Tuesday, April 12, 2011

“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things - air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky - all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.”

Usually I start these posts with that I have done in the week but we're gonna switch it up for this one. 

Anyone who regularly reads this blog has probably noticed the two recurring themes here. The first one is me embarrassing myself in front of the Germans and the second is me repeatedly forgetting my house key. This morning was one of those times where they both happened at the same time.

I slept in until about noon and got up cleaned my room, did about 4 loads of laundry and took out the trash. I grab the waste basket and walk outside to the big bins. Of course the door closes behind me. I was still in my pajamas so I didn't have my key with me. It rained earlier in the day so all the windows were closed (of course). The other 7 times I have forgotten my key, I had to either wait for someone to come home or walk across town and get the spare key. This time however, I tried a more creative approach. I made a long device type thing to reach in and unlock the door. It took about 20 minutes but eventually it worked. I looked up after about 10 minutes and realized that a good number of our neighbors were watching me from their windows. I'd say about half of them had the "oh look, that foreign kid forgot his key again. You'd think he'd learn by now." look on their face. The other half had more of the "is that kid breaking into that house?" expression.

I thought I would give a little advice to the future exchange students. There is one phrase that can get you out of almost every tough situation you get yourself into when you're an exchange student. I'm sure all the other exchange students know exactly which sentence I am talking about here. 

"Oh I'm sorry but I'm an exchange student... I didn't know..."

 

Some of the best situations to use it in are


"Wait, I was supposed to sit through that 3 hour school assembly too?"


"Wait, we are supposed to go back to school after the lunch break?"


"What, that was for a grade?"

and perhaps the most widely used one

"are you serious, we have to pay and buy a ticket for the train here?!" 


Usually once you tell the person that you are an exchange student they get so excited that you are taking an interest in their country that they either forget about it or just let you go. 


I have been here for about 8 months and I just learned the other day that there is a beach down the street from my house. There is a lake down the street with an actually decent sand beach. It's been like 80 for the past 2 weeks so everybody has been hanging out at the beach. I went with a group of friends to the beach last Thursday. Just a word to the wise but when your German friends say "let's show him FKK!", make sure you know what that is or else the nude beach might catch you a little off guard. Nude beaches and parks are surprisingly popular here. Everyone was so surprised when I said that we don't have nude beaches back home. We went back to the regular beach and did some fishing, barbecuing and just kind of relaxed. 


Here's some more future exchange student advice.The age to go to night clubs in Germany is 16. Chances are if you are over 16, you will probably go to the diskos pretty often. Obviously you have to show your id at the gate to prove your age but they're pretty picky about what kind of id they will take. It's supposed to be some kind of government issued id (ideally a passport). It usually can't be a school id or even the one that AFS gives you. The best bet would be to use either your license or your passport. You have to give your ID to the bouncer and then you get it back when you leave. You probably shouldn't give away your passport so my advice would be to get one of those passport cards. It's kind of like a plastic ID card of the photo page of your passport. That way nothing happens to your passport. Also remember to wear long pants. Some diskos won't let you in if you are wearing shorts. 

This week is the BOGY week for the 10th grade at my school. BOGY week is when the students all get to shadow at a job for a week. You can pick whatever job you want and then you just go and shadow there for a week. It's supposed to show the students what the job is really like. I don't have to shadow anywhere this week so I just go and sit in the 9th grade classes with 2 other kids who did their BOGY a few weeks ago. This is the most pointless week ever. I just watch the 9th graders assemble their paper airplane armies and reenact scenes from World War II. I don't mind though because without a BOGY, I get out of writing that 7 page essay. 

One more thing that I don't understand about Germans is how they deal with temperatures. It has been between 75 and 85 everyday this week and they still wear their jackets and scarves. I go outside in shorts and a tshirt and am still warm. I don't understand how they can go outside in a jacket and scarf. I don't know if it's them trying to be fashionable Europeans or if they actually want to wear that. 

We're having guests over for Easter break so we painted the living room this weekend. They have been talking about this visit since September so I'm glad it is finally happening. 

Yesterday we went to Burg Hohenzollern (the new pictures on shutterfly). I don't have any pictures of the whole castle but here is one from wikipedia.

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hohenzollern_Castle

It's an old Prussian castle on top of a mountain in southern Germany. You can take a tour around the inside and see all the different rooms and decorations. The castle is huge. You have two options. You can either take the shuttle bus up the mountain or you can take the scenic hike. We took the hike and my legs were killing me. There is a reason they have a bus option. The castle was cool though. You had a great view from the top.

I guess that's all for this one. I'll try to post one more time before Easter. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

“All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.”

I have had this blog tab open for over an hour now but I haven't felt like writing anything.

We got back from back from Frankfurt yesterday. Make sure to look at the pictures from Frankfurt on Shutterfly (http://michaelsyearingermany.shutterfly.com/22), they are definitely worth it. 

I had school Friday and got home at about 1. I then realized that we were leaving for Frankfurt in like 2 and a half hours and I have no clean clothes to pack. I quickly threw my clothes into the washer and had enough time to skype with my parents. I finished packing about 3 minutes before we left and surprisingly, I didn't forget anything. 

It's about 2 hours and 20 minutes from here to Frankfurt but luckily we stopped at Ikea to break up the time a little bit. I don't mind the car trips because we always stop at one of two places. We either stop at Miss Pepper's; an American 1960's themed diner (with American food, Gott sei dank) or at Ikea. If we stop at Miss Pepper's then I usually get some sort of cheeseburger. Stopping at Ikea means Köttbullar (Swedish meatballs) almost every time. My host parents like going there because it's the only place around with all you can drink coffee. Free refills are unheard of Germany. The closest Ikea at home is in Pennsylvania so I had never been to one before. They are coolest stores ever. They have almost everything imaginable. We walked around in Ikea for a little bit then drove the rest of the way to Frankfurt. 

We went to Frankfurt to visit friends of my host family. We got there at about 7 and had dinner and just hung out. We had Frankfurters and Bratkartoffla for dinner. We sat around and talked for a couple of hours then went to bed. 

We went all around the city on Saturday. I think Frankfurt might be my favorite big city in Germany. Everything was so picturesque in Frankfurt. Frankfurt is one of the few places in Germany with skyscrapers. It's the banking capital of Germany and there are over 300 banks in Frankfurt. It's kind of like a smaller version of NYC except it's German so it's remarkably clean and not so chaotic.

We started by taking pictures along the Main (pronounced mine) River. After that we went up the Maintower (round blue building in the pictures on shutterfly) to view the city from above. It was sunny and warm so you could see the whole city. Germany has quite a few places to climb up and see the cities. There is at least one in every good sized city. After that we went and got lunch.After lunch we saw the Römerberg in Frankfurt. The Römerberg is the section of Frankfurt that was settled by the Romans.


Then we took a trolley on a sightseeing trip around the city. We had a 30 minute break in the middle of the trolley tour and I went and slept under a tree. It was over 80 and I was wearing jeans so I was hot and exhausted. We went home after the tour and had dinner. Again we just kind of hung out and relaxed. We were only home for about an hour and then Philipp and I drove back into Frankfurt to take pictures of the skyline at night. There is only a certain time where the colors are perfect so we had to be there right on time. 


We were there for about 2 hours taking pictures. It was kind of the like "The Amazing Race". First we were on the ultimate scavenger hunt for a parking place and we ended up parking so far away that we had to full out sprint to the bridge to get there on time. The pathetic part is that it was like maybe a block or two and I was still like dying on the ground after running. That's probably when you should lay off the döner and German chocolates. I got to speak English with someone from London though. It's always nice to speak a little English once in a while. Then we just went home and went to bed.


We took a tour of the airport on Sunday. I flew into Frankfurt airport when I arrived and I fly out of Frankfurt when I leave. It was weird to be back in the airport because it was brought back all the memories of arriving in Germany but also made me think about going home. It was also the first time that my host family talked about plans for my departure. Then it really hit me. I knew that I was going home in July but yesterday when everyone was talking about it, it really hit me like a ton of bricks. 


The tour of the airport was really cool. They take you down on the landing strip to watch the planes take off and land. We drove back home (home as in Stuttgart this time) after the airport tour. 


Today I just went to school, updated the pictures on shutterfly and wrote this blog; nothing exciting. 


If there is good weather tomorrow, we are going to Schloss Lichtenstein. It's an old castle not to far from here. I don't have pictures of it but here are some from wikipedia.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lichtenstein_Castle

I guess that is all for this post.