Thursday, March 21, 2013

Birthday Weekend

Katie and Paul came to town for my birthday weekend and we all had a great time.  Saturday night I celebrated my birthday with my friends and then Sunday we went to the Newseum and then out to a nice dinner.  
Katie and Paul in the bread line at the FDR memorial

This is me trying to be all artistic, shooting Katie's reflection

celebrating my birthday

I mentioned to Sara a few weeks ago, that I had always wanted to modify one of the "Kiss me, I'm Irish" buttons to say "Kiss me, it's my birthday."  So, she surprised me with a GIANT button on Saturday.

This is the point in the night where things started to go a bit crazy.

Paul, Katie, Sara, and me
3/4s of the Crystal City Crew

A portion of the Berlin Wall in the Newseum

Thursday, March 14, 2013

German Immersion

One of the awesome opportunities that students have at FSI is an immersion trip.  The student spends one to three weeks living in a country that speaks their language.  Often the students have the opportunity to live with a host family, get daily individual language instruction from a certified instructor and get to explore a country.  The student covers all of the costs for transportation, housing, and instruction, but doesn't have to take vacation days and remains on per diem.  This is NOT what I did last week.  An immersion in Germany is just too expensive (around $3000-$5000) to be worth the expense.

So, the German Department has put together a pretty attractive (and much cheaper) alternative.  The students and a few teachers rent a beach house in the Outer Banks in North Carolina and we spend five days living together and talking in German.  It's like the Real World, except everyone speaks in short declarative sentences whenever possible.

The house we rented should have been fantastic.  It had fourteen bedrooms, pool and hot tub (closed for winter), beach view, large kitchen, pool table, and more.  Unfortunately, quite a few things were broken.  The heat in my room never worked, so it was about 50 degrees every night and I didn't have a blanket until the third night.  The water stank and had a yellowish tint.  The walkway to the beach was covered by a sand dune.  Still a pretty nice house, but why skimp when you build a 14 bedroom house?

The week went really well and I learned a lot more than I expected.  For the most part, I just got more comfortable speaking the language.  We had about 6 hours of classroom time each day, an activity each evening, and plenty of other time to just talk to each other in German.  I am still no where near the 3/3 that I need to get to by May, but I can see how it might be possible now.

Our Durango got stuck in the sand,
forcing us to hire a bus to drive everyone to the house.


Sand dune covers the sidewalk

I made dinner for everyone on Tuesday,
the same night as our mock cocktail party -  hence the suit.

I went for several long runs on the deserted beach.