No AC in Fairytales.

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We felt the heat with the start of classes Monday morning. Air conditioning just isn’t a thing here, not even in a palace-turned-university. Here we were, thinking we’d be escaping the scorching Florida Sun for the summer…we were wrong.

We opened the windows, and with a breeze it’s bearable. I now truly understand firsthand why UF’s AC is always blasting…you’re more likely to stay awake shivering than sweating.

But I mean — I go to school in a palace, I can’t complain. It’s just a significant difference between our daily lives and the daily lives of people who aren’t used to being any temperature they desire at any point in the day.

We each have two German classes a day, and were assigned interaction leaders to hang out around Mannheim and speak German with. Sabrina, Jason and I went to the Neckar Strand on Monday to meet our interaction leader, Mone.

We had refreshments with our toes in the sand and watched the sunset right over the Neckar, the northern of the two rivers that pass through Mannheim.

Jason and I got döner from a little place in the Turkish district on the way back to our dorms. It was a tad spicy compared to what I’m used to, but so good. I don’t know how to describe döner if you haven’t tried it. It’s sort of like a gyro, I suppose, but different, delicious and cheap.

Its easy while abroad to want to just eat all your meals out, to taste and experience what this new place has to offer in food — but that is a trap. I learned last year, and though the rationalizations come in full swing again, spending money on train tickets is worth more than good food and beer all the time, even if it is Deutschland.

Marisol, Ryan and I took the number 4 train and found the rock gym! It’s north of the Neckar, not a far trek at all, and totally awesome. I’ll admit, I sort of miss the convenience of the rock gym in Gainesville, though that might just be missing having a bike. When we’re not on trains we’re on foot, and that’s neat, too.

Friday night, the ladies in the program dressed up and wandered to Filmriss, a trying-to-be-indie sort of bar. A few of us made some friends and went to the S.U.I.T.E., a club with two rooms on each side that played different music, so chances are there was at least something alright on at any point in the night. It played all sorts though, within the past 20-30 years. The vibe was cool, and we stayed late.

Days are long here. The sun is up around 4:oo and doesn’t set until nearly 22:oo. Military time isn’t new to me, so I don’t mind the 24-hour clock…except for the next morning, when all clocks tick’d me off a teensy bit…we had to wake up a short time later for a bus-ride to Baden Baden, but we slept on the bus and lack of sleep certainly didn’t get me down.

We went to Casino Baden Baden and if I could only use the word luxurious once, this would be that time.

The place was so decked with a wealth of history and splendor, it made me seriously consider selling my soul to attain such riches for a playroom of wonder like this.

We wandered to see the Roman baths, right down the way from the real baths that people who come to vacation in this town spend on. Baden Baden is a spa town. It is beautiful and clean and full. One day, I would like to return.

We split for lunch, and I saw a crisp orange drink on a blue-checkered table and just had to have it. I ordered the Käse Spätzel as well, and it was mouth-meltingly good.

On the bus again, we turned and twisted along the Schwarzwaldhochstraße, a road that reminded me vividly of the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, which I wound around in my Jeep earlier this summer. We could see the blues of the mountain ridges as we rode high above them. The evergreens grew higher than any tree I’d seen before, completely dwarfing the Christmas trees I’d picked from the snow-covered forest that grew from my great grandmother’s land as a child.

We had entered der Schwarzwald — the Black Forest.

We came to a glassy lake called Mummelsee. We were warned to resist the temptation to break its surface so as not to anger Neptune, the water nymph who lives in its depths. I’m not certain of the extent of her fury, as curious as I might have been, but legend has it she’d create a great storm.

Emma and I took off our shoes and let our bare feet feel the rich earth by the water. Mannheim is mostly gray and tree-less, so this was a much-needed natural refreshment.

We continued on to the Triberg waterfalls. It felt so good to be near waterfalls again, having just come from working as a white-water raft guide in the mountains of North Carolina. Since I couldn’t go down them (as I left my canoe thousands of miles west of here…) I climbed up.

For more adventures of UF students studying abroad, please check out the UFIC Blog from Abroad!

Berlin 2012 … the book!

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The book that holds proof of all the hard work we put in during our two weeks in Berlin is available in print, as well as on the internet for anyone interested to see.

Just click on the picture, and the link will take you to a place where you can read about all the interesting people we were so privileged to meet, speak with and take photos of during our wunderbar time in Berlin.

Berlin, its been great

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We arrived at Berlin Hbf just half an hour before the ‘tourist info’ place closed for the day, which was convenient because we didn’t exactly know where we were going. We knew the hostel was in Kreuzberg, somewhere, and we knew the address. All we had to do was find Spreewaldplatz…

An U-bahn(/S-bahn/tram) map was helpful though, we got exactly where we needed to be and found our hostel much easier than locating the one in Amsterdam, plus in the dark.

The room we’re in this time is much bigger than the Amsterdam hostel as well, and only has six other people we don’t know sleeping in there with us, rather than eight. Woohoo! It’s got a great location though, and cheap beer compared to everywhere else we’ve been(not compared to the rest of Berlin though).

The hostel isn’t far from the Tempodrom, either, where Jack White played Tuesday night. Bailey just picked up her ticket when we stopped in London last, we were a bit worried, as I had had mine sent to Switzerland, but Bailey’s didn’t come by the time we set off for Paris… but alas, we got both tickets, made it in time, drank over-priced beer, and observed how hippie-ish the opening band First-Aid Kit appeared even though they’re from Sweden…)

Jack White played with his all-male band for this show(he decides at breakfast whether it’ll be the girls or boys that night…)songs off his new album, of course, like “Love Interruption,” “Missing Pieces,” “Sixteen Saltiness”, and “Trash Tongue Talker”(which Jack said was like his ‘Thriller’) but he also played The Dead Weather’s “I Cut Like a Buffalo”, and Racontuers’ “Steady As She Goes”. White Stripes’ “We’re Going to Be Friends”(a real hit) and even “Seven Nation Army” at the end there, which I was really not expecting and I don’t think he still plays it in America these days.

We were already standing pretty close, but something like a mosh started at one point, and I was forced into the line of people behind the ones clinging like glue to the railing in the front of the stage. It was a pretty swell deal.

What a finale to a journey like this, I was singing and skipping all the way back to the U-bahn, and even then.

We awoke today, and went the Lidl to buy muesli, yogurt, and milk. We had the best breakfast ever yesterday morning right next to the hostel, but we’re about out of Euro, so it was back to the supermarket.

It was raining, and a little chilly, so we ran to the East Side Gallery so Bailey could at least see the Berlin Wall while she’s here. “Us running in the rain along the wall symbolizes our whole trip,” Bailey said. I don’t know exactly what she meant by that, but we both started running a little faster.

We hadn’t wanted to spend more Euro, but the Chicken House is literally right around the corner from the hostel, so we had to have a last ½ chicken and chips before the final packing began.

Alarm’s set, bags nearly packed now.

All that remains is my sheer terror of the Frankfurt airport, my personal purgatory—Will I find my gate in the limited 90 minutes I have to transfer? Navigate my way through those ups and downs, links und rechts, miles of maze in –only- an hour and a half?

Outlook not-so-good, anxiety settles in.



I learned that bars in Italy have both coffee and alcohol. The toilet flushers and light switches are different in Europe. The converters are different in Ireland and the UK than in Germany and France, and everyone speaks English but its cooler if you speak something else, too.


I’m going to miss public transportation, and constant change and motion forward. The quick pace I’ll keep close. And I’ll not let the American summer burn my skin too red of what I’ve come to appreciate in the pale of Europe.

Von Frankfurt nach Berlin

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Well, all my dreams I filled my last flight with about the Frankfurt airport came true, except one, the best one: and that’s that I DID make my flight.

Of course(natürlich), this is after I run around the Frankfurt airport like a rat in a race, but a very American(redheaded, stylish) rat in a very German(maze-y) race.

Several tests to pass through successfully before reaching the destination, much like a fairytale.

First, I followed the signs to the Lufthansa Service Center, just like the pilot told anyone who didn’t have a boarding pass for Berlin to do.

My intuition told me to go left and up the stairs, but I didn’t listen. I listened to the pilot, and ended up in the Service Center, yes — but in a completely deserted part of the airport, probably miles away from where I needed to be.

I turned back, found a sign that said Berlin-Tegel A17 8:55.

Alright, so now I knew the gate.

And to never -not- listen to my intuition again.

A magical helper in a red jacket pointed me towards A. A man with Polezei on his vest checked my passport, asked me questions, and passed me through.

What followed stirred some smart-allec remarks in my head, in English though, so this German airport would have to pay real close attention to pick up on it.

They were just background noise though, my focus was hard and dead-set on swift-booting it to Gate A17.

I sisn’t even stop to pee till after I printed my boarding pass(didn’t need a Service Center afterall.. -_-) and went through security.

I made it to my gate at 8:20 — five minutes to pare before boarding started, I didn’t get water or food. I tried to get on the internet and couldn’t.

Didn’t even make it to Berlin without making an ass of myself(so called it). The pilot said “Morgen” to me as I walked on the plane, which anyone can tell means ‘morning’, even if you don’t have any German background. Context clues.

I knew it meant this, but the whole “morning”-concept threw me. I’m like, I’ve been awake for about 23 hours now, what do you mean ‘morning’?!?

Of course, all this was happening in my head, keeping in a proper response of “morgen” but managing a smile and turning right down the aisle of the plane.

The first stewardess I saw I said “Morgen” to and felt a little redeemed.

Then, when row 17 didn’t exist(because I was still caught on the elusive gate number, another stewardess showed me to my seat and I said “Danke”. Yay, German.

Very motivating to learn, but I’m so exhausted I should probably sleep this flight out…

And then they said we were landing soon. I didn’t sleep.

Von Jacksonville nach Charlotte nach Frankfurt

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Notes from mid-second flight, somewhere over the North Atlantic, caught somewhere between no-time and all-time:

—-I saved the blond-brownie with chocolate chips that they handed out with dinner until just now. This was a bad call.

Maybe if my hunger hadn’t subsided, or if I hadn’t let the build up of looking forward to a treat before falling asleep upright with a bunch of strangers in the dark go on for so long, it wouldn’t have been such a fall from grace for the US Air food services. Okay, so they were never at “grace,” but certainly fell pretty far.

Instead of a sweet –anything–, anything I could have possibly looked forward to, I got a cookie-dough chew-square that my tongue felt must have been set to cool in a sweat-dampened sock, still scrunched and clay encrusted from the playing field at school, discarded and forgotten in the corner of the laundry room behind the washer, that none but the builder’s of the house 19 years ago had ever actually seen before.

Yes. It tasted like that.

I tucked the chew into the pocket of the seat-back in front of me, where all things like this go.

Old gum, goodnight.


Got to admit, I’m getting nervous. Haven’t slept any this flight, ‘xcept a chunk of minutes before the first refreshments(cran-apple juice and pretzels) that came before dinner.

Okay so I had coffee after dinner — oops. But its alright. Getting things done.

Sweating my palms out with what-if wonderings of various ways I can screw up in Berlin. Or before I even make it there. What if I miss my flight from Frankfurt to Berlin? What if I can’t find the gate? Okay, I guess that one goes before the other. What if I can’t find the restroom? What if I attempt to speak German and make a total ass of myself? Why have I not learned German yet? Why was I wasting the battery life on my ipod listening to old music…

Anyway, it’ll be fine. I’ll find a sign with all the flights on it, look for the one to Berlin, see the gate number and the PEN IS SLIPPING & SLIDING BETWEEN MY FINGERS

Kind of annoying, actually…

I flew to London once, but my mother and sisters and her middle school drama classmates were with her.

–Yay one hour and 30 minutes left! They’re coming through with coffee and danishes! Yayyy…

Tomorrow’s gonna kill me..
Hallo, Berlin ich habe nicht schlafe AT ALL…

My watch still says 11:34, guess I’m losing a few hours cause the characterly azure blue of morning stands in the ovals vertical to my left and right.

I’m really getting into this book but I should really learn German. Or study my camera manual.. Oopsy..

And suddenly the planes a-buzz alight and everyone’s up! I’ve got coffee AND OJ!

I look to my left, saw the pale orange line between the lower dark blue and the above lighter blue, and I actually thought, “Does the Sun still Rise in the East?”

Not something I’m ever going to admit to again, but as this is literally the furthest I’ve ever been from everything I know(..America..the East coast) I think just this once I’ll slide it, as long as I’ve got how BRIEF that moment of questioning was(very brief, split-second, yes I know the Earth doesn’t reverse directions just because I’m on a different side of it(side? continent? — ?)

At least, I didn’t get my hopes up for the Danish. Wise, because it turned out to be a muffin top. It was warm though, in its plastic. Points.

Its blueberry, but its got a twinge of cinnamon to it. I guess that’s why the stewardess thought it was okay to call it a danish.

The cinnamon saves it though, from becoming a warm version of the what’s-inside-the-moist-sock? pastry of earlier.

Two sugars per 1/3 of a “tall” that is the entire Styrofoam cup that is the coffee.

Sometimes I drink my coffee black. Sometimes I take one sugar. You’ll want two(min.) for this.

Coffee’s gone. “Danish” gone(didn’t make it to the chewed winterfresh purgatory-slit like its predecessor — hooray!)

Why is the person in the seat behind me(and over one to the right) talking about Ground Zero? Really woman, we’re ON A PLANE.

She’s talking about how George Washington was inaugerated in the little Chapel across the street. Forgivable?

(I went there in ’05. Lots of memorabilia, firefighters’ pictures — sad.) Sad.

Way to bring me down.

I need to know what time to set my watch — the light’s all bright now, but my watch still says 12:04. Just after midnight back home.

Alright, 6:06 at destination. Watch reset. Hour more in the air. Time to crack down on dass Deutsch lernen!