No really, where’s my bike dude?

I’m sure some of you were scratching your head as you read the title of my blog. I’m going to break it down for you:

I’ll be honest, I’m not really a creative person (according to Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, I have Bodily-Kinesthetic and Interpersonal abilities). I’ve seen some friends come up with clever, catchy, and cute names but nothing was coming to me. Then I had my “A-Ha!” moment. I wanted something in my title to say something about me as a California native. I was having some writer’s block and I said to myself, “Dude, I have no idea.” THAT’S IT! DUDE! Of course, when I think of the word dude, the epic film Dude, Where’s My Car? comes to mind. If you haven’t seen it, please do. So how does the bike come into play? Well, I currently live in the city of Münster and I will be here for the whole summer until I start work. Münster is a university city, much like San Luis Obispo or Chico, CA (For my friends from CA), but more importantly it’s a “Fahrradstadt” (Fahrrad= bike, Stadt= city).

The biking culture in Münster is unlike anything I’ve seen before. There is really no need for a car in this city. When Benedikt found my apartment for me, I remember asking him how far his apartment was from mine and he said, “Well depending on how fast you are, about 15-20 minutes by bike.” Folks, I’ve probably never ridden a bike that far in my life. I am sharing some things I’ve learned so far as a bike rider in Münster.

How to transition from the bumper-to-bumper traffic on the 405 freeway to the Münster Promenade:

Step 1: I needed to buy a bike, since Benedikt’s spare bike was unfortunately too big for me (and other bikes I tried were as well). So we went to the used bike dealership and I found my wonderful, emerald green Gazelle bike (it was also advertised as being an ideal bike for children who are growing, which was bascially perfect for my size lol). It was also essential for me to buy a chain lock because bikes can be stolen. At 15 bike thefts per day it’s the most common crime in Münster!

Step 2: Hit the road! Wait, ok, not quite yet. There are some rules to bike riding in Münster. First, one must know where it is acceptable to ride their bike. Typically, every sidewalk has a red lane for bikes and a grey lane for pedestrians. Occasionally, you have to go on the street with the cars when the bike lane ends (which I wish there was some signs to warn me that the bike lane was ending…). Always use your hand signals! Your arms are your indicators. Also, bike riders almost always have the right of way, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch for cars or pedestrians. Use your lights at night. When you’re somewhere where you’re not supposed to ride bikes, get off and walk it because you can and probably will get a ticket (There’s cops on bikes too and they don’t mess around). Travel by the Promenade! The Promenade is like the bike highway, and it’s only for bikes and pedestrians which makes it relatively safe.

IMG_4528_1

 

Step 3: Try not to lose your bike or have it stolen (and if someone steals your tire, don’t just abandon your bike somewhere…. see photo below).  The best way to chain your bike is to wrap the chain around the hind tire as that’s much more difficult to steal, or chain your bike to something, like a post. It is also very easy for bikes to get lost in the crowd, maybe if you have a neutral color or common bike put something on it to set it apart from the others (I’ve seen a lot of fake flowers wrapped on bikes and they look like bikes headed to Coachella).

IMG_4526

Step 4: If you’re not used to riding bikes long distances, you may get tired. Sadly all of my SoulCycle classes did not prepare me for this. Although sometimes I throw on my headphones and pretend it’s SoulCycle (Do not try to “Tap it Back” on a real bike people, it doesn’t work). It did get better for me! I have beaten Benedikt’s projected travel time from my apartment to his and I can make it there in 12 minutes.

Overall, I love riding my bike through the city. It’s so relaxing to me, especially after years of driving in the worst Southern California traffic.

So now you know the meaning of the bike. That’s all for now my friends. Until next time!

Bis später! (See you later!)

So you want to learn a new language?

Here I am, 23 years old, learning German in Germany. Had I known this would be my life, I would have taken German in high school. But, my 4 years of Spanish did come quite in handy.

I will be honest, the German language is not so easy. Even Germans themselves admit that it is not so easy. If you would ever like a fun piece of literature, read Mark Twain’s “The Awful German Language”. Honestly though, even with it’s difficulties, it is a beautiful language and I have truly enjoyed being able to learn it more and use it in every day life. This post is not going to be about grammar or interesting German words, but rather things I have experienced while learning the language and it may provide some insight/comfort for those of you learning or hoping to pursue another language.

1) Stage Fright: If you know me, you know how much I love to talk and I am certainly not shy. My mother put me in community theater when I was a child and it definitely made me confident in so many ways. For the first time, I have experienced stage fright and couldn’t bring myself to start conversations or talk with people in German. Upon my arrival, I had a fairly limited vocabulary and had only taken an introductory class in the US. As I started to learn more in my intensive language course in Münster, I actually started to become more shy in public settings. Of course, a lot of conversations go beyond my German knowledge (politics, economics, medicine) but I found myself in a position where I couldn’t talk and it terrified me. I have so much to say and I had met so many nice, interesting people, I just wish I could talk with them.

2) The Need to CramIf you’ve ever waited last minute to study for a major exam, you know all about cramming. And what did our teachers always tell us, “Do not try to cram the night before!” They are entirely right. If you want to learn something, and truly learn it well, it is a process. As I was experiencing this anxiety about speaking German in social settings, I had this urge that I needed to study German nonstop and not speak any English and you name it, anything to help me learn faster. All that led to was a headache and resentment. If you are trying to learn a new language, seriously, take your time. I’ve spoken with several people from other countries and other Expats about their process and they all said about 6-12 months before it becomes more fluid, and the learning process still continues after.

3) Take a Leap of Faith: You truly cannot learn a language unless you practice it with other people. It takes a lot of courage, believe me, but I felt so much better after I started trying to speak German rather than just being mute the whole time. Speak with confidence, even the confidence of knowing that you may not say everything right or get the gender articles correct or use the right case (there are 4 cases in German, btw). I have to say though, I am so lucky to have such nice people around me to help me through my learning. People that will kindly correct me, or ponder the grammar with me. I have included a photo of a great friend I’ve made in Germany, Hanna. She is Benedikt’s best friend from medical school, and her and her family have been so incredibly kind and helpful in my transition to life in Germany and learning the language. Last Saturday, they had their annual Sommerfest (where the photo was taken) and I told Hanna I really wanted to try to speak only in German at the party. She was so willing to help me and her confidence in me helped me blossom and talk to so many other people at the party in German. Of course, sometimes I still had to speak English when I didn’t know how to say something. The best thing was, I finally gained the confidence to try. That’s all you really need.

IMG_5250

Hang in there fellow language learners! We are in this together 🙂

 

Willkommen/Welcome!

Hello family and friends!

Welcome to my blog. I’ve heard a lot of people make one when they live abroad, so I’m giving it a try! (This is also taking some time to write as I’m still learning the German keyboard, I’ll explain later). I will explain the meaning behind the blog’s name Dude Where’s My Bike? in a later post, but if you are interested just research the city of Münster (In Germany, that is, not to be confused with the city of Munster, Indiana).

As most of you know, I recently moved to Germany. Since the first time I travelled to Europe in 2013, it has been my dream to live abroad. Opportunities presented themselves and I thought “Hey, why not?!”. I absolutely love it in Germany, especially in my current city of Münster. However, if you really want to learn how to “adult”, move to a different country. The things I have learned in my first month here have really shown me how much I have to learn about life. But I’ve never felt more ready to jump right in to it.

This blog is going to be about everything I am experiencing in Germany. From learning the language to figuring out how the locks on doors work (which was a struggle for me! haha). I am going to talk about my difficulties and my successes, the differences between Germany and my home state of California, and everything in between. Please keep an open mind when reading, as this is all from my perspective and it’s my own space to share my thoughts (but does the First Amendment still apply outside of the Land of the Free…..?) Only kidding 😉

I have decided to share a photo of myself with my parents at the airport. I know my decision to move really had in impact on them, but I could not have done it without their continuous support and values they’ve taught me that have prepared me for this. I miss them very much. Sidebar: If you look closely at the black bag on my shoulder, my cat Abbey is inside. She also made the big move across the pond with me (because crazy cat ladies take their cats everywhere, right?) Also pictured is a photo from my arrival at Düsseldorf Airport with my boyfriend Benedikt. Yes, he is German, and I also could not have done any of this without him.

Thanks for checking it out! I will try to update as much as I can. Also if you have any questions or comments about anything, please reach out to me. But only if you have iMessage or WhatsApp because I do not have a German number yet.

Tschüss! (That’s the informal way of saying goodbye in German)

🙂