Sunday, December 11, 2011


So it's been a very up and down kind of week. On the 30th of November Paula, one of my best friends from exchange, went back to Argentina. The day of her departure it felt weird because she's been on my whole exchange and she's become such a normality that I couldn't imagine exchange without her. She was leaving at 4pm for her flight so at 1:30 Esteban, Taina, and I went to Paula's house just to say goodbye and hangout one more time. It wasn't as sad as I thought it would be. We talked about all of the things we've gone through in our 4 months together and watched internet videos and actually sang a few songs in spanish, english and portuguese. But of course the inevitable had to come. We all walked to the car and said goodbye and hugged and all. However it was not as sad as I thought it would have been because it didn't feel like a goodbye it felt more like an 'I'll see you soon.'  Then the car drove away, but I already know I'll see her soon. But the rest of the week really without a hitch. On Friday Esteban came over because he was sleeping at my house because there was a rotary meeting the next day by Bremen and it's easier from my house to the bus station. Once we finally got all of our stuff together, it was 12 and we went straight to bed. We got up at 7 and my mother actually was up and offered to take us to the train station so of course we accepted. Our train left at 9:23 so we were there at 9:10 so we could get good seats. Unfortunately, the loud speaker said there was a 10 minute delay so we were frustrated but then it said a 5 minute delay so it wasn't as bad. 5 minutes later the loud speaker said a 10 minute delay but then again only a 5 minute delay then 10 minutes again. It couldn't make up its mind but finally it said 10 minutes and that was the last time.

When our train finally came it was FULL. There was not only no places to sit but there was almost no place to stand. Once we found a good standing area we set our bags by our feet and just passed the time. When we got to Delmenhorst we were talking about something unrelated then Esteban asked a lady when we got to Ganderkesee, the city we were going to. The lady said we had to get off IMMEDIATELY. So we rushed the the already closing doors and somehow made it off the train in time. Now we had 30 minutes to wait for our train and this train station was not fully closed so it was quite cold even inside. But our train came and we found seats and we took our laughable 6 minute ride to Ganderkesee. Once we got there we found out that we were 8km from where we had to be so we couldn't walk it and we were the only exchange students there that early. So we had to wait an hour for the others to come and then rotary got us all taxis. The meeting was really cool we sang songs from our countries and talked and it was a jolly good time. However, after the meeting most of the exchange students were going to go to Bremen and party. I had, thankfully, already figured out where I was staying and had everything worked out. I'm glad I did because I didn't want to sleep in the freezing cold train station again. But we went there and it was a lot of fun. The person I was staying with was named Immo and he wasn't coming until later so I was actually one of the last people there which was weird. But I went to his house no problem, we stopped at McDonalds of course, then I went to bed. I woke up the next morning, ate breakfast, and hopped on the first tram back to the bahnhof. Now, I came with Esteban and I had to leave with Esteban because I was his ride home. I called him back when I was at Immo's house and said to be there at 12 and he said "of course." I was there at 11am and decided to get some lunch and just relax until he came. He called me at 12:30 saying he wouldn't be there until 2pm. I got very infuriated, but I couldn't do anything about it. So when he finally got there at 2pm we had to wait 50 more minutes for our train. When we finally got home it was close to 5pm. I went immediately to bed because I didn't feel very well. I think that I'm starting to get too used to everything in Wiesmoor. During the week I can't pick out one exciting thing that happened except one day a teacher was gone so we got that class free. It's all too normal now, thought I always remind myself that I'm a world away in Europe. But really nothing happened during the week.

Friday I went to Leer after school and it was raining so it wasn't too enjoyable, then on saturday I didn't do anything because again I felt sick. On sunday I went to a museum in Bremerhaven that is all about the emigration from Germany to the United States and south America. It was really cool and had a lot of interesting things. When we got to the end there was a place to search for your ancestors and see information on them. I tried for easily an hour and found absolutely nothing. It was kind of anticlimactic but I still got to see how he would have traveled over the atlantic. After the museum we went to a weihnachten fest which was small but was a lot of fun. I tried Glühwein which is wine that has been warmed and usually I hate wine but it was actually really good. Then the rest of my Sunday was pretty relaxed. So upcoming events are the weihnachtsmarkt in Wiesmoor starting on monday and next weekend I think I'll be out more than I am at home. So bis dann!

Monday, November 28, 2011

"Sometimes it takes seeing the most beautiful things in the world, to know just how special your true home is."

I know I haven't written in a LONG time, but I've been very very very busy these past months.  It started with me going to Galaxy in October which is a large diskothek in between Wiesmoor and Emden. It was an Abi-Party which is a party for 16 and up to celebrate the Abitur, their entrance exam to college.  There was probably three hundred people there if not more. It was crazy.  However, the DJ ruined it because he talked every ten seconds which ruined the mood.  Other than that it was great.  We didn't get back to Wiesmoor until 3am though and Esteban stayed at my house like always and we were both exhausted after the night.  We were planning on going to Leer the next day with the mexicans, but we didn't get up until 1pm the next day and it was too late to catch the bus, sadly. So we just stayed in town for the day.  But the real fun of October started in our Herbst Ferien. We had two weeks of vacation for some reason but we also had our Deutschlandreise or German trip then.

I had it the first week of the Ferien. It didn't start out very well because I thought we had to be in Oldenburg at 7pm but it was 7am.  We were luckily taking Paula too and she called me at 6am and said no it was 7am. The bad thing was that I hadn't packed my suitcase yet so I had to quick do that. By the time I finished packing I left so I didn't get to take a shower that day but I put enough cologne on to kill a horse. I made it to the bus and everything was good.  First we went to the old border between the old East and West Germany. It was really interesting and it showed the old fences and it had a museum of artifacts and it was really cool.  After that we went to our hotel in Erfurt which is halfway between Bremen and Berlin. We got there at 6pm and once we ate and got our rooms ready it was 7pm and they let us check out Erfurt. Luckily, there was an Oktoberfest that weekend and we all went to it.  It was a lot of fun. We line danced, sang, and drank.  I bought one of the liter mugs and the beer was good but it was waaay too much.  After what seemed like 4 liters I looked and I was only halfway.  It seemed bottemless but I finished it and we went to see all of the attractions that they had there.  We had to be back to the hotel at midnight but there were a lot of people who were late so the chaperones got mad.  The next day we went to Buchenwald the concentration camp.  It was very silent in the camp and there was a very somber mood all around.  I would have to say I'm glad I was able to go and see it. Though I would wish it never happened, it was a good experience. After Buchenwald we went to Weimar but seeing as it was sunday hardly anything was open.  It was fun though because Weimar is a very old town so most of the buildings looked like old style european cottages.  We got back to the hotel at 4pm and then our chaperones talked to us all about being late. They made us choose groups to go out with and we had to come back with that group. So I got my group and we went out.  That night we went to more the center of Erfurt and saw that and it was a lot of fun. We got back promptly at 11:50 to make sure we weren't late.  The next day started late at 11pm and started the drive to Berlin. We got to berlin at 2pm and got our rooms situated and then we had a bus tour of the city. We went around and saw all of the usual tourist sites: Brandeburg gate, reichstag, sieg turm, fernsehen turm, the dome, Main train station, berlin wall, and Olympia stadion. It was really cool but I wanted to get out into berlin. We got back to our hotel at 7pm and then they let us free with our groups until 12pm again.  With my group we went around to Alexander Platz to see the fernsehen turm and the dome.  then we had just enough time to go back. Berlin is a big city and it takes a while to get from one side to the other.  the next day we did something in the morning but I can't remember then they let us out at 3pm. This time I changed groups and went with 3 argentinians, 2 venezuelans, and an ecuadorian.  They spoke spanish most of the time but it was still a lot of fun. We just hung out in a restaurant and then walked around berlin a while then went back to the hotel.  But we got back at 12 exactly because our train was late.  The next day we woke up early because we were going to Potsdam palace.  It was the old palace of the king of the berlin area.  It was very lavish palace and had a lot of cool features. We were there until about 5pm and then we had free, but the last night I went with my friends old exchange student who lived in his house in Arizona.  He showed us berlin and it was awesome. He told us stories and where there are hidden bars and things like that.  We were with him until we had to go, and he said anytime we were in the Berlin area to give him a call.  So we went back to the hotel and since it was our last night in Berlin all of the exchange students partied of course.  I didn't go to bed until 3am and we had to get up at 8am so I didn't get much sleep.  The next morning we left at 9am back home.  We stopped at Auto Stadt in Wolfsburg and checked out the history of volkswagen and it was very cool. We got back to Oldenburg at 6pm on thursday and I got finally home at 7pm. I went straight to bed and didn't wake up until 2pm on Friday.  It was awesome.

Then on Saturday I woke up at 7am because I was going to Bremen for Freimarkt.  It started with me taking a bus from wiesmoor to bagband then I had to transfer to another bus that took me to Leer.  From Leer I took the train to Oldenburg then from Oldenburg I had to take a train to Bremen.  In that one trip I took more public transportation than in my entire life in America. But I got to Bremen at 10:30 it took me two and a half hours. Once I got there I met up with Jeremy a guy from Iowa and we went all of Bremen.  Freimarkt was really cool because it hat a lot of food, games, rides and attractions.  We had to go back at 7 to the train station because my train was at 7:10pm.  But we got there and it said my train was cancelled because of rail construction so I had to go home with Jeremy because that was my last chance to get home.  So we got back to his house and since buses don't go to Wiesmoor on sundays I was stuck until monday.  So Sunday we went to a climbing park thing.  It's a place where they have obstacles that you climb over, under, and through.  We went with Luiz a Brazilian exchange student who lives by Jeremy.  We did that all day and I will say I was sore.  We went home and slept and I got up the next morning just in time for my train.  I had to run to catch the train to Delmenhurst and I just barely made it. Now I thought the trip from Wiesmoor to bremen was bad but my trip from Nordenham to Wiesmoor was 10 times worse. I had to change trains in Delmenhurst to Bremen then from Bremen to Oldenburg then from Oldenburg to Leer then take a bus from Leer to Bagband then transfer to a bus to Aurich then a bus from Aurich to Wiesmoor. I left at 11am from Nordenham but got back at 6pm to Wiesmoor. Worst trip ever.

My next week was very bland until Friday when I went to Deckers our local disko.  Which was a last party before school again. It was a lot of fun but that disko is very boring unless all of your friends are there which was the case. Once school started again nothing really happened for two weeks then I went to Bremen on a Friday.  Bremen is the meeting place for all of the exchange students. They organize meetings and it's nice to see everyone especially when they live on the otherside of Niedersachsen. Paula and I got there at 7pm and waited for everyone to come in the Bremen bahnhof. At 8pm is when all 20 or so kids were there. We all went to our usual party place. It's a huge statue of an Elephant and when we go there we refer to it as 'Elephanting.' It was a lot of fun but I was supposed to go home with another America because it's easier to sleep at his house than go home, but he was too drunk to catch the train. So I had to stay at the train station until 6am. I slept on a bench and felt like a homeless person. It was so cold and uncomfortable, but our train came 30 minutes early which was a pleasant surprise. It was a miserable train ride home but once I got to the comfort of my bed it washed away the night before.

Then on November 10th it was St. Martin's day.  It's like my area's halloween.  There was a party that night at deckers and everyone went though it was a thursday and we had school the next day. I ended up not going to bed until 5 and then waking up at 6 for school but thankfully I had a short day and got enough sleep after school. The next day I found two new exchange students in school. Both are from AFS another exchange program. One is from China named Edita and one is from Honduras named Irving. They're both very cool people. The rest of my weekend was quite relaxing because I didn't want to go out I just wanted to spend some time with the family and catch up on my sleep. The next week went quite slowly. However on friday we went to Leer to see a couple friends. We met Rene a Mexican and Gabriel a Brazilian. We walked around, ate and talked. We were going to go bowl but there was no space for us to and we had to leave early. So we just played a game of pool which was fun because I wasn't the worst player there. Then we said goodbye and went home because I had a big night on saturday. Saturday night Irving, Haiko, and I went to Twister Which is even bigger than Galaxy and is in Sande which is between Wiesmoor and Wilhelmshaven. It has 3 dance halls and there was probably 500+ people there. We had so much fun and it was the best night I had in Germany so far.

The next week was a stressful one. Paula is going back to Argentina on the 30th of November so we were setting up for her Abschiedsparty or farewell party. Her party was on friday and we had to find places for people to sleep because wiesmoor's buses aren't the best. But when Friday finally came it was a relief. We picked all of the people up from the bus stop and we went to paula's house. We all talked and laughed and had a great time. It was definitely the best night with all of the exchange students. I went home at 3am and had a very good sleep until 9 when i had to help put away things for winter. After that I had to get ready to go hunting with the rotary. We hunted for about 5 hours and only got 4 animals. The rotary guys were not very good shots. But after that Esteban, Junior (mexican friend), and paula went out to eat. I had planned to stay home because I wasn't feeling super great from the night before but they convinced me into going. It was paula's last party in Germany so of course I had to go. We went to Twister again but this time with Paula, Junior, Esteban, Irving, Mikaella (ecuadorian), Marissa (mexican), Haiko, and me. Since it was a party for paula we all stayed together and had a really great time but in the back of everyone's mind it was very sad. We got home at 6am after we got our taxi after 45 minutes of waiting. Paula made us some eggs and toast and then we went to bed. I stayed at paula's house because I came home so late. I had to share a very very small bed with Junior and he doesn't like sharing the blanket and pillow. So after 3 hours of cold, uncomfortable sleeping I decided to just go home. Once I got home I went straight to bed but when i got up at 12 I felt sick so I went back to bed until monday morning. I still felt sick so I didn't go to school. I still feel a little sick but sooo refreshed I'm ready for the week ahead. I will say now that I am a little home sick. It's a weird feeling. I'm having so much fun here but I still miss home. I'll go away I know but it's a nasty feeling. I know it's natural but that doesn't help it. However, I PROMISE to update more. I will make room for it in my hectic schedule. Bis dann!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

"In early times some sufferer had to sit up with a toothache, and he put in the time inventing the German language."

I was very unproductive from Monday until Friday simply because we had a project week.  The topic I chose for the project was influence of American youth culture through to television.  You would think that all of the people would want to ask me questions and things of that nature. Well, you would be wrong. I tried to help as much as I could, which wasn't much, but no one seemed to care that I embody American youth culture and I'm sitting right across the table from them.  So I really only sat for five hours for five days.  However, every project had to set up a stand and on Friday the parents walked around and looked at all of the topics.  Because I can't speak German as well as my fellow German students I got to leave early. 

So me and some friends went to Aurich bowling but our bus showed up late so we didn't get much time to play.  I lost every game we played by a lot but bowling is stupid anyway. After we finished our game we went to McDonalds and I can say for certain that the portions here are smaller but somehow more expensive.  Once I ate my very unsatisfying meal we were late to the bus, but we just got there in time.  I tried searching for my bus ticket but I didn't know what I did with it and the bus was about to leave so I had to pay for another bus ticket which made me quite angry.  I actually found my ticket once I was on the bus and I went to ask if I could possibly get my money back but my bus driver was very angry when I said that and yelled some German at me but I didn't seem him reaching for money so I sat back down. 

Once we got home we went to my house and watched movies.  Saturday and Sunday were spent sleeping and hanging around.  The following week wasn't anything special either.  It was spent reading during the day and sleeping in the afternoon and evening.  On Friday I had a birthday party for an exchange student from Estonia.  So I put on my good pants and went to her house where we had dinner and just messed around.  She turned 18 which in Germany is a big deal.  So one of the presents she got was a bottle of vodka.  But it was a very small party of only eight people.  Later that night we went to another, larger party. While I was dancing at this other party a guy fell on me and popped one of the lenses out of my glasses. So I was a little upset. 

So once I was going home I had to do it without glasses which was hard but I had Esteban with me in case something happened.  We finally reached home at 3am and went straight to bed.  I woke up at 9am and had some warm brotchen which we have every Saturday. I was going to go to Aurich for its smaller form of Oktoberfest but it was just too lazy of a day.  So I stayed in and just hung out.  But on a better note German is getting easier everyday and I can say that one of the weirdest feelings is understanding somebody fully in another language. It feels abnormal and almost surreal! So I will try and update more frequently now. Bis dann!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

So Perfekt.

I know I said I would post after my sleepover but I've been really busy and also quite lazy.  So, last Friday was the going away party for my host brother Fritz who is going to Russia for a year.  The party was really fun and I met a lot of German kids which is great.  Though there was a lot of drinking I only had a few beers. Being responsible and such.  I went to bed at 3am and had to wake up at 9am so I could get ready and go to the sleepover. When I got there all of the others were already sitting waiting to be talked to.  I found out quite quickly that I had sat in the Spanish section.  It turned out that there were twenty-five Brazilians, ten South Americans, five Europeans, and thirteen Americans.  After we got talked to we had lunch where everyone got to know each other. Then we had to get together in our country groups and think of a little presentation for our country. You'd think it would be easy to think of a presentation for the USA but it was actually really really hard! We somehow figured something out and performed it in front of all the parents.  But, like always, the Brazilians topped ours by a huge margin.

After we were all done we all packed up and went to a gym where we were all going to stay for the night.  We first ate then we started our ice breaker games.  I didn't win one game but it was still a lot of fun.  After our games we started our hippie party and they had music and dancing.  It was a lot of fun and it went until 2am.  Since the night before I didn't get much sleep I wanted to go to bed but I couldn't.  If you don't know any Brazilians then you don't know how much they love to talk and have fun.  They were up talking until 5am and they aren't quiet.  But once I finally fell asleep at 5 it wasn't a very good sleep and we all got woken up at 8am.  We cleaned up and groggily ate breakfast then went home.  Sunday was when Fritz left so when I got home no one was there so I went to bed.  I only slept two hours before I woke up then I watched tv.  Since it was the 10th anniversary of 9/11 there were a couple shows that talked about it.  Other than that I just hung out all day.  Monday wasn't spectacular.  Just school then home. 

Tuesday I woke up and took a shower and when I went to the kitchen there were candles and they started singing happy birthday.  It was so cool and they I opened their gift and it was a Werder Bremen shirt.  Werder is their favorite team by far.  It was great! After I went to school and I was late so I kind of went quickly to my seat and tried to hastily get my stuff settled.  Out of no where my class started singing happy birthday which caught me off guard.  But it was a good moment and it was very nice.  Otherwise school was school.  However, after school the exchange students and I had a plan to go to Aurich for my birthday.  Since I'm from rural USA I've never ridden a public bus before so I had to be told how to do everything.  It's a lot easier than I expected plus it's actually very nice.  The bus was very full because they don't have school buses so students ride the public bus.  But it's free because the school gives you a card that says you can go to and from school for free.  After our hour long bus ride, we arrived in Aurich which is the closest large city to me.  We started walking and taking pictures and just messing around. We only had a couple hours to look because we had a Rotary meeting that night and Taina's sister was picking us up so we could be on time. We stopped at a clothing store because Wiesmoor really has no good clothes and it's not like I could bring all of my clothes.  So we stopped there and Esteban and I were just walking around when Taina ran over saying "where were you" "we have to go my sister's here" so we looked at each other thinking we had been in the same spot the whole time how could she not notice us.  When we walked out of the store Paula, Taina, Esteban and Joao (Brazilian friend) started singing happy birthday and they had a card and a doughnut as a cake.  It was so cool and I really was caught off guard.  It was awesome and the doughnut was really good too! After that her sister really did come and we went to the Rotary meeting.  It was boring like usual but Rotary gave me a chocolate bar and a flashlight for my birthday. I think they threw it together last minute but it's the thought that counts right?

Wednesday was a really slow, really long, and really boring day.  When I got home I found out that Fritz might be coming home because he thought he had 90 days to get a visa but he needed it when he got there.  It's weird because they let him into Russia without a visa on September 11th nonetheless, then they're going to send him back because he doesn't have a visa. So my mother was very stressed and very aggravated.  Thursday I started reading a book in class because I don't understand much and by the end of the day I finished it.  It was only 200 pages but that's still impressive I think.  Friday was hectic. Not because of school but there was a party with some of the exchange students in Bremen.  I wasn't going because I was going to a birthday party instead but Esteban was going and he wasn't prepared at all.  He had no one to stay with over night because the buses don't run all night.  So we worked hard to find someone for him to stay with and we finally found Bjorn who would let him stay.  It was actually really difficult.  But my plans fell in because my friend who was taking me had a soccer game that went until 10:30 and I wouldn't have been able to get there until 11:30 and for my mother that was too late to go by bike.  So I stayed in which was nice because I went to bed early and slept in late.  I feel refreshed and energized and ready to sit around all day and watch tv!  I will update in a week or two depending if I do anything or not.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

There are two kinds of music; German music and bad music - H. L. Mencken

Sunday didn't have too great of a start.  I was woken up at 11:20 and I hastily had to get ready because we were going to their grandparent's house.  However, my host mom reminded me that I was going with Taina's, another exchange student, parents to the crowning of the Königin.  I didn't know where or even when I was meeting them so I was calling around to find out but no one was answering.  Finally, I found out we were meeting at 12 at her house though it was already 12:20. Oops.  But when I met up with them it turned out everybody forgot.  It wasn't a big deal to the others, but Taina's parents are my next house so I looked pretty silly.  Once we arrived we sat down in the open arena where it was 30 degrees already.  The one day it's hot in Germany and we have to sit in the sun with pants on.  We sat there for two hours in the scorching heat, but the program was really good. The floats were all very good, but, unfortunately, I forgot my camera.  I remember it when I don't need it and forget it when there's something good.  After that we went to get something to drink. I swear, it is hard to find a place to get something to drink that isn't beer and when you do it's 1.20 euro for a little dixie cup size.. it's mad. 

Then Taina and Paula went home so Esteban and I went to Tulipano an Italian restaurant.  Esteban wanted pepperoni so he order peperoni and yes it's spelled peperoni that's not a typo.  When he got it, it turned out to be peppers not pepperoni so he asked for salami.  But when he brought it back they had taken all the seeds from the peppers and put it on top.  Esteban is from Ecuador where food isn't as spicy as in Peru or Mexico, so after the first bite he was on fire.  He somehow finished the whole thing after three cups of orangen saft.  Then we parted ways and I went home. 

Monday's classes were like usual. Boring. However on Mondays I have music 7/8 hour so I get an hour lunch after 5/6 hour.  The school food is just as unappetizing here as it is in the USA so I suggested we go and get döner which was a great idea. So Paula, Esteban, Svenja, and I went to a restaurant in the marktplatz and ordered.  We sat and talked for thirty minutes but noticed we didn't have our food yet.  We finally got our food with only fifteen minutes to eat and if you've ever eaten döner you know it's messy.  We didn't have time to worry about that so we took it and ate it on the walk back to school.  Thankfully, it started raining so the food got soggy and we were drenched.  Now it wouldn't be a big deal but when we have school we aren't supposed to leave the campus. So we were soaked and now we had to go blend in with a bunch of dry kids.  Music class was a little better today.  I asked the music teacher to play something different because a dog could play the congo so he gave me the bongos so the same thing but smaller. Thanks.  But he started off with something easier then showed me a harder beat and said to try and learn it by the end of the class. I learned it in five minutes so I just sat there staring at the ceiling.  Hopefully next time he'll give me something more fun like keyboard or singing because those are fun groups.  After school I went with my brother and mom to get some things for his year in Russia.  We also picked up my bank card that has my Rotary allowance on it.  I bought some gloves because in the morning my fingers get bitterly cold. 

When we got home I had to quickly eat because I had a Rotary function that evening.  I just got done with my sandwich when Herr Hinrichs rung the doorbell.  I got my jacket and went to the marktplatz, which is on the river where our boat was.  I had some curry-wurst which was delicious and we went onto the boat.  Only Esteban and I remembered we had the boat ride so we were the only kids on the ship.  It was fun because everything was free and we just sat and talked.  Again, they gave us Schnapps but this time I played it safe and mixed it with coke.  We're not supposed to drink unless they allow us to which seems to be always.  The ship came to a lock where me and Esteban helped open and shut one side of the gate.  We were on one side and the mayor and some guy were on the other.  The mayor, who seems to be in his 60s, got his open twice as fast as me and Esteban so we were embarrassed but it was an experience.  One of the cool things about the boat ride was the Königin and princesses were on board.  Once it got dark there were fireworks which were pretty cool, then we got off the boat and went to the marktplatz.  The whole night I had been trying to get a picture with the princesses and queen but they were always doing something or running around but I finally got them and they actually gave Esteban and me three free rides on the bumper cars with them.  I will say that German bumper cars are a lot more intense and less safe than American bumper cars.  I about fell out of my car a couple times.  After that we went and got a beer which made me really sleepy.  So we went home and I went to bed. 

Monday I woke up with swollen tonsils and throat.  I stayed home and slept which was a great feeling because I'm always tired here.  I think it's because I concentrate so hard on trying to understand and speak.  Now, on Saturday is my orientation/sleep over event with all of the other exchange students.  Herr Hinrichs said there were about seventy to eighty so it will be fun.  The theme is Hippie/flowerpower which is dumb but hey, it's interesting.  Unless something amazing happens at school, highly unlikely, I will post after Saturday.  Tschüß!

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Blutenfest is definitely the best part of my exchange thus far!!  But starting where I left off, Thursday was pretty boring.  Friday after school Esteban came over because he was going to help decorate Bluten wagen with my family.  We didn't leave to decorate until 6 so we had time to mess around in Wiesmoor and at my house.  When we went to decorate it turned out we were just too late.  However, we helped clean up and things just so we could say we helped.  After we were done with that we walked around and looked at all of the wagen.  When you see them you will know that it took a town to make them because they are very detailed and well done.  Tomorrow they are driving them through the town and I will get pictures of that.  After we were done with the wagen we went home and Esteban stayed at our house because it was already dark and he isn't sure where he really lives.  So we watched the Germany vs. Austria soccer game.  Of course Germany won and now they are qualified for the Euro 2012 which I hope I'm able to see while I'm still in Germany. 

On Saturday we got up like usual at about 10 and Esteban biked home at 11. I had a couple hours to mope around before I had a soccer game.  at about 1 I got picked up by my teammate Florian and we drove to Wiesmoor Stadium to meet the rest of the team.  After they were all there we had to drive to Westrhauderfehn which is 40km away almost in Leer.  We got lost several times but once we got there we only had 20 minutes to get changed and warm up.  I didn't play and I won't because it is very expensive to be on the team and I only need to do practices.  After the game, which ended 4-2 with Hinrichsfehn losing, we got packed up and headed back to Wiesmoor.  I got home about 6 then ate and was off to dämmer shoppen by 8.  Dämmer shoppen is a big party that takes place in Wiesmoor Stadium.  It has food, dancing and fireworks.  When you went in to the stadium they gave you a wristband.  Green meant you could drink anything, yellow meant you could only drink beer, and purple meant you couldn't drink any alcohol.  I of course was yellow and I will say I had a few beers but not to many because I wanted to show I am responsible.  I met Esteban and Paula there, and we found others that we knew and just messed around, cracking jokes, and much laughing.  Once the fireworks started they turned all of the lights off and I will say it was one of the coolest firework shows I've ever seen. At about 1am we all went to get something to eat, so we went into the big tent.  As I was standing a guy came from behind me and grabbed my shoulders.  I turned around and expected my host father, but it turned out to be an absolutely hammered man who couldn't even tell which way was up.  I tried to push him but I froze because I'm not used to drunk behavior so my friend pushed him hard away and he left then.  I felt very emasculated but she just laughed it off.  After that we went back out into the open and talked more until 2 when I left.  I would say that that was the best night of my entire exchange so far.  I had so much fun and I wish it happened every weekend.  One thing that I will say about Wiesmoor or Germany I don't know how it is in other places, but many kids who aren't even sixteen yet were smoking at the party.  But here they said it's normal which surprised me even more.  Now back to the Blutenfest.  On Sunday there is the crowning of the Blütenkönigin or queen of flowers.  There is no king but one queen and two princesses.  After that they have the wagen ride around the streets and it will be a lot of fun.  Next Saturday is my sleepover in Oldenburg so I will may have one before and after but most likely just after.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"How charmed I am when I overhear a German word which I understand!"

Some easy listening. It's very popular in Germany. 

This week has been the best so far.  On Thursday I started soccer training, and it went really well.  When I got there my host brother had to talk to the coach about me joining, but once that was taken care of I was out practicing. All of my teammates are very nice but don't speak much English. Thankfully, there is one guy who speaks decent English.  Practice lasts two hours and gets done at nine, so I'm glad I live a quarter mile from the fields because it's dark by the time I get home.  Friday was very uneventful. I had school until my lunch break at 1pm when I went to my grandparents house.  They had made lunch of beef, carrots, noodles, and rote kraut which was delicious.  After that I had to go back to school for my final class of musik.  Musik has to be the most pointless class I've ever taken. I stood around for an hour learning how to play a congo then for twenty minutes we played as a class, each person having a different instrument.  After school I took a nap then had dinner. That night we watched a movie called 'Der Wixxer' which is a parody movie. My host brother said the name was too bad for him to translate so I left it at that.  Even though I couldn't hardly understand any of it, it was one of the best movies I've watched.  While we were watching the movie Hans brought a bowl of something out for everyone.  They looked like puff corn but tasted like peanuts, but it was really really good.

On Saturday it turned out Fritz needed boots for when he goes to Russia, so we went to Oldenburg. I would have had pictures but I, unfortunately, forgot my camera.  However, on September 10 I will be in Oldenburg for a Rotary sleep-over thing so I will have some later. Luckily, Oldenburg was having their stadtfest that weekend so there were food carts and shops galore.  But even with all the spaß (fun) making, there were A LOT of people.  I almost got lost a couple times which would have been terrifying.  Once we got Fritz's boots we went home and had a quiet evening.  Then we had a very lazy sunday.  Nothing noteworthy happened.  Monday went by very quietly, except I wrote my first coherent paragraph!!!@#!@# It of course had little errors, but I was walking on sunshine for the entire day.  My host mom corrected it for me and they were mistakes that you say "I know it's not supposed to be like that. Why did I do that?"

Tuesday was a pretty ordinary day at school. I had German which I still can't remotely understand.  I also had English which is a decent class I guess.  I corrected the teacher a couple times because she says 'take decisions' not 'make decisions' but over all it's a simple class.  Chemie was horrible.  I sat the entire class time watching while my group assembled an experiment, test it, then write a paper on it.  My last class was math which is easy because it's algebra and geometry two classes that I've had for two years.  I'd say that school is, right now at least,  a waste of time.  I will explain later in the post.  After school I went to the mall to get a cell phone because it's nice to always be available for your parents.  Well when I went to buy one I needed my passport for whatever reason, but the guy didn't speak much English to start.  Then on my way home Hans and I went to Tulipano an Italian restaurant.  I will say they had some of the best pizza I've ever tasted.  When we got home I had to get ready and go to soccer practice.  Once I got there the coach informed me that it was try-out day so there were a couple more kids than usual.  Training went spectacular though and I didn't play half bad either.

When Wednesday rolled around I was exhausted from training and it felt like one of those days where you don't do much.  It actually was the opposite.  After my first class, English, all of the exchange students decided to go to Frau Finke instead of our second classes.  Frau Finke is our German teacher specifically for the exchange students.  I would say I learned more in that one class period than my whole two weeks combined in school. This is why I think school otherwise is a waste of time. It was so good Esteban and I stayed until school was over.  Once I got home My host mom, brother, and I went to the zentrum and got me a phone.  It only cost five Euros for a little pre-paid phone which is perfect.  otherwise not much happen

I'm excited because very much will be happening this weekend because it's BLUTENFEST! Blutenfest is a four day celebration for Wiesmoor's many nurseries.  They have been setting it up all week and it looks spectacular.  Taina's host parents got all of the exchange students all access passes to Blutenfest which is exciting.  So I'll be sure to have more next week.

PS: More photos at shutterfly, link in sidebar :)

"Damn, these Germans are big."

So, since last post I have started school here. The first day was on Thursday and, of course, was very nerve racking.  My host brother and I biked to the school at 8:30 for a meeting with Herr Fischer.  Herr Fischer told me that I would be put into the 10th grade because 11th and 12th grade are for their Abitur.  The Abitur is what they have to pass to graduate the Gymnasium (High School).  After our meeting he walked me to my new classroom.  When we got there I had to introduce myself so I proceeded to in German.  You could tell the students thought my German was laughable because they all had funny smirks on their faces.  After that I sat in my desk and was engulfed in gibberish.  I couldn't understand a word my teacher said and he didn't speak hardly any English.  My day ended early at 11:15 because my next class was sport and I had no sport clothes.  The next day started with German which I couldn't follow then political science.  My politics teacher turned out to have gone to college at the University of Minnesota and had actually been to River Falls.  She spoke fluent English and had the Minnesotan accent which was comforting.  My final class for the day was Religion which, again, I couldn't follow.  Friday ended promptly at 13:00 or 1:00. After school I played soccer with Fritz and Hans then we had to go to dinner with the Fritz and Hans' great grandparents.  We went to a Greek restaurant called Athos.  The food was good and we got peppermint Schnapps which was better than the other Schnapps I had. The car ride home was spent clowning around and singing along to the radio.

Saturday I went to the Centrum (mall) and walked around.  It's pretty small but had a lot of different things.  After I bought some items I bought a German Coke called Sinalco.  Both my host dad and host brother like it better than Coke and when I tasted it I though it tasted like Pepsi but that was quickly denounced by them. When we got home Hans' grandmother was there and dropped off some new speakers. They are both 200 watts and very very very loud.  We played with them for a couple hours making all of Wiesmoor angry.  After we had to drop Hans off at the Orchestra because he was playing and then we went to my host mom's parents.  We had some Apfel Kuchen and coffee and just sat and talked.  Once the kuchen was all gone the grandmother went in and said in German "Does Tony drink wine" and I blurted out "Ja!" just because I could understand.  The wine was very good but I drank it slow because I'd never had a whole glass of wine before.  After I finally finished the glass it was immediately refilled with "You'll sleep good tonight."  We stopped on the way home and got a pizza for dinner. It turned out that part of it had tuna on it which I tried of course and it wasn't for me.  Sunday was a slow day and we just hung out.  For dinner we had another Barbecue.  One of the sauces they had said 'Extra Hot' so of course I tried it.  It turned out to be mild at best.  Germans don't have much heat in their food.  Another thing they think is spicy is Dijon Mustard.

On Monday I had school and first hour we got our books for all of our classes.  As we all checked them out from the school book shop I found out I needed 11 very heavy books.  Now I had to carry all of the very heavy books around all day.  Second hour I had Spanish which was really easy and I actually understood everything.  After that I had History which was spent day dreaming.  I got done at 1:00 again and as I was riding home I took a sharp turn and the weight of the books flung me off my bike to everyone's amusement. When I got home there was a lunch of potatoes, carrots and SCHNITZEL! It was one of the best things I have ever tasted.  Later that day me and Hans went into town because he needed new shorts and I was looking for a new T-shirt.  He found his shorts but in all of Wiesmoor I didn't find a single good shirt, but there were plenty of business suits.  So we stopped at Ali Baba and had döner which is Turkish and very good. After we went home and watched TV until we went to bed. Tuesday I had a period of Deutsch and then English.  English was really good because I could understand but the teacher was German so she had an accent and she didn't have super great English.  Next hour I had chemie which was spent doodling.  The next hour I had math which was hard to understand.  Many of the classes I have now I already took last year so when I do understand I already knew it.  But on a positive note my doodling skills have greatly improved.

One of the good things about having other exchange students is they are going through the same thing you are.  I have spent all of my breaks with them because I wouldn't know where else to go if I didn't.  They are all very nice and very funny.  On Saturday they all went to Aurich for a festival which they said was amazing but I didn't go because I thought I was going to Heide Park an amusement park near Bremen but my host brother was doing poorly with his Latin so we didn't go. However, next weekend I believe more is happening so there's more to come.  Now, back to the title of the post.  I saw a comedian whose joke ended with "Damn, these Germans are big" and he was absolutely correct.  I'm the shortest guy in my class and you're hard pressed to find anyone shorter.  So, damn these Germans are big.

Monday, August 15, 2011

"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."

Well, it has been a very exciting, exhausting, peculiar week.  It started with a very nervous good-bye in Minneapolis.  Thankfully the person next to me was a former exchange student to Sweden who was visiting his host family.  He told me stories about his exchange and helped cool me nerves.  The plane ride, otherwise, was pretty dreadful.  Not only was I unable to sleep, I couldn't see anything news worthy until I got to the English Channel where I saw a town that was defined by its street lights.  As I prepared to land in Amsterdam the view of the city is indescribable.  It has to be one of the most beautiful towns in the world.  When I finally landed in Amsterdam after the eight hour flight I was running on fumes.  One of my biggest worries was navigating the airport, but to my relief it turned out to be very simple.  One of the biggest shocks was hearing a different language spoken by seemingly everybody else but you.  Since I had a four hour layover I walked around.One of my reminders that I was in Europe was the dirty magazines are out in front with absolutely no cover so everything is out for everyone to see. I bought my first item with Euros and my change came to 4.20 but I only got three coins which is weird  because I'm only use to 25 cent coins.

 After I got on my connecting flight I fell asleep before the plane even took off and I slept the whole flight.  When i got to Bremen it was raining and my plane was so small it couldn't be hitched to a gate so we had to walk out into the rain into a bus.  One of the worst decisions I made was wearing shorts because it was 50 degrees and raining.  After I got my bags I met my host mother and brother, who helped me out greatly with my seemingly 400 pound suitcases.  Before we went back to Wiesmoor we had to stop at an Ikea which I've never been to and they sold hot dogs so I had one, though I wasn't really hungry just exhausted.  Once we got to Wiesmoor I went to bed almost instantaneously only to be woken up for dinner. After dinner we went to a local soccer game where the home team lost to Dornum. I went directly to bad after we got home.  Saturday was spent getting to know my host siblings Fritz, Hans, and Julius.  I played soccer with Hans and Fritz, and I played Legos with Julius. For dinner we had a German Barbecue which was fantastic. We had some kind of pork chop and some kind of wurst.  To drink we had apple juice mixed with carbonated water which is very typical in Germany and very good at that. After dinner we watched Pirates of the Caribbean which i fell asleep to in the beginning because I was still severely jet lagged. Sunday was spent playing board games because it rained.  So I got to play German Monopoly, Lebens (Life), and Wii.

Monday started with me delivering flowers to my host father's dad to be replanted.  It was the first time I had gone into downtown Wiesmoor and it is a very beautiful city.  Every house has hedge fences and clay tile roofs.  Wiesmoor is considerably small compared to its neighbor Bremen with only 13,000 citizens.  After we dropped the flowers off and had some hot chocolate, Fritz took me to see the school I'll be going to.  After we saw it we headed back home.  When we arrived I played soccer with Hans at the fußballplatz.  I don't know if we were allowed to play there but we did which tired me out considerably.  Once we finished we went back to the house and played chess (I won but then lost).  Earlier Julius wanted me to play Eisenbahn (trains) with him. So, I did until it was time for my first Rotary meeting in Germany.  Once we got there I shook everybody's hand and took my seat.  There were five other exchange students but only one spoke English but all of them were from South America so they all spoke Spanish the whole time.  When we were served dinner we got a pig's ankle, which I didn't know how to eat so i had to look around, on Apfel-Sekt-Kraut with something that my exchange brother didn't even know.  It all schmeckt gut (tasted good). Following dinner the exchange students had to introduce ourselves. While this was happening the waitresses were passing out a small glass of something.  After all of the introductions were done the room erupted with "Brost" to which we drank the glass.  I found out it was Schnapps so I immediately made a sour face to all the men's delight.  When we got home I went straight to bed seeing as I am still a little jet lagged.  That is all for this post.