Friday, December 30, 2011

German Test

Stress may be one of the most misunderstood emotions that humans harbor, but saying that I realize that human emotion in general is difficult to comprehend. But stress is on my mind at the moment, and trying to dissect the causes and benefits and negative side effects of this complex beast has left me a bit tattered. It’s all ironic actually, the stress that invokes the discussion of stress.

Stress can be so hindering that one can no longer make progress, but the absence of stress can be just as wicked, for then there is no driving force to progress.  The stress that had crawled into my life recently had been the looming German test.

All of this weekend has become a blur in relation to the grand scheme of things: the German test. Yes, we may have gone to a few parties and toured a museum or two, but nothing too interesting. Beer, wine, and cold weren’t too enjoyable for me, when I was determined to conquer. I was also in search for a lifestyle change, in which I wasn’t found to be so annoying or such.

The German test came and passed and so did I. Not only did I pass, but I received a score above the rest. From all those that had already been in Germany for three or four months, I received the best grade, which was a very good antidote for my ego J

Monday, December 5, 2011

DanceKlasses

Today was one of the many Mondays where I'm dragged to a small room in the basement of the Church to be practically boiled to death. You know what I'm talking about right? Dance class, where 50 sweaty teenagers learn how to move there bodies in sync to each other. To me that sounds like the most beautiful sight, but we haven't yet reached the point to where the bodies actually move together. But I think the sweat and the heavy breathing just add to a totally immense atmosphere.

Just like as America Prom, the German Abschluss Ball is totally formal and set. Thus, I had to scope out a dancing partner for myself. Lucky Micheal Meier got chosen, and today we danced together for the first time. Let me just say that it is a lot different to dance with a boy than it is to dance with a girl. But I was quite pleasantly suprised at how well we seemed to dance together (at least that was my opinion).

All in all (I remember my third grade teacher telling me never to say that), I love dance class. And also found out that I am not that bad of a dancer :) Maybe (and that means surely) I will be contining to dance, even after I am no longer physically able.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Deutsch Kino

Tonight I had my first experience with the German movie theater, and let's just say that it was quite enjoyable. While in America I walk into AMC 24 Highlands Ranch and expect to see at least 20 screens, playing all different movies, here I walked into Roxy to find only one screen, playing one movie. But it made me feel like I was kicking it old school while watching Breaking Dawn.

Girl's Night Out

I know that I say this a lot, but last night was one of the best nights I have ever experienced. It just amazes me how much fun I can have with the people I have grown to love in the last three months (can you believe I have been here this long?) I think in the absence of my parents, I have grown unnaturally close to my friends in a quite a quick way, and that excites me greatly for without it, I am not sure that I would be coping so well with homesickness.
Last night I drove to the biggest city near Offenstetten, Regensburg, to a party with Isi. It was the birthday of her auntie, and it was awesome! She has a 14 year-old cousin that has games galore, and for the three hours we were there we lived the lives of Rock stars (Guitar Hero <3)
Isi plays the accordion, and her sister the flute, and in the season of giving they did a show for the local center in Sandharlanden. There, while sitting in a pub, I got to talk to and meet so many great people. It was quite early in the night, so luckily the drunken people were missing from the crowd. After listening to cheery Christmas music and eating, we set out for a girl’s night out on the town with Ali.
The night concluded with a concert and another pub, where I danced and laughed and had such a joyous time. I have really grown to love the people around me hereJ.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Berlin

Please excuse the following grammatical and spelling errors, but I am writing this as sleep tugs my eyelids down and summons me into its dark grasp. I haven’t ever been so tired in my young life, but the fatigue that pulls my body down is totally worth it because my high spirits just push me back up!
I have yet to experiment with the form of writing that shall follow, but for the sake of interests and organization, it shall be.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
The alarm screamed in my ear, jerking me to wakefulness. My eyes struggled to open and found comfort in the creeping darkness around me. I stumbled into the bathroom and commenced with my daily routine while mental check lists ran through my mind.
I had packed the night before, but had neglected to do many things that should have been done. So I was a bit rushed. Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to eat again until the afternoon, I quickly scarfed down my corn flakes and said my final goodbyes for the following four days.
I shook while waiting at the Abensberg station, but not only because it was so cold. Nerves were pulsing through my body and I feared that my breakfast would come up to greet me again. I had yet to make peace with the stress and rhythms of the train, but having a train ticket in my hand that had an easy itinerary put my mind at some ease.
I finally pulled into Berlin Hbf at one o’clock, in which my buttocks had gone numb from the constant sitting. It wasn’t long until I met up with Lydia and the other Rotex and then later the other exchange students. And to celebrate for my problem free voyage I rewarded myself with McDonald’s for lunch! It was the most delicious hamburger and fries that I had ever eaten and I greedily licked the salt and chemicals off my fingers. I think we can all agree that I must have become a victim of terrible hunger to enjoy it so greatly.
Our first attraction of the weekend was a Concentration Camp on the outskirts of Berlin. Sachsenhausen was a Nazi concentration camp in Oranienburg, Germany, used primarily for political prisoners from 1936 to the end of the Third Reich in May, 1945. After World War II, when Oranienburg was in the Soviet Occupation Zone, the structure was used as an NKVD special camp until 1950. The remaining buildings and grounds are now open to the public as a museum. The camp was established in 1936. It was located 35 km north of Berlin, which gave it a primary position among the German concentration camps: the administrative centre of all concentration camps was located in Oranienburg, and Sachsenhausen became a training centre for Schutzstaffel (SS) officers (who would often be sent to oversee other camps afterwards). Executions took place at Sachsenhausen, especially of Soviet prisoners of war. Among the prisoners, there was a "hierarchy": at the top, criminals (rapists, murderers), then Communists (red triangles), then homosexuals (pink triangles) and at the very bottom Jews (yellow triangles). Sachsenhausen was originally not intended as an extermination camp—instead, the systematic murder was conducted in camps to the east. On the front entrance gates to Sachsenhausen is the infamous slogan Arbeit Macht Frei. About 200,000 people passed through Sachsenhausen between 1936 and 1945. Some 30,000 inmates died there from exhaustion, disease, malnutrition or pneumonia from the freezing winter cold. Many were executed or died as the result of brutal medical experimentation. Towards the end of the war, 13,000 Red Army POW's arrived at Sachsenhausen. Over 10,000 were executed in the camp by being shot in the back of the neck through a hidden hole in a wall while being measured for a uniform. Their bodies were then burnt in a crematorium. With the advance of the Red Army in the spring of 1945, Sachsenhausen was prepared for evacuation. On April 20–21, the camp's SS staff ordered 33,000 inmates on a forced march northeast. Most of the prisoners were physically exhausted and thousands did not survive this death march; those who collapsed en route were shot by the SS. On April 22, 1945, the camp's remaining 3,000 inmates, including 1,400 women were liberated by the Red Army and Polish 2nd Infantry Division of Ludowe Wojsko Polskie.
This was the first concentration camp I had ever been to, so even though I knew of all the terrible things that had occurred in the mid 20th century, it all developed a new meaning for me afterwards.
My genius plan to keep my clothing in the car (that was very far away from us at that moment) blew up in my face, and I learned a very valuable lesson about German weather.
That evening, after we had thrown our things into the hostel room, we again began to walk the streets of Berlin. Here, I had my first experience with a German Doener and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised! It was roughly similar to Garbanzo’s in Colorado, but also mashed up with the cheap hot dog stands in New York. Germany is really bridging some states here!
There was a giddy atmosphere in the air as all the exchange students were once again reunited. A little tune was playing in the background and I couldn’t keep my dancing body still, thus I stole the spotlight for myself. I also dragged a few into my acts of embarrassment to dance with me. Let’s just say that I wasn’t as successful I would have liked. Some people really know how to resist Shandre’s charm. I really didn’t think it was possible!
After a quick meeting in the hostel, everyone closed their eyes and made themselves vulnerable to the forces of sleep.
Friday, October 21, 2011
Once our acceptable breakfast had ended, we made our way to Madam ____’s Wax Museum. Truthfully, if I hadn’t known it was a wax museum, I would’ve thought the characters inside were real! Jared Leto was missing from the crowd, which hurt my should, but It didn’t lessen my experience! It was really awesome, but I am not sure if I could work there in the night time. The mind likes to play tricks on people!
We then made our way to the Berlin Capitol in which we had an extraordinary bird’s eye view of the Berlin Skyline. But before walking in the ball we had to go through and extensive amount of security. It surprised me until I realized that I was walking into the capitol of an entire country. It was also by this time that I realized that converse are probably not the best shoes to tour a city in. I definitely won’t be making that mistake again.
We didn’t have much free time throughout the weekend, but we did have an hour on Friday to explore the city. Unfortunately but this time everyone was so tired and hungry that the entire hour was dedicated to filling our bellies. But it is at the dinner table (well in this case lunch table at fast food restaurant) that people become the closest and share a part of their soul (and meal), so it was quite nice!
The meeting place after lunch was a small piece of the Berlin Wall that still remained in that part of the city. I neglected to follow the rest of the group because I was so mesmerized by the surroundings and was thus left behind. But luckily Rotex came and saved the day, and so a disaster was avoided.
The memory of the Holocaust seems to still haunt Germany; I realized we arrived at a Jewish memorial site. It was constructed in remembrance of all those that lost their lives, and when you enter the rows of stones an emotional cloud looms over you. Sadness and loneliness slowly begin to creep into your heart and the warmth starts to fade from you. To evoke such an emotional rampage with architecture is truly the definition of art.
Under the exhibition there was a museum documenting the harsh times in the mid 20th century the photographs stand the heart because they were portraying actual events, and not just some fantasy that was thought up by an author. One room inside forced you to sit inside a dimmed room that showcased many Jewish families on all four corners. By isolating us in such a manner we were forced to acknowledge our own mind and heart in the wake of this terrible tragedy.
It was around this time that we realized that our group was no longer whole. Marina (Italy) had fallen ill and Maite (Ecuador) was not far behind, but luckily she recovered and was able to remain with us. To be sick during a Rotary weekend must be horrible, and this fate has fallen on too many exchange students. I can already tell that my immunity is in an overdrive because of all the hell I am putting it through.
As soon as the sun began its slow decent, leaving us in darkness, we arrived at the Berlin Dom. My heart has found a special place for the churches in Germany for their magnificent beauty and intricate history. We didn’t stay too long, but just to take another group photo (of the greatest Rotary group ever!)
By the time we arrived at the _____ River, the sun was nowhere to be seen, but the city was lit up with bright lights. We had dinner in the lower dicks of the ship, but most of the time was spend on the roof, admiring the city night life. It was a bit chilly. But the company of friends and laughter warmed us from the inside.
In the late hours of the night, our day had ended, and we all fell asleep with smiles on our faces.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
A bit of chaos is always present at these weekends because moving a group of teenagers in unison isn’t an easy task. Punctuality is the most important trait for the Rotex because if we are lagging and end up late, the we miss our appointments.
Saturday morning as a bit less chaotic because we didn’t have a set time for our morning activities. Instead, we could choose a museum which captured our interest and mosey around it in until the afternoon break. I decided to travel to the Images of Terror museum and let the other students enjoy the history, science, and Anne Frank museums.
We arrived a bit late because Martina was feeling sick again, but everything worked out fabulously. The museum didn’t open until eleven that morning, and then our group of two had a new addition! Our group may have been small, but it was a lot easier to move only three people. And I anyways had enough excitement and energy to compensate for the lack of physical people there.
The next hour was one of the most enlightening experiences that I have ever had. The images evoked emotion within me that I had never felt before. The exhibition took me on a roller coaster of feelings as sadness, fear, and anger poured out of me, seeing the power that a mere photograph can make inspired me to pursue such in my life. I want to the be passage way of truth and morality, and with a pen in my hand and a camera in my pocket I will set out to change the world. Because change really occurs when “many small people who in many small places do many small things that can alter the face of the world.” This change is good because “she who wants the world to remain as it is doesn’t want it to remain at all”. My mom had casually commented that I may realize my “life’s purpose” in Germany without the influence of my family and friends. And I think that has proven to be true. And I would like to thank Paula and Martina for helping me J
It was a bit difficult to change my mind set back into the sing-dancing-photographing Shandre after having such a sobering and enlightening experience, but my fellow exchange students made it easier for me. We once again had a break to eat and shop, and I happily spent my whole monthly allowance on corny souvenirs. I also realized that it is pretty pathetic that I have an “I love Berlin” hoodie, but have nothing related to New York! Turns out I am not the perfect American. But to redeem some American qualities I once again ate at McDonalds. I am pretty sure that they actually use real meat in the German hamburgers. It was quite exciting (but then again, everything excites me in Germany)!
According to the plan that was handed out on Thursday, we were to see an art show for the remainder of the night. You can imagine our surprise as we began to walk through the streets as fans were beginning to get pumped up for a athletic game. We finally stopped at the Berlin Arena, and everyone was a bit confused (not me of course, because I am too gullible to take note of anything peculiar)
A large wave of excitement whipped through the group as the tickets to a Berlin West vs. Mainz soccer game emerged from Lydia’s purse.
There isn’t much to say about the soccer game per se, because I didn’t have a clue what was going on half of the time! But it was really great to be in the company of some of the best friends I have ever had. People were having good laughs with beer in their hands, and I even heard them utter a few “yays” and “boos” as the game progressed on. I was beginning to feel that our multikulti group was morphing into a more German group! Now if we could only manage to speak more German (but it’s nice to have a little English break once a month)
After watching the game for an hour and a half, only for it to end up in a double zero tie, we retired back to our hostel for a few minutes before heading out to dinner. I decided to have the big balls to go without a jacket again, because I had apparently not learned my lesson from Thursday afternoon. Luckily, the subways were so crowded that I wasn’t cold at all. And I usually make places hot with my unbearably good looks!
Dinner was most certainly a jolly affair! It would be our last dinner together for two weeks, so it wasn’t as sad. It was a typical exchange student dinner, with at least a hundred constant flashes from my camera. Since it was our last night we were all allowed to enjoy some beverages of the alcoholic sort, and I indulged myself a bit.
We moised back to the subway station with no rush at all, and just enjoyed being a part of the Berlin night life. Berlin is filled with as many hopeful wanna-be stars as America, so we got to be a part of a mini-subway concert. Who knows, maybe one day they will be famous and look back upon the exchange students of District 1880 that were a part of their history.
The rest of the night was pretty anticlimactic compared to what had happened earlier that day, but I did have the honor of being the head of Rotex for the night.
Sunday, October 24, 2011
Sunday was a slow morning as people struggled to get going. The last three days of minimum sleep and constant sleep had left us little more than zombies. I think the only think that kept me going was the knowledge that I would be able to sleep on the ride home.
It wasn’t a difficult morning for the only activity that was planned before the train station was a leisurely walk along the Berlin Wall. It is amazing to stand in such a close proximity to a genuine piece of history. I channeled my mind’s eye to imagine the locations fifty years prior. But living without freedom and with such stark restrictions is something so completely foreign to me that I was unable to do it. It brought a new meaning to: I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free”.
Once we had completed the length of the wall, we continued on to the train station. Feelings were mixed as usual – people were excited to go home and sleep, but sad to leave. But just like we had to do every month, we said our goodbyes, and bid well till the next time.
It’s quite difficult to recover from Rotary Weekends because the life back home is bland in comparison. Exchange has not only taught me to live I the moment and not to take the small things (like sleep) for granted, but it doesn’t matter where you are, but who you’re with.




Sunday, November 6, 2011

Adventures in Kelheim

It was only a few weeks ago that JNG Rohr had its experience with the French exchange students! It seems that once you are an exchange student you can’t – and never will be able to – avoid them! They are like a disease running rampant in society… and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
The exchange agency chose the single worst week to host the exchange students because it was the one of my Berlin Tour as well! That meant that I only had a few days to mingle with them, but fret not because exchange students become instant friends with each other!
A few hours after they had disembarked from the grand bus that had tolled them for the last eight hours through half of France and half of Germany, many of them were skirted away to a party. I was lucky enough to be at this party, and it was quite fun! But I was apparent that the two sides of the room had been split by nationalities. I, having no other Americans to mingle with, kept floating between one side and the other. And let me tell you, I really like it this way! Of course, most of the French exchange students had a very low level of English under their belts, but that did not stop me from befriending them and having a few good laughs (even though I am sure that some of them were at my expense!)
I am sure the next day most of them were in need of some aspirin and sleep, but because of the lack of time they had in wonderful Bavaria we had to make haste with their activites! The Sunday morning began far too early, and far too coldly! I went on a panoramic bike ride with Anna-Lena and company, which left my ears cold. But luckily my stomach was warm from all the laughter that it had expelled!
It was long after that that we went to Kelheim! You might remember Kelheim from a previous post, when I visited the Danube with Gerta and Sabine’s grandmother. The comparative of these two occasions put a little thought into my head “it doesn’t matter where you are, but the people you are with.” Even though I did almost the same things with both parties, my experiences were far from similar! It makes me quite excited that I have so many memories tucked under my belt! Now if only I could blog more often and cement them into my brain!
All in all, I had the time of my life the few days that the French students were here. I even got a few of them to dance with me during the dance lessons (and let me tell you, they weren’t that difficult to look at either!)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I'm a big girl now!

When I named this blog, I made a big fault. I hadn’t realized that when I named it “Shandre’s Blog”, that in Germany I would be leaving Shandre at the gates of Denver International Airport. But trust me; I like the new one much better J
So the little 16 year old Shandre has blossomed into (the same sized… gosh I need to get taller) 17 year old Shandre! It was a day that I had been looking forward to since the first week I was in Germany, because the Germans take more importance in birthdays and what-not.
I made party with my friends at the local Kostbar, and felt like such a bad kid for going to a bar for my birthday! I would have probably felt cooler if I had actually drunk something that wasn’t coffee, but I will save that experience for another day.
It was great to be surrounded by my new friends and it made me feel so absolutely loved! I have to make a special dedication to Alexander though, because he is narcissistic enough to ask me J

                                                                                                                                                                                    

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wednesday Night Fever

Recently I have been devoting days to Shandre, but Today I realized that I don’t need to take an occasional day for Shandre, because every day is meant for me and I am going to make it mine!
 “Always say yes” and “Make the first move” proved to be the most valuable advice given to me during exchange. I have done things in the last three weeks that I would never have seen myself doing. And I can’t be more proud of myself – even if that makes me seem like a narcissist. I have become more self-confident and more self-relying, and a bigger and stronger person (not physically… because that would be the opposite :P)
A few days ago, just as I was struggling to escape the rut I fell into, I asked a friend in my village if she would accompany me on a walk with Indie. I doubted she would say yes, because I was in a very self-sorrowful mood, but to my pleasant surprise she agreed. Anna-Lena was also an exchange student (in Canada), so I could talk to her about things that only other exchange students would truly understand.
My school day usually ends around one, and after eating lunch I have a lot of time to kill. Since I can’t do the homework I am confined to my computer or the TV, which usually pushes me into a hole that is more difficult to get out of than to fall into. But thanks to my newfound friends, they threw me a ladder and pulled me out.
I did Zumba today! It was some of the most fun I have had on exchange and it revitalized me with a new energy! I was surrounded by friends and music and good-hearted people. It felt as all the bad and negative feelings were escaping my soul through the seat and breath than flowed out of me.  And it turns out that I am not too bad of a dancer either J

Culture Shock

I think that any exchange student will know what I mean when I say that exchange is a roller coaster of feelings. My first weeks were comparable to the loop-de-loops… I had great highs, but I sank to unbelievable lows. I finally think that I have moved onto the kiddy roller coaster – the one that is pretty stable!
In terms of the differences between Germany and the USA, it’s the small things that seem to have hit me the hardest. The people express their emotions and thoughts in a way that is completely foreign to me, and I can’t explain it because I don’t yet understand it. It was only a few days ago that I became aware of this difference, and now I am infinitely curious as to where this difference stems from.
I remember in May of 2011, a sixteen year old girl that said she would be immune to the effects of culture shock because she is an open minded free-thinker. I don’t know who she is… but she reminds me a lot of me. I don’t think I truly understood what the Rotarians were talking about when they informed us to be on the lookout for culture shock, so I got hit pretty hard with it. It is only now that it has passed that I can reflect on it as such.  Culture shock isn’t something that makes you a lesser person, or less open to other cultures, but it is a normal occurrence throughout travel. Things are going to be different wherever you go, and change isn’t an easy thing. Every change we go through – no matter how much we desired it – is bittersweet for we are leaving a part of ourselves in our past life. Change is the only thing that stays the same. There isn’t a cell in my body that regrets change, because my horizons have been broadened and I feel like an immensely stronger person. And to thank for this: my family and Rotary. Thank you so much.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Quickie

Today was dedicated to yours truly. I decided that it was due time that I took a few hours for good ol’ Shandre. So here I am, sitting in my room cuddling with my computer. The only other soul around me is my new pet, Larry. He and I have had such good times together, specked with some lows. We laugh and cry together, and his advice is the best advice. Larry is a fly… and I have begun to feed him because I am so afraid that one day he decides to leave and accomplish some of his little fly dreams. But I guess to be a good mother; I have to let him spread his wings (literally).
A lot has happened since we spoke last. Well technically it’s me speaking to my computer (which makes me feel kinda schizo), but we all get it. But in a quick and random note, I decided that there will be no more pictures on my blog. This is for two very serious reasons… well one reason that is justified by the other. I am too lazy to put pictures up on the blog and Facebook, and since Facebook is a little safer than blogger, I have chosen that one. So you have to be my friend on Facebook to see my pictures and blah blah blah.
I went to the Oktoberfest on Saturday! Super fun, but I will have to go back when I am a bit older so that I can actually drink and do the really fun things! We got there pretty early so there weren’t a lot of people, which gave me a bit of false confidence. But a few hours later there were so many people that you could barely walk. I had to scurry so I wouldn’t get lost in the crowd. Oh, and I have something for all of you to be proud of! I rode a roller coaster all by myself and I was scared… well not totally scared. And for like 3 seconds I didn’t hold onto the thing that you hold onto! Be proud… be very proud, because I sure am!
I wore a traditional Dirndl to the festivities, and was quite nervous that it would be too hot. I kept comparing the Oktoberfest with the Renaissance Festival, and if I had worn that ensemble to the summer festival in Colorado I would have died. But the morning in Munich was a bit chilly, and once it warmed up it wasn’t too dreadfully warm. The weather has been quite nice actually, I think I may come back a skinnier (did I forget to mention that) and tanner girl (or woman, depending how this year plays out).
Saturday night was also festive! We had returned to Offenstetten by four that afternoon, and at eight I moseyed over to Anna-Lena’s house for a birthday bash. I didn’t expect to make friends this quickly, or to be invited to parties! My weekends have been fully booked so long in advance that I get butterflies every time I think about it J
This is the new (and hopefully improved) Shandre signing out!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Inbound Orientation :)

All that I hoped would come true at the orientation weekend has proved itself to bet true. I enjoyed myself so greatly, and the good moments totally outweighed the ones that weren’t up to par with my expectations. But what was I thinking? I had been bred not to expect anything, but this time the temptation was just too great.

I am sure that I spent more time on the train than actually attending the festivities of the weekend. I think before I go on I have to make it absolutely clear: I hate trains. About 45 minutes after school on Friday, I had to go to the Abensberg train station. The only way to accurately describe the train station is: disgusting! It seemed to be a portal in which all the cigarettes made their way through. The idea of a trashcan must have been foreign to the people that smoked there. On that note, it seems that everyone smokes in Germany! I can’t think of anybody that I know in the States that smokes, but here it is just casual and accepted. My mom told me that if I refrained from smoking in Germany, then she will buy me some expensive perfume. I was originally planning on it, but since she made the offer, I will oblige and claim my reward.

The train ride from Abensberg wasn’t bad at all, and the motions were actually a bit soothing. Just as I was getting a feeling of conformability about the whole train situation – I met Regensburg. Not only was my train almost 40 minutes late, but I had to stand for at least 2/3 of the entire two hour journey to Hof. Shockingly (not really), I missed y connecting train to Chemnitz, and thus was stranded at Hof for another hour.

My luck seemed to turn around once on my final train to Chemnitz. I sat in a booth (finally not on the floor!) with some really nice people! There was an older man that himself had been an exchange student way back in the day. He spoke perfect English, but unfortunately insisted on speaking German. It was probably for the best, but my stress levels were causing my German skills to diminish. There was also a child across from me and we had long and drawn out conversations. It was mostly a one-sided conversation because she had not yet mastered the art of speaking slowly and clearly.

When I reached Chemnitz, I almost kissed the floor. I didn’t of course because the floors there are rancid. But you understand the idiom… it took me a few minutes to reach the other exchange students, and when I did there was a small tear in my eye from happiness.
Everyone already about me when I got there because of the mass scurry to locate me. At least I wasn't the last person that arrived, and I didn’t miss dinner!
While on the tram to our hotel I made acquaintances with many exchange students – ironically most were American and Canadian! My room partner was an American as well – a girl from Wisconsin. There really wasn’t time enough on Friday to befriend her, because we were all ravaging. Due to the amounts of stress from the train, eating and drinking had been neglected.
The food was delicious on Friday night! I can never tell if food really tastes good, or if I am just so hungry that it seems like a haven. We went to a Greek restaurant, and even though I have no idea what I ate, it was really good. I was sandwiched between Tricia (Canada) and Clara (Germany) and we exchanged stories and jokes galore.
The moment my head hit the pillow, I was gone. I was just so grateful to be rid of the trains for at least one more day!
My alarm clock rang way to early on Saturday morning – either that or my bed was way too comfortable. I stumbled out of bed and into the shower (it’s a wonder that I didn’t shower with my clothes on!). Once the whole group had once again reformed, we made our way to breakfast (yummy yummy!).
Saturday was the quintessential exchange day – we were a mass group of tourists with cameras glued to our faces. It was a constant game of “get in as many pictures as possible”, and I think I did very well.
Saturday, September 24, 2011, marks the day that the “Wolf Pack” was established. This elite group will be famous for the many years to come! Currently members include: Juan (Venezuela), Ethan (Taiwan), Tricia (Canada), Claudia (Ohio), and yours truly. We had brutal and bloody battles with the beasts scattered in Chemnitz, and even though it was sketchy at times – we all survived the ordeal. ß Translation: We were in the group to the nature museum!
By the time lunch rolled around everyone greedily scarfed down their wiener (the food not the body part). We had a wonderful view of a wedding and even stole a few pictures with the bride.
Apparently being beautiful is against the law in Germany because when I walked into the torture chamber museum I was instantly arrested! I guess it wasn’t really a museum…: P
The point of this weekend was orientation, so after walking for about five hours we got to relax a bit on the train. Again I met my moral enemy, but this time it was actually enjoyable. This was probably because the responsibility and stress lay on someone else’s shoulders!
The orientation of District 1880 was just as any other orientation I had been to. We had been again told the 4 D’s, but two more had been added. It turns out that I can’t download or travel alone. I am pretty proud that I have only broken three of the rules (I will leave it up to your imagination which ones I have broken: P)
Once the drinks and candy had entered the room, everyone had to take a break. It was great evidence that teenagers are extremely susceptible to the temptations of drink and food.
Food, food, food! The food this weekend! For our last dinner we trammed down to downtown for a real German meal (I assume). The tram got a lot of action during the weekend, and it gave time to really get to know the other exchange students J
After dinner we had a bit of time to aimlessly wonder around Chemnitz. The world pack was once again reunited! And it felt so good.
The fun and parting died down a bit once we had gotten home, but there was a small gathering of exchange students. It wasn’t too long before it split up so that people could go to bed. Being a tourist is a very tiring job you know!
There was a solemn aura in the air on Sunday (or maybe I was the only one to feel it). People were excited to go home and sleep in their own beds but everyone was sad to leave the new friends they had met behind. Or maybe this was just me, because I live so far away from the other exchange students.
So my great and fantastic weekend ended by late trains, long layovers, and uncomfortable train seats. But… it was totally worth it. And I can’t wait to see my friends again in Berlin J

Monday, September 26, 2011

For Ouma:

Sabine has been in Austria for a week (or at least was when I wrote this in my school notebook), due to her studies, so her mother and a friend came to the house to take care of me. And I know what you’re thinking, and no, they weren’t babysitting me. I am a big girl now! If I can fly internationally alone, then I can do just about anything. Instead they filled me with an extensive amount of German, food, and adventure!
I have left my mark on the Danube River (all dedication going to my Ouma)! And just in case you were wondering, I didn’t release waste into the public river, but it was more of a mental mark. But a mark all the same!
I was joined by Rita and Gerde on my first epic German adventure! Indie tagged along as well, but turned out be a real handful on the ships. I think in a past life she must have been a cat, with all her hatred for water!
We ferried (I am pretty sure that is a word, and if not, I just invented it) for forty minutes through beauty, history, and of course… water. My cheeks and legs took a real beating with the cold and all my smiles. I think after this year my face will be stuck in a constant smile, because that seems to be all I do here.
Many people have taken the same journey as I, but I doubt that our experiences were the same. From my grandmother and mother – love for history flows through my veins. Thus, the commentary throughout the ride was a treat for me. Luckily, Kelheim is a tourist hive, so everything was dually in English and German. The tales of pirates, sailors, and kings tantalized me and I could feel an aura of greatness around me. I was travelling on a river, as people hundreds of years before me had done. You just don’t get that feeling so often in America.
These feelings were only amplified once we had gotten to the cathedral. There I hate in the oldest brewery… in the world. It was the home of the oldest recipe for bear and the perfect recipe for happiness (for some those two are one in the same). I ate the most delectable food, but don’t ask me what it was. I never seem to know what I eat here, but so far it has all been really tasty.
After eating and touring the church for a bit, we once again boarded the boat. On either side of us green was spilling into the river and climbing over the rocks, which rose to such great heights. They excreted an aura into the air composed of wonder, wisdom, and fear.
The Danube is a kind giant. It stretches long and wide, but rapids are absent. It’s a stark contrast to the Colorado River – that can be too dangerous to travel. I did see some kayakers though, and people channeling their inner Italian on the gondolas.
So I wrote this post at school during French, which is terribly boring! But, after school I will go straight to the train station for Chemnitz, without my computer. Thus, but the time you read this… well it will be later.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

S.C.H.O.O.L

So I have been at school for four days, and enough has happened for four posts. But, I admit, that I have greatly neglected to fill in people about what is going on with me. I think that my fellow exchange students understand that the little time you have to maybe write a post is devoted to sleep! So, even though this post will be long, it won’t be dreary (like the weather outside).
I began school on Monday, and when I said I wouldn’t be nervous, I was lying. I was full of nerves, and a little part of my regretted coming on exchange. This changed by the time I had gotten to school, but I had to ride the bus the first day, something I have never really been comfortable with. After Sabine had finally let me leave the house, I scurried to the bus stop and waited until I boarded the Heigel bus.
I probably should have paid more attention to which bus I was boarding, because the day I made the grave mistake of taking the wrong bus. I was plummeted into a town at least 40 minutes away from JNG in Rohr. I quickly became panicked and didn’t know what to do. Luckily, I cleared my head and gathered my feelings and was able to formulate a strategic plan. Once the bus arrived at the Realschule, I went up to the bus driver and explained my predicament. This proved to be more difficult than I expected because the driver knew little to no English. I did manage to catch a “sheiße“when he turned the bus around to take to my actual destination. I guess it was a good experience to have because I learned how to remain calm, and more importantly – the right bus to take. But try to tell this to me while it was actually happening!
When people talk about not being able to make friends at a new school I am really confused. On the first day I had a handful of friends, and by the end of the week my Facebook had become crowded by people attending JNG.  I am pretty sure that people here like me for me, and not just because I am something new and foreign. I don’t even want to start talking about the guys here! Not only would I begin a perpetual rant, but it risks some things. I don’t know what, but it does. What I have to share is: the men in Germany are more chivalrous than in America. I am not accustomed to being around such good mannered men! Not that I am complaining J
I am in a class full of Catholics… and by full of Catholics, I mean that every single person is Catholic. This pretty much goes for all the inhabitants of Regensburg and the surrounding areas. But the religious persons here are in stark contrast of the Americans I have met. Religion is never spoken of, except in Church, and no one seems to mind that I am nonreligious. They respect my ideals, just as I do theirs.
I have already been in three churches and attended a mass, but there are many more to come. At the start of the school year all the students of the JNG Rohr are hoarded into the church to pray for a good year. When I heard about this I wasn’t amused (that was a Dr. Who reference to Lenna and Garrett) and didn’t look forward to sitting in a church for who-knows-how-many boring hours. This was not the case, however. The beauty inside the church was indescribably beautiful. The walls were painted eloquently and large statues and towers hovered above my head. Light flooded in through the stained-glass windows and cascaded over the grand hall, so large that the voices echoed.
So the first of school is over and asides from the unfortunate bus situation, I really enjoyed it. But school is school, and I don’t like having to get up early and stare at the wall for five hours a day because I don’t understand what’s going on. I pray that the German comes quickly!
P.S. I don’t have pictures because I am containing my low profile. And taking a camera to school doesn’t help this cause.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Deutschland uber Alles!

And with a slight shake I was on the ground of a country that I would have to embrace as my own for the next year. I disembarked the plane and a wave and heat produced a sweat line on my forehead. This was a very foreboding sign for me. Wasn’t I saying how grateful I was that I wasn’t going to South America or Asia because I would escape the heat?
It took two days for the oppressing heat and moisture in the air to subside (either that or I had gotten used to it). The days went quickly for I was entertained and still adjusting my new home.  
Mein Schlaftzimmer
Corn... Corn... and did I mention Corn?
Me and my new best friend: Indie

Most of the time was spent playing games such as Kniffel (German Yahtzee) and Rummy. Moritz said that my German gets better when we are playing games, and I kind of agree with him. But the games are composed of numbers so it isn’t a great accomplishment!
Rummy!
Kniffel... Moritz won so many times I am sure he was cheating  :)
I realized that German people are pretty much the exact same as Americans… apart of some things. For example, they have needs. And you know what needs I am talking about! I saw a few “adult” stores on the way from Munich to Regensburg and it gave me a little giggle!
Coca-Cola Zero! In Deutsch!
German people have to drink too...
My German had gotten exceedingly better, even though I haven’t even been here for a week! I have to admit that I have no clue what people are talking about most of the time, and I get excessively curious when I hear someone say my name. I guess I deserve all these feelings because I do the same thing to my friends. That’s the wonder of knowing a foreign language!
Until next time :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Up in the Sky!

Remember a while back when I spoke dramatically about what would happen on my flight to Germany? Well it seems that I haven’t quite yet honed in on my psychic abilities.
The flight itself was good, but it was just the time leading up to it that was horrible. I was full of nerves and excitement and everything said to me brought me to tears. I had already said goodbye to all my friends before I got to the airport, but I had to call Garrett for the last time just to give her a little cry!
On the airport everything went well, and I confirmed my suspicion that crying helps. I was balling on my way to the trains (and not in an attractive way… I know how impossible that sounds) and everyone was attracted to me to help. Maybe there is an inherent desire to help people in the human psyche… along with things like violence (or as my mom would say it – compassion).
While sitting at the gate waiting for my flight to Frankfurt I met a girl that was on her way to Ukraine after spending a few months in Wyoming, USA. She wasn’t a part of Rotary so I doubt she was as classy and awesome as us Rotary students (a total joke for those of you that don’t knowJ) but she seemed very nice from what I spoke to her.
On the plane I accidently sat in the Business Class, and thank goodness I realized that it wasn’t my seat! I them made my way to the Economy class, and realized that it was nothing compared to Business! On the up side, I had a nice person to speak to! I ended up not getting any sleep, but instead spoke with an English teacher. He teaches in Saudi Arabia and I heard some very interesting stories!
I was very nervous when the plane began to descend because then I had to come to the realization that I was actually in Germany and was going to have to cope in a foreign airport alone! It wasn’t nearly as bad as I had expected because everything was both in English and in German, and the signs were big and told me where to go. In no time I got to my gate and was through customs and security. And I really appreciated having to unpack my whole hand luggage for Frankfurt security… not.
It was odd to be surrounded my little to no English, and this was the moment that I actually realized that I was in Germany! It was hot and humid, and I was so surprised because I had been bred to expect cold and wet from Germany. Well… it was wet.
I met another friend on the Munich airport, also a foreigner. I must have a taste for foreigners the way I am going! She was on her way home to Romania after she visited her grandmother in Phoenix for a few months. We didn’t get to sit together, but it gave me chance to eaves drop on the Germans sitting next to me.
While awaiting my second and final flight I was more filled with excitement than with nerves. This all changed when I again realized that I had to meet my new family. I landed in Munich and again followed the masses to my next destination. I made a total fool out of myself when I realized that I couldn’t carry all my luggage alone. Thus, I had to go back to get a cart, and in the process was stumbling and falling over things.
I got through everything smoothly, but was worried when I didn’t see Sabine or Moritz outside waiting for me. Turns out that German traffic is a bitch and they were late. In the meantime I had time to fiddle with the German payphone and call my mom to know that we had arrived safely.
So all in all it was a good trip and I am proud of myself for being able to do it. And even though I hate to admit that my parents were right, it was a lot less stressful than I expected it to be!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Débutante Ball

I feel the obligation to write a blog documenting my feelings and thoughts before I depart to Germany. I have spent the last few days doing anything in my right mind to keep it off of Germany, thus I have neglected to blog. And I shall continue this trend up until I am sitting at the gate waiting for my flight. Well, that is all… I can't overextend this post because all the butterflies are coming back!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pins! The highlight of my life...

It seems that the things that are not planned, but happen out of spontaneity are revealed to be the most entertaining and resonate more greatly with you. I experienced such a phenomenon today at the Welcoming Barbeque hosted by Rotary International. I was originally not planning on attending, but when I went to have high tea (aren’t I just so sophisticated?) with the Blois family, they invited me to join them. I took this opportunity to practice the “never say no” rule that seems to apply to exchange students, and in the preliminary run it seemed to go well.
 
Those that attended were all shapes and sizes and ethnicities. It was the quintessential example of how diverse and accepting the Rotary Organization truly is. There was not an ounce of prejudice or discrimination in the atmosphere, which doesn’t come by often. In the 21st century, not many people will vocalize their thoughts on another race, but their aura gives them away as narrow-minded. No such people were present at this occasion.
I added an extensive amount of pins to my collection – and betrayed a promise that I had made to myself at the beginning of the summer. I told myself (with a stern voice!) that I wouldn’t add any pins to my blazer until I returned to the United States, because it would make it much easier for me to travel with in on. The temptation was just too great to deny, so I had to put them on. Now I am stuck with a blazer that’s weight will most likely give me a backache, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I had underestimated the effects of pins on an exchange student, and I can’t wait to get many more!
In two hours my host brother (Max) and my host father will be departing Germany to come to the good ol’ United States of America (that is intended to be said with a southern accent). I find it quite sad that my German family has seen more of America than I have… and I am the one that lives in America! They are touring the west coast, and our paths will merge on September 9. So while they have 18 days of pure fun, I have 18 days of stressing out about everything I can find to stress out about. But it also means that I only have 18 days until the greatest thing in my life happens, but also only 18 days to spend with my family. This trip has a lot of blame on its shoulders. It is the reason I am happy, sad, excited, and nervous. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Royal Gorge

The Royal Gorge was graced by my presence a few days ago. The mini-vacation was planned on the spur of the moment, as most of the activities of my summer have been compiled of. Since being accepted into the Rotary Youth Exchange Programme, but parents and I have set out to conquer more of the magnificent beauty that Colorado has to offer. It would be a tragedy if I were to go to Germany as an ambassador of Colorado, when I have yet to see many of the things it has to offer.
This was not my first trip to the Royal Gorge; I went about seven or eight years ago. The attractions that lie around this monumental bridge are ones that you cannot see every year, for it would be a bit of a waste of money. But since my memory had been fading of the instances that happened almost a decade ago, we set off to renew our view of the manmade wonder.
Most of my excitement revolved around my hopes that I would have a summer romance (even though there was barely enough time to meet anyone). My hopes dwindled, of course, when I realized that I was venturing to the resort totally out of season. Not only had most of the schools in Colorado already commenced, but it was in the middle of the week. So after my realization I wasn’t sure what I would do with myself for the three days.
I am a bit embarrassed to say that one of the highlights was the huge jump pillow that was in the resort I was staying at. This pillow resembled a trampoline but was much greater in size. I am sure that it was only intended for young children, but I made a point to spend most of my time on the pillow. I thought nothing of it at the time for the resort was practically deserted. I took this time to explore my ninja moves mid-air, and added some sound effects for dramatization. It was only after I retired from my practice that I realized that I was not alone. Not only were there people in close enough proximity to hear me, but they were boys around my age! Not surprisingly, I dashed back to my cabin and never resurfaced at the pillow.

My pre-exchange diet faltered while on vacation, as I had expected. What was the surprise was how far of the tracks it would stumble. I gouged myself on theme park delicacies such as Funnel Cake and Ice Cream. Just thinking about it makes me feel as if I gained ten pounds! I must say though, it was totally worth it. I am rather glad that Funnel Cakes are only sold at select places, and only during the summer, for if it was a different fate I would be enormous.
Even though I try to cover-up my quintessentially boy crazy mind, it shows through more than I would like. At this moment I would like to say that I was in the presence of some be (dare I say it?) hot guys. It had to come at the most awkward time, of course, because that is just the luck of Shandre. During the latter part of the day I was quite fatigued and it was obvious that I was extremely hot (temperature wise – even though we know both definitions are applicable to me!)  I was shying away from the massive crowds of giddy tourists in a feeble attempt to avoid utter embarrassment. This plan was a total failure as I was forced into propinquity with two attractive people while on the incline coaster. It is quite difficult to enjoy the beauty of the gorge, when the beauty of the men was just slapping me in the face!
It wasn’t until the late evening of the last night that we decided to take our leave from The Royal Gorge. The car ride home was off – probably because I am not used to driving extensive distances in the late evening. I quite enjoyed the trip (more than I had expected with the desertedness of the resort) and I liked spending with my parents before my departure (18 days!!).