Sunday, July 10, 2011

Home again...

The last weeks in Germany were packed and busy and the best weeks of all. I had a going away party in the park in June with the other two exchange students, I went on vacation with my family on the Staffelsee in Bavaria (and got a sunburn which is now a tan) visited my friends in Hamburg and had a wonderful time, scrambled to see everyone one last time, put together presents, and pack. Saying goodbye to my family and friends at the airport was really hard, and I cried and cried and cried. Our time in Washington before we were allowed to see our families was annoying because of the workshops. Saying goodbye to my AFS family was hard as well but I know that we will keep in touch.

Arriving home and seeing my parents was so strange... they looked the same yet different. Seeing my house was so strange, everything was the same but different. All the smells are so familiar, yet so strange. I could go on and on. But I have to call my guest family. Goodbye.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Berlin, Madrid, München, Hamburg

I have a little less than a month left in Germany, and I can't believe it. I made myself a wallet calender yesterday evening to keep everything in my head. I get out of school on the 22nd, I found out that my host mother booked a vacation house in Munich for the first eight days or so of vacation, and then I've made plans to visit amazing family friends in Hamburg after that, and then I only have four more days and I'll be finding myself in the airport crying my eyes out! How did this happen!? I couldn't fall asleep last night thinking about it. In any case, instead of delving into my difficulties accepting the fact that I have less than a month left, I'll give a little overview of what I've been up to since the last time I wrote.

The last week of May I went to Berlin for my End of Stay Orientation. I wasn't really looking forward to going, but by the end of the week I didn't want to leave. At the midstay camp we all met eachother for a second time, but this time we were able to see all fifty of us, and form deeper friendships with many. By now, writing this, it feels like so long ago, and I don't really know how to describe all the things that happened and all the feelings we felt. A good friend of mine wrote an amazing blog post about it all, and I asked her if I could provide the link here. She said everything a thousand times better than I could think to. (She also has a lot of really good photos, so please check it out!!).

This last week, from Thursday to Sunday, I was in Madrid with the Spanish classes of my school. It was a fantastic experience, and I definitely want to find a way to go back and learn Spanish! I think pictures can describe everything better than words...
At the airport before departure
Our airplane!

Checkin' everything out through our big waiting room window

Arrived at the hostel with a fantastic view out of our window.

meine gastschwester und ich!

pretty street, crossing our hostel's street

walking tours!

another pretty street

the demonstranten!


A statue. With hair? Just kidding. It's Maria!

An interesting wall covered in shards of mirror.

Typical again. I love my fellow chilean exchange student.

See that sharp corner on that building? It's not real. Look closely at the graffiti on the bottom and you'll see...


Waiting to get into the Museo nacional centro de arte reina sofia!

Ready to listen with our snazzy hearing devices.
The elevator ride up to the third floor of the museum...
Another group photo on our tour of modern madrid.
...modern madrid

Outside the soccer stadium. We love spain!

The Demonstranten, blocking one of the major intersections in the city

Statue of Caído, the fallen angel (aka the devil), in the Parque de El Retiro.

Also in the Park, Palacio de Cristal.

On our last evening, the best living statue we had ever seen. It was eerie.

Birte, Haresh and I had a long wait in the airport, which we made the most of

Finally in the airplane! yay, Frankfurt!

The view out the plane window as the sun set.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Oh Life, How I love You

Sorry it's been so long since I've last written! I guess I've been pretty busy what with one thing and another. And for almost the entire part (even more than for the most part, get it? get it?) really happy.

The week school began again we also got a visitor: the first exchange student, from Bosnia, who lived with my guest family the year that the older sister was doing her exchange year in France. It was interesting to meet her and to see her with 'my' guest family, but after a while it was a bit tiring. I've realized (not only because of this) how much I hate being told by other people how I am. I'm not quite sure how to react to statements like, 'You're so quiet!' or, 'You're just like my cousin.' Maybe I am quiet. Today. Or maybe I am like your cousin, but I really don't know her so how could I say?! And a bigger part of me wants to scream, 'Oh yeah? You don't know how I am!' and I suddenly would do anything to be different from the cousin, even though I'm sure she's a wonderful person.

My bike had a case of the flat tire for over a week, and my guest father ended up helping me patch the tube (? in German it's called the Schlauch) because I tried twice without success to buy one with the right size valve. During the in between time however, I used my host mother's cranky bicycle and discovered many a nice place, including a pretty little man made lake a 20 minute bike ride from my house with a beach divided into the must-be-'clothed' half and the must-not-be-clothed half. This is called FKK, Frei Korper Kondukt. I respect the people who are brave enough to chill on that side of the beach, but let me say. I've never seen so many naked old men in my life. The swimming there is really nice though, and I'm hoping to be able to replace jogging (boring) with biking and swimming (fun!).

Today I biked to school for the first time, meeting up with friends at around the halfway point. It takes exactly as long as the time I need to use public transportation, and is oh-so-much-more refreshing and good for my and the environment's health. I'm excited. And I'm excited for this weekend, starting in just a couple hours. But I'm not going to write about that now. Instead, I invite you to read further and discover the real reason for this Friday evening blog update...

My dear reader: I don't know if you are one hundred percent aware of the bicycle-mania which has been gripping me, but ever since my guest father bought me my bike, I have become increasingly obsessed with them. Well, perhaps the words 'mania' and 'obsession' are a bit strong... we could leave at 'very highly interested'.

But I'm not very highly interested in any old bikes-- what I want is what is known in German as a Rennrad and what in America goes by Road Bike. Not a flashy new blue, red and white racing bike or anything, but rather something a little milder and a whole lot cooler. Every time someone zooms by on one of those things I stare after them until they're out of sight or until I walk into something. Even if the rider is old, fat and ugly I still drool over his bike. (I say 'his' not out of sexism, but because of the sad fact that it seems to be ninety-nine percent men who ride such road bikes).

In any case, I was going to wait until after this weekend to post, but something so important happened this afternoon that it couldn't wait. What happened, you ask? I'll tell you: I fell in love. Twice, in fact, but the first time was last weekend, with a medical student in an old black and white photo from the '70s, printed ten feet tall on the wall of the university metro station. (Upon hearing this news, my mother said to me on the telephone, "you realize that this man is at least my age, right?" "Yes..!" I replied defensively.

But today was different-- for one thing, the boy was real, and most definitely younger than my mother. For another thing, he was riding an amazing bike. Unfortunately, he went by at about a hundred miles an hour so I didn't have the chance to observe him as closely as I might (ahem, definitely) would have done otherwise. I mean, everyone can go fast on a road bike, but what makes this boy so especially extraordinary is that he was literally booking it through the most pedestrian-clotted area in Frankfurt at a speed faster than I would go at on a wide empty road with god himself controlling the handlebars.

However, what few light waves of his image did have time to reach me informed me of his attractive stature, extreme good looks, and the fact that I want to marry him, steal his skills, and ride away on his bike.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


I spent the first 1 1/2 weeks of Easter Break with my guest family in France. France itself was lovely, and the weather was gorgeous. But I found it very, very frustrating to operate so closely with my guest family. The half hour decision making processes (also known as arguments because one member of the family never listened to or respected anybody else's opinion), the endless leisurely strolls through cities just for the sake of wandering around, the delay after delay after delay before we could just leave when we had decided to leave, only because 'we' 'had' to find the perfect cafe to get coffee, which half of us might not have even wanted, were a bit difficult for me to go with. My guest father's way of operating made me want to scream, explode, and swim the ocean back to my own father as fast as I possibly could. These constantly re-occurring feelings (due to my constant contact with him and therefore consistently re-occurring incidents of his infuriating-ness) lead to homesickness and made for a difficult hurdle to jump over in order to enjoy everything else. Which was really good, honestly!

On Monday morning we left late and spent the day driving to Paris, where we spent the first days. My guest sister and I slept at my aunts house. It was wonderful to see her and my cousin again, as well as some other friends I have in Paris. My guest family did a lot of sight seeing and I chilled for most of that time with my cousin.

On Thursday we all piled back in the car to drive to Tours, where we met the older sister and then spent several days with her old guest family in the countryside near Tours. It was beautiful-- they live in a house which the father's grandfather built, and which has been added on to every generation. The old part is like a museum, and it tore my heart strings to see all the beautiful old books just sitting there and rotting in the inconsistant heat and humidity. During this visit I heard so much strange English spoken that I was afraid that if I spoke English myself it would come out that way too: sort of a mix between a French and a German accent, saying the word 'this' instead of 'that', using reflexive verbs incorrectly, giving nouns genders, and mixing up my tenses like there's no tomorrow. I stuck to German and French, for which I at least have an excuse for being bad at.

From there we drove to Clermont-Ferrand, where my elder guest sister studies. We didn't spend long there, just enough time to look a bit around, get a night's sleep, pack the sisters things, find the perfect place to buy cheese, and drink coffee. At around 4:30 we finally left, five of us squished into this little old red car, and drove (almost straight through) to Frankfurt, where we arrived at about 4 in the morning.

I got a few hours of sleep, showered, and left the stress at home to sleep over at a friends house. The rest of vacation I'm just going to get back into the swing of things, hang out with people, do some paperwork for college, and relax. Let me just say, it's good to be back.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


I know it's been a while since I last posted-- the time has been literally flying by. As I mentioned last post, the weekend after I went to Hamburg some AFS/CBYX friends of mine visited me in Frankfurt. It was really fun and really nice to see them again. I'm looking back through my diary to see what I've been doing this whole time... I've been shopping way too much. But I had to, really! I really did. Running out of jeans and underwear is not a happy thing, people. I've also accompanied friends shopping for summer clothes, which of course I no longer have money for. (Where does all my money go!?) Food, most likely, but I figure its worth it, especially now that I only have three more months in this delicious country.

Last weekend was an interesting one: I went to a club with some friends, which I was really excited about because it looks so cool from the outside. But to be honest, the experience was a bit of a let-down. I was there with two couples, one of which was off hanging out with other people and the other of which was sort of attatched at the mouth the whole time. And the best friend of the girl attatched at the mouth. So there was this whole attention competition going on, and I was just sort of there... and I convinced the best friend to leave early, because I was sleeping at her house anyways. And riding a bike thats too big for you in the middle of the night is not a lot of fun. Of course I was pretty tired the next day, which was my guest Grandmothers birthday party. I sat in the car for 45 minutes to sit awkwardly with a family which wasn't mine, and have a stomache ache. It was fantastic, and I was about to have a temper tantrum or something when we finally, finally, fiinnallly left at like 11 o'clock at night.

But Sunday was good, because my guest dad showed me the best way to bike into the city. We checked out bikes, mostly for my host mom since she's thinking about getting a new one. We also saw a great used bike, which he (surprise!) bought for me the next day. I was totally shocked, and gave him a huge hug and said thank you a million times. I honestly feel a bit bad that he did that for me, but it's definitely worth it. I've already ridden it so much, and now that it's getting so warm I will hopefully be riding it more and more.

The last week has gone by super fast. I presented my German project, and it went actually really well. I'm proud of it, and we didn't even get eaten out too badly. One thing that I find really cool here, as opposed to in America: after presentations are given or something is read aloud, the peer critiques are real. People say what they liked, but also what they didn't like or what was unclear or could be better. It's not mean or bitchy or snobby like it would be in the US, its just the way it is. After our presentation my American friend and I each got asked a question by a boy in our class, and I went so red answering it but it was alright. A friend of ours was so nice and commented that it was really cool what we did and how well we did it. Everybody ended up clapping and taking pictures, which was a bit funny and awkward but I'm glad to have a record of it.

Also last week was yet again more shopping... On Wednesday I bought a gorgeous spring jacket, shame shame. But it IS gorgeous. And on Friday, after shopping with another friend, the craziest thing that has ever happened to me, happened to me. Read closely, this is the stuff of movies.

The scene: around 4:00pm on the Zeil, the biggest shopping street in Frankfurt, between the U-Bahn Sations Hauptwache and Konstaberwache. After saying goodbye to her friend at Hauptwache, Sorrel walks through the thick Friday afternoon shopping croud to Konstablerwache to take her U-bahn, but is interrupted by a man who runs up behind her out of nowhere saying 'excuse me!'. Sorrel turns around, expecting it to be another one of those random people who ask 'are you from here?' -'no.' -'but from germany.' -'no.' -'oh. okay. nevermind.' BUT no. He says, 'uh, you're really cute, and yeah, I just wanted to.. I'm , whats your name?' I was so shocked, I sort of gurgled out my name and mumbled off that I wasn't really interested. It was obvious anyways that he was too old for me. But we had this whole conversation, what a pretty name I have, oh he was in Massachusets, oh cool I'm from Maine, what I'm doing in Germany, how I get along in school, what amazing german I have, and how old am I, actually? Oh, I'm seventeen? Well, oh, maybe I am a bit too young, but I'm (again) very beautiful, and enjoy the rest of my stay here. I wished him luck finding somebody, we said bye, and walked away. o.o

I. was. in. shock. I called my friend, I called my guest sister, nobody answered. I wrote everything furiously down in the metro, biked in a record 20 minutes back to my house, and told my guest sister. We agreed that it was incredibly gutsy of this man to do something like that, and toyed with the idea that he's just a player who does that all the time, and I know I shouldn't judge people on their looks but he definitely did not look like that type of guy. In any case, if I ever see him again I will say something to him.

That was Friday. That night I slept over at friend's house, and Saturday met up with another friend to go the Music Fair in Frankfurt. It was super incredible... There were so many instruments and so many people who could play them so well. It made me either want to start practicing ten hours a day now, or never begin at all. At some point it will end up somewhere in between. Saturday night I went with my guest family to this tiny concert of traditional classical indian music. The music was beautiful, but the chairs made my poor bum hurt all night, and it was so warm and cozy and the music was so lullaby-y that I just wanted to crawl into bed and fall asleep to it. In the intermission and afterwards I had two completely awkward conversations with random people who were in fact talking to my guest parents which made me feel irritated and as though I'd done something wrong. I swear this man stared at me funny for like twenty seconds awaiting an answer to his completely rhetorical question. Jeez! The walk around the area at 10:30 after this whole ordeal of an evening, which evoked exactly the same feelings in me as the grandmother's birthday party did, made me realize that unless I'm super into it, I shouldn't go anywhere late at night because I just can't handle it.

Anyhoo. It's been so warm lately we've been eating outside on the terrace a lot. I love it, and I love the summer food. I spent all day today getting stuff done, and I'm still not finished. A couple notes about the coming future: just one more week of school and then Easter Break! Next Sunday is my guest sister's birthday, and also the day that we drive to France! I'm excited. It's late now, though, and I still have to read some papers for my dreaded PoWi class. Bye!


These are just some pictures taken to and from school. This tree was so beautiful...

At the music fair. Being from Maine and all, the saxophoning moose was sort of a must have picture.

My group for Deutsch class. (I talked about Menschenbild, Oberegesellschaftsschichte)

Taken today-- grilling in the newly terraced garden.

Turn left at the corner and you reach the driveway.

Please don't think that I waste my time in school. These are just two examples of at least fifty possible one of a kind creations that escape my fingers at a time which is, completely coincidentally, during class. I drew this cartoon during two particularly boring hours of PoWi. If you can't read it, it's called Harry Potter und ein Baum. (For any of you who can understand German, please see Harry Potter und ein Stein).
I would love to post every one of the 24 charming little pages of this legitimately sewn and bound book, but that's too much. It's good though, trust me.