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 L├╝dbeck 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 ;)

Leaving/Arriving:

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 ;)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sigh...

Food. It's pretty great right? It brings people together, 'breaks the ice', fills your stomach and gets it to stop growling. Well in Germany they like food, a lot. Which is great, because so do I.

The YFU staff always told us 'oh host families love it when you make food from your country for them!' So I decided to make a very American dish, good old mac n' cheese. This would have been much simpler if:

A. I had measuring cups with me.
B. Could cook.

Turns out I won't need measuring cups. Why, do you ask? Because I won't be needing to measure cheese, because much to my surprise, Velveeta isn't a thing in Germany. And they don't have cheddar cheese. This is quite problematic.

No worries though because it's processed food to the rescue!! Dun da da dun!!! On Wednesday I will be attempting to make mac n' cheese with those Kraft single wrapped slices. Very American right. ;)

Wish me luck! I hope this works! Pictures are sure to follow after this whole event.

--
Non-Chef Wisher

Monday, August 13, 2012

Pen & Ink

With all this German surrounding me I can't help but find myself beginning to loose some of my English. It's not a bad thing, it's just frustrating because as I'm loosing English I haven't really been gaining German to take it's place. I'm starting to feel like I don't have a language anymore. Sure I can speak English, and a little very broken German, but neither really feels like it's mine. More that it's just a passing tool in communication with the world around me. I'm not sure if that made any sense but I can't better explain it than that.

This wouldn't be such a big deal if it wasn't for the aching fact that I'm a writer, and what do writers do best? They write. Not having a language that I can control and mold to my story is really starting to take it's toll on me. That constant itch to write is coming back stronger than ever and as I haven't really a language I'm finding it difficult to scratch that itch.

Not to mention that as I've been told time and time again, it's difficult to be learning a language and still using your native tongue so much. I don't want to be making it harder for myself...but I have to write.

--
Coo-Koo bird

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Chocolate & Solar Panels

Germany is know for it's chocolate isn't it? Well it's also known for it's green energy solutions. Did you know that Germany has more than half of the world's solar-power generating capacity and has invested over $14 billion in green technology last year? I didn't either when I signed up to come here. Sure I knew Germany is among the leaders of technological advancements, and that it has a fantastic recycling system. But I was not at all prepared for the number of solar panel "fields" as I call them, and turbines that litter the countryside. It's quite beautiful actually, that so many people are using green energy.

That brings me to wonder if the chocolate bar I'm currently eating was made in a factory that uses green energy... It probably wasn't, but it would be cool if it was. On that note it's quite alarming the amount of chocolate I've gone through in two weeks, and the number of digits my weight has not gone up, but rather gone down. It's quite a peculiar set of events. I'm eating more bread here that I ever had in my life, and not that normal bread. This is nutrient packed, grainy, thick bread that tastes amazing with a slice of Gouda, and some butter. Mmmm I'm hungry thinking about it.

I'm quite curious what my physical situation will be at the end of this year, I feel like I'm eating more than ever, and doing anything active even less that normal. Yet I'm loosing weight. How can this be? Well I'm done asking stupid questions, I'll just enjoy it while it lasts!

That's all for now folks! It's like 11 and I'm exhausted. Long day of language school ahead of me tomorrow.

--
Contempt Chocaholic

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Cologne vs. Koln

So as you might have already guessed I went to Cologne on Saturday (Yesterday). It was about a two hour drive and both of my host sisters and myself fell asleep in the car on the ride there, AND the ride back.

We set off at 8 sharp in the morning and after about an hour were on the autobon. We were going 130 km/h and I was having a small heart attack as we dodged cars. I have a picture to prove it. After a while I was finally able to relax, my host family thought it was hilarious. I did not agree.

Cologne was hot. The parking garage under the city stretched on for over a mile, it was crazy. We first got on what they all called a 'bimble-bong'? I have no idea, it's one of those little trains all the tourists take that shows you the city. We got off at the Dome, which is so beautiful. Inside was even more beautiful. I lit a candle for my grandfather, and my father. Ironic isn't it? In some sort of twisted way.

We went down into the treasury and say all the really old statues, cup things, and the scepters the pope had. It was pretty cool, but we couldn't take pictures which was irritating because the elevator was really cool.

Then we went shopping. I swear to god it was like being in NYC. The street stretched forever, and shops lined the sides of this really narrow little street. Stores I've never heard of,  to H&M we went in almost every single one of them.

For lunch we went to Micky D's and boy was it different. First of all it was packed, and I mean packed like you had to scope out who was leaving and time it perfectly to get a seat. We got a booth thanks to Lena's keen eye and speed walking. It tasted so much better than in the US, or maybe that was just me embracing American fast food...I'm not sure. Either way I got a special edition Olympic glass Coca Cola cup out of it, which I will be sending home to my mom soon...ish.

After that we walked around some more did a little more shopping and the like. I bought a Berliner (which is a little doughnut like thing with marmalade in the center and it's COVERED in sugar, and I order it all in german. I was very happy, the guy behind the counter was really kind of done with me after I said the first word. hahahah it was amusing though.

After that little snack we headed over to a costume shop, of course, and I'm pretty sure we spent and hour and a half inside hahahah. Anyone who knows me, is aware that this is not unusual.

After that we made our final destination the chocolate museum, which I have to say was a bit disappointing. I was expecting to be able to eat more chocolate. You didn't get to.  But it was still cool.

The ride back was long as well and in the car we were all exhausted and beyond. All in all it was a fantastic day.    :)

Oh an by the way. Over six hours of shopping in Cologne, I bought 2 things. And they were both from the costume store!

--
Kitty Cat

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Locks & Doors

Apparently a closed door doesn't have to same significance in Germany as it does in the US. In the US if your door is closed it means 'don't come in' or 'knock before you enter'. With much confidence I can say that is not true here. In Germany, or my household anyway, you close a door when you leave a room no matter what. And  knocking is done as you open the door. I've been caught multiple times in strange situations where I'm changing or the like and my door opens, giving me no warning whatsoever. Luckily every time so far I've been able to quickly pull a shirt on or hide under a blanket.

I live in the basement of the house, I have my own room and a little bathroom across the laundry room, very little. Nobody ever really comes down here, and to me closing the door to the bathroom means it's occupied, don't come in. Well not to everyone, and I don't lock the doors because the one time I did, I locked myself out of my room and it took me ten minutes to get back in. Besides, why should I need to lock a door if it's already closed? Well I learned very quickly today that I do indeed need to lock the door to the bathroom when it's occupied.

My host sister opened the door on me , that was quite embarrassing, for both of us. But it's okay, because then about fifteen minutes later I accidentally walked in on her changing and she was unable to shield herself. We called it even and agreed never to speak of it again.

So the lesson in all of this? No matter how difficult the lock is to get back open, if you're in Germany and you're in the bathroom, LOCK THE DOOR.

:)

--
Hopeless Door-Opener

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Beginning To Hit

Today when I got home and went into my room and cried, really cried. Cried for the first time since I got here. Cried because I can't understand anyone, and because they don't understand me no matter what language I'm speaking, because I miss my cats and my mom, I miss my bed, because I miss my stupid pink room, and being able to sleep till 9. I miss being able to communicate with people on a basic level, I miss not living out of a suitcase sitting on the floor that I have to fit my clothes all perfectly back into at the end of the month, not have to carry around a dictionary everywhere I go. I cried because I'm scared as hell, and I'm so mad at myself for doing this. Why the hell did I think I could do this? I have no idea. I have the constant fear that I unknowingly offended someone, or that I got on the wrong bus, or knocked on the wrong door. I cried because I have no idea what day it even is, much less what time it is. I cried because I got what I wanted...something completely foreign. I got my escape and now I want nothing more than to go back home and curl into a ball on my bed.

This is ridiculous. I know I can't wallow in self pity because it's not going to get me anywhere but at the same time how else are you supposed to cope with not understanding a damn thing around you?

--
Red Eyed Alien