Time for an update:
Well readers, it has been awhile and a lot has happened in the past month.
Let’s start with January, my first week back at school, mid-year, and other little things…
I started school back up on the 7th of January. Mondays are always a good way to start the week, because it is my short day. Monday, the 7th of January was particularly nice as it help ease me back in to the whole school routine thing. One of the most tragic things happened on this day though. As I have mentioned before, my class was going on a snowboarding trip to Austria in February…or so I thought. Somewhere in the mix of the Christmas holidays, a bit of a language barrier, and unclear details…I misunderstood when they were going. Turns out, they were actually going in January and not February. This wouldn’t normally have been a problem other than the fact that I also had mid-year (mandatory) the same week they were going. Having to tell my class that I could no longer go on the trip was definitely a real letdown. I think they were just as excited for me to go on the trip with them, as I was.
This story about the snowboarding trip is just one of many problems that have gotten in the way of me bonding with my class. I have been at the school for almost two months, that is if you count Christmas break. Since I have been at the school, I have only had two “full” weeks. Before Christmas break I was at the school one full week and one half week. After Christmas break I had one full week, and then my class went on the snowboarding trip. During that week I was also at my mid-year seminar. The following week I only had school Monday and Tuesday, and this past week I had Friday off. I also have the next two weeks of school off, because my class is doing an internship; I am not allowed to participate. Many people have told me how lucky I am that I don’t have to go to school for the next two weeks. However, I am actually a little angry or disappointed. Even though it is nice to have a break, I have not really had much time to get to know my class. When my class comes back it will almost be March, and then a few weeks later I will have Spring Break. With my time here quickly running out, I want to be able to spend more time with my class and to get to know them better. I couldn’t have been placed in a better class, but I still need more time to get to know them.
Back to January:
My little host brother had a friend over one night. His friend was so fascinated that I am from the United States. At one point he asked me, “Well if you are from the United States, how do you say “hallo” in English?” To which I obviously replied “hello.” For the rest of the night he went around saying “hello” with his cute German accent. My host brother and his friend also put on a show for Mary, a friend of ours, my host mom, and me. They made little entrance tickets and everything. They hadn’t planned much for the show, and so my host mom suggested they dance to “Gangam Style.” I was recruited to be part of the show and had to dance with them. It was so cute.
I had an indoor soccer tournament at the end of the first full week of school. Although we did not win, it was a lot of fun. We started off really well, beating our first three opponents. After that everything started to go downhill. Our goalie had to leave, a player on my team got hurt, and that was that. I also watched a game show after the tournament with my host parents. Not too exciting, but…
One of the games was Eisfußball. Basically the two men on the show wore hockey outfits and bowling shoes. Then they went out on an ice rink and played soccer against each other. It was probably one the funniest things I have ever seen. Once they started “running” they couldn’t stop and ended up falling all over the ice.
My class was gone on their ski trip, but I still had to go to school. I went and sat in on a friend’s class. I only had to go to school for 4 periods those three days. That Tuesday I had a doctor’s appointment and did not have to go to school.
On Thursday I traveled with Mary and Lauren from Flensburg to a city near Bonn to meet up with the other exchange students for our mid-year seminar. We had by far the longest trip of anyone. I got up like a normal school day, and we took the train at 8:09 towards Hamburg. We changed trains in Hamburg. We took an ICE (fastest train) towards Bonn. Along the way a few other exchange students got on the train. We all sat together, talked, played a few card games, but mostly talked. The train was running about 35 minutes behind because of a huge snowstorm. We had to change trains again in Bonn to head to Bad-Neuenahr Ahrweiler. Our layover was about 35 minutes, and the train was now running 38 minutes behind schedule. We knew that a huge group of exchange students would be on the train in Bonn. We called them and asked them to hold the train a few minutes that we were coming. As soon as our train stopped in Bonn, we sprinted down the stairs to the next platform. Although we were a few minutes late, the train hadn’t left yet… so we successfully made the train.
It is hard to explain what goes on at our seminars. We play a lot of games, listen to people’s stories, and sing a lot of songs. To sum up what goes on at these types of seminars is pretty impossible I think. Overall, I had a fabulous weekend in Bonn. We had a snowball fight, played Dragons, Princes, and Princesses in the snow, took lots of pictures, conversed, visited a history museum, walked around Bonn, and had a dance party. As much as I loved going to mid-year it was also a bit sad knowing that in just a few shorts days I would have to say goodbye to my BEST friends for another 4 and a half months. Like I said, I can not really sum up my trip or give any more details than those I have given above. I can not explain it well. Anyways, I had an awesome time.
I can say however that I realized a lot of things (and set some new goals) during my time in Bonn…
1. I realized that I have learned German mainly through speaking it and hearing it. However during these next few months I want to put more time into studying it in on my own time. Learning more grammar, more words, and such.
2. I also want to read more in German. I guess this helps with my goal above. Even if I read “tween” chapter books, it is something. Regardless of what I read, I will always learn new words.
3. I want to experience more. I have realized that my time left here is very short. I want to experience as much as I can, not saying that I have not already experienced so much. I feel like up to now I have learned a lot more than I have experienced. Since my class is doing an internship for the next two weeks, I took this as an opportunity to experience something new. Next week I will be heading down to Cologne for Karneval. I am going to be meeting up with some other exchange students, and I can not wait.
4. I also want to try something completely new.
Here are a few pictures of my friends and I at Mid-Year:
At the end of January there was a lot of snow, and the temperatures were very cold. The path I always walk on from the bus stop to my house was completely covered in snow. The wind had blown sideways across an open field and all of the snow from the field had blown on to the sidewalk. The snow on the sidewalk was in some spots taller than I am. That was really fun to trudge through. I ended up walking in the street.
This past week I only had four days of school. On Friday I went to breakfast with some friends. It was the first time I have really been out with friends, and I was so happy. That may sound really elementary, but finally having friends that you can connect with in a different language is one of the best feelings.
Tonight I plan on watching the SuperBowl. Coverage starts at 12:30 tonight. It works out perfectly because I do not have school tomorrow. Therefore, I plan on watching the whole thing…even if it will end around 3 or 3:30 tomorrow morning.
Final Part: The German Language
One of my favorite words: Papagei (pronunciation: papa-guy) Translation: parrot
This has always been one of my favorite German words. Not that I use the word frequently. It is not too often that I say “Oh, look it is a Papagei,” however it is just one of those words that is fun to say.
One of my favorite expressions: doch
In German you have the words ja (yes), nein (no)…and doch. English may have the largest vocabulary of any world language, but it does not have a single word for doch as an answer. If someone asks a negated question… For example: You don’t have any time to play soccer with me tonight? Then you could answer with the word: doch, making the answer very clear. It means “On the contrary, I do have time.” In English if someone asked the same question, the answer can be very confusing. It is one of those situations where if you answer “yes,” are you agreeing by saying you don’t have time, or that you actually do have time…and if you answer “no,” are you saying that no “I don’t have time” or “you are wrong, I do have time.” In this type of situation, the answer “yes” or “no” is simply not enough. You usually need an explanation. In German, you only need the word doch. Using the word doch makes the answer very clear.
German word: Eichhörnchen Translation: squirrel
This is the first word that any German will ask you to pronounce, arguably one of the hardest. It is also the first word any American will try to perfect the pronunciation of so that when a German asks you to pronounce it, you are prepared. I would say my pronunciation of this word is pretty darn good.
I was also recently thinking about all of the new words I am learning this year in Germany. By the end of this program, the other exchange students and I will be near fluent. However, fluent in different ways. What I mean by this is…I play soccer for a club here in Germany. I have been on the team since early September. Over the course of 5 months I have learned most all of the specific terms relating to soccer in German…the positions, verbs (to throw, to shoot, to pass, and so on), different types of equipment, and terms relating to the game itself. However obviously not every exchange student here is playing soccer. Although each of us may know some basic terms relating to soccer (to shoot or jersey), my vocabulary is much more extensive. On the contrary someone who has taken dancing classes here in Germany will know all of the specific terms related to dancing, while I only know the verb: to dance. The same goes for someone who is taking art classes, or playing tennis, or doing yoga, and so on…
So although we will all be fluent, there are definitely differences. Well if that weren’t obvious, of course we are all having different experiences.
Anyways, that is my life in a nutshell. Well, my life for the past month.
Until next time,