Traveling the world, learning languages, and immersing myself in new cultures.

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All my travels, encounters with language and culture, and of course, learning the language.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Strasbourg, France: Français First Hand

Synopsis: I just moved to Germany and I have been trying to get to France to test my American-school French. Mom recommends a day trip to Strasbourg, France, just the two of us. Sorry, Pop! In Strasbourg, they speak french and german, so I'll get to butcher two languages in one try! This is also my first road trip anywhere in Europe.

Trip Overview:
Day 1: Hop on the tour bus and head toward Strasbourg. We stop at a rest stop in Germany, to use the bathroom and get drinks. I go to use the restroom and there is a lady in front of the door with a sign that says "W.C. ,50€" Wait, what, the bathroom costs? Hearing that I had to pay for the toilet was like Spongebob when he found out Squidward didn't like Krabby Patties.

After the whole toilet fiasco, we get back on the bus and drive to Strasbourg. Upon arrival, it doesn't look like what I thought France would look like. It has a fairy tale look, I imagine because of the german influence, but also a dutch feel, especially when walking through the Tanner's District. Of course, my years of architecht history and world georgraphy knowledge (from cartoons and stereotypes) are how I know what this place looks like and what it should look like, being a french town.

Our guide takes us throughout the city and we see the major monuments like the covered bridges, the Cathedral, the Tanner's House, and much more. We do all this by foot, as there are no cars, or streets big enough for cars, in the center of the town. On the way back to the bus, we stop at a grocery store to get some snacks and I buy the food using the colorful euro that I got in Germany, and engage in my first french conversation with the cashier. Jump back on the bus to Stuttgart, fired up for my next trip to France.

Thoughts: This is amazing and everything is in french and german. I am reading the signs in french and hearing the people talk french, and I'm just overwhelmed. This is not like class at all. I have no idea what they are saying, unless they talk directly to me.

So, my first cathedral. The first of hundreds, that I will see. I see there will be quite a bit that I will need to adapt to living here. My first french interaction went well and I was able to communicate, despite all the butterflies and sweating. I think I'm really going to like Europe.

My first rest stop in Germany

Our german, french, and english speaking tour guide

Strasbourg Cathedral, the world's tallest building in the 1700's

Mom and I in the Tanner's District

Pont Saint-Martin in La Petite France

My first interaction speaking French with a real native

Nice government building

All tuckered out after a long day


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Stuttgart, Germany: My first time in Europe

Synopsis: My parents called me and told me my dad was taking a job in Europe, and invited me to go with them. I have been saving for a couple of years, so I could move to France next year and pursue my dream of pro basketball in Europe. Why not move there a year earlier and get a head start on the competition?

Trip Overview: We land in Stuttgart, Germany in the middle of the day and we are met at the airport by some of my dad's colleagues. We get on the autobahn, and it is just a highway. I don't know why, but I thought it was either a dirt road akin to what the motocross racers ride on, or it was a super futuristic highway like Rainbow Road from Mario Kart 64.

We get to the hotel and walk down to the imbiss (snack shop) and notice that the "american burger" has egg on it, since we do that in America all the time. We see the kino (movie theatre) across the street and they are playing films in english with german subtitles.

Back at the hotel it is about 10:15 in the evening and I notice the sky is still blue and I can actually still see the sun. Wow, never seen that before.
Going to our new place

Moving in is always new and exciting

Final Thoughts: Over the course of the next 21 months, I traveled in and out, and all around Germany and Europe. This move was the catalyst for the experiences that you will read about in my blog.


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