23 July 2011

There's no place like home: Homes in Kansas and Elsewhere

My mind is filled with the idea of coming home. It's a feeling of familiarity and a kind of relief at being able to go back to routines you are comfortable with and to see people and buildings and landmarks you have memorized somewhere inside of you. It can even mean relief at hearing a familiar language spoken. Coming back to Switzerland, even for just a week, felt like coming home. I still knew where everything was, I could still remember where to catch which bus and I still loved to look out the train windows and look out at the rolling hills covered with colza and cows. I think it's safe to say Switzerland, especially Fribourg, is a second home to me.

I also had the feeling of coming home when I visited the Tinguelys, whom I lived with for half of my exchange year. The dog seemed to remember me, and I remembered everything about the house. The house even smelled the same. We ate the same food and looked at the same newspaper as a year and a half ago. It was so good to see everyone again too, a bit like seeing my family again after I had been away for a year. We had so much to catch up on--for young people like me and my host sisters, a lot can happen in a year. 

Much can change, but the security of home will always be there, somewhere. Home can even exist in multiple places at once. Right now I miss my home in Fribourg and I am looking forward and anticipating coming home to my family in Kansas City and then to my Watkins / KU family in Lawrence. Riding through the town of Eutin and seeing the familiar places that I have grown to love, I realized that Eutin has slowly become another home to me, one that I will be sad to leave when I board the plane to America in three short weeks.

Lawrence flag outside the Eutiner Rathaus


Wow, these weeks have been a whirlwind of activity. My last writing-centered post was another one aimed at the orchestra musicians getting ready to come to Euin! Since then, a lot has happened. I will intermittently insert some of my favorite photos, whether they go with the surrounding text or not. I have also decided to bold a few important phrases for effect....

Some kids sitting on an elephant statue in Copenhagen. Statue not pictured.
Something that has been really nice about the orchestra being here is getting to know everyone better. This is a lot different from just meeting three times a week for rehearsal. Here we have the opportunity to have conversations and adventures in our free time. It's also been nice to make new friends from Utah who are joining us for the Festspiele. Especially in the first few days that the orchestra was here, people kept drawing my attention to places around Eutin that I had stopped noticing or had never noticed or appreciated before they became just a part of my routine bike ride.

Opera house in Copenhagen. The roof reminded me of the roof of a building close to the train station in Luzern.
Speaking of bike rides, I haven't had many since the musicians got here. This is mostly because we have a bus to get to rehearsals, and when anyone wants to go into town or back home without the bus, we have to walk. A couple of times I took my bike along with a group while walking or riding very slowly, but eventually I decided this was futile and just walked with everyone else. It would have been nice if we could have organized bikes for people to use, but there wasn't enough time to get this to happen along with all of the other organization. Maybe next year...

Elbphilharmonie...when will it be finished???
During the first week that the orchestra was here, I felt like I had about ten times more work than I had had at my internship at the bank. I was constantly fixing people's problems, answering questions about where to find things, and translating pretty much everything, including an entire ice cream shop full of flavor names. This sometimes tested my patience because it felt like I hardly had any time to myself. Usually I am pretty patient but sometimes it got to be a bit overwhelming. Of course I was, and still am, happy to provide my energies and skills to help solve things for people. It was just a very different type of work compared to what the past six had been, a stark contrast between feeling basically useless and being so useful that I was worried about what would happened when I left for a week to go to...

Some people never learn.
Switzerland! After the first week of the orchestra's presence in Eutin, I packed a backpack and headed to the train station to go to Switzerland: Eutin, Hamburg, Munich, Basel, Fribourg. I was able to stay with one of my good friends from the Sainte-Croix school, which I attended for a year as an exchange student before beginning college. During the five days I was there, I visited one of my host families, saw several of my friends, walked around Fribourg and watched quite a few movies. The movies were mostly just because the weather was rainy and we didn't feel like going outside. Except for one in particular, which I saw in the theatre: Harry Potter 7, Part 2.

Flowers near a bridge in Fribourg
The whole week was a really positive experience. When I arrived and began to hear French and Swiss German in the train around me, it felt as if I had never left. I remembered where to find everything in town, and my French came back surprisingly fast. It seemed only to take a couple of hours for me to get back to a level that I stayed at all week. Maybe it wasn't as good as it was one year ago, but it was good enough. I discovered that I had missed my host family more than I thought. We had a lot of catching up to do.

View of Fribourg
On the way back to Eutin, I did some writing in the train which I will publish as a separate post. I returned to the train station at around 11:30 pm, and it was the night of the Don Giovanni premiere. Thinking it might still be in progress, I went straight to the opera barn instead of riding back to the hotel and I was glad I did. The performance wasn't actually over yet, so I was able to hang out in the cantine for a while with everyone else who wasn't playing. After the premiere was a party in the other side of the barn with free drinks and food for the musicians...needless to say, I was happy I stuck around!

Fribourg, Marly, Bourguillon
The past few days have been a bit less exciting. It's been raining a lot, which tends to make me sleepy. So I've mostly just been hanging around and sleeping, reading, and watching movies. I was hoping to rent a canoe but that will have to wait until the sun comes out. We had a public dress rehearsal for Hänsel und Gretel, which was like a performance, but the actual premiere was cancelled ten minutes before it was supposed to start, due to rain. It really would have been dangerous for the singers because the stage is slanted and very slippery when wet, not to mention it being unpleasant for the audience to have to sit in the downpour, and also very difficult in terms of the acoustics, especially for the singers.

Hamburg Hauptbahnhof
One last thing. Host families are awesome. (But so are real families, of course!)

Spaghetti Eis. Looks more interesting than it tastes.
The traffic light man from East Germany. Some still exist in Lübeck!

Kopenhagen vs. Eutin

Can you tell which one is which? Two very similar statues, although one was much more difficult to photograph without a bunch of tourists getting in the way!