Bremen Christmas market at sunset

Around the time Thanksgiving came to an end in the USA, Germany seemed to dive headfirst into Christmas. All of a sudden, the whole town was decorated with lights and garland, the snow started falling and, of course, the Christmas markets opened up.

The German Christmas markets, called Weihnachtsmarkte, are known all around the world. Many towns attempt to imitate them, and it’s completely understandable. Between the stalls selling roasted almonds to snack on, Gl�hwein (mulled wine) to keep�you warm, and the giant Christmas trees, the atmosphere is just so wonderfully Christmas.

December 6 was St. Nicholas Day. Traditionally on this day in Germany, children set their shoes or socks outside the door or window, and at night St. Nicholas fills them with little gifts. Nowadays, they often get a little chocolate Weinachtsman, or Santa Clause. (Note that in Germany, St. Nick is not Santa Claus.) For my St. Nicholas day, our landlady had a party for the whole house, and she make pumpkin soup and Gl�hwein from scratch.

Also around Christmas time the days are shorter, and oh man are the days short here. The sun rises officially around 8:30 a.m. and sets around 4:00 p.m., which means you wake up and go to class while it�s still pitch black, and watch the sun rise in class. You come home in the dark, too. For comparison, in Golden, Colo., the sunrise is around 7:15 a.m. and sunset around 4:45 p.m. So it�s really only 1.5 hours less sunlight per day, but it feels like so much more.

Downtown Bremen decorated for Christmas

Speaking of Christmastime, last Thursday my family came to visit me! I was so excited to show them around Bremen for a little bit and then spend Christmas and New Year�s with them in southern Germany and Switzerland.

Christmas is also the halfway point of my time in Germany, and it really comes with mixed emotions. On one hand, it seems like forever since I have seen my friends and family; there’s no way it has only been six months. But on the other hand, I have made so many amazing friends here in Bremen and I�m not ready to leave them. There are also so many things left to experience! In the next six months, I get to spend two weeks around Europe with my family, take all my finals here in Bremen, and then I’ll be working for Bosch in a tiny town in southern Bavaria.

My new favorite quote is, “Exchange is not a year in your life, it is a lifetime in a year,” because it really feels like I have lived so much in the past six months.

There are still days where Chipotle, old friends and driving my car seem a ‘lifetime away,’ but I really do love living abroad. From the amazing new friends to the ‘unbelievable’ experiences, these past six months have been some of the best in my life. I’m excited to see what the next half of this amazing year holds.

Frohe Weihnachten und Rutsch ins Neue Jahr!