11 July, 2007

For a mpls sop: things I have learned about Europe so far

1. Pack less than you need, but pack for all seasons. It's summer here. What was the weather today and this whole past week? Low 60s and raining with a lot of wind, so it felt like mid-50s.
Bring some sort of hoodie or jacket, a rain poncho and a tiny umbrella--and of course scarves--singers always wear scarves!

Even though my closet has 4 summer dresses in it, numerous cute tops and skirts, a long sleeved shirt or two, and 2 pairs of capris, one pair of black pants and 3 pears of jeans I have so far over the past week worn:
1 skirt with leggings underneath and my hoodie, the same pair of jeans every other day with a long sleeved shirt and a light rain trench over it--so who cares what shirt I was wearing anyway--and a pair of black slacks with a nicer shirt for the first day of class.

So I could have done without the 4 other pairs of pants I brought, and two pairs of jeans (skinny and flare!) and many of the cute shirts I brought that I'm currently hiding under heavier outerwear.

Bring something for performances-- I have a cute black dress that doesn't wrinkle that I can go "bohemian" with if I add leggings and a scarf since it's so cold. Plus the scarf can work as a wrap instead of a raincoat.

Oh, and shoes? Black ballet flats that I can either dress down w/jeans or a skirt, or still get by wearing a black dress with for standing room at the Opera. I have a pair of heels for auditions, and I brought sneakers (which I try not to wear unless hiking up to some castle in the mountains). Just what you need. You don't need a brown pair and a black pair, and if you do-- bring less clothes!

2. Pack less MUSIC than you think you'll learn. OR make photocopies instead of bringing full scores.
I have 2 scores that I need to learn here, and two 1.5 inch binders of arias and other music I'm working on. I don't need anything else, and if I did, I could probably get a friend to fax it or pdf it to me--so no need to lug heavy books around because you "should" or "could" be learning such and such a role for some point in life.

3. Buy train tickets NOW if you know when you want to travel (or look into the Eurail pass). I didn't have my act together and wasn't sure which weekend I wanted to go to Berlin. Well, now I want to go this weekend and round trip tix are 210 euros! So---I don't think I"m going to go. It was just for a visit- not an audition- but still, I wanted to travel there. And if I had booked the ticket early and online (you have to print it out on A4 paper...but the train conductors don't care that much if it's not), then I could have gotten a "specialpreis" and gone for about 30-50 Euros each way. BOOO.

4. Adapters and computers. There are internet cafes in every big city ranging from 2Euros-4 Euros an hour. I brought my laptop anyway because I have an apt. with internet connection.
In terms of adapters, I bought a little extension adapter (just one), and there are normally only 1 or 2 outlets free in most rooms anyway, so I alternate between plugging my computer in, plugging my phone in (that's German anyway, so it has the correct plug), plugging my ipod into my computer to charge it, and I have a dual hairdryer that is pretty sweet, except I blew out the fuse in it by turning it on HIGH on day one!!! So. No high powered things, and I got by with just that 5 dollar radio shack or target adapter. No need for a whole power strip to convert into the electricity here I think.

5. Tip/(VAT) is included most everywhere I've been in Germany. Also in Vienna. You have to look at the bottom of the bill, and it will also say at the bottom of page 1 of the menu if it's included or not. Don't be the dumb American that leaves 20 percent on top of that.

6. Stores/Restaurants like to have exact change. If something costs 19.80 Euros they'll always ask you if you have .80 cents if you give them a larger bill and not the exact 19.
It's annoying, but a good way to get rid of change! They look at you like you're crazy if you try to break a large bill like 50 Euros on something that cost 10...so when you exchange money see if they'll give you small bills.

6a.- don't think about the exchange rate. It's horrible, and just try to imagine everything in dollars, because you'll come out poorer either way. If you are trying to dissuade yourself from buying something then think of it as : a meal that costs 30 Euros (2 people, central Munich dinner last night) was really 30 plus half of 30 (15)--so it costs 45 dollars. That is a LOT. Maybe I won't eat out ...ever...again!

7. If your German is good enough to ask for directions in German, you'd better hope it's also good enough to understand a GERMAN's German when they answer you in German!!! Otherwise, ask, (in German), if they speak English. Or continue on in the direction of the hand pointing and ask again somewhere closer to your final destination.

8. HandM is evil and everywhere. Stop buying cute sweaters, blouses and dresses there...wait, that tip was for me.

9. Give yourself time to wander around alone, and don't feel pressured to be the tourist all the time. I've been here for a week now and just walking around every afternoon after class for a few hours, I have a "place" for tea, a corner I like to people watch, a "local" Indian place that I go to...get lost and explore outside of the touristy sections. It's cheaper!

10. Bring a student ID if you still have one to get into almost everything for half price or a Euro or two less.

11. Wasser OHNE gas! (Unless you like that bubbly crap).

That's all I can think of for now.
Happy trails to you!!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, great post! This is all really helpful. Thank you! Hope you are having a great time! - a MPLS sop