Thursday, June 18, 2009

Jessica Reich - First Adventures in Germany

Note: Jess, Jen and Amanda go out on their Second Day

We go out to eat, and we want to find this place recommended by our 2L friend who went on the Germany program last year. So we go exploring, and eventually we found it. It was a nice little Italian place, and between the three of us, we split pasta in red sauce, a calzone with spinach, a cheese platter and garlic bread. Lesson: In Germany, the only cheeses they mention are hard and soft. We finally figured out how to order water without bubbles too, and Jess was happy! The waiter eventually invites Amanda and all of us out that night to go to some party with him. We tell him, “Maybe,” as we are all thinking, “Heck, no.” Jess tried every language she knew to speak to him, as he had a hard time in English, and when at one point Jess thanked him in Spanish, he says, "you’re welcome" in Italian. He invited us all to his birthday party in Rome at the end of July, all because Jess told him she’d been to Rome once. Then we paid and left.

We decided to wander around a bit, and try to find either a beer garden or a dessert place. We kept wandering, and lo and behold, we learned another lesson: Cars will run you over if you are still in the crosswalk after the light turns. And a third lesson: Bike riders have their own lane and have headlights. So while wandering, Jess got a kiss blown to her, and we all got whistled at. We came back to the apartment to research the nightlife. Google was tough in German. So, we headed out again, and found nothing. No bars, no dessert, no nothing. Then we got water balloons thrown on us from teenagers! What the heck? After that, we gave up our search and came home.

Day three: Orientation

Woke up still laughing about the water balloon incident. We decided to go out and do some food shopping. Another lesson: On Sundays, everything is closed all day, not just for siesta. We ended up going to a Lebanese food stand, and got half a chicken each. Then we went to a little pastry shop and bought a juice and some apple (apfel) strudel. We made it a goal to try as many different kinds of apfel strudel as possible. Then we went back to do some more homework before our meeting with the professor. While waiting to meet the professor, we had a few more laughs. I warned everyone that the toilet was at an awkward angle, but no one believed me until their knees hit against the bathtub. Also, we’re waiting for some interesting stories to happen because there’s a window in the shower. It’s frosted, but it does open.

We got bus passes and hopped on the MI Mitte train, and headed for anywhere. We found some great places to shop, and we ended up at this great little Italian place. (Yes, yes, we’re in Germany; apparently we went to the wrong country.) But the food was AMAZING. We were in love with the place, and the dessert was great - strawberries and ice cream; amazing ice cream. We came back and did more homework. Early to bed, early to rise.

Berlin Bus Tour

Waking up this morning was hard for all of us to do. Day three of classes went fine, and then we had an hour before we were supposed to meet to catch the bus tour. During that hour, we stayed with our guide, Andrea, and went to see a bombed out church from WW II. The tour was three hours long, and we saw everything! The Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gate, the Hotel Adlon, where Hitler loved to stay, and where Michael Jackson dangled his baby from the balcony, the Reichstag, Embassy’s, shopping centers - everything. Then we went out for pizza since the professors were paying. Here’s a funny story: At first, the bus driver drove away with all the teachers still on the bus! The pizza was good, stone-cooked, and thin - yummm. Jessica had a strawberry beer which she liked. It was the first beer she found that she ever liked. Amanda and Jen tried a different kind of beer - a Hefeweizen (sp?) - which they thought was OK. Then we caught the train home, and did more homework.

Laundry Day

We decided that today was a day we needed to do laundry at the Laundromat/bar by one of the apartments. We ended up going somewhere else, and dumb Americans, we just assume everything works our way. We had gone out and bought detergent. Pointless Euro spent. Detergent comes with the price of the laundry. Then we learned that in order to use the dryers, it’s 50 cents per ten minutes. No brainer, right? Wrong. It turns out that for every 50 cents you put in, you have to push the button, so that one dollar=two pushes. At least the Germans are honest. Needless to say, it took a bit to do laundry.


Today was the first day we all got to sleep in, and it was amazing. Then we went food shopping, got Amanda an ankle bracelet, and sat down to do the law review competition. We also discovered a new-found love for Nutella. Nothing too exciting seems to be happening today, thanks to school work. But that’s law school!

The Reichstag

Today we tried taking a new way to school. It took the same amount of time, but instead of switching midway through, we switched one stop before school. The station is closer to our house, and being on the train for that long in an unbroken time slot allows us to get more work done. Classes are fine. We talked about a case that dealt with porn. It was weird hearing the professor talk about that. Then we went to the Reichstag.

The Reichstag was cool. It was the first parliament of the German Empire, was in ruins until the reunification of Germany, and was reconstructed in 1999, to house the new German parliament. We got a special guided tour around the inside of the building. Our guide was OK; he spoke decent English, but was very monotone. The history behind it was very cool. There was an awesome glass dome that we could walk in, similar to the Statue of Liberty. After that, we exchanged money, and took out money for our trip to the Czech Republic this weekend. Then we decided to get some take out from this little place we found, did some homework, and got ready to go to the casino. The casino sucked. Apparently American casinos are more lax. (We were asked to be quieter.) Also, the drinks were not free, and they closed the table down even though it was full of people. We found out later the casino is run by the Russian mafia. Awesome.

On the Way to Prague/A Night Out in Prague

We got up this morning, and off to school we went, bags heavy and ready to leave for Prague. We got to the train station in plenty of time. Once we knew where we were going, we went to get food. It’s a shocker, I know, but we had pizza, stuffed crust from pizza hut. It wasn’t bad, but not the best.

The cab ride in Prague from the train station was crazy! The people in Prague drive very fast. It was interesting, to say the least. When we settled into the hotel, we wandered a bit, and then found the Einstein pizzeria. We got gnocchi and chicken lasagna. The lasagna was OK, but the spinach gnocchi was AMAZING. We were in love.

The next day, we all woke up early to finish a final. What a fiasco it was, trying to submit them online. They took us all morning to write. Then I went down to get the Internet turned on. We decided we wanted to pay for it for the whole day, and then when I tried to connect up, I couldn’t find the cord. It turns out our room was the only room in the entire hotel without Internet---ugh! So we got all of our finals on one jump drive to send in one e-mail and finally sent it out.

After that, we got ready and went out and about. Prague is gorgeous! We went some place for a late lunch, where Jess tried absinthe 70%. Well, that was an interesting experience. The waiter had to show me how to light the sugar thing on fire and mix it in. It was still a rough drink though. Amanda had a minor panic attack because we weren’t used to the money, so when we got the bill, it was 700 Koruna. That’s actually cheap after the conversion.

That night we went out, and met a lot of nice people. We ended up first going to a punk-type club where the people were very nice. People from all over were talking to us, and would even walk with us, to show us where we were going. We went to quite a few different bars, and had lots of fun, met lots of people. The best part of walking around Prague at night are the gorgeous buildings. On our way to somewhere, we walked into this square with the most amazing building we’ve ever seen. It’s impossible to describe it, and pictures do not do it justice. Prague is really beautiful.

By Jessica Reich, Student, Touro Law Center Summer Abroad Program in Germany

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