I am not sure what kind of luck this is, but if you want to ride any of the public transportation with me in Stuttgart, have a ticket or pass.

The city busses and trains don’t have a place for you to “check in” or confirm that you are allowed to ride. You just hop on then hop off when it’s your Haltastelle (stop). It is quite an organized system, I think. And as Germans go, things are very punctual. However, there are VVS (the government sector that runs the transport system) workers that are dressed in plain clothes that “randomly” do spot inspections of all the passengers for a few stops before they move on to a different line. (I say random because they have a schedule; it’s just not posted for everybody to know when to avoid them.)

I have friends who have been here from 1 year to 4 years that have told me that they have been subject to the spot inspection once or twice in their entire tenure. I have been here 17 days and once again today, I was checked – making it my 5th time, and one of those days the week before last, I got me twice. That’s averages nearly every third day that I should expect to be inspected for having a pass. Luckily, I am an owner of a month pass to every form of city transportation, and as soon as the semester begins here, I will purchase a student semester pass … otherwise it could get rather expensive to move about.

The sad part of this story is that my first time to be inspected (which happened to be my third day in the country), I did not purchase a ticket. I thought I could cheat the system. I had bought 6 ticket each day prior that allows me to travel as many times as I want in one day (you could also buy a ticket for a single ride for only about 1.40 or something like that). The guy stopped me on the last leg of a several leg journey that day as I was about to exit the bus for my friend’s house who was hosting me before I could move into my dorm room. That fine was only 10 thankfully, but he entered my passport information into the system. So before I was even registered with the city as being a new resident, I already had a file with the government. From then on, out of shear fear for getting a second fine (which jumps to 40), I have always traveled with a ticket/pass.

Moral of the story: if you want to live dangerously and not follow the rules, don’t ride with me; you will get caught.


Deutsche kirche

I might need to rethink my original idea about attending a German only worship service. I have done that twice now (first, one near where I was staying with my friend in Stuttgart; second, 10 min walk from where I live in Mӧhringen). The intent when I went into this endeavor was to do a total immersion so that I could learn German faster. I still think that is correct thinking. However, the trade-off for now seems to be that I don’t know really what is being spoken of sung (except words and phrases). I think it is also hard for me to maintain any sort of attitude of worship when it becomes a linguistic exercise where I’m more focused on what’s begin said instead of the meaning and the point driving what’s being said.

Like this morning, for instance, I know the Scripture passage was from Luke (Lukas in German – that’s pretty easy to figure out). I heard multiple times “Gottes namen” meaning the names of God. I heard once “leben meister” (Master of Life, which I really enjoyed), but I also heard alleine (alone) and I don’t know who the subject is. Other than that and a several other words without any context, I have no idea what was going on.

So, I’m not sure what I should do. I still like the idea of not creating a crutch with the English language so that I really can be fluent in German. But on the other hand, I’m really not worshipping well in any sort of community with this initiative. Options: give it time (“it” meaning me until my German becomes better and better) or when the semester starts in October, find some student group where things are in English to supplement my German Sundays.


mein neu haus (my new house)

I live in here!

what am I doing?

There have been moments where I think to myself: "Self, what am I doing here?" I had just one of those moments this evening. After going back to the university to register my room for internet (the first trip today was to the international center to register for my new student ID & to look around the campus), I went back to my new room (yea!) (first was to check-in & other formal stuff with the Hausmeister - aka Super) to try out the internet. No go. But then a lady from my flat walked by and asked (in Deutsch) if I had internet because she really needed it - so apparently es war kaputt.

So anyway, while in Möhringen (where I'm living), I decided to see the Kaufland right next to my building: 1)because this will be my grocery store 2) t0 figure out what I am buying to make an empty room a home & about how much I'm going to spend. This Kaufland, you see, is 2-stories and a basement for parking. It's like a grocery store plus kitchen ware, shoes, pet store, liquor store, deli, bakery, and some simple furniture & clothing. Oh my. This is where my "what am I doing here" showed up. As I try to map out the store, it felt like I was having to discover another new city ... and all in German. Then it hit me: "How am I going to cook anything? The directions are in German and my conversational German courses didn't cover these technical terms. How do you even share a kitchen with 5 other people?" And those thoughts continued for a bit. But then ... aha! "I'm here for 2 years. I'm so going to be a pro at this." So that's where I'm at right now. That and how much money I'm about to spend up front to start this life.

Well, tomorrow, I head back to the university to (hopefully) pick up a temp student ID and then to take my German Language Placement Exam. From what I can tell, it's about 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours and (please God) multiple choice. The results of this exam will determine what level of Intensive language course I will be in. I'm not really worried though. It's actually kind of exciting to see how much I know and how much I can recall when I want to recall it.

So I'm here. Officially living in Germany. Officially becoming a graduate student. Und alles ist gut. (All is good).