Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Did another boat trip - can't get enough of this lake!


OMG (stands for Oh My God), I've just landed in the most wonderful little city! OMG. Gorgeous. My host father back in Chicago suggested that I might want to visit Saugatuck on my way up north and I thought: What the heck! Why not?

I am soooo glad I listened.

This small city - village may be more appropriate - is just gorgeous! Saugatuck, it's called, don't even try to pronounce it, too tricky. Comes from the Indian language, I suppose. It's situated on a small lake just a few miles from Lake Michigan - connected by a river called Kalamazoo - I told you - Indian words!

Then I got even more lucky. I discovered this B&B. Wonderful. Within walking distance from the town center, gorgeous rooms, breakfast included. I just spent several hours reading on the porch in one of these wooden deck chairs you sometimes see in the movies. I know I always repeat the same word, but I can't seem to stop: GORGEOUS.
The moskitos made me come back to my room, otherwise I would still be sitting outside.
There is one negative point. The price per night is ... not cheap but hey I can always work two jobs in October in order to get the credit card bills paid but I couldn't not stay with Sal (short for Salvatore - a second generation Sicilian!!) and Greg. I just couldn't.
Tomorrow the weather forecast has promised some rain, but the temperatures will still be high and I am therefore looking forward to doing some writing (on the porch, of course!).

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, IN

This is a pretty amazing place, honestly. You have bits of pure nature like in the pictures and then some miles north or south you find human's worst creation: factories. Big ones. Steel mills, actually. Aweful, big installations that stink and have these big chimneys where the smoke doesn't seem to stop. I didn't take any pictures because, as I said: too aweful!!
But then, when you look at the hideous bits you can't stop thinking that -thank you!!!- the other bits were put under protection in time (by the government in the 1970s, I seem to recall) and now we can enjoy nature at his best. Sometimes humans do think ahead...


Today I went hiking. Which wasn't such a good idea as the weather was much, but really much, too hot. 90°F! Therefore, I did only a small tour (even though I felt like fainting sometimes in the middle of the trail but I kept going and it was awesome-I am sooo glad that I kept walking!). As always in America walking trails are properly organised and you can't get lost. In German it's called "idiotensicher" - made sure that even idiots get it :-)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Trip's started

My trip has now officially started. I've picked up my shiny red Chevrolet at the airport (Trudy, my host mother, drove me there - isn't she nice?) and drove off.
Oh wow.
The first part consisted of the Chicago Highway, i.e. terrible traffic jams.
Then I took 12/20 East. Oh my, oh my! In order to get to the Indiana Dunes (one of my first destinations) I had to drive through Gary, a really poor neighborhood and at some stage I was kind of afraid. Not joking. All I could see around me were old and broken-down houses and please don't ask what kind of people were walking on the streets. Creepy.
I was glad when the sign finally said "Indiana Dunes".
I kept on driving north (even though the road sign still said "east" - you know, I am not good at directions. DEFINITIVELY not good), left the state of Illinois behind me, a short time after the state of Indiana (both of them only "own" a small "lot" of the Michigan Lake) and arrived in Michigan.
I liked New Buffalo because it seems a cute little city and decided to stay here. It was pretty hard to find a hotel room (it's the weekend and the weather is nice!) but I finally was fortunate.

Tomorrow I start the whole sightseeing thing. Will post pictures - promised!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

To be thankful for...

Today is about being thankful. A friend of mine once told me that I should always be thankful for what life is giving me and that I should never take anything for granted. She advised me to always stay humble. I thought about her words today while I was sitting in the train back home. She is right (she usually is).

Wanna know what I am grateful for?

I am grateful for

  • having this wonderful life that gives me so much
  • having all these very nice friends to whom I can talk about everything and that are always there for me
  • having a nice family (they do not always understand me but they always let me do my thing)
  • the persons I keep meeting (amazing!) which are giving me sooo much and broaden my horizon in a way I can hardly describe
  • all these new ideas that never seem to stop popping up in my mind
  • the Art (such as paintings, pictures, etc.) that enrich my life
  • being able to travel to all these wonderful places

Not bad for an ordinary Thursday, don't you think?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I love this city

There are two huge fountains in Millenium Park called "The Crown Fountains". One rectangular is facing the other and water flows down non-stop. The rectangulars are displaying pictures at the same time. These pictures are of Chicago's inhabitants or nature's impressions.
When they are displaying a face, at some point, the mouth of this person opens and water flows out of this person's mouth. Not literally, of course :-)
What I like most about this art is that it's alive, meaning, that kids are playing in the water (taking showers) all around it. You should see them. They are having a wonderful time. They don't know anything about contemporary art - they just enjoy an afternoon at the park with sunshine and water!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Everything is possible

I admit it. I love going to school. I even would say: I adore it.
I didn't, when I was young, but now, I could go to school every day, all the time. I not only like learning all this new stuff but I like to be surrounded by students. I mean for a working girl like me (meaning: the reality of going to work every day, earn some money in order to pay the rent and all this though stuff - even though I must admit, MY life is not so bad, not bad at all but I'm still a working girl and I still need to pay my rent...) students seem to live in another world. A better world? I don't know and I don't want to overanalyse but to me students still believe in a world where the possibilities are infinite.
The working environment, unfortunately, does not have many of such specimen. In the working environment reason has taken over and dreams are being put away for retirement. This makes me sad because I think that a life without dreams is a sorry one and there is (almost) nothing better than to realize ones dreams, don't you think so?

Today's gist (new word learned today, i.e. the bottom line) therefore is: go out and realise your dreams! I'll do the same, don't worry.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Art Institute of Chicago

I spent my day in a museum even though the weather was wonderful. But as the sun is going to be shining tomorrow as well, the day after tomorrow as well, and then again the day after the day ... (you got the idea, right?) then why not spend a Saturday in a museum?

I can't post pictures of the paintings of the museum (it's worth come to Chicago just to visit the Art Institut) but I've made some pics of the view from the museum. I have taken them from the new wing realized by Renzo Piano. Amazing. I love the one with the Giacometti ... it's like a picture in a picture. Cool.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The weather

You won't believe how hot the temperatures get here in the Midwest. People had told me before my departure but I didn't quite believe them. This is the nation of ice hockey, right?
Well, they don't get much ice over here in summer...

Quite the opposite.

Hot and humid's more likely. Steamy they call it (new word learned today).

My hair is not tamable. I look like a puddle. It's worse than it was in the south last year. I wear a ponytail all the time... Happily, there is some breeze from time to time (coming from the lake, I suppose) which makes breathing more bearable.

The advantage is that I got myself a terrific suntan just by walking around the city. OK, the suntan stops at my face and my décolleté but, hey, better than nothing, right?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

To broaden ones mind

A good thing about going to new places, meeting new people and trying out new stuff is that you get to broaden your mind. Among many other things of course. But this is the one I prefer.

I have told you that our teacher is into this whole Greenpace stuff (which I don't mind, mind you). We were talking about "conservation" (yes, the oral presentation is tomorrow!!) and she showed us a short movie which made me think. Now you probably go like "no, not again!" but hey it's not because I am in the US that I stop being who I am, don't you think?
The movie is quite short but not less meaningful. It's about ... stuff ... and our way of life / how we "consume" / what is behind etc. The content is quite heavy but shown in a very easy way. Really well done.

Check it out by yourself (if you are interested): http://www.storyofstuff.com/

Click on the "stuff" bottom for the movie we were watching today in class.

Hopefully it gets you thinking hard as well.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cloud Gate

I love this Cloud Gate. The Indian artist "Anish Kapoor" did it and I love the reflections of the Loop (Downtown Chicago) on this work of art. (Have you seen my reflection???)
Chicago is actually full of art ... literally on the streets and squares. There are several sculptures of well known (at least to me) artists like Picasso or Mirò and other sculptures of artists who I didn't know. There is a walking tour to see all these sculptures.
Another thing to do.

Back to school

My classes (three hours a day) are in the mornings which is nice because that leaves me the whole afternoon to get to know the city. Today I went to a River/Lake Tour - see pictures below. Very nice. Tomorrow I probably will visit the Museum of Contemporary Art but I didn't want to talk about my life as a tourist. Let me tell you about my life as a student.

My teacher is called Sharon and she is a really nice person. The class is not so big, there are 10 of us: two Brazilians (there are a LOT of Brazilians at this school), one from Spain, some Asian guys (don't ask me which country - they look the same to me), a German guy, one girl from Hungary and myself. Cool. No Italian, no Swiss that leaves me to speak English the whole day.
By the way, they put me into the "proficiency" class. Isn't this nice of them? My host mother (and father) had a bet going because they were convinced that they would put me to proficiency. This fact doesn't make me perfect in English, though. Still a long way to go...

The teacher likes to talk about "problems of the earth" (she was with Greenpeace before starting to teach). Discussions are interesting and I absorbe all the new vocabulary.
We do some grammar as well - today was about the verb "to get". I HATE PHRASAL VERBS. I really do. All this to get down, to get into, to get in, to get through to etc. etc. etc. The possibilities are never ending! But hey, this is what I wanted, right? To freshen up my English, and that's what I do...

Now I have to leave you because I need to prepare an oral presentation about ... conservation issues in my home country. I need it by Friday. Freaks me out. I have NO idea what I'm going to tell the class for 10 minutes. I urgently need a very good idea.



Aaaaaah, isn't life a student sweet?

Today I did this amazing boat tour along Chicago River and Lake Michigan

Unfortunately, the weather (just during the 90 minutes of the tour) was not cloudless. But the view from the Lake is amazing nevertheless

I love the reflections on the skyscrapers...

Can you see the cars that are parked in the first couple of floors (picture below - the round skyscraper)? Wow. The river is just below. One false move and your car gets ... wet!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lieblingswort auf Englisch

Did you know that "to amalgamate" is one of my favourite words in English? Yes, it is. If I'd would need a bank account over here, then it would certainly be at "Amalgamated Bank"...

What the heck did they amalgamate to create this bank, I wonder?


Der Schöbi hat wiedermal einen Schulweg :-) Härzig, nöd?
Dieser hier in Chicago ist somewhat ... wie soll ich sagen? ... anders? speziell?

Lasst es mich beschreiben.

Ich verlasse also das Haus und spaziere zuerst einmal an schönen Einfamilienhäusern vorbei (heute Morgen habe ich sogar ein Eichhörnchen gesehen, dass schwupps den Baum rauf raste). Dann überquere ich die erste Strasse. Bis dahin alles OK.

Um die Strecke ein wenig abzukürzen, gehe ich quer über eine Tankstelle. Da gibt es schon die ersten komischen Blicke. Was spaziert die hier rum, scheinen die sich alle zu fragen (aber vielleicht ist das ja meine Einbildung).

Dann komme ich an die Hauptstrasse. Und was für eine. Drei Spuren auf jeder Seite. Der Gehsteig ist keinen Meter breit. Die Autos flitzen an mir vorbei. Autos gingen ja noch. Aber die Lastwagen (diese Trucks, die es nur in Amerika gibt, die einen 40-Tönner irgendwie wie Spielzeug aussehen lässt). Mein Neffe würde sagen: Zia, guarda, camion!!! Er hätte seine Freude. Mir machen sie ein wenig Angst, diese Dinger. Ich fühle mich so klein und unbedeutend auf meinem schmalen Gehsteig. Zudem habe ich so das Gefühl, dass mich jeder Autofahrer anstarrt und denkt: Warum um Himmels Willen geht die zu Fuss? Kann die nicht Auto fahren? (Aber vielleicht sind letztere Gedanken meine Einbildung - siehe oben).

Nachdem ich also die 500 Gehsteig neben der sechsspurigen Hauptstrasse geschafft habe, kommt der Hammer.

Die Kreuzung.

Mir wird schwindlig, wenn ich jetzt nur davon schreibe.

Also, die eine Strasse ist die erwähnte sechsspurige. Dann kommt von links und von rechts je eine vierspurige Autobahnausfahrt. Es gibt zwar einen offiziellen Fussgängerweg (obwohl die weissen Streifen schon lange nicht mehr sichtbar sind), aber das heisst nicht, dass es viele davon hat, Fussgänger, meine ich. Heute Morgen ging ein Ömi vor mir und ich habe mich sehr beeilt, um mit ihr die Kreuzung zu überqueren, weil ich mir immer denke, dass zwei Personen sichtbarer sind als nur eine.

Glücklicherweise sind amerikanische Autofahrer nicht aggressiv und ich brauche also nichts zu befürchten.

Es ist trotzdem irgendwie ... überwältigend.

Kaum habe ich die Kreuzung geschafft, kommt ein paar Meter weiter vorne der Eingang zum Bahnhof.

Es ist schon alles anders.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Chicago, IL

First Monday

I spent my first Monday morning in school (the air conditioning of the room was killing me) doing an entrance test (will know my level by tomorrow) and listened to a lot of the usual bla bla. You know how this is.

I left school at about 1pm and went on a small downtown tour by foot. The Loop, it is called in Chicago. I am quite impressed (but aren't I always ... I am sooo not difficult when it comes to new impressions - normally everything pleases me - as long as it's new and exciting!). My first impression is that Chicago is not at all like New York. We have a lot of skyscraper here as well but the feeling of the city is less hectic. Everything seems so green and there is kind of a lot of space. Can't describe it really well. This is just my first impression. Will have better words later on.
Then of course we have this wonderful big lake just "around the corner" which makes the city different anyway. I got a glimpse of the lake from the airplane on Saturday. I tell you. It's really really big. You can't see the other side from here. Amazing.

I did my share of walking around but then I got tired and went home. I catched the blue train (yes, trains are colored here :-)) to ... you won't believe me ... Harlem. My station is called Harlem like the New Yorker Harlem. And I even didn't get lost. Made it home all by myself.


NB: Can't wait to visit all the places and museums and shops.

NB: Temperatures are really hot - aroung 30°C

Sunday, August 15, 2010

First American breakfast

... self-made, by the way.
Trudy and Richard, with whom I am staying while in Chicago, said that I could take whatever I wanted (or found) for breakfast. After a night of more or less good sleep (full of jet lagged caused dreams), I woke up with a certain appetite. Went to the kitchen (which has no air conditioning by the way - you can't imagine the heat. I felt like in the Amazonas or so - no longer used to warm temperatures, I am afraid. Will catch up, don't worry.)
OK, I thought. First things first.
That's easy to do, had the same coffee maker back when I had my own appartment.
Next: What do I want to eat?
I went through all the cupboards and the fridge.
Found some butter and some jam. Couldn't find the bread (I decided that I wanted some bread and butter and jam for breakfast. No appetite for cereals).
No bread to be seen.
I looked up every cupboard.
Then I decided that I hadn't checked out the icebox.
Great idea.
There it was, the bread.
Why didn't I think of it right away?
Couple of minutes later I was sitting at the table, looking out of the window (what a nice neighorhood, so green and so calm) and enjoying my first (self-made) American breakfast.

NB: I forgot that stuff like orange juice or milk come out of 5 liter (not liters in the US, I know, gallons?) plastic cans. Small is not an adjective they like over here. Even the butter was one kilo and the jam? You wouldn't believe me.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Chicago, IL - here I am

Ich bin hier angekommen, in Forest Park, bei Trudy und Richard. Es ist alles sehr schön und ... amerikanisch GRINS.
Aber darüber berichte ich ein anderes Mal, wenn ich nicht fast einschlafe beim Tippen. Ich wollte euch schnell erzählen, was mir so durch den Kopf ging, als ich in Zürich das Flugzeug bestieg und so durch die Business Class spazierte (ja, die Knechte lassen sie immer nach den Königen rein, sodass wir unteres Volk immer schön die Obrigkeiten bestaunen können beim Einsteigen GRINS).


Dass ich eines Tages, auch Business fliegen möchte. Langstreckenflug in Business Class - c'est la classe!!! Wie habe ich die Leute, die dort in ihren bequemenen Sesseln sassen, beneidet. Ganz ganz fest beneidet. Auf mich wartete Platz 38A, am Fenster, neben einem Ami-Chick. Kaum Platz für meine Beine und ich brauche es nicht zu sagen: Geschlafen habe ich nichts. Hey, ich beschwere mich nicht, im Gegenteil. Ich bin ja sooo glücklich überhaupt hier zu sein.

Doch eines Tages, (einmal nur in meinem Leben und ich gebe mich zufrieden, ich schwör's), möchte der Schöbi Business reisen.

Träume braucht der Mensch, findet ihr nicht auch?

Oder wie hiess es in meinem schlauen Kalender: Am Anfang steht die Sehnsucht.

PS: Hier ist es warm, sehr warm. Sehr sehr warm. Geil.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Morgen, morgen, morgen

... ja, ja, Morgen ist es also so weit. Zurzeit bin ich gerade ein wenig ruhiger, vielleicht auch, weil ich meinen Koffer gepackt und schon mal gewogen habe.

18 Kilo.

Ehrlich, ich bin gut. GRINS.

Ihr müsst wissen, die Sorge um einen zu schweren Koffer hat mich nämlich heute Morgen aus dem Schlaf gerissen (siehe Eintrag gestern).

Pathetic, würden die Amis sagen. Ich stimme bei, kann es aber leider nicht ändern.

Jetzt muss ich nur noch mein Auto bei meinen Eltern parken, eine Nacht schlafen, die S-Bahn an den Flughafen erwischen und einchecken.

Amerika ich komme!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Es wäre wiedermal soweit. Das Reisefieber hat mich gepackt. Bei mir geht jede Reise nach Schema F. Unglaublich, ehrlich. Zuerst freue ich mich tierisch, bereite alles vor, buche den Flug und lese Reiseführer, träume von den Orten, die ich kennen lernen werde oder freue mich auf Orte, die ich schon liebe (je nach Reise).

Dann beginnt die "letzte" Woche vor der Abreise ... und ich werde nervös. Extrem. Manchmal kann ich mich kaum auf andere Personen konzentrieren, weil mein ganzes Ich daran denkt, dass ich bald fliegen werde und noch so viel erledigen muss.

Momentan stehe ich mitten in dieser Art Stimmung. Geil. Glücklicherweise bin ich dieses Mal besser organisiert und ich kann diese 2 1/2 Tage vor Abreise geniessen. Einigermassen zumindest, denn ich wache morgens trotzdem zu unmöglichen Zeiten auf, weil ich das Gefühl habe, etwas vergessen zu haben. Scheisse, ehrlich.

Wenn ich am Samstag in der Abflughalle des Zürcher Flughafens sitzen und an meine vergangene Woche denken werde, werde ich über mich selber grinsen. Dann ist nämlich jegliche Nervösität verschwunden und ich freue mich nur noch.

Bis dahin - GUT NERVÖS


Friday, August 6, 2010


Ich habe mir diesen schönen Tischkalener gekauft "365 Orte zum Träumen".


Schöne Bilder aus der ganzen Welt, jeden Tag ein Spruch.

Der Kalender beginnt (am 1. Januar natürlich) mit einem Spruch, den ich sehr aussagekräftig finde. Nicht nur für einen Jahresbeginn. Das gilt fürs Leben. Finde ich.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

My imminent U.S. of A. trip

In ein bisschen mehr als einer Woche bin ich in Chicago. Can't wait to start my big "Northern" USA adventure! Zuerst zwei Wochen in Chicago und dann geht's mit dem Auto rund um den Lake Michigan. Ich bereite so brav meine Reise vor und da ging mir dieser Gedanke durch den Kopf.

Wisst ihr noch, letztes Jahr, als ich durch die Carolinas reiste, schwärmte ich immer (oder fast immer) entweder von schönen Herrenhäusern, riesigen Bäumen oder Stränden.

Dieses Jahr wird anders. Ich fühle es so. Da wird es wahrscheinlich mehr um extreme Sanddünen, riesiger See (den man/frau für das Meer halten könnte) und Leuchttürme.

Aber vielleicht irre ich mich ja...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sommer (schon bald) ade?

Wisst ihr, woran man merkt (ausser, dass es nachts nicht mehr warm ist und manchmal, so wie momentan, auch tagsüber nicht), dass der Sommer sich dem Ende neigt?

Wenn auf den Frauenzeitschriften die neue Herbstmode angepreist wird und in den Läden die erste Sektion "Neu" eröffnet wird mit langärmligen Modellen oder Stiefeln (je nach Laden).


Dann würde ich am liebsten die Zeit zurückdrehen.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Es gibt da ein älterer Mann, der vor der Migros, diese Zeitschrift verkauft, die von arbeitslosen Menschen gemacht wird. Leute, die diese Zeitschrift verkaufen, müssen selber arbeitslos sein (oder so habe ich es gehört). Manchmal habe ich ein wenig Mitleid mit diesen Personen und kaufe die Zeitschrift. Da ich ja selber mal arbeitslos war (ist zwar schon eine Weile her, aber ich habe es nicht vergessen). Ich würde auch gerne bei diesem Herrn vor der Migros eine Zeitschrift kaufen, doch der liebe Herr ... spricht die ganze Zeit am Telefon. Egal, um welche Zeit ich da vorbeigehe, er spricht.
Bla bla bla. Bla bla bla. Bla bla bla.
Er schwenkt seine Zeitschriften in einer Hand und hält das Mobile mit der anderen Hand ans Ohr und spricht lauthals in einer Sprache, die ich nicht kenne.

Am liebsten würde ich ihn ansprechen und ihm mitteilen, dass seine Art nicht sehr verkaufsfördernd ist.

Könnt ihr euch vorstellen, wie viele Verkäufe er tagtäglich auf diese Art verpasst?

Wahrscheinlich hat er keine Verkaufsbeteiligung. Ja genau. Daran muss es liegen. Oder es ist ihm egal. Kann auch sein.

Egal, mir entlockt die Szene vor der Migros Tag für Tag ein Lächeln.