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.


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. 

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