Monday, March 10, 2008


Our German theater trip was excellent. Although different, I really enjoyed the variety of German theater we saw. It is clearly very different for Americans to go to the theater there than native Germans and it was interesting trying to figure out how we were supposed to act and think in response to a piece. Some shows here require the audience to reflect, but in Germany, every show requires that. Everyday provided a fun new experience and I truly felt like I was on vacation, but still being productive. It was also nice to spend the time with people my age and to forge experiences together. I was worried in going back to Germany ( I lived there for a year) that my warm feelings for the country would have changed. But nothing has. It is still my second home and a completely natural environment.

I can't imagine having done less on the trip. I've learned so much by going to Dachau, other museums, wandering around, and even the Alps, that I can't imagine not being able to have gone!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Well, I too am starting to get over jet-lag, although judging from my sleep schedule last night, I think I am still about an hour displaced. Coming back at least lets you get up early for classes. Anyway, what a great trip! It's a bit of a pain being back here now. For about the first day or so it was really hard to speak in English, which was kinda fun, to be honest. For the last week, English had been something that I only slipped into when I didn't want to deal with the problems of speaking in German. With Germans I almost always spoke German, and Ian and I usually did too. This was an important trip for me because I really had to force myself to get into things to get around. It is very intensive. This is the first time I have truly had to navigate for myself in another country. Before, I was always either with a native speaker or looking for English speaking people. In Germany, I had only taken the subway alone once, and I immediately got lost. So forcing myself (or having Janet force me) to get into situations like that has been very good for me. And the theater was amazing. I seem to remember that some of it was up and down, but it is of course the really good ones that stick out in my memory. I particularly remember going to the ballet Der Sturm on the last night. It was fantastic. I had standing seats and have never been into ballet, but this one definitely kept my attention. It was fascinating and beautiful. It was for that kind of experience that I am most grateful for my chance to go.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

It's over, and that's sad. . .

I feel like I'm conquering the jet lag (It's always worse for me coming back home than it is going to Germany.)  We had such a nice trip--this group was a fantastic bunch of troupers.  Nobody complained, nobody got really sick, everyone was helpful!  We saw lots of theater, had a tour of part of Munich, and took excursions to a concentration camp one day and the alps the next.  I believe that this type of intense, focused immersion is one of the best ways to learn.  Through the provocation of theater (and the frequent reminders of the many sides of human nature--ranging from destructive to exploitive, to generous, kind, and good) and through the direct experiencing of a range of emotions, I find myself reflecting and renewing, and I feel reinvigorated.  For me the culture shock is always coming back--hearing people talking (and frequently complaining) at the airport here, experiencing the banality of so many interactions, and overhearing  cell phone conversations that I am trying to block out.  Europe for me is always a sort of refuge from the things that wear me out in daily life--a place where I can sort out some of my priorities, remember why some things are so important to me, and gain perspective on the hectic nature of life in the US.  Despite the constant running around and dashing to catch transportation or get a ticket, I always feel somewhat relaxed in Europe.  The pace there is a little slower.  I can choose to be impatient when waiting in line or waiting for a long red light to change, or I can accept that those times are times to slow down and stop the constant rushing.  It's always nice in Europe to take time for a cup of coffee and have a quiet conversation in a cafe, or to take time to read program notes in a quiet theater before a show starts.  This trip in the middle of the semester always provides a context for understanding and reminding myself how important it is to me to be multi-lingual, to feel as though I really fit in in more than one setting, to know that I can live happily elsewhere, and to know that I can communicate with people whose history and experience are different from my own.  I already miss Germany and am glad for the memories of this trip.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Blue skies! Lack of coats being worn!

I thought I'd post some photos...too bad we don't have pictures from the plays, that would be really cool. However, I do have a LOT of pictures that display how incredible the weather was in Munich and how happy we were to be there!

On Sunday, Feb. 24th, we intended to take advantage of reduced museum fees...but the weather was so incredible, Maraia and I really didn't want to. We came out of the S-Bahn at Königsplatz and saw all these people hanging out outside of the Glyptothek. We decided to take a walk to find the Pinokotheken and enjoy the blue skies and warm air...although blue skies had actually been frequent in Ann Arbor lately, they had come along with looooow temperatures. At the Alte Pinokothek, we saw people lying on the lawn not only shirtless—some looked suspiciously pantless.

We did go inside the Alte Pinokothek and saw the paintings in one half of the building before we felt we needed to return to the outdoors. I was excited to see Albrecht Dürer's self-portrait and Albrecht Altdorfer's Alexanderschlacht, both of which we had discussed in our German class on the Middle Ages.

Later on Sunday we ran into Drew and Ian at Odeonsplatz and walked around outside the king's Residenz a little before meeting the group at the Residenz Theater for a matinée of Brecht's Im Dickicht der Städte.

Tuesday after seeing the children's opera Der Mann im Mond, Emily, Helen, Maraia and I visited the Englischer Garten and had a picnic lunch. It was a good way to relax after walking so much every day.

The weather really helped make the trip enjoyable and contributed to a very positive attitude toward everything. And it was nice that our February "spring" break actually felt like spring!


Verbrennungen, which we saw on the first night, started out as my favorite play and it remained my favorite play throughout the trip. I don't know if it was because it was the first one I saw, which made it that much more exciting, if it was the plot (which I managed to follow quite well, a little to my surprise), if it was the actors, or if it was a combination of all those factors. Either way, I'm very glad that Janet bought us all tickets.
Some things that stuck out to me were the music, the spit that flew out of the actors' mouths (I know Janet always tells us that, but it was different actually seeing it), and the intense expressions on the actors' faces (particularly the daughter, who very effectively showed her character's sorrow). I also liked it when the actors drew on the set, because I had never seen anything like that before. The show was quite different from the few plays I have seen in the United States. The set and costumes were minimal, where as shows in the US are often needlessly elaborate. I found this to be quite nice, because it helped to emphasize what was actually happening in the play, rather than distracting the audience. If anyone happens to be in Munich, I would highly recommend seeing this play.

Monday, March 3, 2008

It's time to face reality...

Sadly, all good things must come to an end! Our trip to Munich this year was incredibly successful and I am confident that everyone had a great time! As anticipated, theater was abundant and all of it was worth our while. We saw great acting, amazing diction, wonderfully abstract (yet beautiful) sets...the list goes on! The museums were another highlight of this trip - in particular, the Glyptothek, where we saw gorgeous Greek and Roman sculpture and friezes. The Pinakothek der Moderne was another favorite of mine, housing modern art and installations (including some exhibits with which the guest was expected to interact). Furthermore, for the majority of the trip, the weather was very pleasant! I believe we may have entered the 50's and 60's (and perhaps the 70's on one day) Fahrenheit on more than one occasion! All in all, this experience was a great one and I would like to thank everyone who helped make this possible. This trip was truly unforgettable!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Going into the Alps!

day trip to Garmisch Partenkirchen tomorrow.  we'll TRY to post more. . .