Saturday, June 26, 2010

Seriously.

Dear Readers,

I think that it's time we had a talk.
This may come as a shock, so if you need to take a second to sit down and prepare yourself, now would be a good time. (uh...just in case you are one of those people who casually browse through blogs while standing?)

Alright, here goes: Not all blog posts are happy. Or funny. Or clever.
I know this seems to be the overwhelming trend of every single blog on the market, the tendency to be at least one of these, but, just for today, this is going to be a serious post. What can you do? I'm a rebel.
Whoo. I'm so glad we had that talk.

So, there are numerous reasons for this sudden change in tone.
#1. The U.S. lost out of the world cup last week. To those non-soccer fans out there this may not seem like the worst thing ever. But seriously. It's the worst thing ever.
#2. My official German dictionary, Nick Kramer, has officially left the country. (note the double use of variations on the word "official." this is pretty serious.) He had to head back to the states earlier than the rest of us to work. (I always feel so well-traveled and classy when I call it "the states," as if this summer WASN'T the first time I have ever left America) So, the real problem with this is, I still am far from fluent in German and have been abandoned to translate these peoples strange ramblings on my own. A task I don't really have high hopes about, seeing as how a few weeks ago I asked my host-mom if I could use their "cake" instead of their "kitchen." (it's not my fault the two words are so similar in Deutsch. You need to work that one out yourself Germany. Besides, I really wouldn't have minded using their cake, should they be so willing.) Anyways, Americans, if you happen to see this kid wandering around, tell him I am not pleased:

#3. Okay, okay. So this is the actual serious part of the post. I went to Sachsenhausen concentration camp this weekend and had a pretty great experience with what I learned there.

It was a painful experience, but a necessary one.

One of the greatest things I've learned here in Berlin is the power of first-hand experience. I have spent over 3 years of my life learning the German language but it wasn't until I came to this country, until I met the people and felt a desire to know them, to question them and learn from them, that the language became relevant. Sachsenhausen was a similar experience. I remember classes in middle school, high school, even elementary school where we learned about the Holocaust. I have read books, seen pictures, watched movies. I know all the facts. But it wasn't until I walked through their gate, until I stood on their thresholds and saw the distant trees between the barred windows that it felt real to me. And even then, standing at the scene of a thousand murders, I didn't understand it.

In 2003 a construction worker found a glass bottle at the site of the camp. Inside there was a note. "When will I see my family again? When will I see my love again?" it said. "But I am alive. I am perservering."

I've been thinking today about language.

I have spent the last two months attempting to assimilate the German language into my life.
And then I come to Sachsenhausen, and for all the words I know, English or German, there is nothing to say. I could learn a thousand languages and never be able to understand what happened there. I keep going back to the words behind it all. How at some point, those people who gave the orders for it all to happen, Hitler himself even, learned those words for the first time. I think about the mothers who taught them the words. If they could have known what their children would do with them, the way they would form them into sentences and orders, they way they would form them into murder, would they have ever taught them to speak?

There is a language to hate and it is a godless language.
And it was written all over the grounds at Sachsenhausen. Even if the sun is shining, even if they grow a million flowers to cover every inch of the never-ending camp.

The entrance gate to the camp says "Arbeit macht frei," which translates to mean "Work makes you free."
The sleeping room.


The wash room.

I don't want to put too many pictures up, or even say too much.
Words are for the explainable.
And this is something I will have to wait a long, long time to understand.

All I know is my prayers the past few nights have been for the living,
may we learn the lessons of the dead.

Katie

Monday, June 21, 2010

Some good old Italian hospitality...

I had a rather strange thought this morning.
I thought, "Boy my head feels kind of weird."

And then I thought about it a little more and I thought, "Wow. My body has that strange feeling too."

And then it hit me.

I was in the shower. And that strange feeling was water.

Confession: I spent the last weekend in Milan with some friends and because of our rather "economical" way of travel, it had been more than a few days since I had showered.


A story: So we were just hanging out in downtown Milan in front of this big, beautiful cathedral when some men walked up to us, took our hands and put some birdseed in them which instantly made a crowd of pigeons lethally attack our arms. This was supposedly really nice of them (we did get some sweet pictures, probably along with pigeon cancer of some kind) so we smiled and thanked them. They did it a few more times, so when we were finished being nuzzled by a large family of undoubtedly fierce disease carriers (though, I've already had swine flu so I'm pretty sure I'm immune to whatever else those little guys have to throw at me) Tracy and I thought it would be nice to give them a little change for their good deed. Which brings us to...THIS conversation:

Me: "Gratzi!" (holds out 70 cents. more than 643 times the amount that the actual popcorn kernels they gave us were worth)

Bird seed guy: Ten Euros


Me: (knowing that he is obviously confused by his bad English, I was sure he meant ten cents) "Oh, that's okay. I'll give you 70."


Bird seed guy: (getting mad) "Ten Euros!"

Me: "What? You just gave me bird seed!"

Bird seed guy: "You give me ten Euros!"

Me: "But you already gave it to me!"

Bird seed con-man: "Ten Euros! Ten Euros!"

Me: .....................................................................(turns around. walks away.)

The funny part was. I think he was for real.

Everyone has something they need to learn from life.

That guy's lesson: If he just threw that seed in the microwave and popped it up with a little butter he could most definitely get 10 Euros for it at his local movie theater.

But not from me. Or from those nasty pidgeons. We're a tough crowd.

This is me watching soccer. In Italy. About to eat authentic Italian food.
In the words of the immortal Britney Spears: "She's so lucky..."
Just disregard the rest of the song. There were no tears from me that night.

The plane ride home at sunset. And by home I mean Berlin.
Which is starting to feel like home just in time for me to be leaving.

I wish I would have had this experience back in 9th grade so that I could have gotten this question right on Mrs. Shaheen's Honors English final exam:

"___________is the outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected."

Irony. The answer is irony.

Who knew I could feel so at home in such a big city?


Finally finished school yesterday and I've got 3 free days to roam before we head off to travel the country!

As a final note, I would like to add: I love Landon Donovan.
USA. All the way.
Katie






















Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Instead of packing I wrote a blog post.

Off to Milan in about four hours and I wanted to leave Deutschland with a funny story that happened the other night at H&M.
So.....

I am looking at scarves with Joslin when this girl walks up to us and says "Ohmygosh are you guys from America?" (For the life of me I can't seem to figure out how, without opening my mouth, people just know that. At this rate I'll never fit in with all the other kids.) Anyways, my initial thought was "this girl's voice, clothing and mannerisms bears an uncanny resemblance to LaFawnduh on Napoleon Dynamite." (honestly, I hate that I just made a Napoleon Dynamite reference but if you saw the girl then you would know that it had to be done.)


To sum things up (I now have 3 hours and 53 minutes of sleep left) by the end of our literally 93 second conversation (I want to emphasize that this is not an exaggeration. She really accomplished all this in that amount of time) we had:

1. Established the home towns of all three of us.
2. Discovered that she was born in Africa, and then moved to Germany, lived there until she was fifteen years old with her German father and her African mother, then moved to the states, came back to Germany, moved to Sacramento, got her associates, and is now about to move to a home one mile off the beach in LA to go to a UC and get her bachelors degree while living with some friends. In the meantime she has made her way back to Berlin to apparently hang out at H&M and scope out prospective future facebook friends (see number 6 of this list.)
3. Received an invitation to live with her mother in Berlin. (in case we don't like our current host family)
4. Got the invitation revoked because she remembered her mother lives in Frankfurt now. (An honest mistake.)
5. Received an invitation to come stay with her in her LA beach house at the end of the summer.
6. Got her full name and info written out on a piece of paper so that we can find her on facebook. (funny part is, this happened BEFORE the rest of this information. About 8 seconds in to our minute and a half convo. Some people must just really want to up those facebook friend numbers)

She was by far the friendliest, sweetest, most...open girl we have met here in Germany, and if I am allowed to be any judge of character after that 93 seconds, I'd say the girl is going places. This world is great and the people are beautiful.
Here's hoping our new friend finds a Kip of her own.
Katie

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I know for a fact that Czechoslovakia is no longer a country.

Well the good news is, you now have to click the words "older posts" if you want to read all of my blog posts, meaning I have officially blogged enough times to make that possible.

Meaning I've been in Germany for quite some time now.

I'm just about to the middle of my stay here so I thought this might be a good time to go over the highlights so far. Kind of like in high school when mid-way through basketball season they have a big pep rally where they play the adrenaline-pumped slide show trying to convince everyone that the outcome of the next big game will play a defining role in who you will become as a person, what kind of mortgage you will have and whether or not you will end up buying that same pink Mary-kay lipstick that your mother has been wearing for years. When, in reality, if you accidentally stay home that night and play Yatzee with your pink-lipped mother, chances are your life is going to turn out just fine.
What i'm trying to say is, just like high school, this blog post probably won't contribute to your secular knowledge or your moral welfare in any way, but it sure will be fun.

Highlight #1: After a good week of practicing my German I decided it was time. I worked up my courage and ordered at Burger King, all by myself.

I ordered: A Whopper without onions.

I got: Fries, a large Coke, and a Whopper. With onions.


They got me. They got me good.


Highlight #2: This is a picture of a day that started out really sunny, so we bought some food and went to the park for lunch. Then it got really windy (thus the scarf on my head to hold back my mane-of-a-hairstyle) and also there were a lot of bugs which I am in the process of...kicking. (It sounds a lot dumber when I actually type those words. And it already sounded pretty dumb.) Anyways, the funny part happened right after this picture when one of the Bosnian gypsy women who are everywhere here came up to me and asked me for some money. I have not had the best of experiences with these women and I happen to know that they are fairly well taken-care of by the German government so I told her I didn't. She persisted until she saw our food and then she started pestering me for it.

Me: "Uh...I just bought that for lunch."


Gypsy: "pleeeaassseee...for my children." (nowhere to be found)

Me: "I'm sorry!"

Gypsy: "Pleasseee. Just one little piece."

Me: "Um. Okay fine. You can have my bread."

Gypsy: (looks at the bread for a while) "...your tomato would be better."

Beggars can't be choosers Mrs. Bosnian gypsy. I know, my mom told me.


Highlight #3: Dinner.

Turns out Germans don't believe in microwaves. Something about saving the environment or something weird like that. Anyways, my host family also has a faulty oven. A fact I had yet to discover until I purchased a frozen baguette made for the microwave and/or oven. I went with the stove top. A little soggy on the inside and somewhat charred on the outside, but when you're hungry enough...


Highlight #4: Buying fifty bars of German chocolate at one time from the Ritter Sport chocolate store in Berlin. Sure it was actually for some research project that Nick was conducting, and sure I wasn't actually the purchaser of these chocolates, but it was so nice to feel, even if just for one tiny, fleeting moment, like one of the rich girls who gets to buy fifty chocolate bars at one time from the Ritter Sport chocolate store in Berlin. Dreams do come true.




Highlight #5: This is just a really great picture. If there's one thing BYU students love it's a good "Ha! We're not really in jail!" picture. Always gets a good laugh. "Whoo. That was a close one guys...jokes!"

So there it is. 50% done. 50% to go. That equals 100% the best summer ever.
As if you couldn't already tell.
This concludes my Berlin pep rally. You are all excused now to go to 4th period.

See you at the big game.
Love, Katie

Friday, June 4, 2010

Oh wait really? Berlin ISN'T trying to drown me?

SSSSSUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!
Yesterday morning I threatened Berlin with a good kidney-punch if she didn't stop pouring water down my throat every day, and she decided to shape up. (I only think Berlin is a girl because the German language's obnoxious tendency to assign a gender to everything has done nothing but feed whatever feminism I have inside of me.)

It has rained almost the entire month I have been here and if you know anything about me, you know that I am the kind of girl who needs her sunshine. Which is exactly what these past few days have given me!
AND, besides there being sun, yesterday I also....
1. bought yellow tights...
2. slept through my alarm...
3. threw up during institue.

So things are really getting back to normal in the life of Katie Wade. Obnoxious clothes, tremendous inability to get out of bed, and absurdly awkward and ridiculous situations (that seem to happen once in a lifetime for everyone else but happen daily for me) seems to sum up the way things go for me. Just how I like it too.




Nicholas Kramer (as pictured above) summed it up best yesterday when he said, "It's always an adventure with you around."

I think he meant it in a good way but if not, he'd better watch out for my kidney shot.
Just ask Berlin.
Off to Schwerin, Germany tomorrow for a day trip!

Love, Katie
P.s.- I'm going to sign off by posting a few randoms I've been wanting to put somewhere so people can look at them. Like on a blog or something.

This is basically how I feel all the time here, even if it's not actually this crowded. Everything is so packed in.


I am learning to accept that some part of me wants to be a girl. Even if that means I have to pose like I'm blowing dandylions. (I almost looked up if I spelled that right but what is girlier than looking up how to spell dandylion?)

This one is just because I really miss her.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Prague Blog.

I'm going to start off by saying that my Dad came up with the title of this blog. (as if it didn't have "Dad Joke" written all over it.) However, while it may be slightly amiss, it is also very informative because this is, in fact, a blog post about my trip to Prague. Glad we cleared that up.

Funny Story: (Readers: "Already?" Katie: "Yes.") In Germany they require an extra fee to reserve seats on trains. We are all poor college students (who somehow have enough money to live in Europe for the summer?) so of course we opted out and figured we'd just find some random seats somewhere when we got there....

...For ending A please go to post-script 1.
For ending B please go to post-script 2.
1. It was not a good idea.
2. It was not a good idea.

There is no other real solution to this. We ended up sitting in a hallway big enough for a cello to barely fit through sideways (there was a middle-school orchestra on the train) for almost the whole five hour train ride because the train was so full. Who knew other people besides us wanted to travel through Europe in the summer? Weird.

The good news was the train was made up of little compartments and we were "sitting" near the previously mentioned orchestra children's cabin where we could hear all the lame and immature Harry Potter jokes they were making inside. Meanwhile, us much older and much more mature adults were sitting OUTSIDE the cabin making much older and much more mature Harry Potter jokes (we never once brought up Bernie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, though we did mention chocolate frogs once or twice) when I got the grand idea to put my navy blue sweater on my head and try to scare the kids when they opened their curtains.

Unfortunately it didn't work as well as I had planned, seeing as how the sweater only went down to about my colar bone, (put this one on the list of "Times I really wish I had my Dementor costume") but, despite their stoic faces, I think they all still had a good German laugh once they closed the curtains.

Day 1 of Prague was promising. We started out by taking a boat trip around the river that leads through the city. It was a sunny day and our tickets even included an ice cream bar and "Lemonade." (Turned out to be Sprite. It only makes sense since everything in Europe is carbonated, but the guy kept swearing it was lemonade. I have a feeling they don't serve too much of that stuff since every other person on board ordered the free beer, including the 12 year olds in front of me.)

We ended the day by sitting in the big square in the middle of the city and listening to some live cultural (free!) music.


video

I could really go on for a while about all the other things we did but I'm in Europe to study, not to write blogs (<----a good joke.) so I'm just going to wrap this thing up.

We hiked to the amazing castle/cathedral they have. (3 times. Whoops!)
We ate delicious food.


(A crepe!)


We took an absurd amount of pictures.


And at the end of the day we listened to this classic song in the warm summer evening weather in the middle of the main bridge of the city.

video
Prague was, by far, the most beautiful city I have ever been to.

Some things are just worth a five hour train ride on the floor.

With or without a dementor costume.


Until next time...


Love, Katie