Thursday, December 23, 2010

Vacation up until Christmas

School got out after the first three hours on Friday, and I was feeling pretty bummed out and scared about vacation. Three huge blank weeks filled with nothing but sitting at home having no friends. Thank goodness it hasn't turned out that way. Friday was filled with Christmas shopping and freezing out at night at the Weihnachtsmarkt with my sister and her lovely friends. Saturday I went to a birthday party of one of my sister's best friends, which was in fact a lot of fun. We ate mexican food and played games and chatted.

I was expecting to meet my other guest sister, who was coming back from University in France, but her train was late and I was asleep. So I met her Sunday morning. Sunday was an interesting day. Early in the afternoon we walked down the hill to another small part of the city and built a snow woman and walked through the snow in a sort of park area. Afterwards we went to coffee at some friends of my guest parents, which was nice, but awkward. I always get so red when I have to talk in front of a lot of people, and trying to explain the American college application process in a foreign language is no easy task. One exciting thing happened though-- I answered the house phone. Three times in about ten minutes. It was exhausting and nervewracking, and the next day when the phone rang I just let it go.

Monday was filled with Christmas shopping, cooking, and movie watching. It was nice. Tuesday I met up with some friends (American and her visiting friend, and our German friend) and went to see the movie Tangled. For those of you who don't know, perhaps, it is a new Disney take on the Rapunzel story. I found it really sweet. Afterwards I met up with my sister and more of her friends and we all went again to the Weihnachtsmarkt. I was very cold, having been outside already for hours, and I decided that I really do need winter boots. Frankfurt has more snow this year than practically anyone can remember, which means it looks nice but in fact you just have to walk through a lot of slush. No fun.

The next day I went Christmas shopping again (!!) and met up with an AFS USA hopee, who has applied for the scholarship that I am on. In German it's called 'PPP' (das Parlamentarische Patenschafts Programm) and in English it's called the Congress-Bundestag Scholarship. We walked through the Weihnachtsmarkt and around the river a bit, until I had to go home. It was quite nice. He asked me quite a few questions about America, which I did my best to answer, taking into account that the US is huge and could be quite different in other parts of the country. It is interesting to talk with him because he is Jewish, and his parents actually come from Israel, so he speaks fluent Hebrew. He told me about a Hebrew class which takes place every Wednesday at a sinagogue near the school I have my French class in. Of course I said I was game, and he's been super nice and is asking the teacher and director people if I can join after break. After all, what's another language? French, Spanish, German, a touch of Icelandic, a touch of Hebrew... I'm getting in touch with my heritage!

But this boy and this Hebrew class actually lead me to talk about something that I find rather ironic here. When I told people in the US that I wanted to go to Germany, some of them were shocked, and said things along the lines of 'OH my GOD, but you're Jewish right and you want to go to GERmany?? I mean like aren't you SCARed?' Well actually no, not at all, the Nazis were last century, remember? And in fact I have met more Jewish people here, and more knowledge about and respect for the Jewish religion, and more opportunities to participate in it and learn about it here, than I have ever seen in my rural home in the United States of America, land of the free and home of the brave.

Otherwise, however, I'm pretty excited about experience my first Christmas. Besides all the shopping, and eating food at the Weihnachtsmarkt, I hadn't done all that much until today, when we went to pick out and cut our Christmas tree. We drove about a half hour out of the city, found the place by accident, and got the car stuck. In the process of pushing it out, I got mud splattered all over my gray corduroy pants, the only pants I have that aren't completely too small. Then we tromped all around through the snow and chucked snow balls at eachother, and finally settled on a good tree and drove back home. In the evening (after a touch of very last minute shopping) we went in the Theater. It was a quite interesting, and unique interpretation of Jesus' life. But it was cool, too, because my guest parents know the people who act there and run it all, and apparently my guest father even played a talking tree once, in a play about something from Schiller. That's all I could gather.

So tomorrow is Christmas in Germany, and I don't know what to expect but whatever it is I know it will be good! Gute Nacht, Frohe Weihnachten, and I hope you enjoy the pictures below!

Weihnachts Plätschen, so fatty and delicious...

Standing by our snow lady!

Trying to get the car in the right direction again. It took a while.

Cutting our final choice.

Cold, wet, and happy :D

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

not an interesting title

What can I say. Things are normal. My emotional weather seems to be staying pretty predictable. That is to say, unpredictable. Perhaps this is because of my extreme fatigue lingering from the weekend. I was pretty busy, by my standards, out until all hours of the night and morning with friends, and out the next day with more. I saw some interesting things, and had a lot of fun.

Friday night I went with my guest sister to a small house party of sorts by a friend of hers. I won't say how much alcohol was drunk, but I will say that only a very small portion of it was downed by yours truly. I went to bed the next morning, and about six hours later after stumbling downstairs and through breakfast and a shower, I started trying to bake chocolate chip cookies for a sort of baking slash recipe exchange party that night at a friend of mine's. I was missing a few ingredients, so I added some others, and was astonished to discover that they actually turned out alright. Absolutely nothing like the chocolate chip cookies I am accustomed to, but quite tasty. Then I rushed out of the house, barely caught my bus, and was on my way to the Christmas market in Bad Homburg with AFS. It was very cold, and there was surprisingly little to eat there (I had been counting on that), but all in all the afternoon was fun.

After some streetcar mishaps I got to my friends house shortly before nine, and we all just ate, and chatted, and made a Feuerzangenbowle. It was very impressive, and very tasty. We finally crashed around two am, and in the morning we bummed around after breakfast and watched Ratatouille. I was also lent a book: The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger, in which, after three days I am on page 575 of 593. It's the kind of actually-good love story that makes you want to rip your heart out and cry until you shrivel up as you simultaneously explode with joy and deplore your own bland to nonexistant love life. Well, maybe that's just me. But let me say, this book is way better than it's movie. It also makes me very emotionaly susceptibale to anything negative, and although it has been a captivating and delightful read, I am looking forward to finishing it so I can have my life back and end my emotional trip. Or just so I can sit bored in classes again, either way.

Today was actually quite nice. After the nearly fatal French-class boredom, they watched a movie (the Bucket List) in English class. I read. In the afternoon, I had no art class because the others had math, and two hours later my Ethik class was writing a test. So I went with my lovely American friend into 'the street' by our school, where there are lots of interesting little shops. I finally bought a new diary, a lovely red book that claims to be perfect for everything because it's made with special glue and can be rolled into a cylinder without experiencing bodily harm. Better than ripping out pages from my notebook and sticking them in the back of my old green diary. I had never walked that way before, and it was a lot of fun. We went into a store called Middle Earth, where it smelled like incence and there were lots of books about religion and philosophy. I looked for The Tao of Pooh, by Benjamin Hoff, but I didn't find it. Then there was another shop with a funny name, that had all sorts of games and toys and masks and facepaint and everything that is fun to look at and to play with. We spent quite a while in there, and I felt rather like a child again. It was refreshing. When I got home it was boring: I ate, and allowed myself to shed a few anquished tears for my book, and then I just talked with people on facebook and tried to straighten out problems with my bank account and my debit card and my money, in order to get Christmas presents for my family.

Oh! One thing that I have not at all mentioned yet: All students in the 12th grade in my school are required to do a Praktikum (basically an internship) during the first two weeks after winter break. I, as a normal, participating member (sort of) of my class, am also doing one. I asked the director of my old Sprachschule, and I think I have a place. I am very excited to see what I will do in a language school. I am hoping to get an insider's view on teaching English as a second language, which has always interested me. I have to write a CV and send it to the school, and then I also have to write certain papers for my school over my expectations and hopes, and then later over my experiences. This is treated as the first big Klausur (exam) grade of the next semester. Not that it matters for me, as I am still not officially getting grades, but I still want to hit it with my best shot. I have begun to write, though rather inconsistantly, as I have only written one so far, about a page double spaced about my day, which my sister then corrects. This is very, very good, and I highly recommend it to any exchange student, especially if you are learning the language only through speaking. I realized a few weeks ago that although I can hold a reasonably intelligent german converstion about just about anything, if I was suddenly asked to write about what I had spoken of, I would be utterly at a loss. So I am hoping that this will improve my literacy and my fluency.

As for the rest of this week, I am looking forward to seeing people in school and to finally getting my French exam back! (I'm unnecessarily nervous; I already know I did badly). After that comes Winter Ferien, a big wide open three weeks with nothing exactly planned yet, except of course Christmas and Sylvester (new years). My other guest sister is coming back from France, and I am excited to meet her. It's hard to believe that I've been here for more than three months already. It's hard to believe it is already almost Christmas... I remember when I started school after Herbst Ferien and saw that we had eight weeks until the next break. It seemed like ages away. I remember when I arrived in Germany and thought that Herbst Ferien was ages away! My how time flies. I'm told that the whole year goes like this, except that it just keeps getting faster. Man, next thing I know I will blink my eyes and be back in the US, with everything feeling like a dream, saying 'wait, did that just happen? But it seemed like such a long time...!' I guess that's a call for me to savor every second that I've got, and sign off the computer.

Until next time!

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Here are some pictures from Strasbourg. They are completely backwards here, so start at the bottom...

The last picture of the night, on the way back to the cars.

The street were beautiful in the dark, with all the lights.

Starting to get dark.

Just finished my Glühwein

We decided it would be lovely to live on the water...

Me (left) and my guest sister (right)
More of the canal.

The Notre Dame, of course!

I found the houses completely charming... especially the one that is only two windows wide.

Some cool icicles, and a pretty view from under a bridge

The first view of the city from the parking garage

Friday, December 3, 2010

Looking Up

This week of school was far better than the last, and I have more things to look forward as well. Monday was a pretty crazy day-- if you look back at my Stundenplan, you will see that I have a free hour between PoWi and Englisch, and then three free hours before Spanisch. Well, there was no Englisch class, so I had Five. Free. Hours. It was incredible. I went to the mall with my lovely American friend, and we were mistaken as a lesbian couple by a man who curled half of her hair before she had to go back to school. Tuesday, I normally have school until the 10th hour. That is, I either have two hours of art and then two hours of Ethik at the end of the day, or I have two free hours and then two hours of Ethik. (This is because art and math alternate, and I have no math class! Woohoo!). This week was a math week, and there was no Ethik. So I went home early. Wednesday I normally only have two hours of Deutsch, and two hours of Bio. But in Bio they were taking a test, and I already told the teacher that I was not going to take it. So I hung out with some people, and then went home. Thursday was normal, and Friday, was long and exhausting, with two hours of intense basketball at the end. I know people (especially my parents) are curious to see what my school looks like, so here are a few pictures:

Saturday my sister and I woke up early once again to go on a day trip to Strasbourg, with my old sprachkurs. It was a lot of fun, but very cold. I will post pictures in a separate post, since it's a real pain here.