Monday, March 2, 2015

Mannheimer Leben // Mannheim Life

Photo credit: Emma

After what seems like an eternity I have finally settled down into a school routine for the semester, with my first real week of classes beginning this past week. I've also used these past two weeks to spend more time with friends and family and meet a few new ones as well. As always, CB and I have coffee at least once a week at our favourite Mannheim cafe L3, where I'm already halfway through my first customer loyalty card.

I was shamed into buying "grown up" groceries after eating dinner at a friend's flat and realising it's much easier to make quality food on my own than I was making it up to be. I now own some basic ingredients to make real meals and hopefully this means I'll actually put time into cooking. Other "fun" activities with friends included moving furniture out of CB's flat for about three hours, spending an hour waiting for the elevator to show up due to a neighbour blocking the door with a wardrobe, and discovering a small spider infestation in CB's mattress.

My Australian friend, Emma, invited a group of twenty students over to her place one night for dinner and requested that everyone bring something from their country. I brought the American classic mac & cheese, but some people went all out and brought some amazing dishes. I had my first poutine, as well as Spanish omelettes, homemade guacamole, Russian salad, Columbian fritters, French crepes, and many, many more delicious foods.

I finally went to the Egyptian art exhibit at one of Mannheim's museums with a few friends, which is half price for students. Most of the pieces were similar to those I'd seen in other museums in the States, but one thing I found a bit unusual was the human skeleton on display. I have never seen human remains displayed quite like that before -- so open and exposed that it jarred me a little. It was the bones of a real, once living and breathing person, right in the middle of a room of 5000 year old art pieces. It was one of my most bizarre experiences in a museum.

Last weekend I took a trip to visit some of my family in Fulda, a town located about 2 hours away from Mannheim. I had met most of them before but it had been years since I'd seen them so I was excited to visit. It rained on Saturday so we spent half the day at a language museum in Bad Hersfeld called Wortreich, which was full of interactive games and exhibits and was loads of fun. They had a computer with a keyboard that could be typed with the user's eyes -- a built-in camera would track a user's eye motions. There was a human-sized pin point impression toy that we had fun slamming our bodies into and making imprints. Most of the exhibits reminded of the Life & Science Museum at home that I used to love visiting.

I also had the opportunity to practice my German, which was fun at first but exhausting by the end of the weekend. I found it much easier to converse with my kid-cousins as my vocabulary is similar to a child's, but it was quite difficult for me to talk to some of my older relatives. Since the end of Winter Academy I haven't had as much of a need to speak conversational German every day and it was good to get back into it again.

My cousins' cat. He was a little grouchy but I didn't care; I was having cat withdrawals and I NEEDED to pet a cat.
One of the exhibits at Wortreich -- a computer that tracked the user's eyes to type.

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