This past weekend I went to Lich, Germany to see a friend that I met during his study abroad in Maple Grove, MN. I think the highlight was the train rides to my friend's house. At every stop I saw people greeting each other. People saying good bye with tearful embraces, and the opposite, tearful and heartfelt hellos...there were men carrying flowers to the gate waiting for their love to return...and there are couples holding each other and kissing each other before the train comes. It is probably the coolest thing to watch how people interact at the train stations. I also loved meeting people. While language was often a barrier that we had to overcome, I was able to communicate with the man sitting next to me, the woman sitting next to me (both German), another man named Dennis and a young man from Hungary named Sascha. It was strange, I am not sure if you have ever just had an instantaneous connection with someone (not necessarily attraction, just a connection), but it happened with the man Dennis and me
. He had been watching me as we got kicked off the train in Cologne (Koln) due to the strikes, and I think he could tell I had no idea what was happening. He was just watching with amusement. I eventually made eye contact and he just gave a friendly smile and laugh. That is when I just sensed something good about this man. When we got off the train and were waiting for the next one I ended up somehow being pushed next to Dennis. He then initiated a conversation. Turns out he is from Holland but lives in Germany. He works in business and technology and just recently graduated from university...which for Germany is 25 or 26 years old. I guessed his age to be 28 or 29, but I am bad with guessing ages. We talked for a while, I think I was nervous, just because I didn't know this man and something about him just was good...and I was happy about that, so I didn't know how to act. Ha, it sounds so strange...it is difficult to explain. Then we finally got on our new train and he helped me find a seat and every thing...and he also guided me verbally through the process of buying a ticket (I needed to buy one to get from Frankfurt to Giessen, where Philipp would pick me up). Then, he got off a stop before me. I was very thankful that I met someone nice that was willing to help me through the trip process. Anyways...I missed my next train due to the late arrival of my original train, so I ended up on a later train to Giessen. This is where I met Sascha. He studied in Texas, which is why I began talking with him originally. Actually, I just saw the Texas sweatshirt he had on and smiled at him. He then began talking to me and said that he knew I was American because I smiled at him. Anyways, we talked the entire hour to Giessen. It was a bit uncomfortable, but he could carry a conversation quite well. I was really excited by the warm greeting I received from Philipp upon my arrival. He came up from behind me and gave me a giant hug. Oh, how I love hugs. The make even the coldest days seem warm
. Well...after that his dad drove us to Lich, where he lives and we basically just went to bed. The next day we woke up early, had a delicious fresh bakery breakfast...and left for Frankfurt. We were running late, so we ended up running to catch our train. (I am not eating a delicious tortellini dinner and my hair keeps tickling my neck and I think a spider is on me. It is confusing.) We went to Frankfurt with two girls that Philipp knows. They spoke a lot of German to one another, which I could pick up a little of what they were saying simply by a few words and their expressions and tone of voice. That was interesting. Then we did some touristy stuff, ate some German food (which tasted much like a hot dog), and went shopping (I just pretended...I really am not a huge fan of shopping, so I got kind of bored at this point). Then we saw the old part of Frankfurt where Philipp and I got Starbucks (Mango juice, delicious). Then we caught the subway to get to our train. The subway broke down though and we ended up running over a mile to try to catch our train. We failed and had to catch a later one. Well, we finally made it back to Giessen, where we had to have Philipp's mom come get us due to lack of trains and busses going to Lich at that time of night. Upon our arrival back at his house, we went to his friend's birthday party. This was very dull for me. No one spoke English until the last half hour I was there. Thankfully about 2 or 3 hours into the night, a few of us started playing poker. That was fun, they still spoke German, but now I could know what it was referring to. Anyways, after the party we walked back and went to bed. Sunday was a relaxing day. We got up, ate breakfast with Philipp's friend from tennis. It was primarily those two speaking German to one another and me just eating. Then we read and I fell asleep again. Then we went to Marburg and basically did a speed walking session through the town so we could catch the train again. Then he saw me off in Frankfurt
. It was overall a good weekend, it was nice to get away from Arnhem and to travel, see Philipp, and meet new people. Philipp was very quiet and we had very little to say to one another. I think this is primarily because our relationship is based so much over the internet and group settings that we just didn't know how to act around one another or what to talk about. We never go into deep conversations online...so it was an awkward transition in person. I don't know how to explain it. Well, then on Sunday we have breakfast with a friend of Philipp's from tennis, then we sat around and read (i had to prepare for an exam for monday), went to Marburg, then Frankfurt to catch my train back to Arnhem. I simply read the entire train ride back, I didn't meet anyone intersting on this trip. Iarrived back in Arnhem at 10:30 pm or so...I found the bike and I rode as fast as I could back to my flat (I am afraid of the dark...). I think I made it a little over two miles...maybe three in 7 minutes. I was surprised. My legs burned, but it was great.
My teacher and I had a talk today about his gift giving. I had written an essay last week about bullying and how it has affected my life in a huge way. I implied that I saw his gift giving as an act of bullying. He figured out it by reading between the lines and brought it up when returning my paper. I told him I did see it as him bullying me. He said, yes, you understand now. You let me do it though, you didn't say anything. I said, yes...I was going to but decided against it. He said it got to a point of him harassing me from the sounds of it and it could have been interpreted as sexual harassment. I agreed, and then that was the end of the conversation. He understands that I got the point and I think he is done with the gift giving. At least I hope he is.
Last Thursday I got to hang out with one of my friends, it was wonderful to be social
! I met up with the friend and we went for a walk to the city center grocery store, where he bought some random food that I was going to cook. He chose chicken, sliced potatoes, bread, green beans, and some mixed greens. I made some decently tasty chicken (surprisingly) using some random seasonings that I recognized. Then seasoned fried potatoes, green beans, warm bread with olive oil and pepper, and we had the mixed greens on top. It was SOOO much food. I had fun preparing it though. Afterwards we decided to watch a movie. I forgot the name, but it was interesting. It was about how no matter which culture we are in, we are all connected. It also spoke of communication barriers. It was the story of 4 different sets of people and their different cultures and styles. It was really interesting and a bit strange/awkward at times. Oh! The movie name was called Babble. Yes. :-) After the movie, I was really thankful because he walked me home (the dark thing again). It was a really interesting night because he really opened up and it was really comfortable. Normally, I get uncomfortable in one on one situations like that, but this wasn't like that at all. I am finally getting to know people and I love it!
This week I am preparing for Meghan's visit and finishing my last week of classes before a long break. I miss you all!