All of this to say, you'll get no apology from me for being so long gone. The two and a half weeks that I have been in Germany have been full of touring, parties, bureaucracy, shopping, classes, being lost, and making new friends. I have been to Heidelberg twice, I've spent evenings in two different Irish pubs and I've tasted Norwegian cheese. I've been homesick, I've Skyped to North Carolina and London and I've strolled through a museum full of de-skinned animals.
Mannheim is a city in which people live. It isn't touristy like Heidelberg and it isn't a metropolis like Frankfurt. It's quiet and unassuming, but I rather like that. It's the place you come back to after having an adventure. The city is terribly dog friendly - dogs are welcome in most establishments. Cigarettes are available from dispensers at most street corners. The amount of American music that plays in shops and restaurants is astounding. American pop culture has truly permeated the world. More's the pity. The city is outrageously clean and the convenience of the public transport system out shines every large American city I've visited/lived in. Funny enough, this does not seem to encourage most people to leave their cars home.
It's taco night at a new friends' apartment, so I'll be headed out of my place again shortly. I hope you all know how much I love you and that, while I am having such a great time here, I will be more than delighted to be home in December, giggling over coffee with you while we tell tales about our past five months.