A foreign exchange is often divided up into a time line. The first two months being the "honeymoon phase". I am going to quote Andrea again. This is from her blog and from her 2 month mark.
"Stage 1: "The Honeymoon" of Initial Euphoria/Excitement
-Excitement with new sounds, sights, smells
-Superficial involvement in the host culture (like a tourist)
-Intrigue with both similarities and differences between the new culture and your home culture
-Lots of interest in learning, very motivated & cooperative
-You feel like you will be able to handle anything--"I am not going to have any problems adjusting!" . ."
After the "honeymoon phase" comes the wonderful stage two. This next part is also from Andrea's blog.
Stage 2: "Culture Shock!"- Irritation/Hostility
-The novelty of the new culture has worn off, and you now focus primarily on the differences between the new culture and your home culture
-Small differences feel like major catastrophes!
-You become overly concerned with/stressed out by small personal problems and feel helpless and frustrated (you can’t make sense of the bus schedule, you don't have hot water in the mornings, you cannot access email from your home, the hours of school are weird, etc...)
-Stereotypes and prejudices surface: you feel like the host nationals are cold, unhelpful, snobbish, etc.
-You search out exchange student friends
-You are homesick (culture shock is a form of homesickness)!
-You miss your friends and family in Canada and to make matters worse, you hear that your high school football team is doing fantastic and the weather at home is glorious etc.""
So even though Germany is amazing and I can honestly say that I don't and so far never have regretted my decision, homesickness is the absolute worst feeling ever. It comes in the weirdest forms. Probably the most annoying (I'm not even sure if this is homesickness but it's a whine) is the fact that I am always tired. I sleep until like 7 and then come home from school and take a nap. Then by the time 8 o'clock hits, I am exhausted. I take a nap and I still yawn about 100 times a day. That kind of fits with homesick because the reason I am so tired is all this German. Listening to German (half of which you understand) and really having to try and understand simple sentences is draining. That's where all my energy goes. The other part that I hate is that hits at the most random times. There is an upside to it though (well actually two). The first one is that homesickness goes just as quick as it comes. All I have to do is go out with some friends, go do something with my host family, go for a walk or talk to another exchange student and I am not homesick anymore. The second and probably most useful upside to homesickness is that it's kind of a chick magnet. I have recently learned that when girls ask "how are you" and you say "eh a little bit homesick", it works better than any pick up line. Yesterday I put it to the test and I got three invites to do things this weekend and the next.
On to the next whine; the food. German food is amazing. So what's the problem there? Well the fact that it's really not healthy (like everything else delicious). The whole spiel about Germans eating nothing but pretzels and sausage is not true. Don't get me wrong, Germans love their Wurst and I have a Butterbrezel almost everyday. Things like Maultaschen, Rosti and Schnitzel are honestly so good and so addicting. I have been here for two months and I am starting to get a belly. I know what's causing it though. The two reasons that I am getting a belly are the unhealthy amount of Schoko-bons and the equally unhealthy amount of Döner. Schoko-bons are little chocolate eggs that are filled with something but I have no idea what. Döner is not even German but they are the most delicious things here. They are from Turkey. A lamb leg roasts on a vertical spit and then they slice it really thin. It goes onto a special role and add Döner sauce, lettuce, tomatoes and onions. It is kind of like the European equivalent of a sandwich. If you're really German, sauerkraut goes in too. Also, a balanced diet, practically non-existent. Trust me, I am not complaining about that part. Zwetschgenkuchen for breakfast, no problem. Everyone knows the food pyramid. Let me give you an idea of how food here works. The very tip is for the fatty/greasy foods. Here that little spot belongs to vegetables. The food group that people eat the least of. Next level on the pyramid is dairy and meat. Dairy can stay there but switch meat and fats and it fits. Below that is fruits and vegetables. Switch them out for meat and fruits and that's how it works. The bottom level, the one we are supposed to eat the most of/probably eat the most of is grains. Here, it's just bread. Bread is the entire base food group. Not only are there more than 200 types of German bread, bread is a legit meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Bread is a normal dinner. The warm meal here is usually lunch and dinner is just bread with some of a million toppings. There is lunch meats, cheeses, salamis, sausages, spreads, sweets, jams and of course butter. Unfortunately they have Jamón ibérico. They don't call it that but it is. It is a thinly sliced ham that I had in Spain. To be completely honest, I hated it in Spain and I hate it here. Usually I have bread with salami or plum jam. Of course I eat plain bread and butter quite often. So in the USA we have the normal loaves of bread and then the expensive artisan breads that you buy from Panera or from a legit baker. Here their bread is the expensive foreign kind, always. They call our normal white bread "Toast Brot" and they only time it is okay to eat "Toast brot" is when it is actually toast.
I was talking to another exchange student and she brought up the "freshman fifteen" and we decided that foreign exchange has that too. It's not only fifteen though, we call it the "foreign forty" and while forty may be a little high, there is a good chance it might happen.
On to the next part of this post. Exchange makes you simultaneously feel like a toddler and like a thirty year old. Like a toddler because you are always/immer/siempre/uvek tired. I already explained this but honestly taking naps in the middle of the day is becoming a habit. Also the last time that I had no idea what was going on was when I was a toddler. Feeling like you're 30 though is definitely better. For those of you who don't know, 16 is the their 21, literally. There are a lot of freedoms involved with being a teen in Europe but I don't want to give you all heart attacks so I wont mention them. I know that everyone is going to e-mail me demanding an explanation for that last part but relax, it was a joke. The public transportation here is amazing so teens don't need to rely on their parents to drive them all over and pick them up at all hours of the night.
To make up for all the whining, here is some good news. I get to spend Christmas in Austria. We're going on a ski trip to Solden, Austria. I am really looking forward to that. Then apparently we are going to Nordrhein-Westphalen again for New Year's. I really liked the NRW so I am glad that we are going back. Then in June I am spending 3 days in Berlin with all the other exchange students. Then I am home for like 2 days and then it's back to Berlin with my class. Also two things are maybes, maybe my family is going to visit for either Easter or Pentecost. Also maybe with AFS, you get to spend two weeks with a different family in a completely different region in Germany. I have mixed feelings about the second one but we'll see.
I feel like this post is too short so let's see what I can think of to fill up some space.
I would talk about school but I only need to write one sentence. Basically, it's horrible and I don't understand. That about sums it up. Actually I will talk more about school. Even though I may have no idea what is going on, school is honestly the best part of the day sometimes. I love going to school here (what has this country done to me?). While having German be the main language may not be the most fun thing in the world, having English be a second language comes pretty close. There are certain classes (Biology and German) that are so funny. Not that the class itself is interesting, just how everyone acts in those classes. In some classes, the class begins with everyone standing to greet/respect the teacher and in others it starts with cell phone conversations, throwing things and arguments. Here, when a teacher is sick or doesn't show up, there are no subs. The only thing that happens is that class is canceled. NWT for example, the teacher broke her legs and not only have I never had NWT but apparently we don't have NWT until February. That class is now free time.
I take really good notes in Math, Physik and Chemie. My notes are so organized and detailed and all around good. Unfortunately I have no idea what's in the notes, which makes them useless. Hopefully that will come with time.
Well I guess that's enough for this post. Except everyone keeps asking me what they should send for Christmas. Honestly, if you send me my Northface backpack and some Kraft Mac and Cheese, I would be quite content.