After four weeks, my first of two intensive courses is done. 15 proud, brave souls withstood the test of time. Though made weak by time and fate, our strong will pushed us to strive, to seek, and to find* our way through what Mark Twain lovingly dubbed "That Awful German Language." We are the few and the proud.
I celebrated by going to the Oktoberfest then having a burger at McDonald's. At almost four in the morning. There's nothing like good Scottish food to buck you up, and it turns out that one of the things I enjoy most about being in Europe is the delightful spin they pit on American fast food.
In America, the Big Mac is the most recognized name in burgers. There's the Big'N'Tasty (I assume it's spelled something like that), and then there's the Whopper. They're pillars of our society, as cherished as american football and national debt. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
In Germany, I've eaten the California Whopper (a slice of avocado serves as differentiation), the Big Tasty Bacon (which is a burger and not an oversized strip of pork, as the name would suggest), the Big Spicy (Tabasco sauce) - and in Austria I've savored the Spicy Mexican Whopper, a truly marvelous creation which rightfully earns its name thanks to the liberal sprinkling of cayenne pepper, DIRECTLY ON THE BUN.
Overlooking for the moment the fact that these burgers are a caricature of the continent I call home (sort of), I shall explain the process of ordering said meals. When in Germany, it's best to place your orders for things like Big Macs with as heavy a german accent as possible, because if you say american words like an American, they likely won't understand you. Instead of asking if you want the meal, they ask if it should be menü (think snotty french accent and you'll say it correctly), and at places like Burger King where you can Have It You Way, you don't ask for 'Speck' or 'Käse' on your burger, but rather 'bacon' and 'cheese' (never forgetting to pronounce those words slightly incorrectly so they understand). And at the end of it all, you eat your fries with mayonnaise -- which actually tastes amazing.
My suspicion is that I'm trying to illustrate a cultural point here, and to remove all delicate readerly pretentions, I'll come right out and say that Germans seem to like american stuff (question for readers: does one capitalize countries when used adjectivally?). I wouldn't go so far as to say it parallels Americans' love of german cars, bratwursts and low-cut dirndls, but it's there. And at 3:30 in the morning, when you're wandering a foreign city alone, it's a pleasure seeing those golden arches.
(I'm aware that I've openly admitted in this post to eating at least four fast food burgers while here, which far exceeds dietitians' recommendations of eating one every two thousand years. But I'll get back on my bike this winter and try to earn the forgiveness of my cardiovascular system.)
I now have five days until the next round of classes begin. My cyprusian friend Hector will still be in class with me, but otherwise it's a whole new ball game. We're now a step higher up the germanistics ladder and feel pretty self-important because of that move. The farewell yesterday had all the necessary elements, including an appropriate number of eyes experiencing elevated hydrosic states, and from this experience I have new friends hailing from all over the world. One of these days I'll tell you about how Saudis aren't actually all terrorists, not all Norwegians are blonde, and how I'm pretty sure my friend from Belarus isn't a KGB spy. In the meantime, I'm ready for a relaxing weekend and getting ready for another treacherous cycle of learning and sleeping. I love it.
*My sincerest apologies to Tennyson for using some of the finest words ever penned in a stupid and ironic way.