In my defense, the last 3 weeks or so have been incredibly busy, not to mention I didn't have internet access for about half of that time. But now is my chance to catch everybody up with everything that has happened.
First of all, I finished Pre-ILP, my intensive language class. The last Sunday of the program, we went to the Reichstag, which is the legislature building. As soon as we got there, we saw a HUGE line and a sign that said it would take 3-5 hours to get inside. But since we were going with the FUBiS program, we were able to go in without having to wait in line. Yay!
After our two-and-a-half hour tour, half the class went off to work on our Kreativprojekt, our final project for the class. To this day, I still am not quite sure if I hated or loved it. We were told that a tenth of our final grade was going to be based on our project, and it needed to be about our experiences with FUBiS, Berlin, or Germany. That was it. So, my group decided to do a music video to Nena's famous protest song, "99 Luftballons." We got the teacher's approval, and she actually asked us if we could show it at the closing ceremony, so I guess we met expectations.
Luftballons über Berlin
(Or, as I like to call it, "Let's embarrass ourselves all around the city!)
And before we knew it, our intensive class was over, almost everybody went back home, and us EAP students started our three weeks of vacation. My parents flew out from California for a couple of weeks, and we headed down to the Saxony area. We stayed at a nice bed and breakfast in Meißen, just across the street from the Meißen Porzellan Manufaktor, which has been around for 300 years, and the city also had a really nice Altstadt, or old town.
We spent a day in Dresden and wandered around both Altstadt and Neustadt, having lunch at a wonderful cheese shop that is in the Guinness Book of World Records for selling the greatest variety of cheeses. We also spent an evening in Leipzig, and saw the church that Bach conducted in and now holds his grave.
Half the point of this trip, however, was to do a little bit of family history research. My dad's mother was born in Germany around Leipzig, so my family went around looking at several cemeteries to find possible names. We also went to Rathauses aplenty, trying to find birth, death, and marriage documents. (Found out Germany thought my grandmother died in 1915. Oops.) Overall, we got a little bit of information, filled out a few more names and dates in our family tree.
Last but not least, we headed over to Prague on half a whim, half planned trip. My parents kept raving about Prague almost the entire time I was with them, so I was very excited to be able to see it. I don't know if it was a case of being hyped up so much that it didn't meet expectations, but I didn't find it nearly as exciting as they did. It also could be that I wasn't there long enough. I felt like I was going around seeing all the "important" sights, but I couldn't actually experience it there. Prague is such a touristy town, and only spending one day there really wasn't enough to get a good feeling.
Berlin is also a very touristy town, and that's something I truly realized when I was on this short vacation. One of the similarities between Berlin and Prague is that EVERYBODY SPEAKS ENGLISH. In fact, I feel like I was speaking more German in Saxony than I was in Berlin, even though I was with my parents. But at least in Berlin, I'm hear for so long that I can really experience life, and once the flow of tourists dies down, I'm hoping I'll be able to speak and hear more German. As for right now, I'll work with the tourists that come up to me and ask, "Excuse me, do you by chance speak English?"