Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Some Crazy Stuff

The past week or so has been a bit of a rollercoaster for me. Now that things are finally settling down, I sometimes feel a bit homesick. Don't get me wrong--I love it here. But sometimes it is hard to think how easy and familiar everything is back in Maine. Something that I've noticed bothers me, though it's really not a big deal, is that I am still a bit of guest. This is how I know: I always get offered food first. Sometimes I feel like screaming 'Why do I have to be first!? I don't know how things work here, All I want to do is copy You!'

Yesterday, Tuesday, was a full day. I went with my host mother and sister to IKEA, for the first time in my life! My favorite part was the huge room full of bedrooms. Maybe I am tired... Then we payed a lovely visit to Oma, my host mom's mom. We drank tea and coffee, and ate home made plum cake that my guest father cooks every Sunday. Then we looked at photographs (I am beginning to know all the family, at least in pictures) and watched old movies that all the cousins made when they were kids. Very funny. Oma told me that I had very good German, which was very nice. I can understand now almost all that happens, except when I'm taken by surprise. It was pretty exhausting though, concentrating so hard all afternoon, and by the time I got home I felt like crashing.

Today was strange. In a way it is sort of a small, condensed version of all the ups and downs that I have gone through, and will no doubt continue to go through. This is how it went: In the morning I felt listless, and a bit frantic at the same time. I talked a lot with some other exchange students on facebook, with my ipod, which is always stressful just because it's so small and sometimes inconsistant. I miss a lot of messages, and don't see chats at all unless I'm waiting for them. I knew the last thing I wanted to do was stay at home all day, because especially at this time it is important for me to stay busy and keep my mind occupied and happy. I have been wanting to go to the library for a while now, since I only brought one English book with me and I've already read it several times. I talked to my host mother about it, and she was so nice and called the Stadtbucherei for me, and asked about what I needed to get a library card. Which turned out to be my passport and official proof of residence. So that meant that I had to go to the Rathaus and get a special paper to prove that I live where I do. It's very close, and so I walked there right away and got all that I needed very quickly and easily.

Then, I made the great first expodition, and walked right past the huuuge Stadtbucherei without even seeing it. Oops. When I knew I'd gone to far, I turned around and felt silly at how obvious it was. I walked in through the doors, and it felt like heaven. People must have thought I was crazy because I was grinning like mad. The first thing I saw was a little Flohmarkt (books for sale) and on the shelf were two American College books. I wanted to laugh out loud. I skimmed the pages on Bowdoin. Then I got my library card, and went exploring. The library is big, and spacious, and warm, and comfortable, and it felt like home. Downstairs I found the books in other languages. I paroozed the French books, but since I didn't know what to look for I moved quickly on to English. It's hard to describe how I felt. Just like there was this huge well of happiness in me, and I was riding totally on some huge natural high.

I ended up picking out The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood. She is one of my favorite authors, and since I loved Oryx and Crake I'm excited to finally read something else by her. I also picked out Franny and Zooey, by JD Salinger. I'm doubly excited because it is by one of my very favorite authors, and it was recommended to me last year by a really good friend of mine. So at this point, as I was walking out of this gorgeous library with two goreous books in my hand, I felt on top of the world. And then, I got in the metro, and it didnt drive away, and it kept getting more and more crouded, and my happy bubble burst. The beginning of the book also reminded me of my life, which was strange, and disheartening. When I finally got out of the bus near my house, it was raining, and I sprinted home feeling empty and like a ghost.

It was all very strange. I feel fine now, though, especially because it is supper time. So tschüss, and guten appetit!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

It Goes

Hey everybody. It's been a little while since I have written, and I find that it is actually a bit difficult to think of things to write about. (I haven't just been sitting at home all day, though, I swear!). Let's see. I am finished with my language course, which is a way a relief and a way a bit sad. It has helped me immensly, to the point that when I meet new people, they tell me that my German is very good, and ask me how long I have been studying it. This is very exciting :D So far, I have been able to tell someone the time, give a lady directions to a hospital, and confirm for several slightly confused souls the direction of the U-Bahn. I can also ask and (mostly) understand directions, read maps, and navigate my way through very large subway and train stations, all of which are very useful skills. And considering I'm just a poor girl from rural Maine who used to be afraid to take the subway alone, I think I'm doing alright.

So far this vacation I have met some more of my host sister's friends, and hung out with some of my own AFS friends. Normally we just go our for coffee, or hot chocolate, and shop or walk along the river. Last night we went out for cocktails in the local bar, which was fun. Having never drank (or is it 'drunk'? grammarians, help me!) before, and being very tired, I only had half of my Vanilla Sky. It was quite tasty, though. Afterwards my friend and I went out into the city. But since it was cold, and we had to be back soon, we did not spend a lot of time outside.

I have been trying to think of some sort of a list of differences and similarities between German and American culture and people, but I am afraid I have not been able to come up with a lot. However, one thing that I did notice from the very beginning (and it took me a while to get used to) is this: In America, when you go into a store or a restaurant, people say hello, and ask you how you are. When you leave, nothing happens. In Germany, when you go into a store or a restaurant, nobody asks you how you are, but you (and they) always say 'tschüss' when you leave. Another thing is, of course, the food. In Germany people eat a lot of bread. I find that very understandable, because the bread is good. On the bread goes butter (the more the better) and jam or cheese or meat. That goes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The rest of my vacation is pretty full of no plans at all. There are some scheduling complications, and my host parents still have to work this first week. I am hoping to make some day trips to other cities or something, but I will have to wait and see. After that I will be starting real school, for which I am nervous and very excited.