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.