Monday, March 31, 2014

News!

Recently I wrote a post about why I want to become a teacher. But all of those reasons in themselves aren't going to get me a job. And all of those days spent in the classroom don't mean much without a precious piece of paper known as a teaching certification.

That is why I am happy to announce that I have been accepted into a teaching certification program starting in July!

The great thing about this program is that I can complete my coursework online and do my practical experiences in a local classroom. I have to take the exams in the US, but I can take them at any point. I'm going to take the first one in April and the remaining ones hopefully when I come home for Christmas.

Even though it is a bit more work and an extra exam I have decided to do two areas of specialization instead of just one - Elementary Education (K-6) and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) (K-12).

I'm beyond excited to further my education in this unique way and really see it as a step in the right direction for me. I can't wait to discover the doors that this will open!

Oh, and don't worry, the move to Germany is still a go. Tune in next time for some more exciting news about that!

Summer classroom, Russia, 2013

Sunday, March 30, 2014

When one door slams in your face...

I'm a planner. Maybe not when it comes to the spontaneous travel decision or my "why not?!" attitude of tagging along on adventures with friends, but concerning my life I crave a solid plan and thrive when I know that my next step is already planned out and set to go.

So that's why I had been planning away to set up the perfect scenario for my move to Germany in May.  But then sometimes those plans, made with the best intentions and cautious optimism, collapse at a moment's notice and life knocks you down hard, leaving you confused, upset, frustrated, and disappointed.

As I cried out those tears of confusion and frustration, the planning had to start again. And slowly I realized that as painful as it is to have a door slammed hard right in front of my face, there are other doors.  Other doors that are just as good or even better.  In the end, we can never know what is the "perfect" path for our lives.  It's both a blessing and a curse to have such a myriad of options.  But eventually you just have to make a choice, focus on all of the positive aspects of that choice, and then make the very best of it by working hard at it with all of your heart. Oh, and keep smiling!

I hope to have some exciting news to share within the next few days in regards to my next step in this beautifully wild adventure of life!




Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Back in America!

Well, I'm back! It was an excellent spring break in Germany which ended all too soon! 

There are a few strange things that always happen to me when I'm fresh back from Europe which seem not to go away no matter how many times I jump back and forth across the pond.


1) Being surprised to hear English
Sitting in the airport waiting for my domestic connection I found myself snapping my head to the side to look where that American English was coming from more than once - oh, right, we're in America now...

2) Paying for stuff
While abroad I pay with cash 99% of the time, so I find myself thinking upon arrival, "Do I have any hard currency?".  Oh, that's right, I can just use my debit card to buy that overpriced airport snack!

3) Using my phone
While abroad, communicating with the outside world is a constant game of find the free WiFi.  So when I get back to the US and can simply call or text my friends I sometimes forget that it is that easy.

4) Do I need a converter for that?
Yeah, something like that...
photo credit
5) And, of course, the jet lag.
Wide awake at 6 AM checking and writing emails. Finally resolve to get out of bed and start the day.  Exhausted by 8 PM. Yep, that's how it goes!

Goodbyes are never fun, but to keep things positive, here are a few things I'm looking forward to in the 49 days until I head back to my favorite German fellow.

1) Finishing my Capstone thesis
I have quite the love-hate relationship with this capstone thesis, but hopefully I will feel proud when it is all said and done.

2) Graduation

Throwback to high school graduation with my best friend and the best Russian teacher ever!

3) Spring days in Bloomington
It's about to get really beautiful around here (if winter EVER goes away, that is!) and I can't wait for the long walks and afternoons spent studying outside!

photo credit
4) Packing up my life
Ask me about this again when I'm trying to zip my overflowing suitcase full, but for now the idea of carefully sorting, organizing, and folding up my things for the big move across the pond sounds pretty exciting. 

Bring on the last 7 weeks as an undergrad!!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

When you don't speak German...

Today I was at the grocery store, waiting in line to pay for groceries, when the guy in front of me left his cart to go grab something. The line was starting to move forward and he hadn't yet made it back, but I wasn't too worried. The lady behind me, however, obviously was. She also apparently didn't speak a word of German. She solved this predicament, none the less, by hitting me in the arm with the cucumber she was holding in one hand and frantically motioning me to move forward with the help of the juice bottle in her other hand.  At first i told her calmly in German that he must be coming back soon, but as the  pushing and waving got more frantic I resolved to just slide his cart to the side and move forward in the line. Oh yes, just another day in Deutschland!

Sunshine!



I haven't been the most dedicated runner lately.  I wish I was more dedicated to it (ooooh don't we all!) because I know how good some time out in the fresh air makes me feel.  Yesterday morning I didn't feel like sleeping in or maybe it was all of the hammering, clanging, clashing, and kabooming going on in the neighborhood as old buildings are renovated and new buildings are built.  It made me wonder how I possibly managed to sleep in the day before! In any case, I got my self out of bed and into my running shoes and set out for a morning run.  I'm super fortunate that the apartment isn't too far from the English Garden, Munich's enormously expansive and beautiful park. Getting to the park, however, meant dodging all sorts of rush hour cars, bikes, and pedestrians.  Maybe jogging during morning commute wasn't my smartest idea yet. I made it unscathed to the park and jogged for a while before heading back to the apartment to stretch a bit in the courtyard.  Looking at my ipod I realized that I'd gotten a whole hour of exercise in - yay! I may, however, have stopped to take a few pictures ;)

Displaying фотография 1.JPG
English Garden

Displaying фотография 2.JPG
Running path

Displaying фотография 3.JPG
So green and sunshiny and peaceful!

Displaying фотография 4.JPG
My oh so adult-like breakfast.  But hey, it's just so fun to put the little crunchy things in the yogurt  :)
I spent a good part of the afternoon in the city center and then when Mario got off work in the evening we met at the English Garden and had a picnic! Weather like this I could definitely get used to!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A trip to Lindau and a run-in with the German police

Friday morning I made it safe and sound to Munich! The flight over was rather empty, making it extremely comfortable for me and my fellow passengers, but not so comfortable for US Airway's budget I assume.  Friday was spent relaxing as the day after a trans-Atlantic flight (and the first day of my spring break, might I add) should be and enjoying the beautifully warm and sunny day.

Displaying фотография.JPG
Minion likes riding the S-bahn into the city!

By Saturday morning, however, it was time for the next adventure to begin! Saturday morning we were on a train to Lindau, Germany for a quick little getaway.  Once we had arrived in Lindau we found our hotel pretty easily, dropped off our things, and then ate a doner before heading out on a walk.



Lindau Harbor 

Lindau Harbor


Street near the harbor in Lindau
Lindau's location is unique because it is near the Bodensee, a large lake bordering on Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.  Thanks to that convenient location we found ourselves in Bregenz, Austria after not too long and then onward to St. Gallen, Switzerland.  Nothing says Europe quite like 3 countries in one day!

We found the "real Red Square" in St. Gallen!

After a long day of walking around and exploring the evening was spent sipping wine and watching TV - some always appreciated relaxation! I slept like a rock and felt really refreshed in the morning. After checking out of the hotel we walked to the train station and found out that we didn't have too long to wait until a train which would go directly to Munich (yay for no connections!). 

I read for a bit before I decided to lay my head back and rest.  I had just dosed off when I was abruptly woken by a visit from the German police. In my still half-asleep state I didn't get what was going on and Mario had to tell me that they were asking to see our IDs.  I handed them my driver's license and they closed the compartment door to take a look at our documents. After a few minutes they opened the door and asked me if I had my passport.  I told them that it was at home in Munich (I had decided not to take it with me on the trip to Lindau because I didn't think I would need it for anything).  Well, let's just say that was not the answer they were looking for.  I know that in Ukraine and especially Russia that you are supposed to keep your passport on you at all times, but I've never been told that about Germany.  I had a photo copy of my passport that I keep with me at all times, but I think what they really wanted to verify was that I hadn't overstayed my 90 days in Germany (nope, just got here!).  In the end the police were nice and simply told me to make sure I have it with me next time.  Phew! Lesson learned, I guess! 

That little encounter led to our train neighbor asking where I was from and us finding out that he was from Georgia.  We told him about our trip to Georgia last year and I could tell that he was happy to hear that we enjoyed our trip to his homeland.  

The rest of the trip passed uneventfully.  When we got back to Munich we decided to walk home instead of take the u-bahn and had a nice afternoon walk despite the lack of sunshine.  I'm assuming the rest of the day will be spent fairly chilled out, but that's just fine with me :)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Germany Bound!

After 58 days back here in the States it is time to head back across the pond!!! It's a pretty quick trip this time around, but I'm still hoping to pack it full of fun and adventure. But for now I'll just finish my Javachip frap, go through security, and settle in for a long day of traveling!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Масленица!

I really got into the spirit of Maslenitsa this past week! Crepes (блины) flowed freely from my kitchen and were fed to my roommates, friends, and anyone I could convince to join me in the celebration of this glorious holiday.  I mean who doesn't love a week-long holiday dedicated to the eating of pancakes?!?!  If you don't know what Maslenitsa is, Wikipedia can give you a good overview and you can check out my posts from the last two years (here and here).

And now, here are some pictures from this year's festivities!
первый блин комом!

mmmmm!

Singing частушки (limericks) at REEI Maslenitsa!

I played and ran around with and had all sorts of silly fun with these little cuties!

In our Ukrainian and Belarussian attire

I wonder how I'll be celebrating Maslenitsa next year? Well, if nothing else, I can at least count on a big stack of блины fried up in my own kitchen :)