So, Friday night I took part in what is apparently a local Christmas tradition: the Lichterfahrt. It was a school-sponsored trip, on which about a half dozen teachers and me and the 12th-year students went. The order of events is roughly as follows (please keep in mind that this is a school-sponsored event, involving a bunch of students):
We get into the bus. They give us mulled wine to drink (it's a BYOB occasion - Bring Your Own Becher [cup]). We drive a couple of hours (having our wine refreshed periodically) to a Christmas market, where we can buy sausages and more mulled wine. We get back in the bus. They give us more mulled wine and start bringing out the beer (90 cents a bottle - good deal, but not as good as the free wine). They let us off at the beginning of a path through the woods (approximately 8pm, so pitch black now) and give us all torches. With fire. Actual fire. We walk through the woods to get to a cottage, where they have more mulled wine for us. Then we walk through the woods some more to get to a restaurant, where they give us food and beer. Then we are served more beer as we stand around a campfire. Then we get back on the bus, where they bring out more beer, because the wine is all gone. Then we go home.
So, summary: they get a bunch of high school students trashed, hand them fire, and send them through the woods in the middle of the night. I have no idea whose idea this was.
It was rather fun. You really would not believe how much better my German is after a couple-six glasses of the mulled wine (not going to discuss the beer, sorry, except to say that "helle Hefeweizen" or however it's spelled is delicious). When my improved German was combined with the students' improved English, and inhibitions were lowered all around, we wound up having an excellent time. I had a great discussion about gun control with a couple of them, and just generally goofed off all night mostly. I'm starting to actually make friends with a couple of them, which is odd, but kind of good. We decided that it'd be a good idea to start having English Club at a local bar/pub/brewery/what-have-you in the interests of lowering inhibitions (environmentally as well as chemically) and encouraging people to come.
It's strange how many school events are geared toward getting the students and teachers inebriated together (not just me - Clemens and Enrico and the other teachers present were all less than sober as well). I suppose it leads to greater comradery or some such.
Anyway. I woke up Saturday with a raging disease of some sort - sore throat, nasty cough, stuffy nose, etc. I went in to school today, but they told me to get some medicine and go home, so I wound up stopping at an Apothek (pharmacy, basically).
They're a bit different here than in the US. Instead of picking out what you want and paying, the store is basically just a room with a counter in it, and you go and tell the pharmacist what's wrong with you. She asks a few questions then picks out what you need and you buy it. It's kind of nice for indecisive people, as long as you can remember how to say "Help! I've coughed up one lung and can't afford to lose the other!" in German.