughout the trip. When you live in this type of landscape, you are fully subject to nature. Weather and moon cycles rule your life and make decisions for you. It’s quite humbling.

As we stepped off of the ferry onto Hooge, we arrived in a different world. There are only 80 people that live there. All the buildings on the island are clustered into little groups on top of little hills, this is called a warft. They have to create these hills because when there is a big storm, the island will very quickly be covered with water.

a larger warft in the distance

The people on the island own lots of animals. We saw big sturdy horses like the ones above, lots of sheep and cows. The largest animal population, however, is the geese. We were told that for a few months there are 14,000 geese on the island. Humans are way outnumbered and are forced to walk through goose poop where ever they go. At the hostel where we stayed, they have a little soccer field set up. We played for a few hours, stomping through the goose droppings and bewildering the sheep surrounding us. They had to move over to the playground while we took over the field.

The people who live on the hallig also seemed to be of different stock than most northern Germans. I’m sure, though, that a big part of it’s this tough, lonely life on the island. Most of the inhabitants were red-faced, sturdy and strong-looking, probably a product of constant wind and constant farm work. They also tended to be quiet, and seemed to have a strange sense of humor. This was most evident when we ventured to another warft to watch one inhabitant’s home video of a flood.  The way this guy narrated the film was strangely hilarious: monotone throughout, the lack of emotion while describing a violent act of nature was almost too much to handle. Then while on the way back, I almost got taken out by a bike. I was alone in the middle of the road and all the sudden there was a bike coming towards me. We couldn’t figure out how to get out of each other’s way and he ended up brushing past me on the right. The weirdest part was, he didn’t say a word! No “excuse me”, “I’m sorry”, or even “get out of the way!”. Everyone who witnessed it was like, yeah… the people here are different.

We made dinner that evening and had a party, being the only guests in the hostel. Here are some more pictures of the island before I get to the next part of the excursion.

water running through the hallig

After not sleeping very much, we got up in the morning and went on a three-hour walk through the wattenmeer, the north sea mudflats. The wattenmeer was just named a UNESCO world heritage site in June 2009. These mudflats are a product of the tide and flood twice a day. You actually have to be very careful about hiking through the mudflats. People are not allowed to go without a tour guide because of the flooding and the fog which can be upon you in a matter of minutes. Here is a picture of Hooge during high tide.  We took our tour at low tide and walked to a sand dune. It might be one of the ones you see here on the photo, but I’m not 100% sure.

hallig hooge from above

There were lots of little living things in the mudflats: worms, crabs, snails, mussels and prawns.

our first view of the wattenmeer

walking away from the hallig

our guide showing us how far we can sink in

group picture on the sand dune

It was a really interesting trip. I am glad I got to see this unique landscape. Now I really know what Theodor Storm is talking about.

day trips

The past two weekends have each included a day trip. First, Asisa and Timo took Chris and I to a German theme park! Heidepark is just a couple of hours away outside a small town. It was smaller than the parks I’ve been to in the U.S., but had some really awesome rides.  One of the roller coasters is in the Guinness Book of World Records for steepest drop on a wooden coaster. My favorite, though, was called Desert Race. It was really smooth with lots of twists and turns and super fast : ) The park was also really pretty. It’s German, so of course it has lots of greenery and is really well kept-up.  The most hilarious part was that they had a number of American themes for the different sections of the park. Some of them never seen together in the wild!:

Mississippi Steamboat and Statue of Liberty

On the lake you can also see the White House! Which is actually a burger joint…

The White House

Notice the Native American and Wonder Woman (?) out front. Some of the other sections were Wild West, Desert, Mayan/Incan, Switzerland and Medieval. We spent about 6 hours there and got to do pretty much everything we wanted. The park closes by 6pm every day (so German of them). The lines for the rides were pretty short, never more than 25 people, or so. It was a day well spent.

Thanks, Asisa and Timo!

Our trip last weekend maybe doesn’t qualify distance-wise as a trip since it was right on the outskirts of Kiel, but it was a trip back in time! We went to the Freilichtmuseum Molfsee. It’s an outdoor museum where you learn about country life in 18th and 19th century Schleswig-Holstein. It was really cool for me because of all of my Theodor Storm research. Now I can actually picture how the country folk lived. Storm lived in a city himself, but lots of his stories take place in villages.

Living Room

beds in the wall between the living space and the animal stalls


people sure did love their gardens back in the day

sweet cabinet with Friesian-tile wall

I took tons of pictures, but I hope the ones that I picked out gave you an impression of how pretty is was. It was a bit difficult to take pictures inside the houses because they were all so dark! It was even midday when I was taking them. People must have been outside most of the day, despite the nasty weather that is so typical here.

This week, however, it’s warmed up again! I got to play sand volleyball three times this week! It was great fun and a great workout : ) I hope it will soon get nice enough to spend the day at the beach!

Kiel’s red squirrels are amazingly darling. Every time I see one, I have to stop and watch it. They are smaller than ours at home, they’re red, and they have tufts on their ears. What’s not to like?!

I obviously didn't take this picture

squirrel i saw from the balcony

You can kinda see how small they are in the picture, even if you can only kinda see his ear tufts.

Another animal that I notice here: seagulls

They are active and loud all the time, most noticeably at night time. For some reason they like to fly around the humanities buildings across the street. The university area clears out by the time the fitness center closes, so when you are walking home from Oblomow or somewhere, the only thing you hear are the seagulls. It’s kinda eerie, not gonna lie.

Here’s another picture someone else took of Kiel seagulls.

Now while the squirrels are smaller here, the pidgeons are really large. I think they are wood pidgeons.

Well, hello there! Thanks for trying to keep up with me, even when I haven’t written in ages : )

Things here in Germany are going well.  The spring weather has transformed Kiel into a nice place to live.  Our temps now are typically between 50-60 F, and there are more sunny days than rainy.  We have gotten hail/sleet a couple times since I’ve been back, but it doesn’t last long and the sunshine that follows seems all the more intense for it. One of the coolest things is that it doesn’t get dark now until 9pm!!  This year has definitely taught me how much of an impact weather can have on a person.  You see, talking about the weather really isn’t all that boring. It’s really a masked attempt at talking about feelings, nothing more than feelings.

Another good thing about being back in Kiel is volleyball! Man, I sure am going to miss it when I leave.  I’ve been told that beach volleyball season is near, but in the meantime we are all happily toiling away in the gym. My practices with the women’s team are over, but I’ve been picked up by a mixed team.  Our past week was very successful. On Monday, we won a match against probably the best team in the league (besides us, of course) to secure our number one ranking this season. Then we played in a tournament yesterday and got first place! Here’s our victory picture:

we are the champions

The tournament was good fun with good people. All-day tournaments like this are also good German practice. Yesterday, I even started talking to myself on the court in German! Marie and I play ball at the university together, along with Andre who is behind us in the picture.  Andre makes my playing with the team possible by driving me to all of the games. I tip my hat to you, sir.

The volleyball group at the university is awesome. They are becoming some of our best friends here (Chris fits right in even though he’s not a volleyballer).  On Friday night, Matti, Frank and Volker very patiently taught Chris and I how to play Skat, THE card game of Germany.  The game seems very German to me, involving lots of math and strategy.  These types of things are what make studying abroad great. Matti has also invited us to parties at his place where we are the only non-Germans. It really gives you some inside perspective on the culture and the people while you have a good time : ) Individuals can have such a large impact on foreigners’ perception of their country. I hope they know how much they are helping to tip the scales to the positive. That goes for Giulia, as well, who led us around her hometown of Rome. She was so great. She put a lot of time and effort into our three days there and when it comes down to it, she is just a really cool person. She is part of the reason that Chris and I will probably always love Rome. We have even talked about adding Italian to our language repertoire… I think Italian culture would be a good balance for German culture in my life ; )

Oh and then there’s the reason I got sent here, the writing my thesis stuff. Right. I have finally finished doing enough research to feel like I can start writing and organizing my thoughts. I have an overwhelming amount of quotations that I have pulled from secondary sources. 17 pages, single-spaced, to be exact.  There is just so much information out there that it’s hard to ever feel like you are informed enough to write anything. I know there is more that I could read, but I think I really just need to start writing now. the clock is ticking.

In other education news, I found out last week that I will probably have to stay at KU for a whole year when I get back. They have trapped me so that I can pad the department’s stats. jerks. There are only 3 different times when you can take your MA exams each year, August, January, and March. The new rule that they added this year, is that you have to be finished with your thesis the semester before you take your exams. I guess they are trying to lower stress levels, but I think it stinks that they can change things on me at the last minute. So I will not be able to do the August date, I will have to wait until January. January, however, is considered spring semester. Therefore, I have to be enrolled in spring semester, as well. evil, evil trap. For them to continue paying for that semester, I will still have to take 3 German dept grad classes and teach, even though I will be finished with my exams. I wish I could just be finished, but in reality, it’s not tragic. It will give me more time to find a job while still being paid to teach. However, there is going to be a big shuffle going on in the dept because we will be losing Dr. Keel as the head of the dept and Dr. Crawford will be moving on because she didn’t publish enough to get tenure. Dr. Crawford apparently will not be replaced because of the budget. She is a real loss for the students. The grad students voted her as best teacher two years in a row. All of this means that course offerings will dwindle, and I will have to take classes that I have already taken. sigh… but there’s not much I can do about it but look on the bright side.

Hope you all are well! I miss you.

Bella Italia

Here are my photos from my four day trip to Italy. Enjoy!


(p.s. I know I’ve been neglecting the blog. sorry! I swear I’ll write again sometime soon!)

Finished with the semester! Yay, no more silly classes! On March 1st, I can sign up for next semester. I am looking forward to next semester. Spring semesters always go faster, I will be finally writing my thesis and hopefully we will get some good weather. I was looking at my pictures from when I got to Kiel, and realized that Kiel isn’t all that bad. It truly is the weather and the darkness that are getting me down. That’s a relief. For now, it’s continuing to snow and be cold, but the days are getting noticeably longer!

Other international students are starting to leave for home. Many Erasmus students only study abroad for one semester, because that’s all the financial support that they can get. Our good friend Liam (England) has already left. He will be going to Russia next semester, somewhere near the Black Sea. Should be interesting, but we are going to miss him a lot.

Liam, Matti, and Chris at a restaurant called Santa Fe : )

evil Chris and nice Liam

Silvia, our roommate, is leaving tomorrow. Her semester starts right away in Italy. We are really gonna miss her, too. Hopefully, Chris and I will be visiting all of our Italian friends in April.

Silvia and Giulia on the train back from Flensburg

Here are a couple more pictures of Flensburg. We just went for a day trip right before Giulia went back to Italy. We didn’t stay too long since it was really freakin cold.

Other than that, no much has been going on. We did have a night adventure in Hamburg. Went out for dinner, went to a bar in the St.Pauli district (prostitutes all around in their moonboots), and then to a very German club that was in some kind of bunker-like building, all black on the inside and playing ridiculous techno music. I made a video, but I am currently not being allowed to upload it, so uh, I’ll have to ask Chris about that one when he gets home. Here, I know, I’ll give you a funny sign instead:

I'm an assman myself.