Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Hallo! I absolutely cannot believe that it is the 12th week of the semester here at BFA. Someone mentioned that the other day, and I was astounded. On the one hand, it feels like I've been living here in Germany at least a year by now, but on the other hand, it feels like school just started and I only have a few weeks under my belt. This is one of those places where time just absolutely flies by. I can't keep up!

Here's your trivia question for today. How much does this dorm pay for water each month? If you guessed 2,000 euros per month, then you are exactly right! That is somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 dollars spent each and every month just for the use of water in this one dorm alone with 33 people living in it. I heard that stat the other day, and it just blew my mind. I hope it blew yours, too.

Now you're probably thinking to yourself, "I've read Brandon's intro, and I've read his trivia question of the day. Now what does that German word in the title of the blog mean?" Well, my friends, Herbstmesse is one of the biggest festivals of the year here in Germany. I mean, it's no Oktoberfest, but it's up there. I know not a single one of you at home is going to correctly pronounce Herbstmesse, and I'm not even going to try to explain how. I think it's more fun that way. But the word "herbst" means "fall" (as in the season), and the word "messe" means "party" or "festival" so we're talking about THE Fall Festival here. Two weekends ago, on Thursday, October 30th, we loaded up every BFA dorm student into rented tour buses and traveled to Basel, Switzerland for the night to celebrate.

It is basically set up like a festival in the States. There are wild rides, booths with food, games ready to scam you, and creepy carnies. I spent most of my night walking around the city with a group of RA's, riding one single ride (continue reading), riding the bumper cars with a huge group of BFA students, and taking in the sights. My favorite part was the random American influences all over the park. There were signs hanging everywhere of random American celebrities like Macaulay Culkin from his "Home Alone" days and Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock. One ride had a background behind it with some no-name girl looking risque in the middle of it, Marilyn Monroe in the left corner, and Doc Brown and Marty McFly from "Back to the Future" in the right corner. Lovely. Read on for pictures and stories.

This is a picture of a handful of RA's riding one of the carnival rides. The one I rode was like this except the spokes were longer and sat five people across. After five of us loaded ourselves into the ride and the seat bars locked over us, we were sitting there waiting for it to start, and I was kind of rocking our entire row back and forth. After doing this for about a minute, the bars holding us in place came undone and stayed loose. The problem didn't fix itself right away, and after some nervous laughter, I was just thinking to myself something like, "Ok, play it cool. The ride probably isn't going to start like this... but if it does, you are really going to die." After a few seconds of this, a couple German guys show up chuckling and push our lap bars back into place while thinking, "Stupid Americans!" Or maybe they said it out loud. Who knows? But you can bet that during the entire ride as it mercilessly flung me every direction upside down and backward, all I could do was imagine my lap bar coming undone, and my flailing body hitting several steel beams before it met the ground below completely lifeless.

This is Andrew and I dominating all of our students on the bumper cars.

From left to right: Mr. Corn on the Cob, Rachel, Andrew, myself. Reenacting one of Andrew's digestion issues from the beginning of the year. We won't let him live it down.

I don't remember doing this, but this is from the end of the night, and I was evidently ready for the night to be over with. Left to right: Lizzy, Timmy, Andrew, and myself.

This is probably my favorite sign that I found which featured American influence. It was displayed over a food stand and proudly presented characters from the 90's Batman movies. You can see Jim Carrey's Riddler on the left and Chris O'Donnell's Robin on the right. And yes, in the middle, wearing a white tux jacket OVER his leather suit, is Batman himself, offering a tasty burger and a thumbs up. I loved it.

I've been asked several times about how we are handling Thanksgiving here. Germany doesn't have any Thanksgiving holiday, but we are celebrating it at BFA. We are actually celebrating it tomorrow... two weeks early. Don't ask me why, but we are. But we have been concerning ourselves with preparing for it because the meal is indeed going to be much larger than usual. I'm hoping that a lot of the RA's will be able to celebrate together in a couple weeks on Thanksgiving Day itself. This brings me however to the unavoidable fact that I will be missing the holidays with my family this year, the first year that this will have taken place. This is obviously one of the sacrifices I had prepared for in coming to BFA in the first place, but as I have remarked to several friends and family, it is going to be tough, and I will miss all of my family back home especially during these times in the coming months. So keep me in your thoughts through this holiday season! And thank you for your continued prayers!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Brandon,
You are a great writer and your blog should be the official HBR newsletter. Period.
I heard that the date that they celebrate Thanksgiving is a happy medium betweent the Canadian and American dates. So now you know.
I laughed out loud at the photo of the washing machine dial - I've been tempted to do the same thing 'cause mine has lots of fancy lights to go with the myriads of settings! (I also recognized my son as Mr. So-and-so!)
Thank you for your servant heart amidst the trials. My son has never been happier in a school setting and I give you some credit for that as his RA!
And anytime you want to visit a great little village in France, come on over-my son's bed is free!
Mrs. Leigh