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


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!
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!