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Archive for September, 2011

“I thought I had paid for everything. Not like the woman pays and pays and pays. No idea of retribution or punishment. Just exchange of values. You gave up something and got something else. Or you worked for something. You paid some way for everything that was any good. I paid my way into enough things that I liked, so that I had a good time. Either you paid by learning about them, or by experience, or by taking chances, or by money. Enjoying living was learning to get your money’s worth and knowing when you had it.”

-excerpt from Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises

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Has it really been over a month since I stepped on that plane and waved auf wiedersehen

The View from My Favorite Patio at the Marbella House

to my life in Eugene? As I stare off into the distance, admiring the breathtaking view of palm trees, tropical flowers, and the Mediterranean here in Spain, I ponder everything that’s changed these past four weeks. I’ve said goodbye to my friends and family, immersed myself in a new culture, embraced a new language, and started a new job. I have been adapting to a long distance relationship, and to calling an entirely new and different place home.

I remember the weeks leading up to this transition – not wanting to admit it, but I began to question my decision to move. I allowed my fear to tell me I was making the wrong decision, that I wasn’t ready to leave everything that was familiar, behind.

But I’m so incredibly grateful that I didn’t let that fear get in the way of one of the most

The Harbor at Night - Marbella, Spain

incredible experiences I have ever had the opportunity to pursue. In these past four short weeks, not only have I settled into Munich, I have visited Memmingen with my host family, Berlin to see David, and currently, Marbella, Spain to stay at Claudia’s parent’s beautiful vacation home.

The Marbella Vacation Home

The Marbella Vacation Home

one of the outdoor patios

And “beautiful” is an understatement when describing this home. I mean, I have never seen a house so gorgeous, let alone been able to stay there as a guest. Colorful flowers and graceful palm trees border a view that extends deep into the Mediterranean Sea, revealing glimpses of Africa in the distance on a sparkling, clear day. But if one is too lazy to make his or her way down to the beach, why not take a swim in the home’s large pool that hangs over the Mediterranean, offering a view that leads you to believe you are in the crystal waters of the Sea. If the sun is too hot, hang out in the relaxing shade of one of the outdoor patios or courtyards (my favorite one overlooks the pool and the Mediterranean). Don’t even get me started on the interior, what with the gorgeous entry way offering a balcony that surrounds the room, allowing those on the second floor to peer below, or my large bedroom that encompasses

Entryway

Entryway

an area larger than my living room back home, not including my private balcony and bathroom. Our time here in Spain has allowed for all of us to relax together: for the kids to play and to feel more comfortable with me around, and for me to continue to get to know Claudia and Sven, as well as Claudia’s parents who are also here for part of our stay. A day

Through the streets of Old Town, Marbella

trip to Seville is coming up on the agenda, as well as lovely dinners down by the harbor and strolls through Old Town and along the beach. While I do love Germany, Spain has been a refreshing and welcome change, what with the sunshine and warm breeze that surrounds my body as I relax with a favorite book in hand.

Upon our return to Munich, I begin

A Spanish Sunset

language school and assume my duties as an Au Pair. Up to this point, I have been treated more as part of the family than as an employee, which has allowed me to adjust and feel comfortable with my surroundings before beginning my new job. Thus, I am mindfully enjoying this last week of relaxation, warmth, and sunshine – but I am equally excited to finally begin the routine that I came here to do. Also, Oktoberfest begins the week after our return, which I must admit isn’t too shabby of a welcome home and an introduction back into the real world…

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So this past week, I experienced the German club scene for the first time. I randomly met a fellow Au Pair at the family’s sports club – and she turns out to be my neighbor! – so I finally have someone to accompany me on my nighttime adventures.

It was a Wednesday night; yes, a Wednesday. And this was not a Dollar Beers kind of night, to all of you Oregon ducks out there. It was a lets-get-messed-up-and-go-dancing-until 6am kind of night. Most parties don’t even get started here until 2 am, and that’s even pushing it as a bit early. Luckily, people were semi-reasonable and showed up a bit early for the Wednesday club scene; we arrived at club 089 at around 1 am, and it was

Club 089

packed. Kaleena and I each paid 4 euro for a tiny bottled beer and shuffled into the crowd. Unrecognizable techno and house music blared through the speakers, littered with old school U.S. hits here and there – think Haddaway’s “What Is Love.” From my observations, people seem to actually dance here in Germany, as compared to the let’s-have-sex-on-the-dancefloor style that has taken over the States. There were a few down and dirty couples scattered throughout the place, but for the most part people were just enjoying the music and having a good time. Including Kaleena and I – we had the best time dancing and meeting Munich locals – so much fun that we stayed out until about 5:30am. When we left, the place was still packed, allowing those that remained a few more hours to get their dance on.

Bob Beaman Music Club

The next experience – and the more authentic German experience in my opinion – came on Friday night. We showed up at Bob Beaman Music Club around 1 am. Unlike the 3 euro cover at 089, the Friday night scene had upped it to a whopping 10 euro – which I hear is cheap compared to some other clubs in the area. The outside courtyard was packed, so we figured it would be even better inside. Well…we were wrong. We walked inside only to find about 5 or 6 scattered dancers, and about 10 more creepily standing on the wall watching. Hmmm, this is what we paid 10 euro for?! Since we already made the long trek there – including walking, the U-bahn, and a taxi – and had also paid a non-refundable 10 euro, we decided to make the best of it. Too bad the music creeped me out.

Have you ever listened to the voice of a hypnotist, maybe on T.V. or on the radio, and recognized the voice to be low, repetitive, and slow? Well, put that voice to a repetitive techno beat and there you have the music we were listening to. Apparently, this style is called Minimal Techno, and was largely developed in Germany during the 2000s, popularized by labels such as Kompakt and M-nus. Regardless of the genre’s popularity here, I can’t quite understand its appeal. I looked around at Bob Beaman’s to see fellow club goers moving their arms in weird directions and twerking their bodies back and forth. This made for some interesting people watching. And despite my apprehensions, I decided to embrace my environment and engage in this new dance style. I jumped up and down, moved back and forth, waved my arms, and I fit right in. Before I knew it, I was

Bob Beaman Music Club

having a fantastic time – and this was not due to my initial people watching entertainment, but from my own participation. My fun was momentarily interrupted, as I noticed that the creepy guy that had been lurking in the corner and staring in my direction for over an hour had finally decided to make his move. He slowly inched closer until, without words and with a completely blank expression, he attempted to grab my hand and dance. I decided to entertain his attempts for a short time, but his lack-luster dancing and blank stare eventually bored me to tears; I locked eyes with Kaleena, gave her the “save me” look, and she swooped in for the win. Free at last. We danced for a few more hours in this club where the ceiling lit up in neon colors, changing every few seconds, making me feel that I might as well be on some kind of illegal substance even though I was completely sober, excluding the single beer from the beginning of the night. What a trip, and what a grand old time out on the town in my new hometown of Munich. And maybe, before I know it, I’ll have this Minimal Techno dance style down to an art, allowing me to fit in as a local, that is until I open my mouth and attempt to speak the few words of German that I actually do know.

Another walk home in the early hours of the morning, watching the sun rise slowly and gracefully in the distance, led to the commencement of yet another successful night out.

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