Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Never let life's hardships disturb you ... no one can avoid problems, not even saints or sages."

So usually when trying to decide on a quote for the top of my blog, I open up the document that I have saved and just copy and paste the next on my list. I just pick them because they sound cool and I pick them at random. The quote at the top of this post was unfortunately not picked at random. My host family is going through one the worst hardships of life right now. I came home from school yesterday to find out that my host grandpa (the one who as of recently had been living with us) had died. He was my host mom's father and had been living with us for the past few weeks.

I thought maybe it would be a good idea to say a few things about him. To start off, he was the kind of guy who was always cracking jokes and lightening the mood. To be completely honest, I think being a jokester goes hand and hand with being an elderly German. I have never met a single grouchy one. He didn't treat me like I was a "guest" in the family which I am always cautious about when meeting extended family because they weren't the ones who agreed to host me. One thing I was worried about before I came was what to call the grandparents here. I call my grandparents at home "Oma" and Opa" so I thought that calling my host grandparents "Oma" and "Opa" would be weird. It didn't bother me with mom and dad because I don't call my parents at home Mutter/Mama and Vater/Papa. Needless to say on the first day he moved in, I called him Opa. At first he had a look of confusion but then I think he was very happy that I referred to him as Opa. He was very grandpa-ish, he gave me money before I even met him and gave me huge bars of chocolate. He was a really great guy and I know that he will be missed. The funeral is Saturday and I get to meet the rest of the extended family (they all live up North) but unfortunately this is not exactly the way I would have liked to meet them.

Yesterday the Minister came over to help out and just talk. She said some prayers and did some other things that you would expect the Minister to do but I think it was good that she stayed so long and just chatted and helped out with all the arrangements. She helped deal with all the funeral arrangements and the other things that had to be taken care of which I am guessing was a big help.

So does anyone else remember that post a few weeks ago where I talked about taking that Physics test and did HORRIBLE on. Well unfortunately we got them back today. I did how I thought I did on it. I got one point. One point which wasn't even for answering a question right. It was for spelling my name right. Thank God this didn't really count. Then I came home and at the dinner table my host mom was like "I heard about your Physik test?". Apparently the kids from my class were talking about it in the technology room where my host brother overheard and then came home and shared my embarrassment with the rest of the family. I can't say that I really mind though. Everyone is so nice about it. Everyone is always like "you are still learning German, how can you take a physics test?". So I went from having my 9th grade history teacher tack my test on the board and write "Child Prodigy" under it to being the kid that everyone talks about for having the IQ of roadkill, great. That was a real spirit breaker. In case you're still wondering, I HATE PHYSICS!

I do on the other hand love the German school system more and more all the time. Yesterday I had religion which may very well be my favorite class here. I still don't understand it though. Not that I don't understand the material but I don't understand the class. I think I have heard the word "God" maybe 3 times in the past 3 months and the same goes for "Church". We're still learning about the Holocaust. Yesterday however, she brought in the game "Twister" and we played that for like an hour and a half. I was especially surprised because this is a co-ed class and everyone knows playing Twister with boys and girls is just asking for things to become inappropriate. The teacher even played a round of Twister. I got to play a round and my Twister skills are barely better than my Physics skills but we will leave it at that. Yesterday we also played "activities" which is a game like pictionary (at least I think it is, I have never played Pictionary) and you have to explain an item and the rest of the team guesses what it is. Luckily, the class ended before I had to explain anything.

On to Biology which is always great. Yesterday was the first time since I have been here that I have been in trouble in class. I whispered something to the girl next to me and the teacher was like "and to our American guest, STOP TALKING". Yes she referred to me as "American Guest" so in the rest of this story I will refer to her as "the Cap'n" (she is Captain Seeman from the last post). Sorry Frau but what's fair is fair. So she told me to stop talking and I did. So then our class was acting rambunctious (in Biology, this is not surprising) and she started reciting "the speech". Every student knows what speech I am talking about. The "you guys are such good kids, I don't know why you misbehave like this. This behavior is unacceptable." speech. The same speech that teachers across the globe give but it never seems to actually work. So in the middle of her speech, one girl pulls out a can of axe and starts spraying it in the air; something that the Cap'n has warned repeatedly about. So I snickered a bit (about the axe thing not the speech) but it was silent so it just looked like I was grinning. She was like "Michael stop laughing, this is not a laughing matter." Everyone else was like actually laughing and I was just grinning but alright Cap'n. . We seem to have this whole rivalry thing going on. I still love this class though.

Surprisingly enough Physik today was not completely bad. We watched Mickey Mouse for half of it. Apparently our teacher likes Mickey Mouse. I am clearly not complaining though, the less Physics in my life; the better. We watched the little mini segments with Donald Duck. Let me just say that Donald's voice+German= impossible to understand. Another thing, German Donald Duck has a little bit of a language problem. He was dropping the d-word like it was nobody's business. Nevertheless, it was still funny.

One thing that I really missed from home was Yoplait Yoghurt. I ate it all the time at home and it doesn't exist here. I remember reading at home that the Yoplait company is in France and Kevin lives right on the border with France. So a few weeks ago he bought an entire case of Yoplait Yoghurt in France and brought it here. It was amazing. Unfortunately it is practically gone now. The people who live near the border are France (I think) go to France quite often to get groceries and fill up with gas. It is quite a bit cheaper and thanks to the EU there are no border checks or anything between EU countries.

Also I found out earlier this week that my half-time orientation for CBYX will be held in February in a town on the Rhine. I am excited for that because apparently the land/cities along the Rhine are gorgeous and breathtaking. I can't wait for that. It's in a town called Bad Honnef if anyone wants to look it up on Google Earth.

Germany has turned me into a total movie junkie. At home, the nearest movie theatre was like 35 minutes away and I was to lazy to go to the store to rent them so I never watched movies. I watch so many movies here. DVD's are so cheap here too (only thing in Germany that's cheap). I found a bunch of good movies for 5 Euros. I bought The Hangover, Ein Duke Kommt Selten Allein (Dukes of Hazzard), Selbst ist die Braut (the Proposal) and Marley und Ich (Marley and Me). The next movies I want to buy are Goodbye Lenin and An Kurzeren Ende der Sonnenallee (On the Little end of the Sonnenallee). They are both actual German movies.

I got another question but I only have one to answer this time. The question was "why do you like living in Germany more?"
It's just the way Germany is. There is always something to do, the villages are so great, the food is amazing and the lifestyle is so much more appealing to me. In the little villages everything is closed on Wednesdays and Sundays and for a few hours in the middle of the day. The people always say hi to each other when they see someone in the street (and not just people they know). I also really like that the parents trust their kids. Teenagers get so much more freedom here than they do in the USA. And obviously the German chocolate has nothing to do with this decision.

I got an email yesterday from someone applying for the CBYX scholarship and he said that the CBYX people gave him my blog to read. That's kind of cool that the scholarship people gave out my blog to read. It's great that the number of readers is always going up!

That's all for this one. I'll try to post one more time before 2011 but I don't know if that will happen.

1 comment:

  1. oo! Bad Honnef! Are you coming to visit Bonn and the Beethoven house? I've been placed in a little town right by Bad Honnef/Bonn and it's absolutely beautiful. Oh, and five minutes from my house is the original Haribo Factory. But no big deal ;)

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