Monday, January 31, 2011

Praktikum week two

The second week of my praktikum was really good, and really tiring. I ended up doing a lot lot lot of drawing. That was fun, but also tiring trying to think of ways to draw things like 'culture shock'. When I get my originals back (they are still at the school to be scanned) then I will try and post of a couple of my favorites up here. I also helped a woman from Korea with German accent and grammar, after her class. I really enjoyed it, because it allowed me to analyze a bit more closely what I have already learned, and I love finding just the right way to explain something so that that particular person gets it. We chatted a bunch too, and I learned a lot from her. I asked if she would be willing to teach me Korean, since I was fascinated by all the little Korean notes she made to herself as I told her stuff. She said she would teach me Korean (!!) and I gave her my number and she said she would send me an text. I hope it works out, it seems super super cool.

Over the weekend I went ice skating with AFS, and realized how much more I like cross country skiing. It was really nice to see people I hadn't seen for a long time, though. I also had a lovely evening with my guest sister. We watched a movie (Easy Virtue) and then just stayed in her room and chatted for probably an hour, and then ate cake and went to bed. And now I'm back in school. Woohoo! So I guess I'll go now, and read more for my French LK.

Au revoir, mes amis, à bientôt!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

praktikum week one

Ok, well I don't know if I've already said a whole lot about my Praktikum, so let me just give a little overview of the whole thing. Every student in my school in the 12th grade does a two week internship in a place and profession of their choice. It is meant to give kids a bit of practical experience and help them get more of an idea of what they actually want to go into. I think this in an advantage in the German school system that we don't have in America. Then again, in America we don't have to know what we want to major in the moment we start going to college.

Anyway, I decided to do my Praktikum by my old language school, A-viva. (Which is by the way pretty much the best language and culture centur for anybody new to the German language or to Frankfurt!). It's pretty chillig there, and the other Praktikantin is super, super nice. We laugh a lot. Here is some of what I have done so far:
  • picked up books at the book store
  • lots and lots of online research for people, about scholarships, activities, places to stay, spas, prices, etc
  • chatted with students and teachers
  • sat in on an English class (very interesting!)
  • learned a lot about Microsoft Word and Excel
  • formatted, printed stickers of, and stuck on, chinese flashcards
I think next week I'm going to be doing line illustrations of some sort for the chinese flashcards. I'm pretty excited about that.

Okay, just some other small notes... I am now past page 200 in Twilight in German, and pretty much gobbling my way through. Learning a lot of words. My guest father had his birthday during the week, and a party today. We spent all Saturday baking and cooking, and we have an awful lot of left overs. But I'm starting my diet Tuesday, I swear! Speaking of dieting, though, maybe I'll just buy myself bigger jeans. I was such a skinny string bean in the US I couldn't even imagine gaining weight, but here I am. AFS: another fat student!

Monday, January 17, 2011

the winning streak week

This last week has been one of my very best here in Germany. After vacation it was as if almost everything just started falling into place. I gues it's hard to describe what makes a week good--mostly it's just little chats with people that make you happy, or hugs that you get, or sentences you realize you understand completely without having to look a million words up in the dictionary. In any case, it literally flew by and I still can't believe that today is already the 17th.

My classes were generally good-- the ones I don't like, or don't understand (like Deutsch and Bio) I read through. I have now finished my first German book: Das Mädchen mit dem Perlenohrring. I'm very excited, and have now started reading Twilight in German. (So far the fact that I'm reading it in German is its only redeeming factor). My Spanish teacher, who is probably the nicest, coolest teacher I have this year, was kind enough to treat my like everyone else and give me a grade. At the end of the semester everybody gets a short one on one chat with the teacher in the hall about their grade. She told me there how cool she found it that I have come to Germany, learned perfect German (I disputed that), and am learning Spanish (and French) on top of it all.

But in fact, if I can judge how good my German is getting by how bad my English is becoming, my German is doing pretty darn well. On Friday evening, as my sister and I were walking out of the metro station to meet a friend before we went to the Abi Party, I said to her 'Do you think I could up the down escalator to go?'. Only upon reflection did I realize what had come out wrong. On Sunday, as she was correcting the pages I write in German over my day, I was writing in my diary, and wrote 'Birte's friends were already there while they had to learn for their Abi'. For those of you who aren't so familiar with German, 'weil' (pronounced 'vile') means 'because'. It also happens more and more frequently that when the other American exchange student and I speak in English, we say things that are in fact a direct translation from the German, like 'By me it doesn't give that', and so on.

Anyways, yes, on Friday my sister and some friends and I went to our school's Abi Party. Abi Parties are sort of the equivalent of the school dances to raise money for the Prom, which is the Abi Ball for those in the 13th class who have made their Abitur. There are however, quite a few differences between Abi Parties and school dances. This party started at 10 and went til 5, was in an actual club, smoking and drinking were not a problem, and there were no teacher and parent behaviour-police. The music could have been a bit more interesting, but it was still a lot of fun. We left two hours before it ended and took the night bus to one of the big U-Bahn stations, and from there we took the U-Bahn to a stop not particularly near our house. We would have had to wait at least an hour before our bus started its first rounds, so we walked, perhaps a bit more than a mile. I wouldn't say it was fun, but with two of us it wasn't bad.

Saturday was of course a slow day, until the evening when I went to a game evening with my liason and some of her friends and her friend's friends. It was fun, but quite challenging to try and play games like Dictionary in a foreign language. It was around midnight when I finally got home. I ended up calling my host dad and having him pick me up from the metro station. That was actually unnecessary, because once I got there I saw that my bus was coming in 12 minutes and there still lots of people about. But I guess it's better to go with your gut.

Sunday I went with my host parents to look at the Main, which has overflown onto the street. It was funny to see the swans on the grass, and the benches 25 feet behind them all deep in water. We also climed the Domturm, the tower of the big Church, which was over 300 steps up this tiny narrow spiral staircase. The view was incredible and the weather was surprisingly gorgeous, and we took a lot of photos. After that we went to coffee, and went home. My sister had a Sushi-Abend with her friends, and it was really nice to sit around the table with them. I am a bit jealous though-- I want friends like that too!

All in all though its been an absolute corker of a week, and I'm almost a bit disappointed to be starting my Praktikum today. But that's a whole new adventure, and I will definitely write about it in a week or two. Ciao!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Holidays (a short post)

Christmas day itself was rather boring and stressful, because nothing happened but my guest mother was stressed because she felt like she had too much to do, and because my whole family bickered pretty much constantly in one way or another. In the evening we went to the Instadt to hear all the church bells ringing for half an hour, which was cold but beautiful. When we got home we ate lasagna and then opened presents. Here is a picture of the Dom, the biggest church, and below it is our christmas tree, all decorated.

On New Years I went to a friend's house. We ate asian food for dinner, and sat around and chatted and drank a bit. Our other friend (the other American exchange student) came and we polished off the entire thing of apple tiramisu that I had brought. At midnight we all drank some Sekt, which is like champagne, and then went out into the street to set of fireworks. There were a lot of otherpeople out as well, and it was really loud and really cool to see all the different fireworks. Later in the night some friends of the girl's whose house we were at stopped by, and we actually ended up going to one of their appartments and talking and dancing. It was nice, but I would rather have been back in bed earlier than 5am.

I am now in my last week of vacation, and trying desperately (as I have been the whole time) to connect with people and make some good German friends. It's hard to keep my spirits up sometimes when I text at least five people in the morning and hear back from only one, saying they wouuullld want to do something with me buttttt.... I also really was hoping to travel at least a little bit, but somehow that never happened either. I mean I have managed to score a couple afternoons out and about with people, and I've had some nice facebook and text messages, but all in all it has not been the funnest or easiest or happiest vacation of my life, and I am actually looking forward to school starting again just so I wont be sitting at home all day despite my efforts to get out with people.