Once again I apologize for my lengthy absence from blogging and e-mailing. At the end of my last entry, I mentioned how much I appreciated hearing from you all, as sometimes things get a little rough on this end. I had no idea, however, how rough they would get only a few days later.

Before I left home, I had already deduced that February and March would be the most difficult months of my travel. Smack dab in the middle of my trip and my least favorite time of year weather-wise (and generally overall), I had labeled these months as the “stagnation” in my whirlwind year abroad. I wasn’t disappointed in my expectations. Exhaustion and homesickness settled in for a considerable visit; I suppose even they wanted out of the cold.

It’s never good to write home when you’re in a bad mood, and it’s certainly not advisable to send mass e-mails or start blogging away about the bleakness of your current situation. Because then you have about 100 people worrying about you, instead of just your mom (although a mother’s worry is certainly large enough to encompass that of 1000 acquaintances). And who really wants to hear complaints like, “I’m so bored, there’s nothing to do here” when here references a beautiful, historic city filled with museums, theaters, and clubs? Or “I just don’t have any real friends” when my fellow Dickinsonians are more than willing to spend time talking and when my host mom at every opportunity is seeking to find things for me to do and people my age to hang out with? Or “Why can’t we just have normal pancakes?” when abnormal means absolutely scrumptious crepe-like pastries filled with thin apple slices and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar? Did you really want to hear such complaints? Yeah, I didn’t think so either.

But the most important thing, is that things are looking up. As Cademon’s Call (my favorite musical group) so wisely points out, “Though I’m down in the valley, valleys fill first.” And the spring rains have finally begun to fall in Bremen. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see rain; it sure beats the cold. Daylight savings time has also begun and it was light past eight o’clock pm last night.

A few other things have perked my mood as well. Last weekend I flew down to Stuttgart to visit Dana, a friend of mine from high school. She was an exchange student to the States during my senior year and though we are both (on our good days) more than capable of speaking the other’s native language, we wound up using the one we’d always used. But being at the end of my rope as I was, I did not protest a weekend of English. We really had a great time. Between walking a dog at a local animal shelter, participating in the “Long Night of Museums” (when all museums are open from 7pm to 2am for one entrance fee), visiting Ludwigsberg (near-by town and home to one of the “Lustschlosses”), and—of course—shopping, we did quite our share of walking and were tired and sore by the time I left. Leaving in itself was another adventure for me. From her door to mine required 2 subways (one in Stuttgart, one in Hamburg), a streetcar, and airplane, a bus, a train, and a taxi. And people wonder why Americans love their cars so much. Anyway, here’s a few shots from the weekend.

Mountain Path (during our walk with the dog)

Lustschloss

Library lit up during the Long Night of Museums

Sleeping Butterfly. Wilhelma Tiergarten. Lange Nacht der Museen.

I’m also now actively singing in the choir at the church I’ve chosen to attend here. This past weekend was rehearsal weekend and I spent just under 10 hours preparing for our concert next month (entirely Bach). The music is growing on me, though my voice was not made for classical, I’ve decided. I prefer listening and singing along to my new Nichole Nordeman CD (thanks for the care package, Mom). But I think I need to cut down on the singing along part; I’m getting too many weird looks from the other people walking down the street.

Having a bike is also quite beneficial. I can take off any time I want and head to the river (5 minutes south), to the city park (7 minutes north), downtown (20 west), or to the university (25 northeast). Especially now that it’s getting warmer, I’ll be able to explore a bit more. Plus the exercise is really great, though thanks to the Junk Food Central care packages sent by the Newman Club and DCF, I doubt my pedaling will yield any real results. ;)

My 6 week long language course ends this week. It’s really been great meeting the other students, and the teachers have been great as well, but I’ll be more than happy to be finished. In the few weeks we have before university classes start, I will be traveling to Luebeck, Schwerin, and Berlin as well as hopefully seeing a lot more of what Bremen has to offer. It’s a crying shame that after being here for seven weeks or so, I have yet to make it to a single museum or theater. I have been to the movies (Munick, Walk the Line, Brokeback Mountain, and Sophie Scholl: die letzten Tage) and to one Disko, though I’m not sure that I’m so into the night scene (a big surprise to most of you, I’m sure). I’ve also been doing a bit of reading, most recently Joy Luck Club, A Farewell to Arms, and Pride and Prejudice. The only German I’ve ventured to read is an account of Lake Baikal (in Russia) and a story book. I really should get going on a novel or something.

As I’m starting to blabber I think I should end it here. But before I do, I again have to thank all of you for your support during the past month. I know I am way behind in e-mail writing, post card sending, and telephoning. Kudos especially to Newman Club, DCF, mom, dad, Mrs. Gibbens, Mrs. Spalding, and the Cross Connection team for the cards and packages. It’s like Freshman year all over again!!

I wish you all a blessed Easter season as well. Won’t be long before we can rejoice and sing A——-!

If things are looking gray, it helps to don some rose-colored glasses.

Some pictures from a short trip to Hamburg: