A Taste of Winter

The light snowfall I witnessed two nights ago through the windows of the little the classroom in which my German class is held did not pan out as I thought it would; rather, it was little more than a tease, a gentle nod to Winter's imminent arrival. This morning, however, was a different story, and when I awoke and pulled open my blinds, I was greeted  to a view of the white stuff laying atop the houses, tree limbs, and much of the ground in a thin dusting. It's not enough for serious snow enthusiasts, to be sure, but for me—who enjoys the first snowfall mainly as a piece of natural artwork and not as an arena for winter sports—it's perfect.

On a related note, I got my first glimpse of the Konstanz Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market) the other night as I walked to greet my friends, and I must say, the city was unbelievably gorgeous lit-up at night by Christmas lights: it was very much like stepping into another world where it is always winter, always Christmas (think: the Christmas world in The Nightmare Before Christmas). I think I'm going to enjoy the cold season here.



Mein Zitronenbaum (Lemon Tree)

I just wanted to share with you a picture of the Zitronenbaum that sits on my windowsill. It was given to me by my good friend and Deutsch-mentor, Paula, and its persistence is a source of both pride and comfort for me—it's nice to have something green and alive in my room!
Because it's in such a small vessel, I don't believe it'll grow much more—I'm quite sure I'll never see an actual lemon on it so long as it's in my possession—but I'll definitely post pictures as/if it grows. 



Updates, Minor recapitulations, Thoughts, etc.

Okay, so I've decided to say "screw it" for now to any plans of a serious recap: I became quite ill a few weeks ago (I'll explain it in further detail later in this post), and remained so for over two weeks—currently, I am up to my neck in schoolwork and other obligations/distractions, so although I would like to do so, I don't think I will be completing the "Great Recapitulation" anytime soon... but it will happen someday!

So, what's new? As I mentioned above, I was really krank (sick) for over two weeks with a nasty little bug called "Gastroenteritis" (colloquially known as Stomach Flu, though not actually related to the flu except for some similar symptoms); as a result, I got seriously thin (I didn't really have any fat to lose in the first place, but the change was nevertheless quite evident in my face), lost a great deal of strength and muscle mass (I'm going to have to really work on this soon, as I feel old and decrepit waaaaaaay before my time), and basically fell into an antisocial, depressive state—perhaps unsurprising considering I spent most of my time alone and in bed. I was fortunate to have received some quality care in the first few days or so by my dear friends, Elena and Jess, who selflessly allowed me to stay in their apartment for days, closely monitoring my fluid-intake and even taking me to their doctor! Unfortunately, my illness proved too hardy even for their care, and I reluctantly returned home to stay in my own room (I felt I had overstayed my welcome, and I had some business to take care of at home) in the hopes that I would recover in a few days and be back to normal. Of course, as I've already mentioned, this proved not to be the case, and I ended up missing the first of school—thankfully, the first week is only a trial week, and there are essentially no repercussions for missing it.

I remained quite weak and with bad stomach, however, until last weekend, when I took a three-and-a-half day trip to Schweinfurt to spend a relaxing Halloween weekend with Anna Maria, whose parents were going away for a relaxing vacation of their own. I felt alright when I left Konstanz, but upon my arrival in Schweinfurt, my stomach began to feel upset again, and I spent the first night in roughly the same condition I had experienced a week earlier. Fortunately for me, Anna Maria and her mother, Ewa, have a plethora of home remedies for all sorts of ailments, and by the end of the second day (after eating lots and lots of good food, as usual) my stomach was essentially back to normal. It ended up being a fun weekend, too: Anna Maria and I cooked up some interesting and delicious Kurbis (pumpkin) dishes, including a fantastic Kurbis-Créme-Suppe (Pumpkin-cream soup) and a pumpkin cake of which, I must admit, I ate a bit too much. We also prepared a couple of fantastic Jamie Oliver pasta dishes, which were so good they didn't last particularly long. Many Halloween movies were watched, and we even painted our faces on the big day (which actually isn't so big here in Germany). By the end of the weekend I'd regained some of the weight I'd lost, my skin was a little less pale, and, in spite of having to say goodbye to Anna Maria, I left Schweinfurt in fairly good spirits.

For our Halloween Frühstuck (breakfast), Anna Maria carved some cute and funny Paprikum faces in place of the traditional pumpkin. I think you'll agree with me when I say they came out quite well:

The Frühstuck Table!

I arrived in Konstanz ready to return to classes, and my second week turned out quite well: I had my second ballroom dance class, which was WAY better than the first (my partner, Ruta, and I were mistakenly put into the advanced class... let's just say it didn't go so well for me), and attended my first Tischtennis (ping-pong) practice, which was great fun... I even won a couple of matches!

A couple of nights ago, a group of us went to a local Pfannkuchenhaus (German-style pancakes, both sweet and savory) for another new-student Stammtisch (a table reserved for a meeting). I ordered mine with baked bananas, whipped cream, and almonds, while others got savory ones with different meatsl, cheeses, and vegetables. Here are a few pictures from that:

Currently, I'm trying to get through all of my work for next week, which includes a lot of readings and a good deal of German Hausarbeit (homework), and I am admittedly feeling a bit of stress... a good thing, I think, when one hasn't done any real work in a long time.

Anyway, I hope this post is more of a representation of things to come, and I hope it was both informational and (somewhat) enjoyable.