Thursday, September 30, 2010

"you've woken up again, you cant go back now. live. "

Last weekend was Oktoberfest and it was such an amazing time. It's not at all how I thought it would be. I just figured it to be a couple big beer halls filled with people drinking. It was like a huge fair. There were big lights, rides and little stands selling sausage, snacks and souvenirs. There were amusement park rides and carnival style fun-houses. We went on one of those rides where it takes you to the top and then drops you and we went into a fun-house and you stand against a wall in this circular room and it spins you around really fast. As it's spinning, the floor drops but the force keeps you against the wall. It was cool, I was like 7 feet off the ground and still stuck where I was. Don't get me wrong there were plenty of beer halls but there was a lot of other stuff too. The next day we went around the city and saw all the sites. I bought a lederhosen. It was definitely worth it.

This week has been a pretty laid back week. I come home from school and my host mom always helps me with my Deutsch homework. It's great to have someone to explain everything to you. I make way less mistakes on my homework and I understand way more of it.

Today I hung out with some friends after school again. We went bowling again but it was still fun. I don't really know what more to write here. I got my schedule today. I have school Monday, Tuesday and Friday until 12:45. On Wednesday I have class until 3 but I have a free hour in the middle of the day. On Thursday I have school until 5 but I have a two hour break.

My class schedule looks like this.

Monday
Deutsch/German
Deutsch/German
Englisch
Sport/Gym
break
Sport/Gym
Französisch/French

Tuesday
Art
Art
Math
Math
GWG/History, Social Studies and Geography

Wednesday
Französisch/French
Französisch/French
Religion
Religion
Englisch
Englisch
Break
Bio
Bio

Thursday
GMK/?
GMK/?
Physik
Physik
Deutsch/German
Break
Break
Chemie/Chemistry
Chemie/Chemistry
NWT/Something about nature
NWT/Nature thing again

Friday
Math
Math
NWT/nature again
NWT/nature again
Geschichte/History
Geschichte/History

I don't know how long each class is exactly but I think they are between 45 minutes and an hour.
I realizr this was not a very good update but I will try better next time. I keep putting off writing here and then I forget a lot of stuff that happens.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.”

It's been a little bit since I last updated but there has been a lot going on. I haven't had a lot of time to blog. Last weekend I went with my host brother, Philipp, to a circus weekend. On Friday we went by motorcycle (and not the European moped type motorcycle) to the next town over. Friday night was a work night but it was still fun. We organized everything and sorted through a whole lot of utensils, tents, stoves, gas and all other miscellaneous items. While we were sorting the knives, one kid tried to juggle a few of them. It didn't end too well for him. He walked around with his fingers in his mouth for the rest of the night so he didn't get blood everywhere. After that everybody played some variation of ping-pong. It was about 1 in the morning when we went to bed. We slept at the circus place in the loft part of the barn. The next day was a work day also. We basically just finished up all the projects that we started on Friday. At about 1, my host brother drove me home. He had to go back and help out with a juggling convention that night. I just hung out until about 6 or so. Then my host parents and I went to Tübingen to see the convention. Tübingen is so far my favorite city here. It has old European look to it. It has the old narrow and cobblestone type roads. It also has a bunch of little shops that are fun to look in. The convention didn't start until about 8 so we just walked around Tübingen. We picked a good day to go because there was a street market going on. I don't remember the name for the specific type of market it was but it basically sold German, French and Italian things. There was French bread, German cheese and Italian salami. They also had handmade items, crepes, decorations, toys and food. I got to try a lot of the different foods. I like the breads and the salami. They had so many types of bread and meat there. After we wandered the market for a little bit we went to the convention. It was one of the coolest shows I have ever seen. There was break dancing group that had like a 12 year old in it. This kid did the best break dancing I have ever seen. The whole group was good but it was cool to see a 12 year old break dancing. The focus of the convention was juggling so there were a lot of jugglers but they all did different things. The juggling looked so difficult. I don't know how to explain it but it was really fun to watch. After the show there was a fire show thing so we stayed to watch it. There was a fire-eater/fire-breather. I don't know the word for it but I think you guys know what I'm talking about. Again that was also really cool. In between the shows I tried to learn how to juggle. I am pretty bad at it but I really want to learn so we'll see how that goes. After the show we went to McDonald's (it was like 12:30, if there is ever a moment to make you feel American its a midnight McDonald's run).



On Sunday we had an AFS meeting. It was in a town about an hour away. I went with my host parents. The meeting was meant to introduce us with the other exchangers from our "district" and so we could meet our liaison. Your liaison is someone who is around your age that has recently gone abroad with AFS. They are the person we are supposed to go if we need help or just want to talk. The meeting was kind of boring but my host mom made these delicious muffins. They are chocolate but they have a ferrerro rocher thing in the center of it. We got our schedules with all the AFS events and meetings. There is a district event every month. In October we are going swimming in a hot spring, November is cookie baking, December is the Christmas party etc. Sunday after the meeting we came home and had a barbecue. It was really good. We had sausage, pork chops and then we had bacon on a stick (amazing).

Monday was kind of a typical day. I went to language school, came home and rested and then just kind of hung out.

Yesterday I had to take the train to Nürtingen instead of Metzingen (which I don't mind because the trains here are awesome). My host dad was at the hospital getting his had looked at and I met my host mom at the train station. Then we went to get some lunch, I got a book (in English) and we just walked around the shops until it was time to pick up my host dad. Then we came home and I did some homework. At around 6 I went out with my host brother and a couple of his friends. He is going on a class trip today, tomorrow and Friday so they had to go and get the food. We drove 45 minutes to the equivalent of a super-walmart. We took two of the giant carts (each one is the equivalent of 2 regular carts in America) and we filled them up. They had to buy over 200 things of yogurt. Grocery shopping took us about 3 1/2 hours and cost around 400 Euro. The thing that I could not get over was this was a school trip and the teacher in charge gave them a grocery list which included alcohol. They had to buy beer, wine and champagne. I guess its normal here to bring alcohol. The part that got me was that the teacher made the list. Then we came home (like 9) and had dinner. We had Belgian waffles that had bacon stuffed in the middle. It wasn't like the strips of bacon we have, it was like shredded bacon. Those waffles were so good. We had them again today for lunch.

Today was another day like Monday. I didn't really do much. I tried to go for a walk but I only ended up going about a block before I quit. I have been so exhausted lately. So I was going to take a nap but I updated this instead.

This rest of this week is really what I am looking forward to. Tomorrow I am hanging out with friends after language school. Then this weekend we are going to Munich for the Oktoberfest. I am really excited for Oktoberfest. We are spending Friday and Saturday there.

My German is actually getting better. It's not great but it's not terrible. I can understand some of the things that my host family says ( a lot more than I did when I first came here) and I can respond to more things in German now.

That's all I guess. I will update again when I am home from Munich.
video

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.”

Well this post was supposed to have some pictures on it but Blogger isn't letting me upload them. I have been in Germany since Saturday.

We will start with the plane ride. It wasn't that bad of a ride. It didn't seem like it was eight hours. I took a double dosage of Dramamine and slept through the whole thing. Once we arrived in Frankfurt, AFS Germany has a section of the Airport reserved just for arriving students. We were the first country to arrive so we waited and watched all the other students arrive. The people at AFS Germany color coordinated us according to what train we were taking (typical Germany). Of course the train going to Stuttgart was the last to leave so we had to wait like 5 hours. There were sandwiches and other food there for us to eat. Also they had bottled water but it was either mineral water or carbonated water (there is no regular bottled water here). We finally got to our train (it was an ICE train) and it was really cool. I had never been on a train before so it was cool.

I met my host family at the train station. They bought me a pretzel that was filled with melted butter. It was really good. Outside of the train station there was a huge protest going on. Apparently the mayor of Stuttgart wants to build an expensive new train station and destroy the old one (which is a beautiful old building). The people of Stuttgart are known to be the very easy going and very conservative so for them to get together and rally is apparently a big deal.

I came home to find big colorful signs that said "Herzlich Wilkommen" throughout the house. The house here is really cool. Everything is so modern and new. The floors are all made of marble (marble floors+indoor slippers=ultimate indoor slip and slide). My room is the coolest room I have ever been in. It is Africa themed and all from Ikea. There is a skylight above my bed that you can open and see around the city. If you push a button, outdoor blinds go down so the sun doesn't come in in the morning. That night we went out for ice cream. Ice cream here is so good. I had a huge sundae. We go out to get ice cream a lot here and we have chocolate at least three times a day.

That night we had a family game night. We played Tantrix which is kind of like dominoes but with colored lines. Then we played Schwimmen which is like the German version of the game 31. After that I went to bed (what everyone says about being exhausted when you meet your host family is definitely true). The next morning we had a typical weekend breakfast. We had Brotchen (rolls) with a ton different choices as toppings. There was nutella, butter, honey, sausage, ham, cheese, sausage salad and like 12 other choices. After the Brotchen we had eggs. They were like soft boiled eggs. I tried to use the knife/ring thing to cut it but I did it wrong and mine exploded all over the table. I was embarrassed but the whole family burst into laughter so I don't think they were mad.

The next day was Sunday and we went on a sightseeing trip. We drove around and saw the amazing scenery that makes up Southern Germany. There were all the mountains, the flowers, the little villages with the nice little homes. We went to a town that a had a bunch of little shops and cafes. It was nice and of course we had more ice cream. It was like 10 in the morning but that's normal. That is pretty much all I did that day.

Monday I started language school. Language school is so much fun. I got placed in a school about 30 minutes from Altdorf. It is in Reutlingen. The first day I went by car but now I go by train. The trains here are so cool. We need public transportation like that in the USA. There are no other exchange students. There are like 13 people but all of them are above 25. When I said I was only 16 everyone was so surprised. My language teacher called me her baby chicken. She talks to us like we are four years old. You know how when you talk to little kids you make that really high and calm voice. She uses that voice on us. Also she talks incredibly slow. Its like "Wooooo Woooohhhhnnnnennnnnn Siieeeeee?"

I am really surprised how patient my host family is. I follow them around and I ask "Mama, was ist das?" or "Wie heißt das auf Deutsch?". I always ask about things because everything is so different from America.

I will post more later. I have been on the computer way to much today.

Friday, September 10, 2010

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”

Part of the CBYX scholarship was to spend a couple days in Washington D.C. before we leave for Germany. Its basically a short orientation to get us ready for the next year. We go to one of the meeting rooms of the hotel and they give us lectures on German culture, how to fit in, and what rules we have to follow. The first day (Tuesday) was kind of pointless, we just sat around and waited for everyone to arrive. After that we had dinner and got to know our small groups. We all watched the movie Goodbye Lenin. It was a good movie but it stopped working at the end so we missed how it ended.

Yesterday we met with our Congressional Representatives but mine was on summer recess. I met with one of his staffers. She was pretty cool. She offered to give us a tour of the Capitol but we didn't have time to go. We also met with the department of state to talk about what it means to be an exchange student and future careers in foreign diplomacy. We went to the German embassy which was by far the best part of the day. The lady giving us the tour was a CBYX student a few years ago. It was cool because she gave us the best advice and told us some good hints. Another good part of the day was dinner. We went to a German restaurant and I had schnitzel. It was so good.

Today was the most boring day. We sat in the meeting room all day and learned about pointless stuff like journaling from abroad. The only good parts about today was the evening. We had a CBYX student from Germany that came a few years ago and now lives here come talk to us. He gave us good advice about the cultural differences between Germany and the USA. He gave us advice on the different mannerisms and the specific characteristics of a "typical" German. Then we had dinner. Since today was Eid as well as Rosh Hashanah we had the normal (and delicious) food that we normally have but we also had the typical festival food for both of those holidays.

Tomorrow we fly to Germany. I am pretty excited but I am definitely ready to go.

Tchuss.