If you couldn't tell from the title, this is going to be one of those sappy you don't know how good you got it posts. But don't worry, it will make a complete 180 and end with how great I currently have it.
Everyone knows how lucky they are to have a good family. Before exchange I knew I had a great family. They always put us first, no matter what (and I am not just talking about my parents). They allow me to go to a nice private school, they let me go to Europe three times in one year and they let me move across the world for a whole year, even though they were 100% against me leaving (the truly amazing part of all this though is the fact that they floated the bill for all three of those things).
Everyone says that exchange really puts things in perspective and boy did they hit the nail on the head with that one. Today I got a package from home. It was the package from my aunt Anita that contained some Christmas presents. Thanks to the fact that the USPS puts how much the box cost to ship right on the box, I saw how much they paid for the box. And transatlantic shipping ladies and gentlemen, is not cheap. This isn't even the first box either. My parents have sent stuff, my Oma has sent stuff and so has my Aunt Anita. The boxes are filled with American candy, junk food from home or things from the USA. Back to today's box. Getting boxes from home is just a great feeling. It kind of says "hey we haven't forgot about you and we still miss you". So when I saw that I had a package from home something just clicked like "wow dude, you are probably one luckiest kids around". How many families repeatedly spend so much money to send some comforts from home to their nephew or grandson.
Looking back on it, I could have done way more to help out. Was keeping my room clean really that hard? Did I really need to complain when my mom asked me help out around the house? None of those things really were that hard. Especially considering all the things my parents did for me. My mom would literally drive out to Williamsville at midnight to pick me up from a friend's house and did I seriously complained the few times she asked if I would make Drew pasta before football practice? I am not trying to sound snobby and pull the whole "I went to Europe and got all sophisticated and mature" thing because honestly right now my room is a mess and I still have a mess of thank yous to dish out.
I do however seriously miss my family. I miss constantly reminding Oma of how verrückt she is and making her say bitte for everything. I miss constantly beating Oma and Opa at euchre (when you read this please remember I am just kidding). I miss going over and having Friday fish fries from the Meeting Place and just hanging out. I miss Opa going out of his way to embarrass me in Tim Hortons/trying to set me up with a complete stranger in front of her parents. I miss constantly joking around with Opa. I miss being home. I miss not being able to watch the new tv because Drew plays Call of Duty like it's his day job. I miss coming home from school and knowing for a fact there would be left over pizza and wings in the fridge. There is really no way to explain what I miss about my parents. I just miss having them around. I miss going over to Aunt Anita and Uncle Rick's and raiding their fridge because they ALWAYS have good food around. I miss how whenever I was trying to be polite and said I wasn't hungry, Aunt Anita knew I was lying and made food anyway. I miss making homemade pasta with Grandma and knowing that whenever I need advice that I should ask her. I miss the jokes from Grandpa and knowing to go to him if I need help with anything.
Somewhere in the middle of the that last paragraph, it suddenly dawned on me how long a year really is.
That being said, I have a great host family too. Most exchange students don't get to go to Oktoberfest in Munich and then 2 months later to the Weihnachtsmarkt in Nuremberg. As if that wasn't enough. We are going spending Christmas skiing in the Austrian Alps. Apart from all that stuff though, my host family is really like a second family to me. You'd be surprised how close you can get to people in 3 months. They put up with my (sub-paar) attempts at speaking German, the fact that I can clean my room on Sunday and by Tuesday it's messy again and they put up with me on those days where I am homesick and grouchy (not always the greatest task). I know I already talked about it but I made a list of the foods I missed from the USA on a recent blog post and I am pretty sure we had every single one of them within a week. We are always having "family movie night" or playing some sort of board game together. They go out of their way to make my year better and it's really great.
"The family - that dear octopus from whose tentacles we never quite escape, nor, in our inmost hearts, ever quite wish to." ~Dodie Smith
Today I am in a really good mood. I just finished watching "Goodbye Lenin", which is probably the most famous German movie ever made. We watched it at orientation in D.C. and I had to rely on the subtitles. I just watched it with no English subtitles and I understood it. I may not have gotten every word but I understood most of it. I turned on the German subtitles but it is still a major accomplishment. Also I just answered the door and had a decent conversation with the lady there. Usually when the doorbell rings or the telephone rings, I give up and let someone else do it but I actually understood her and what she wanted. I don't know if I am going to keep this post. I might delete it. I don't know if I like how I worded everything in this post, we'll see.
Also if you're interested I created a new album on shutterfly for my pictures from Ireland. The web address is http://michaelsyearingermany.shutterfly.com/573. I will create one for Spain soon.