Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Holidays and a Second Family

I am now living with my second host family, but I spent the remainder of my time with my first host family celebrating Christmas and New Years.
Christmas is very different in Germany. The entire month of December is spent eating different cookies and drinking warm spiced red wine at the Christmas markets. Each Sunday, a new candle is lit for the next Advent. Then, Christmas itself is a 3-day celebration, beginning on the 24th, though I started celebrating a little early myself on the 23rd and ended up... let's just say, I needed to sleep a little longer the next morning, missing breakfast and waking up in time for a spicy sausage soup for lunch. The Hilbichs and I met up with the uncles and grandparents to visit three different cemeteries and bring candles to passed family members. Afterwards we opened presents at the grandparents house and finished the night at Uncle Jorg and Aunt Barbara's for a sausage dinner.

Anywho, I am now with my second family and am adjusting very well. I am their 6th exchange student, so they know the ropes better than I do. My German is getting better and better, too, as I am trying to talk more with this family about topics that are of importance to me. Oh, my grandparents here are suuuuper sweet.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

almost two months gone by now

It’s amazing how different I feel now, compared to at the start. I remember how hard it was the first couple nights to fall asleep, thinking, “I am so far away from everything I know. Can I really do this for one year?” I was nervous the first couple mornings to go downstairs to my family for breakfast, worried they may not like me, that we would not get along, or that I would make some horrible mistake due to cultural differences.
Now, I really have started my own life here. I am confident in my basic routes around Augsburg and in how to the public transportation. I love having to be responsible for myself and doing things because I want to do them, not because there is a big popularity contest that I have to buy into. I am a foreigner, and this idea of no one knowing me is very empowering.
Yes, I do feel homesick now and then, but not in the sense that I want to return to Illinois. Rather, I miss the encouragement of my family and friends, but I know they are rootin’ for me from a few thousand miles away. I just hope they are feeling as good as I am; the happiness continues.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

In Constant Reflection

I am so happy to hear that my school football team back home is going strong this year. Initially, it is hard to look at the pictures of my friends back home looking so happy and having so much fun, but at the same time, I remember how bored I was of life in the suburbs of Chicago, how under stimulated I felt. Each day is a challenge in one way or another in Germany - understanding the language, learning how to use the public transportation system, finding places on my own, etc. - and because of this, I am never bored. I feel like I am making the right decisions for the most part, that I am pleasing my host family and being smart about what social things I take part in. I hope in this first month that I have set myself up for another successful month and more to follow after.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The moment when someone you’ve looked up to your whole life tells you that they feel inspired by a decision you’ve made.
Growing up, I wanted to be a movie star; I envisioned myself being interviewed by Oprah and winning academy awards. I could not envision any other life for myself other than a famous one, yet I could never quite figure out for myself why I craved fame so badly. The only possible underlying reason I can come up with now, at 17, is that I wanted to somehow change the world.
And I still do, but before I could feel content as the small human being that I am, I had to realize that within “the” world, there are billions and billions of worlds, each created and being experienced by a different individual. I probably will not have a direct affect on over 99% of those billions and billions, but for the few that I have been honored to come in contact with, I feel that I have changed the world. Be it making them feel loved or helping them to further achieve happiness, for at least a couple of people, I have made a difference, and that is enough for me to feel motivated to keep on keeping on.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Richard and his younger brother came to visit me today in Muehlhausen. They asked if there were any lakes around and, being the out-of-towner that I am, I said no, but of course my host mom informed me that there was (huh, she could have let me know a little sooner). Anyway, we rode our bikes there - because in Germany, everything you need is within biking or walking distance, and when I say need, I am not including such materialistic things like fashion latest trends - and the first thing I see, bathing in the sunlight, is a beautiful German woman, slender like all the others, with dishwater blonde hair. No where around was a sign stating that nudity was or was not permitted because it doesn’t matter. My friends and I bathed for a few moments in the cold water then quickly got it, parting ways after this for supper. I guess I just love nudity and living where I can see for miles and being able to walk safely to the things I need. It’s nice here, peaceful.

Though the boredom I am feeling at the moment makes me sad sometimes, living in a rural suburb without means of using the bus yet, my surrounding fields always cheer me up. Right now, I'm almost 2 weeks strong without binging, but it's not like I'm even trying not to- just works that way right now. I am feeling happier and healthier... and shyer haha my German is not as good as I'd thought. As of right now, I only hope to survive my first day of school. I am content.

Friday, September 2, 2011

An explanation of everything so far: the flight from O'Hare to Philepelphia went without problems, but when we got there, our flight to Frankfurt was delayed 2 hours, causing us to almost miss our flight to Munich BUT we got on. Once I was on the plane, I truly felt like a foreigner: everyone was staring at us in our blazers, speaking German. I made friends with the boy sitting next to me, so I hope he will someday show me around Munich. My host family is great; I have become good friends with my two host brothers. My dad speaks more English than my mom, but I am able to communicate with them pretty well. Last night, we had white sausage and pretzels for dinner, and today, I helped cook a plum cake and spaghetti for lunch. Now, my parents have gone to an anniversary party, so I am home with my brothers, playing cards. Everything is beautiful here; I have my own room and bathroom. As the days go by, I will become more and more comfortable with everything. For now, I am happy to have studied as much German as I did. There is not much more for me to say at the moment. I am a bit nervous to start school, to make friends, but I know that I will be okay. I cannot believe I am finally here.

Monday, August 8, 2011


It's Monday, August 8. I have yet to finish my government class (could they just make it slightly more interesting?), but that's what I'm soon off to work on. Last night, Ed emailed me my travel itinerary, and everything is becoming more and more real. At this point, I'm just irritated by people constantly bugging me and reminding me of all the things I still need to do, but I am very excited for my ever approaching departure and exchange year. To my friends at home: I will miss all of you dearly.