Saturday, July 23, 2011

Rotary Presentation

If you had asked me what I would have said two days ago: Am I ready to embarrass myself in two days? No. But luckily I have two days to prepare for such an embarrassment.
Typical Shandre, always overreacting! Things always work out better than I expect them too. This can be both good and bad though I guess. If I expect things to go badly then everything will seem to be great and fabulous, but this in itself causes me much stress. I think I am just a naturally stressed out person. I stress about the little things and the big things and all things in between. And what happens when I stress? I get sick and then stress more because I am too sick to do the things that I need to be doing. So my new life purpose is escaping this continuous paradox I am trapped in.
It seems that I have forgotten to mention that which was the cause of my stress! Mr. DiLorenzo – the Rotarian that had first inspired me to become an exchange student – had asked me to present to the Highlands Ranch Rotary Club about my exchange. It seemed simple enough, but that didn’t stop me from worrying. At first I thought his request meant that the other members of the club wanted to know a bit more about Regensburg, but in fact he wanted me to talk about my experience thus far. It really wasn’t a daunting task, but the thought of talking in front of people was intimidating.
The meeting was conducted at Lone Tree Country Club. I was dressed so prim and proper that I practically felt like a different person. I will now take this time to thank my mom for reminding me that I can’t wear jeans to every engagement I have!
Once we arrived, we sat down to a wonderful lunch. Because I am sure you want to know exactly what I ate, I shall oblige. I devoured the macaroni and cheese, bread, and cookies that I piled onto my plate. Thinking back on it now, I am quite glad that I ate before the presentation because it calmed my nerves a bit. Good thing my lunch didn’t decide to revisit me during my speech!
While lunch was in its closing stages, the president of the club initiated the announcements. I felt a bit out of place during all of this because all the topics were foreign to me. There was an awfully nice lady that stood up to talk about the cause she was advocating, and it struck a chord with me. She was lobbying for kids that were so negatively affected by the economic recession that they are unable to acquire the bare necessities that they need to succeed in the school year. What made her petition so strong and moving was that she extrapolated the future benefits of the project. If children are unable to succeed in the upcoming year, then the next year they will have a lesser chance of accomplishing. This snowball effect will eventually lead to more teenagers dropping out of high school, which is a fate that I wish to prevent. Unfortunately I was unprepared for donating money, so I neglected to bring with my wallet. It was to my dismay that I couldn’t help out a bit.
Once the announcements had concluded, it was time for me to get up in front of at least twenty people and tell them about my exchange. By now I had already met most of the people in the room so my nerves were at ease (well as relaxed as they could have been in that situation). But I had to embarrass myself just a bit (because that is just something I always seem to get right). I didn’t have a clue how to set up the projector to display my PowerPoint, but luckily there was a technical man in the vicinity that was able to come to my rescue! Just another prime example of how splendid the members of Rotary truly are!  Once I had gotten a few words into my speech, it felt as if I were talking to some of my good friends.
I opened my PowerPoint with “About Me”. This was by far the most exciting part of the presentation because I am just an exciting and interesting person! (Maybe my mum was right when she said I needed to show a bit more humility :D) I then went on to explain why I wanted to be an exchange student (maybe a future blog?) and what I had gone through so far. And then there was some blah about challenges and finally some things about Regensburg, my host family, and my school. I thought about typing out my whole presentation for you to read, but then I realized it would be a bazillion (yes that is a word) pages, and it would take me forever!
When all was said and done the kind hearted members of Rotary gave me a pin and a pen, and there were many handshakes and smiles. But I have saved the best for last.
Each week the Highlands Ranch Rotary holds a raffle in which the winner receives the sum of money collected from those that bought a ticket. It was my duty as the guest speaker to draw the winning ticket, and with my psychic awesomeness I pulled the same member that had won last week. He thought it would only be fair to give me the money. But what did I do with the money? I gave it to the lady who had inspired me so by her oration of the kids in need. It really makes me feel good to help people!
It took all my will power not to construct this paragraph, but the scientist in my ignored my pleas, and so here I am… writing this paragraph. I once read a journal of Richard Dawkins called The Selfish Gene. He proposed the idea that there is no selfless act in human nature. No one does something without getting something in return. I think that this may be a very viable statement. If one does something with no tangible reward, they still feel an emotional reward. The reward is a sense of good doing and accomplishment. This is not to say that doing things for other people without material reward has less meaning or importance, but it brings a new definition to the word: selfless.
So the moral of the story is that I shouldn’t worry about things as silly as a presentation. And more importantly I shouldn’t stress things that are out of my control. But what are the chances that I am going to take my advice?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

We are now boarding...

September 9, 2011. The day my life will change forever. You guessed it! I finally booked my tickets for my flight to Germany a few days ago. It feels like this experience if finally getting underway. The ambiance in my house is a bit tense at the moment for my parents now have this date looming over their heads. If you ask them they will tell you that they are so excited to get me out of the house, but we all know this to be false! I mean, who wouldn’t miss this? Answer: nobody.
Warning: Excessive amounts of drama beyond this point.
From my quaint abode in Highlands Ranch I will make the treacherous journey to Denver International Airport. The roads that lead to my fate may possible be littered with the most reckless and dangerous of people that’s sole purpose in life is my downfall. But fret not, for I am prepared for an epic battle of my life. From there I will say a very teary goodbye to my parents and flee to security. There I will shout my parting words to America and gallivant towards my new life. At 6:05pm on the dot the plane will fire up its engines and I will feel its roar in my bowels. We will ascend to such heights that even the gods won’t be able to touch us (good thing for I am not currently on the best terms with them). The first section of my journey will come to a screeching halt in Frankfurt, Germany at 11.35am, and I will depart my temporary home of the plane with the attributes of a drunk. You see, I didn’t sleep on the plane at all because it was my duty as an American citizen to keep my eyes peeled for any suspicious activity. And by suspicious I mean an island that resembles “The Island” in any shape or form. I will wait on Frankfurt until episode two of my journey commences. At 1:35pm I will again rise to the heaven and travel to Munich to again disembark at 2:30pm. My return from my battles of greatness has yet to be confirmed, but I, the brave and gallant Shandre,  will make sure that this information becomes available to you as soon as me.
We now resume standard levels of theatrics.
It was quite a battle to get my tickets finalized and all that jazz. You see, Christoph and Max will be on their own little excursion to California while I am in Colorado awaiting my departure. They arrive late in the afternoon (5.45pm) on the 9th of September, so obviously we tried to coordinate our flights so it would be less trouble for them. But I could not get a flight that landed later than 2.30pm! So I obviously took the flight.
For those of you that can’t do math, I have to wait on the Munich airport for around three hours before my host family comes. It will be just as I had a layover, and it will give me a chance to assert my independence! It will also give me the precious time I need to pretty myself up so that I don’t look like I rose from the Night of the Living Dead when I meet my host family. That would make things a tad awkward in the car ride back to the house.  This is what my mom says of course (she always has to be the reasonable one!). I, on the other hand, feel this will be a perfect opportunity to scope out the potential real estate of Germany… and I’m not talking about houses! *For those of you part of Rotary International, please ignore the previous comment* But in all seriousness (I know that it doesn’t happen often!) I am glad that I will have a few moments to gather my thoughts before meeting my host family.
When I was told all the wonderful and grand tales of getting a Guarantee Form back it made my mind soar. It was the thing that I looked forward to most out of the whole exchange (apart from my blazer and the beautiful men). I got it today. I guess this is a prime example of why exchange students shouldn’t have expectations. What did I get in the mail? A piece of paper. With information that I already knew. Exciting? No. But this is not to say that my disappointment in relation to my Guarantee Form lowered my overall excitement to Germany!
P.S. the above paragraph was my conclusion… so this blog is now over.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Regensburg :D

There is no general reason for this post, other than the fact that I feel the need to be technologically savvy today. So compliments of Shandre please enjoy this video! It is one of the few German songs that I can actually listen to more than once or twice J.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Where I will be exiled to... not that I am complaining

 So after much thought about the subject I decided that I would share this invaluable information that I have been hinting towards for so long. I just ask that any creepy stalker killers refrain from visiting me at my school to do what you do best… Kill people. Thank you very much J
It looks like Johannes-Nepomuk-Gymnasium Rohr will have to deal with me for a year! I feel that this is an adequate warning to all the teachers and students that currently attend JNG Rohr – and that if they choose to leave the facility before my arrival, they best do so soon.
For all of you that know German, feel free to investigate for all your burning questions. But for the rest of us (and it pains me to say I am included in this group), I will do a little translating.  Let’s just hope that I won’t need Google Translate to save me for too long!
The St. John Nepomuk School is a monastic school whose allegiance is with the Benedictine abbey of pipe. Don’t worry if you have no idea what that means, because neither do I! I am hoping that it is all cleared up once I am there. I do know that it is a Catholic-based school, which may or may not present a problem. It would be an understatement to say that I am not a religious person, so it would be an equal understatement to say that it will be a completely different experience for me. My mother says (and I agree with her) that I should pretend this experience would be as I were doing a project on the world of religious schooling. It is exciting because in this world I will be a reporter for National Geographic and I will get to meet all these wonderful people! (I just sang that little jingleJ)
Technically JNG Rohr is a linguistic grammar school, which is awesomesauce because I love English. It is most definitely my favorite class in school. But English is not the only language that these people are talking about. After my year abroad I will be able to say that I know six languages: English, Afrikaans, Chinese, German, French, and Latin. It’s kind of daunting to think that I will have to learn French and Latin in school when I can barely speak German! This all just means that I can talk to more people in the world, and that is the most wonderful thing.
I am not that much of a physical and sporty person, but I am going to have to leave that part of Shandre at home when I get on the plane because that won’t correspond with German curriculum. I am going to be going from ThunderRidge, where I only have to take 4.5 months of physical education, to a school where you have to take it for 4 years! I am going from two gymnasiums, a soccer and football field, and tennis courts to two gymnasiums, and indoor swimming pool, a dojohall, and two sport fields. I am going to have channel my inner fish! What I find ironic is that the main sport here is Judo, which is Japanese. I am going to be learning a Japanese form of sport in a German school? Looks like they are more international that I thought!
Germans themselves seem to be more active than in Highlands Ranch. It isn’t suprising since the Bavarian Alps and Black Forest is just in their backyard! I am coming to the realization that I won’t be able avoid skiing forever. I am being thrown from the Ski State of America to the Ski State of Germany. Just my luck. I hope you are all crossing your fingers that I won’t come home with a bajillion broken bones and bruises.
At least I won’t be alone at JNG Rohr because they do independent exchanges with the United States, France, and the Czech Republic. It will be so refreshing to hear some ‘merican accents after being overwhelmed by people that could be insulting me all day for all I know. But Bavarians are rumored to be the most informal and kind people in Germany, so that is one less thing for me to worry about.
I guess this is bye. These things always have an awkward ending don’t they? (thumbs up for Charlie reference!)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Preliminary Packing

Wow! Two blogs in one day! It is fair to say that this is my feeble attempt at redeeming myself after the complete lack of information about anything and everything about me. But does it really count as two blogs in one day if they were written in the deep hours of the night out of boredom and longing to etch my mark on the world (or in this case the internet)? Well, I hope then there aren’t any blogging police for then I might be charged with the most heinous crime against my followers. But please know that I do this because I love you, and only for the fact that I feel a mutual benefit will come from all this ranting.
Looking back on the paragraph… I realize that my boredom has reached epic proportions. Who else would spend a whole section of precious internet space on my thoughts about blogging rules? You know the answer. Me. Who else could be so awesome? Oh I do know that there is no need to talk about how awesome I am, because everyone already knows it (am I allowed to say “jk” in a post?).
I feel like there are three sections of my personality that are fighting with each other at the moment. The random Shandre (as can be seen above), the narcissist (as seen in the second paragraph), and then the rational Shandre (this is her). This battle often gets heated whenever I stay up past the witching hour. Is this a reason to stop this habit? No. Why else would it be called summer? In my vocabulary booklet thingy “summer” is synonymous with “Staying up late because you feel like it…”
There was a reason for this post. I wished to share that I began my preliminary packing! Very exciting, I know. Everything looks like it is working out well, and that I don’t have to buy much more and that my weight is looking good. I can’t believe that some people wait until the week… or even night before to pack their things. It would just be too stressful for me and I would be so scared of leaving something important at home. It’s not like I can just quickly stop by my house to pick up the things that I forgot.
It seems that in my last post I forgot some important things about my placement. It seems that my fears were correct that in waiting so long to write down all this information, I forgot many tenets that are essential in anyone who is truly interested in my uninteresting life. While writing these previous sentences I realize that maybe it isn’t the best idea to share this information because it is quite personal. I wouldn’t want some creepy stalker to follow me to my school and kill me. I think that I should be congratulated for my cyber safety! (In actuality I am going to ask my mum if it would be okay if I do so) So see you tomorrow, whether or not my mum advises me to give away this information!

The Long-Awaited Post

This blog should probably have been written ages ago, but I have just come around to finally typing it all down. Let’s hope that I don’t forget any immensely important detail! So the theme of this week’s blog is “Shandre’s Placement”! I can just imagine all of you erupting in a spontaneous roar with an immeasurable amount of joy! Do not fret; I was also as you when this news arrived to me!
It all began on the last day of Moab. As I had earlier speculated, Moab is a place of wonder that can make any dream come true. There was no doubt in my mind about this fact, and now I have some tangible proof of my theories. Dr. Ewing had called me while I was off being adventurous, and in his message he told me that he had spoken to Herr Nedermierer about the lack of news about my placement. It seems that even he thought that I was waiting much too long! It is nice to know that I am not just an impatient teenager that doesn’t value delayed gratification. Over many phone calls and emails it became apparent that I will be staying in Bavaria, Germany for my year abroad, and following that I learned that I will be living in Regensburg. Oh the irony! The only other exchange student to be staying in District 1880 – Upper Bavaria will also be living in Regensburg! I can see that he and I will have a lot of fun… he might not realize this yet, but we will be best friends.
So after this news I just went on with my life, awaiting my Guarantee Form. Little did I know (like my little literary technique?) that my host sister was going to Facebook add me. If any of you know my personally you are aware that I must make an ass (excuse my French) of myself every chance I get. She sent me a message that she was my host sister, but I didn’t read it before I told her all about my exchange. I did later realize my mistake, and thank goodness she had the sense of humor to understand that I am just a weary traveler with little technological skill.
Would you like to meet my host family? Well even if you don’t I am going to introduce you… well show you pictures of them in hopes that you feel a connection J They are the Maluche’s, and don’t feel distressed if you don’t know how to pronounce their surname, because I didn’t know either. Those darn Germans with their intricate accents (I say that with a lot of love).
My host mother and father (Christoph and Sabine): it is quite funny that I will be leaving my nurse mother to go live with my nurse host mother! My host father is a Doctor of Orthopedics and seems so friendly J

My host sister (Johanna - 15): she is going to Taiwan on August 20, so I won’t get to meet her, but we have gotten to talk a lot. She is fantastic and really nice to me…

My host brother (Max – 18): What is there really to say? He is 18 and is going to be my brother. Oh yes, he definitely has… different taste in music than I do. But I love him all the same!

My host brother (Moritz – 16): Someone my age! This is something to be excited about? Yes.

So my host family is pretty freaking awesome! I have spoken with them on the phone and they sound very… German. Hooray!
Well I think I am going to go clean my nose piercing now... oh yes! Did I mention that I impaled my nose with a sharp piece of metal? Well if I forgot this is your update of my rebellious natures.