**In other exciting news, the girl in the purple is Yvonne and she will be tutoring me :)
So here's a recap of my holidays:
This is our tree. My roommates and I opened gifts on the 23rd. We stayed up late and had lots of fun together.
On Christmas eve (which is the main day of celebration), I went with the Shareski's to the Christuskirche (Christ Church) for one of their services. It was packed so we ended up standing in the back. Christuskirche is a beautiful old church building with a large dome roof and intricate details in stain glass, frescoes, statues, organ and so on. There was an orchestra and choir which made it so enjoyable to listen to. Afterwards we went to Stephen and Uli's place. This is their lovely tree.
Hop on the funny train - we're about to get started!
Ruth and Ralph enjoying opening gifts.
This is Uncle Larry playing the piano- he can't read music but he was playing songs that we had heard for the first time at the service - AMAZING!!!
If you've ever met Larry, you'll know why I'm laughing so hard. He just has a way of phrasing things :)
I also got a trip here with the Shareski's as one of my Christmas gifts!!
I had a blast - Thanks Ruth and Ralph!
Moving right along to Christmas day. I spent the day in..
...with my roomate Judith and her family. We enjoyed Raklet together. Each person has a tray to fill with whatever you like and then you put cheese on top and place it in the middle which is like an oven. The top is used to grill toast, meat and vegetables. It's a great meal for the holidays because it takes a long time, you get to talk lots and of course it's delicious.
They also served Ostrich meat. I really liked it. It pretty much reminded me of steak.
Then Judith showed me around her town.
Here's the castle.
Alzey is a place with a rich and preserved heritage thanks to this tower. Alzey is known for this tower because during WWII, bombers would always aim for the church since it was usually the center of the town. They built this tower in the middle of their fields and turned all the lights in their town off. So when the bombers came, they destroyed this tower mistaking it for the church and the town was left untouched. They rebuilt it as a monument. Pretty smart I'd say!
Here's a little sign that made me think of my Dad. This one's for you.
Here's something German.
You light incense and leave it in the middle of this guy and the smoke comes out from his pipe.
New Years I spent with a bunch of my girlfriends. We made crepes - mmm mmm mmm.
This is Louise and I. She used to lead the dance team. It has been a pleasure to learn from her experience and to dance with her while she is in town. (Someone said something that shocked me, hence the crazy face.)
This is my closet full of cards and love from all my friends back home and abroad. Thank you. I find it all very encouraging.
It has been snowing a lot this past week. I felt like I was experiencing snow for the first time because as you might see from this blurry picture that their snowflakes are actual shapes. They are so clear and huge and intricate. It also falls so perfectly. I feel like I've been living in a magical snow globe. Apparently all this snow is unusual for Mannheim but I am fully embracing it!
Lastly, I am the proud owner of this orchid. I've wanted one since I came here and I finally bought one. I really hope I can take good care of it and that it will last. I'm scared of killing it because it's just so beautiful. It has brought me great joy and it's just what my room was missing.