07 November 2006

My Week in Review

The main theme for last week was the sharing of culture, but a couple other adventures along the way added some spice to the mix.

Kristin came to me a while ago seeking help with cooking. Her dorm floor was having a multi-culture dinner last Monday night and each person was supposed to cook one item from their home country. Her duty was to prepare a dessert, and apparently her past experience with baking left her a little anxious to go it alone this time around. We decided on that All-American dessert of apple pie, and last Sunday I went to her dorm to bake.

Some dough and apple slices remained after the intial pie, so we decided to make a few extra single portion pies for ourselves, only we Southernized them bit. Instead of going the traditional route in a oven, we fried these minipies with a skillet and oil into a golden and gooey sweet treat. As the aroma filled the hallway curious and hungry foreigners came to see what was cooking. Of course, they had to wait until Monday night to get their share of the apple pie. (Those last two sentences may be the corniest that I have ever written, and I honestly didn't catch the cliches until after writting them.)

With Tuesday as Halloween I talked the Spanish girls into carving pumpkins, which was the first time for all of them. One could find a few jack-o'-lanterns in front of German houses, but for the most part the holiday is nonexistent here, as in the other European countries. I talked with many of the other foreigners about Halloween in their lands, and most said the same thing: that attempts to celebrate it have been tried in the past but failed. For the most part the Europeans I talked to about Halloween see it, understandably, as an American holiday and pure commercialism. Nevertheless, I searched high and low in Eichstaett for pumpkins and introduced these Spanish girls to All Hallows' Eve.

Now for some reason they refused to actually stick their bare hands into the pumpkins; only with makeshift plastic gloves could they proceed. Below from left to right is Olga, Ellena, and Angela.

All in all, I think they did pretty well for first-timers. Below is our pumpkin line-up with Nawellia, also from Spain, in the background. Take a wild guess as to which pumpkin was carved by the guy with past experience.

The action for Halloween night consisted of parties, which for Eichstätt basically means an extra special night in one of the local bars. We were able to stay up late because Wednesday was a state holiday in southern Germany, All Saint's Day.

I went with Charlotte and her friends to church Wednesday morning in honor of the aforementioned holy day, then I had breakfast with Charlotte's friends. I'm still not quite sure if I was actually invited or if I invited myself, but all worked out fine.

Then it was on to Saint Michael's dormitiory, where most of the other foreign students live. I found the Spanish girls and we decided to spend the day hiking to the top of the mountian seen below. Actually, the "mountain" is a bit deceiving because at its summit lie the remains of a rock quarry piled 50 feet or so high.

Our hike started out alright, but before we reached the trail it began to rain and sleet. Of course I was willing to continue, but all of the girls except Ellena decided to return to home. Her and I eventually made it to the top, but we started so late in the afternoon we were forced to return in the dark.

I attended the first session of my Spanish course Thursday. I have to say that after six years of studying German another foreign language comes to me as a bit of fresh air. I know I have only attended one class so far, but I think Spanish may actually be easier for me than German. Then again, in a couple of weeks I might return to this post to delete that last statement.

A group of Italian girls invited me to come shopping with them on Saturday in München. Below is a view of the historic city center and the typical pedestrian streets lined with stores of local and world known brands.

Here I found yet another seemingly universal constant, girls and shopping. Stereotyping, yes, but mostly true for this group of girls. Actually, Federica didn't buy anything, but perhaps coming from the land of Gucci and Armani played a role with the others and their shopping frenzy. For the first part of the day I followed them around and found refuge from time to time in the men's departments, when the store had one that is. By late afternoon though I had had enough and sought salvation.

I found it in the form of Schuster's, a six story outfitter in the heart of historic München. For those of you not in the know, an outfitter is a store which sells clothing and equipment for outdoor sports like rock climbing, skiing, hiking, kayaking, and so on. I have actually been to Schuster's before, when I was in München two years ago, but my visit was very rushed and I had forgotten exactly where it was in the city center area. I spent well over an hour in the store this time around before I had to leave to meet up with the girls, and I still feel like it was another rushed visit.

On the way back to the girls I couldn't resist buying roasted chestnuts from a street vendor. Before I had only known of the food from the Christmas classic, but now I can understand why a songwriter included this tasty snack in his song.

However, a few chestnuts weren't enough to satisfy my hunger, and the girls needed refueling after their day of shopping. We decided to eat dinner at the Hofbräuhaus. In the photo below one sees Elizabetta on the left, and Federica on the right.

Here we can see from the left Franchesca, me, and Vallaria. The spellings for these names are only guesses.

I noticed many other Americans in the restaurant, mostly from their loud and boisterous English. I think one could call the Hofbräuhaus a bit of tourist trap.

After dinner we rushed to catch our train and made it back to Eichstätt at around eleven o'clock.

This past Monday Ellena and I checked out the climbing gym in Eichstätt. Yes, there actually is a climbing gym in Eichstätt. I have to admit that I was a bit anxious putting the climbing rope and my life with it into the hands of Ellena because she comes off as a little clumsy from time to time; then again, I was the one who walked into a light pole. She did lower me a bit fast one time and I almost crashed into the ground, but there are no other incidents to report. Although, I did get revenge leting her hang in the air for a few minutes.

No big plans for this week; I'll simply wait to see what comes my way.

Note: Sorry for the delayed response, but all comments from the last post have been answered. I think Blogger has been having some problems recently because I did not receive email notices for each comment as I should have, so I was unaware of them all. Nevertheless, please do not be detered from posting comments as from now on I will simply check for them more often. Thanks to all who take the time to post a comment, let's keep them coming.


Dad said...

Great recap for the week, liked the pictures. Not sure if this is happening anywhere else, but here in G-town this year. Allot of people put up lights for halloween. Getting a little crazy. Hey I think I would like to shop in Schuster's. I think I might have found a good deal on an other kayak, will let you know. Have you looked into doing some kayaking, guess the weather might be too cold this time of year. Well keep the postings coming!

Nick O. said...


There definitely weren't any Halloween lights here, but I remember seeing some last year in America. I agree, a bit too much in my opinion.

If you get a kayak consider coming to Europe in it. It would certainly be cheaper than flying.

Yes, I believe all the boat rental stores in Eichstätt have closed shop for the season. I guess I'll have to wait until the Spring.

B said...

Nick, something you have yet to mention is pool tables!
Not that you should but I've spent alot of time this year playing. I think I've gotten alot better. I can even jump 'em now!
Anyways, just telling you, whenever I see you next, be prepared for some intense pooltabling.

Nick O. said...


Odd enough, I have yet to see one pool table here. The bars have darts and kicker (aka fussball, aka table soccer), but no pool. It's a shame because all the Europeans are pretty good at those two games, and I have no way of seeing how they compare with billards. I did see a similar game being played on tv. It's called snoops, and is played with smaller balls and on a larger table. Apparently it's very popular across Europe right now.

So you could probably kill me in pool now, but if we ever have to duel with swords it shouldn't be a contest for me after taking the fencing course here.

mc said...

Hey Nick, when you get a chance on your next posting get some pictures of the fencing moments. There must be more stories you can tell relating to those classes too.

Nick O. said...

I don't feel quite comfortable yet with bringing a camera to class, but maybe in a couple weeks. I'll be thinking of other stories that I could share along the way.

Whitney said...

Hola primo! Como estas!

Que bien que estas estudiando español. En mi opinion, es mas facil de otra lenguas. si necesitas ayuda, llamame.

in other, more depressing news. grandpa joe isn't doing so well.

hope everything else is going well.

Nick O. said...


Ok, I actually understood the gist of your Spanish. Considering I've only had two class so far, I'm happy with that much.

Sorry to hear about Joe, I hope he gets better.

Anonymous said...

Hi nick just trying to learn this from your dad. Love your blog and enjoy every word. Grandma