Saturday, December 29, 2012

Coffee and Cigarettes

Here's to a fantastic November!

I've made great friends who I can't even think about leaving, School is getting better, my host family is amazing as usual, and I have a social life once more!

Every weekend & Freitag night I've gotten together with one or more of my friends and hung out. Almost every time has begun on Freitag night, and ended on either Samstag or Sonntag morning.

My deutsch is getting better by the day. I write 90% of the time in deutsch with a few englisch words thrown in. I'm not entirely speaking yet, but when I can I do. I can understand more than ever, but class is still incredibly difficult to decipher, as as of yet I haven't done much in any class aside from Englisch, simply because I can't figure out what's going on.

It's getting colder and darker, and during every pause my friends and I all go outside to the bus stop to smoke and it's always eiskalt!!!!! I'm becoming an avid train traveler, though I haven't been on a bus in Pulheim yet. I walk pretty much everywhere I go, Bahnhof, town, ect.

I ended up going to the doctor last week after my wrist had been hurting for a solid week. Found out I have a ganglion cyst (i believe that's how you spell it) and since then I've had to wear a wrist brace, which I'll include a picture of. Now I've noticed a similar bump on my other wrist and I'm a little worried. I go back to the doctor next week so I'll have him look at my other wrist while I'm there.

On the 15th I'm going to Koblenz to meet up with my very first family. I'm very excited, we're going to a Christmas market!

Last week on Donnerstag night I got a little ambitious and took a pair of scissors and cut my hair shorter, it looks really good, I'm very happy with it.

In other news I'm switching to a different Englisch class where three of my friends are, hopefully. I still can't really read Deutsch, only conversational Deutsch and simple things. I'll try to get a picture of my scheduled posted at some point, it's pretty crazy.

So now since I have Phsyik frei I'm going to get some things done, mostly reorganizing my binder and the massive pile of papers on my desk I've been meaning to sort through.

And a quick shout out to the WONDERFUL Jordan who sent me a box of goodies including RING POPS(!!!!!!), a sweater, and something to write it!!!! I LOVE it, danke sehr!!!! 

Guten morgen all those in the USA!

Fairly Deutsch ;)

(bad quality sorry)



Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Time Skips

You might hate me for what I'm about to do, but honestly I don't have the motivation/time/energy to write out the whole story so I'm summarizing.

Fehmarn: Final Days

So after hearing that news from my area rep I spent the next day pretty much avoiding everyone in the house, which didn't work too well since that morning, as usual, we all ate breakfast and it was unusually quiet.

On Tuesday we got a call from YFU saying they wanted me to leave on Wednesday. My host mother and I both said that was impossible so we settled for Friday. I would have moved to Itsaho, about 2 hours from Fehmarn to the north see. The father was a minister, and the mother a nurse, if I remember correctly. They had a daughter and a son also I believe.

Well I wasn't too happy about the situation because I was scared of the religious aspects of things, after speaking to various people I decided I would give it a try and see how it went. The next day (Thursday) about twenty minutes AFTER sending BOTH my suitcases to this new family they called and said that they decided they didn't want to have me. So there I was, staying in Fehmarn, where I'd started to get close to my host family, while my suitcases of ALL my stuff traveled to a family I wasn't going to.

The week finished and on Wednesday we got another call from YFU saying that I was leaving on Saturday for a family in Willich, by Dusseldorf. That friday night was one of my most memorable nights in Deutschland, and will forever be.

I've always thought it's odd how at the strangest times in the strangest of situations you bond with some of the most unlikely people. That was proven to me once more as I chased my host sister through Bisdorf as she drunkenly kicked out street lights for half an hour. It was that night that I really, really felt like I'd found a family.

The next morning was, as expected, complete chaos. I woke up at seven something and ran around like a chicken with it's head cut off trying to get all my crap together and into the car. Breakfast was nice and soon I was saying my goodbyes to my host father, brother, and grandparents. I can't help but reflect on how much my host grandfather on Fehmarn reminded me of my recently deceased grandfather.

At the train station/stop in Burg me and my host sister, and mother stood around waiting while the train sat there. It was around 9 in the morning and I think I had about 3-4 bags, it was ridiculous. When they flagged the train and said it was leaving I got on and was the only person in my car. I waved to my host family as the train rolled away, and I was crying in a matter of seconds, before my car even reached the end of the platform. I continued to cry until we'd cross the bridge roughly fifteen or more minutes later. The ride was long to Hamburg, and after half an hour at Hamburg, it was another long ride to Dusseldorf in a tiny cramped train. When i stepped off the train in Dusseldorf all I wanted to do was get back on and go back home to Fehmarn, I actually almost didn't get off...

My host family found me quickly after I just stood awkwardly in the crowd for a minute or two trying to catch my breath.  My host mother was a doctor and my host dad a teacher, i had two host sisters one my age 16, and one 17 turning 18 in nov or something.

I'm not going to go into detail about this family as it was the darkest, most stressful part of my year. Basically there was a lot of problems personality wise between me and the family. I attended a  Catholic private schule, that i biked to every day, most days in the rain.

Classes I was taking in Willich:
Infomatic (Computers)

I stayed in that family for 3 weeks before speaking with my area rep and coming to the conclusion that I needed to move. So after a week of hearing nothing my host family call YFU on Friday and told them about their travel plans for wednesday and how I needed to leave before then. So on Monday afternoon I got an email from YFU telling me about my next temporary family, and that I'm leaving Tuesday. So I spent all of monday packing all my stuff back up.

Tuesday I ate breakfast by myself and loaded all my stuff into the car, then said a few awkward goodbyes with my host sister and got into the car with my other host sister and my host father for the 40 minute drive to Pulheim (24 minutes outside of Köln).

When I first arrived I was a bit surprised to find that my family was Turkish, but I almost instantly felt better when I saw the evil eyes all over the house. I met my host sister and my host mother since my host dad was at work still. I knew from the start that I really liked this family. My host dad and I bonded over Turkish music and bellydance, while me and my host sister bonded over 'teenage stuff'. My host mom and I bonded over cat & dog stories and tea. My german is getting much better since I actually speak it much more now.

When I first arrived here I arrived over the first week of fall break (2 weeks) so I had a week and a half to settle in before school started up again. The first day was chaos, especially because the schule didn't know I would be coming. So after a first week of chaos I've settled in. I have the same schedual as my host sister until after winter break when I'll get my own time table.

Classes I'm taking:
Kunst - Art
Geschichte - History
SoWi - Politic I think

So I know my mother will be emailing me to inform me that this is not NEARLY enough details for her, but I'll address that in a later post seeing as it's 8:32 at the moment, and I'd really like to inhale another cup of tea and some chocolate.


Just another Pulheimer

Monday, September 24, 2012

Far too much...

I know, I know I haven't updated in ages, but before you start freaking out on me I have a damn good reason, and quite a few things to cover in this post, and possibly more.

First Day Of Schule #1
Written Aug. 28

 First day of school was interesting. Of course I was scared beyond belief, so nervous I was shaking for a good portion of the morning, almost threw up as I got in the car. My host mom took me to class and stayed with me outside the door until the teacher showed up. I walked into class and was instantly the shiny new toy.

We all sat in a circle and had MMK which is basically a big meeting to plan the week and stuff, I guess, I'm not really sure, a few people came in late. They figured out pretty quickly that I don't speak German, which was a bit of a shock to some of them. They struggled through going around the circle and saying their names and hobbies for me. I caught 2 names out of 21. Then they had a big discussion about Mallorca vs. London for a class trip. After that we had double biology. They have 45 minute classes here, and a double lesson is when they have two of the same in a row, so it's a 90 minute lesson. After the first 90 mins is a 15 minute pause, and then after another two is a twenty to twenty-five minute pause.

Turns out staring is different here, I found quickly that German's stare at you and they don't hide it, have no shame in doing so, and no matter how long you stare back aren't prompted to look away, where I am anyway. That was a fun discovery.

Half my class was too freaked out to talk to me, a third was so enamored with me that they are either always staring at me, calling my name (everyone pronounces it differently, and most people can't even say it at all), or giving me the third degree. It's quite entertaining to say the least. Finally the last third who are a group of girls that I follow around and who are very nice. They were the first to help me around, and they translate sometimes if they can. Turns out that for the guys my name is a song. At least twice during/between classes I hear "oh heather" being sung to me from a few seats over, or from across the hall, it's really strange cause they literally sing it, it's quite funny though. It's Peer's (a guy in my class) way of hiding that he can't say my name right, others have picked up on it and use it as well. I don't mind.

My school is the only one on the island, a little over 1,000 kids go there, Every single one of them knew who I was when I walked into the building, it was really freaky. Like EVERY kid grade 5 + knows me. So weird.... Everyone in town knows I'm the exchange student too, they all watch me while I'm walking down the street with that look, I don't like it.

Anyway back to school! In Englisch I've become the teacher's 'assistant' which I really don't like having the title of, but I'll put up with it. My chemistry teacher doesn't speak Englisch, neither does my math teacher, or my physik teacher. My other teachers have a few sentences but that's about it. Mostly they have just introduced themselves said hi, then basically ignored me. That leaves the 'guys' as I call them, to explain it to me, which only words a third of the time. My klasse is great though, very fun, very funny, and highly entertaining. Turns out I'm older than all of them, the opposite of what I'd originally thought. They're all very outgoing.

I get out of school at 1 in the afternoon can you believe that! I have to get up at 6:05 every morning though which is kind of a bummer, but I'll survive. On Tuesdays I stay till 3 because I have sport, a class I'm quickly learning to despise. I never did like gym. I have to take the bus home everyday, about twenty minute ride where I'm not guaranteed a seat. Nobody has asked me to hang out yet, but tomorrow I'm gonna put a thing on facebook, everyone in my klasse has friended me now, maybe someone will wanna hang out. I dunno.

I found out today that in November the ONLY movie theater on the island closes for 4 months for winter, and most of the stores close as well. That was a little hard to hear. I'm really wanting to make friends and hang out. I dunno... I might join an art workshop this painter in town gives. That should be fun. I'm looking for clubs to join but there aren't many. It's a little lonely having an entire afternoon with nothing to do. All the homework so far has been huge chunks of text with words my little dictionary doesn't have in it and google translate doesn't know. Plus the teachers just kind of ignore me in a lot of cases so it doesn't matter if I actually do it or not since they don't check it. So far I've just been copying everything they write on the board and translating it as best I can at home. I did the English homework though! Very proud of that. Turns out they don't even get much homework at this school, it's really weird. I'm ok with it though.

I NEED PEANUT BUTTER!!! and more schocolade...

At the Inselschule Fehmarn the classes I was taking were:
Wipo - Politik
Movie class - can't remember the word
Sport - 2 different classes (normal, and step aerobics - it's required)

Schule was great for the two weeks I was there. I had friends, people talked to me, I even hung out in Burg with a few people some days after schule. I went to bellydance every friday night at 8. It was great, my host family was wonderful, I got along with them really well.

Then on September 2 my whole world came crashing down around me in one simple sentence. You have to move, the family doesn't think it's working out. When my area representative first said it I couldn't comprehend her words. Couldn't add them up right in my head to make any sort of sense. When it finally sunk in all I could do was cry.

Will be continued in another post, it's very late at night and I'm exhausted.

Sorry I'm so late.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Train Tracks *posted 4 days late; written sunday*

Saying goodbye is always hard. I cried my eyes out on the plan to DC leaving my mom, and I cried on the train leaving my first family.

As bad as this sounds, it was harder to leave my first host family than it was to leave my mom. Now before you start thinking I'm a terrible person, see it this way. I left my mom knowing I would see her again in exactly one year. I left my first family not knowing when I would see them again.

It's so much harder when you know how difficult it will be to get back to see them. I know I will fly back to the states in a year and I will go back to school as 'usual' and I will see my mom every day. I will have to seriously work to see my first family again before I leave for the states, and they're only 6-7 hours away by train.

As you can guess Friday night, und Saturday morning were terrible. It was so hard to say goodbye and get on that train all by myself. But I did it.

I got on the train with my little suitcase with the package for my mom strapped to the outside, my backpack, and my little plastic bag with a pound of chocolate my host family gave me, and a blanket. I found myself a seat and stayed there for the next hour and a half to get to the Frankfurt station.

At Frankfurt I got off the train and hauled myself through the bookstore almost crying when I saw something in English, then changed my mind and hustled myself to the other side of the station where my next connection was, an ICE to Hamburg.

Turns out YFU reserved me a seat on the ICE. Wagon 1 seat 77. I never did find that seat... I got to wagon three and I was so tired of hauling my self down the entire train that I just stopped at car 3 and sat in seat 31.

Three hours to Hamburg, and the train was 20 minutes late. I only had a 31 minute gap at Hamburg so you can imagine my state of panic when the train was so late. Everyone said 'oh Hamburg is easy, hamburg is easy' well no, it most certainly is not easy. I got off the train to a wall of people. Maneuvering through that I got myself up to the platform after much trouble, and many stairs, then made a mad dash for platform 7b.

By that point I didn't even know which train was mine, I just got on the one sitting at 7b that said Lüdbeck on it and hoped it was the right one. It was thankfully. I sat for another 40 minutes, sweating to high heavens, with an aching shoulder from my bag and weird looks from those around me. Finally my stop came. I grabbed all my stuff and stepped off the train right in front of my very excited host family holding up an American flag scarf, I was wearing a German flag scarf around my neck.

We all, minus Jonny who was fishing, went to the car and started the hour drive to Fehmarn. The bridge was sooo long. It's really beautiful here. Perfect weather too.

I share a room with my host sister Sarah, and both of us share a bathroom with Jonny. We have the top floor, the middle floor is the main floor, and my host parents bedroom is there, and the bottom floor is the 'mudroom' and front door. I only have pictures of my room right now, but others will follow soon!

Now I start school tomorrow so today I'm off to get school supplies in the city.

Train Savvy ;)


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cooking Fiasco

It's safe to say that when I cook I'm usually winging it. That's exactly what I did on Wednesday.

With the lack of Velveeta, or cheddar cheese I ended up using three little packages (very little) of those single slice pieces of cheese. It wasn't terrible.

I made the pasta first, then added a bunch of milk and put the cheese in, adding butter and milk as it melted. It was soooooo creamy and sooooo cheesy, and probably a thousand calories. But my host family liked it, and I liked it so it was deemed a success.

American Chef ;)