Sauen, Germany

Where is Sauen? Middle of nowhere in east Germany. What is there? Nothing, except 100 houses, three horses, 10 sheep, and one really fat cat. Why was I here? School.

After a weekend in Berlin, my class and I headed to this remote town for a week workshop. The point of the workshop was to take a look at the creative process. In the mornings we met for a discussion about some texts, then in the afternoon we sat in the woods and drew pictures of our surroundings. The idea was to see how we can represent our spot in the woods in different ways, and what are the similarities and differences between the images, and how do they change over time, and just if we can discover something. I’m not one hundred percent convinced it worked. For one, it was cold out there, and we were supposed to draw in the cold, in the woods. And, we would be released at 14:00 to go to the woods, but the sun went down at 16:00, so we didn’t actually have that much time. I don’t really care though, because the week was a great opportunity to bond with my classmates.

One catalyst to the classmate bonding was that the staff at the place we were staying were so ridiculous. We were staying at a building that the art schools of Berlin own, and they had a small staff of house managers and cooks to maintain it and support us. I honestly couldn’t understand their German that well, but my classmates translated for me. The most absurd event that happened, in my opinion, involved the kitchen staff.

My classmate Dieter is typically vegan, and had also been experimenting with a raw diet before this trip. Since food options were limited, he adjusted his diet to make it easier for the kitchen staff, and of course himself, and chose to eat the vegetarian options. For breakfast though, he ate his own fruit that he brought with him. We were charged for the meals we ate, so this meant Dieter didn’t pay the 2.50 euros for breakfast. He came downstairs one morning and asked a kitchen lady for a knife to cut his apple with, to which she responded with “no, why should I? You aren’t buying my breakfast, and if you use my knife, I have to wash it. So you’re making me work but not paying me.” Eventually he convinced her to let him use the knife, but seriously it was a knife? Literally the easiest thing to clean in the kitchen. Plus, it’s not like she was doing our dishes by hand, she had an industrial dish washer that cleans everything in 45 seconds.

Throughout the week, the food digressed slowly from reasonable to “wait, what?” It wasn’t that the food was bad, but in combination with the cranky service, our tolerance was waning. Basically, they would serve what wasn’t eaten at the previous meal in the next meal. So you didn’t finish the boiled potatoes for lunch? How about potato casserole for dinner? The best meal by far was the last lunch before we left. Which was a boiled potato, two fried eggs, and the biggest pile of cooked spinach I had ever seen. Even Popeye would say “what’s that? I don’t like that…”

To stop picking on the cooking staff, I’ll switch to the housing staff. After we had checked out of our rooms, we were presenting our final art projects in a seminar room. During the presentation the housing guy came in, interrupted the presentation that was happening, and listed a number of rooms that were not properly cleaned, and therefore those people had to return to the rooms and clean them properly for the cleaning staff. Some of things that warranted this interruption? Pencil shavings. Someone had to go back and pick up pencil shavings from the floor, because apparently they don’t believe in vacuums?

Anyway, it was actually a fun trip. The staff was amusing in their absurdity, and I think it makes for interesting reading. Though, I don’t think I was ever so excited to get back to Switzerland, I would of walked back to Berlin.


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