Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everybody!... (or Frohe Weihnachten if you are in German speaking lands!) I hope everyone had a happy holiday's and is looking forward to a happy New Year. Thank you for all the cards and presents that so many people sent me! They all really ment a lot.

I had a fairly uneventful Christmas. My host family is not particularily religious, so it felt odd going through the motions without the meaning (ie: going to church, no nativity set, etc). I definately missed many of the traditions my family at home has but I also learned some new ones. For example... real candles on the tree! Or taking a Christmas walk (the idea is that everyone has eaten so much that everyone goes out for a stroll). We took a trip down to the dikes and walked along the sea... but the tide was out, so only the Watt was there. Germany also has TWO official days of Christmas. Every child's dream, right? I think most people disregard the second day though since the overall German christmas time is counted differently.

It all starts with Dead sunday. This is the sunday before Advent, therefore 5 sundays before Christmas. All those who have died in the past year are honored at the churches. Then the next sunday starts Advent and the 4 consecutive sundays following Dead Sundat are each honored by the lighting of a chandle in the Advent wreath in each home. Finally, Christmas Eve comes, known as Holy Evening here. Most german households will have a formal family room used only for special occasions. In here, on Holy Evening, the christmas tree is brought in and decorated by the mother (alone) and behind closed doors. No one is alowed to see it until that evening. Everyone then goes to Chruch with the kids to the children's service (there is always a children's service and a late night service) and when everyone comes home, the father usually takes the children on a walk while the Christ Child (a 7-8 year old version of Jesus, accompanied by angels... today the Christ Child is being replaced by Santa Claus due to the large scale advertising and media influence from America) comes and delivers presents under the tree. All the presents are then opened on Holy Evening and a large Christmas dinner eaten. Some of the older children then go out to clubs and celebrate with friends late in the night after the parents go to bed.

First-Christmas morning, many of the older kids sleep in. Families will usually visit relatives or close friends. Of course they will eat more and take their Christmas walks. Second-Christmas is about the same, but is more casual. Many people go out and it is no different than a normal saturday or sunday (which here are always slow because almost all the stores and resturants are closed in the weekends).

The teacher that showed me around his museum called me up on second-christmas and took me on a tour of all the local churches in the area. We had thought they would be open, being christmas and all (we were mistaken). But I still had a lot of fun and saw some really neat things and learned a lot about the transition this area of Germany made from the old religions into Christianity. So now, I got a pretty basic first hand knowledge of the history of East Frisia from the Ice Age until the Middle Ages. Herr Heinz also told me a little about the economy of this area and what he believes will become of this area. Its a poor land. He also said that the people and the traditions of the Harlingerland (I live in the Harlingerland, the easternmost region of Ostfriesland) usually run about 20 years behind the mainstream of the general German trends. I guess it is a little bit sad to think about the future here. But it helps me to put into perspective the people and what I see around me.

So today and in the next few days before I head off the Berlin for New Years (whooo!!!) i'll be trying out all my new christmas presents and working on an Egg (my hobby... I create Faberge style eggs) for Diana because she is leaving in 2 weeks. I hope everyone had a merry Christmas and will have a happy New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Stone Age?

I got a very strange phone call yesterday... only just shortly after getting out of school for christmas vacation. An unknown teacher (to me) phoned and wanted to know if I could meet him at 10 in the morning in front of his museum, which is located inside the only remaining Holland style wind mill here in Esens. So this morning I got up early and biked to the way opposite side of town (20ish min).

I was in for a surprise. It turns out that this teacher has been doing archeology projects and excavations in the mudflats (Wattenmeer... see previous blogs for more info). The ebb and flow of the water, the coast, and the islands (which are only really big sand banks as it turns out) has been consistantly moving and changing thoughout the ages. As far back as the ice ages, the water receded so much that you could walk from here to England, theoretically. But more recently, people have been living here for about 3000 years, and like normal humans, they have been altering the landscape ever since (as well as the natural change from the tide and wind). I learned a lot about the landscape here, the bogs that were used for ''fire wood'', the nature of the tides when there is no dike, and the extreme change of the coast line. The many settlements here were pearched upon ''high'' hills... really only 20 feet or so above sea level, or on the coast... and some even out on the watt on man made hills (one hill was made entirely of cow manure!). People lived out on the watt until the early 1600's (through the entire middle ages!). Sometimes storms would detroy the settlements or the tide would overtake low lying towns. Therefore, there are a lot of buried treasures lying around.

This teacher has done a lot of excavations out on the watt. One has to wait until the tide is low, and there is only a few hours to work. But he has quite a collection and several floors on information that he and his team has assembled. So, he gave me almost a 2 hour private tour of the collection. The greatest part of it all was getting to hold pieces of pottery and tools that were over 2000 years old as well as stone tools made in the stone age! Imagine! Of course, it was all in german, and the neat part was that I understood almost everything. Something like that would have been impossible only a month ago.

Sorry for my spelling... deutch interference. I will write a christmas message on the 25th.

Sunday, December 18, 2005


I went on a little weekend trip to a small village near the border of Neidersachen (the ''state'' I live in now) and Nord-Something Westphalia. I can't remember the name exactly of the state. It is here that my neighbor Birdgit (who taught me German back home in Lima) grew up. Her mother still lives there and I spent a couple days with her. It was very interesting. The barns and houses in this little village, called Frille, are absolutely beautiful.. and are very typical german with the wooden beams in the walls and the quotes written over the doors. The nearby city, called Minden, was also very beautiful and has a rather large Cathedral for it's size (only 80,000 people). There is a lot of history in the area, ranging from the 30 Years War, Charlemagne, a sizable Catholic influence, and the 2nd World War.

The city and countryside were absolutely destroyed when the Allies bombed Germany. It is unbelievable to see what the damage was from pictures and to listen to some of the stories of people who lived durning those hard times. It also rather frighten's me to know that the Americans even bombed small villages like Esens. What reason would there ever be to lay waste to every organized town, city, and village in a country? I got a first hand acount (from both Birdgit's mother and from a museum we visited) the absolute devestation Germany experienced and the hardships. Only a very small glimpse, but enough to make my skin crawl. It also makes me realize why WWII was supposed to be the war to end all wars. I learned an awful lot in the past 2 days. It is hard to put to words exactly everything and how I feel. Hearing things like ''We didn't know they were burning the Jews'' makes your heart skip a beat.

But other than that... there were lot of other things we did. There was a record player in my room (more of a huge, extremely comfortable and cozy living room tucked into an upstairs corner) and we played christmas songs for an hour or so friday night. I also watched a chistmas program from Bavaria (and am extremely glad I was not sent to Bavaria!... although they have a lot of pretty snow). And a little old Russian lady (over 80!) that lives across the street came over for breakfast sunday morning and we all walked to church together. A Russian accent in German is really tough to understand, although not at all uncommon. There were Russians that I met only last weekend on the train who were going for vacation here in East Frisa! Fancy that... but I guess it is a lot warmer here than Russia at the moment. The little old lady in Frilla came to Germany about 10 years ago with her family. She is rather really adorable. But I feel sorry for her. She has the same teary eyes as the germans I met in East Germany. Although I think they are due more to the unfortune that her 25 year old daughter is dying of cancer. She is, however, still very adorable in a small and dainty with a determined little heart, little old grandmotherly way. I can only imagine what she has seen in her years.

I can only say it was a very unique and inspiring experience to visit ''Oma'' here in Deutschland.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Beck's Beer

Something about Christmas season makes all the Germans want to be jolly-er than usual. What better way to celebrate than with BEER! It's impossible to get on the trains these days without at least one rowdy bunch, whether it be the biker dudes or the soccer fans with their crates full of beer bottles, teenagers with backpacks full of cheep drinks, mothers all out for shopping with their wine and wine glasses, or the little old ladies with their schnops and cookies (I have seen this all)... there is always someone drinking or drunk on the trains.... WHOOOO! It makes the train rides somewhat more hilarious. It also surprises me how completely normal it is for anyone of any age to be trashed in public.

I had a very early morning start today. I had to catch the train at 7 am for the 2 hour ride into Bremen where we met up with some other exchange students and headed to the Beck's factory... the most popular beer around here and the leading export of German beers. If you look at the bottles, it even says it is brewed in Bremen (I know lot's more about the lables... but for another time). WELL... I learned all about modern brewering, the history of Beck's beer, and lot's about Beck's beer in general. It was actually quite fun. At the end we got to do taste tests... although, all the free beer that you want is hardly taste ''testing''. HA! Afterwards we walked around Bremen until 7 that night, finding other exchange students at random until we had a gang of about 15. Let's say it was an eventful day....

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

something new

ok... so after 4 months in this little (now deserted) tourist town I found the coolest thing ever... this really old barn turned into a cafe. Its full of antiques and stuff, not at all unlike Juniper Beans in Honeoye Falls, except cheep (and good quality too!). Inside is all these old tables, paintings and old pictures on the walls, cool looking antique chandeliers and things everywhere, and the rafters are full of stuff (from old toys to horseshoes). In the town, everything is decorated with lights and is quite picturesque. The only people around town these days are natives in Esens (so things are quite empty)... but now it has a lot more of a cozy small town feel than before. Not much else is new. I just wanted to comment on the amazingly cool cafe.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Sorry everyone

Ok... sorry everyone for my negativity and bad posting. It's really tough sometimes here. In the last month with the onset of extreme nordic coldness I have been confronted with the task of actually settling down here and learning to live life as a German, not an American visiting Germany. Not an easy task. I've been learning to find a balance between what I used to be and how much I've changed... something that will change who I am in the long run as well.

Thankfully, in the last week, my german has gotten to the point where I can actually read simple books and short stories and I understand 90%. That's a big thing because now I can start tackling writing that I get in school. And, with my new school schedule I've already made 3 new (german) friends.

Over the weekend Esens recieved two new exchange students, both from South Africa. They will be staying for 6 weeks (and leaving the same week as both Jacob and Diana). That will be a sad week... losing most of my best friends here all at once. But, I will be going to a new host family shortly after, of which I look forward too. The more I get to know my next host family, the more I like them. Meeting with one of the new girls made me also realize how much I've learned in the past 4 months. I've learned a language, a new culture, new friends, new family, a new diet (I've lost 5 lbs here!... and I'm more in shape!), and a lot about myself.

Anyway... more of my usual stories... with December here, things have taken on a whole new flavor! Every town has Christmas markets... they are outdoor markets with mostly handmade crafts. Everything from candles, jewelry, food, and world renowned arts and crafts (nutcrackers, small wooden angels, everything... quality german craftsmanship! simply uncomparable). Every other booth is a bar where one can get waffles and other fried christmas foods and Glühwein (glowing wine... red wine with sugar and spices) or Grog (something with rum). My favorite booths are the honey booths. There are beekeepers here in germany that make the most excellent honey that I have ever tasted. But then, people take the wax and make candles and the honey to make marvolus foods and drinks (honeywine anyone?). If I didn't love maple syrup so much, I would say honey is my favorite food. But the idea of making a million things out of honey is not at all different than what we do with maple syrup.

Thankfully I am almost done with christmas shopping, or I would go broke. Saturday I visited one of the biggest Christmas markets in the north in Bremen. Afterwards I went with my host dad (from my next host family... I was in Bremen with my next host family) to a Boy's Choir christmas concert. I finnally learned a few more german christmas carols. I have also discovered that my two favorite chritmas carols at home (Silent Night and Es ist ein Ros' entsrungen... I can't remember the english title anymore) are actually German ones.

So, things aren't really all that bad here. I'm off to wrap presents and get down to the post office. Tomorrow is my host sister's 18th b-day. 18 is a big one because kids are allowed to drive and also, the german government and culture considers an 18 year old to be a fully grown adult, with all due respect, responsibility, and freedom. A lot different from our 21 year old ''new'' adults. Schöne Adventzeit! (Happy Advent time... it isn't merry christmas.. schöne Weihnactzeit... until around the 20th)

Sunday, November 27, 2005

everyone loves Platt

I had my second thanksgiving with all the Rotary exchange students saturday. I spend the night at Brian's house friday and then helped with cooking and things saturday morning before everyone arrived. Maria (I visited her in Bielefeld a few weeks back) came too and we all had a wonderful meal and then the two of us rode the train back here to Esens, in the middle of no where land. This morning I showed her around and then we biked to the coast (I think I almost lost a couple of toes from frostbite), had some typisch ostfriesisch tee and then biked back to my house so she could catch the train home.

since then, I have been on the computer reading the websites of all the local villages in an attempt to become better informed upon community happenings. I have discovered it is 30 minutes to the nearest town over 15,000, 45-60 minutes to the nearest town over 40,000 (depending on the mode of transportion), and an hour and a half for anything over 70,000. As well, any student that is smart enough to get through the german school system has left and most do not return, therefore leaving this funny phonomenon that no one between the age of 19-30 lives here.

The process also makes another impact upon the population, those who stay are not of the most intelligent quality and thus the populus is more inclined toward the physical pleasures of life... sports, farming, food, etc. More intellectual activities are few and far between, including busy spiritual churches, public music and art, dance, historical societies, and the like. There are actually many book shops and a library... but they have only modern authors and subjects. The schools are partly to blame because the students are taught mostly theory their entire education and given little chance to apply it (imagine a music class where everyone can read the music, tell you what key it is in, and compose a harmony, but can't find the c key on a piano or sing a note... or an art class that has anylized the artistic merits of every famous sculpture but doesn't know the difference between working in charcol or pencil).

For me, it is quite depressing to learn that there actually are theater groups here, but I can't watch or join them because they are in Platt, not german. ***Platt is a mixmashed language spoken only on the Frisian islands and in north, east, and west Frisia (I live in East Frisia, West Frisia is in the Netherlands, and North Frisia is near Denmark, but still German). This crazy little language that has a different dialect for every 10 miles is some sort of cross between english, german, and dutch.*** Other frustrations of mine with Platt include portions of the newspaper, shop signs, anything that is typical east frisian, and anytime I want to go into a store I need everything translated to me into real german.

To further disapoint me... there actually are a select few art exhibits in the area and music groups, however i have confirmed that there is a public transportation system that could rival the one found in the greater rochester region. translation: almost non-existant, if you exclude the single line railroad used to transport non-existant winter tourists to the ports so that they may be ferried to the islands. Therefore, unless I become tragically fascinated with the sport of tennis or take a sudden interest in drinking every weekend to the beat of bad american pop and rap songs, it's pretty much a hopeless case here. Anything else that I could possibly take interst in is impossible to do during winter, costs hundreds of dollers a month, or I will not be able to continue once I move to my new host family in January, 15 minutes further into the countryside.

I hate Germany.

*Correction... I love germany; I hate East Frisia*

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

hey everyone, Happy Thanksgiving! I'm trying to do my own celebrations here. My bio class decided to have a party, so I'm heading over to my bio teacher's house in an hour to start making a turkey. I've been organizing it for weeks. And finally here!

Meanwhile, I have been FREEZING! I realized yesterday while biking that even wearing 4 layers of clothes (including long underwear and sweatshirts) under my coat is not sufficent enough to keep me warm, even when I am exercizing and producing extra body heat as well! And the sad part is, is this cold will only get worse, as everyone has been telling me. What baffles me is how it can be so cold and there is no snow. cold = snow in my head. Not here. And its amazing that it can be so cold and not even be below freezing. I have now realized what my textbooks have told me all along about Russian winters and why the defeat of both Napoleon and Hitler were so complete... because this cold is not comparable to anything. Looking at a map tells me I'm at the same latitude as the Hudson bay and only about 10 degrees from the artic circle. And the wind currents come from the east, from none other than the renowned Siberian tundra. I can't imagine what it would be like any further north or east. God save their furnaces and fires from ever dying.

anyhow, happy turkey day!

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Not much is new around here. I've been reading Harry Potter in an attempt to fill space, from the first book to the last (in english). Last week I went Martini-laufen, which has nothing to do with Martini's but infact St. Martin... not sure of the connection... but!... kids go around to all the houses with lanterns and collect candy after singing a little song. It is not at all unlike our Halloween traditions. The older kids get Schopps instead of candy sometimes. Jacob (australia) and some of the guys made a point to bring along their shot glasses!

Yesterday I started my first Rotary sponsored German lessons, the ones I was supposed to have 3 months ago... fancy that! I also finaly got a schedule for school. I have been going to all of my host sister's classes. I start next week. However, today in politic's class we had a ''Congresswoman'' from the Bundestag (the German Parliment... which is called the Reichstag... which is the building I toured on my Germany Tour) come and talk to us.

And great news... the package that my dad sent me, over a month ago, has finnaly cleared customs. WHOOOO! I'll actually get some mail! Actually, I got my first christmas card in the mail today, from Grandma Straw (my step great grandmother!) It's the little things that brighten your day here. It also made me remember that I am to poor to send everyone christmas cards from abroad. So I will try and do something special on my blog.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Germany Tour Pictures

After an hour and a half I have managed 5 pictures. These hopefully represent the first half of my Germany Tour. I took film picutres in Berlin, so I can't get them up here. I brief explaination... the first picture is of me, Brian (Ohio), and Sharanya (Malaysia) on our boat ride through the Spreewald. The picture with all the umbrella's and the boat was one of the boats we took in the Spreewald. It was raining a little and we found umbrella's under our seats. The picture with the tower... that is at the boarder crossing between East and West Germany (not to be confused with the one in Berlin, that is something competely different). There was a little outdoor museum we visited. The window picture is from the Wartburg in Eisenach. That is where Martin Luther translated the first bible into German, basically inventing the German we (or I, lol) speak today. The 4 people in the last picture are Steve (Texas), Annali (Canada), Lachy (Australia), and Sharanya (Malasia). Unfortuantely I don't have a good picture of Diana. And I can only upload 5 pictures in one post. Maybe I can get some up of Turkey in my next one!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Sorry for my bad grammar and spelling. It is getting difficult to think in two different languages. I've gone though and edited, but there still might be a couple of problems...

hey y'all!... I've been traveling around quite a bit the past few days. I've learned some interesting things and seen even more things that interest me. Saturday I took a little (4 hour) train ride to Bielefeld, Germany to visit Maria, another fortunate Rotary exchange student from Upstate New York. On my way down I met up with Marie, a french girl who also on exchange in Germany. She lives in Osnabrück, about the southernmost city in my district. We had a wonderful time walking around the market and then grabing a bite to eat at a Cafe. Once in Bielefeld, I learned a lot about public transportation, and of course the city. It is a good sized city, big enough that it would take 40 min. or so with the street cars to get from one side of it to the other. We met up with some other exchange students (all spanish speakers... Mexicans are so cooooooool!!!!), I learned a little spanish, visited the almost non-existant old city (it was bombed out completely), saw a small castle on a hill (visited it too), ate Pizza Hut (YEA!), and watched some rather unterrifying horror movies. As well, I also laughed hystarically at the fact that when one lives in the city.. one gets to know the homeless by name... yea... ''the russian lady lives on so and so corner'', etc. What surprised me was the number of hadicaped people in the city. Now coming from a background where many hadicapped people have graced my presence, even this was a bit unsettling.... and they all come from a hospital in the area, the largest hospital in Germany for the handicapped.

Bearly making it home due to late trains and stupid time schedules, less than 12 hours later I was back on the train in the direction of Bremen with the 11th grade class. I met a lot of new people and had lots of fun. We first went to a museum about Monet and his work as a portrait painter. There were tons of originals from Monet with a few from Degas, Renoir, and Manet for comparisons of the era. Later we went shopping and I even found the statue of the 4 traveling musicians from the Grimms Brother's fairy tale that I watched almost every day on video as a child.

Today, as tired as I was a year ago (especially after throughly not recovering from my two weeks of vacation), I traveled again, only this time with my history class, to Bremerhaven, the port city of Bremen. There we visited a museum about German Emigration. I found it very fascinating to trace the time periods and events that happened at the same time my german Volzer ancestors left Germany. Besides being very happy that everything was in German AND English, I was in for a big surprise when I found a database on the internet. The Museum had kiosks with full membership privalages and I found out information about the Volzers, including ship names, port towns, and current locations for Volzers across the Western world (from Russia to France, to Texas and to Colorado). Wow, what a cool find! I then met up with another exchange student in the lobby (we had talked before hand about meeting) and we hung out for a half an hour before I had to go. That was definately cool.

Yea, so I'm really tired and I have tons to think about. I found a copy of The Jungle, a famous mudraking book in America in the late 1800's in my hostsister's room (in english) and so that kept me occupied during most of my traveling time, almost 20 hours since Satuday! I've had a headache from sore muscles most of the time as well, and it is really cold here, so I am off to snuggle by the fire and watch Nirgendwo in Afrika with my host mom. Tchüss!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Back to school

hey everyone... I have been writing a lot of emails lately, so I haven't really updated. I'm not quite overdue anyway. at least once a week is my goal! I'm back to school and things are going MUCH better. My german improved a lot over break because all we did in Turkey was talk... talk over meals, talk at the beach, talk in the sauna and baths, etc. I'm feeling really good about that.

Things have been a little strange in the family this week. My host grandfather died, the father of my hostmother, so i've have been shuffling around to friends houses for meals. tonight I am sleeping at my first host family's house because my current host family is down near Dortmund, near where my dad's cousin Bobby lives.

anyway... I updated some pictures on Ringo. It is a lot faster with Ringo than with my blog here. I'll try and get one of two up soon here. But, in the mean time, check out my pictures on ringo. There are a lot more to come... I only got up one new folder so far. All the new folders will be titled Germany Tour-''subject''. If you want to see them and you are not already signed up, all you gotta do is go to Ringo.com and create an account and then add my email address so that I can become your new ''Ringo Friend''! my email is concrete_angel0369@yahool.com

So... Im off in the rain on my bike to the Hedlefs. Thank god for big raincoats.

Sunday, October 30, 2005


Is there a way to describe what it feels like to have lived 2 months in 2 weeks? That is what I feel like now. I feel a lot older too. I have roasted and burnt like a coffee bean and am now ready for good european food and air again. After spending a week in Turkey, I'm less sure of where to start than after a whirlwind tour of Germany.

First of all, a lot less happened in terms of adventure, but I got a huge culture shock in visiting a near east/middle eastern land. My city of exploration was a small resort on the far side of the mountains and squished between the sheer cliff walls of the mountains and the Mediteranian. 30-40 minutes away is the city of Antyla, a rather dismal but busy Turkish center of culture and tourism that resembles a cross between a high tech shanty town and a porcupine. The later because tall, identical spiny high rise appartment complexes with balconies and clothes lines have taken over and tower above concrete shop buildings and shady one story shacks of homes and continue to climb up the mountains like sentinal towers. The mountains are piled in heeps like a child's sandbox and trees and plants cling to the earth and rock like mold, struggling to climb up and over take the mountains; scattered little clumps of vibrant piny and shady trees that should look like dead twigs because the land is so dry but are not. The land is littered with rock and dirt as if the earth was still untameable for mankind. In the midst of all this, where cacti grow like weeds and dry river beds so big that you can bearly see the other side live thousands of people in open concrete buildings lavishly covered in oriental rugs and cultivated citrus and shade trees. There is little difference between inside and out where shaded porches with dirt floors become livingrooms and meals are eaten on the floor in rooms with little more than a fireplace and sink. Livestock take shelter in the first floor rooms and sleep in the dirt under the treed yards that have grown to be like a roof where one can take shelter from the beating sun. The air smells of flowers that fall in vines from walls and peek out behind rows of laundry flapping in the breeze from any place that will support a line.

If one wants water, it is in short supply.... tanks collect rain on every roof top. Ice cold water from the mountains is channeled off and run to every house in canals in a sophisticated system, not unlike the electric wires that string every american house together. Where there is water, flowers and plants bloom in an unmatched paradis of shade, color, and beauty. Everywhere else one sees scrub brush, citrus trees, and dark green pines. Olive trees line the roads in some villages and the rounded roofs of mosques poke out from above. The tall thin towers of the mosque, wired with speakerphones echo chants at midday and ring out over the mountainside.

All that of course doesn't even take in account the people. The Turkish have two very distinct cultures. A traditional one like the one I have partially described, and a vibrant modern one where the young are flocking look for education and escape from the struggle of life in the country. The people are a darker skin color, an olive color if you will. Most of my time I spend in more traditional villages, so that is what I can only describe. In these places, women wear head dresses and are covered from foot to toe. Men escort the women when they go out in groups, although occasionally you will see a lonely woman walking home from the market with a deathgrip on a few vegetables and fruit. Men and boys are seen out walking and the young males are often on bikes. But very few women or young females are seen in public, except for the small small children.

In the town, the turkish, men and women alike, are hungry for money. They stant out in front of tables with goods spread out. If you go too close they plead with you to buy their goods and demonstrate every way why. Many have shops filled with cheep, probably imitation goods of every name brand possible. The number of leather stores and precious gems and jewelry is astonishing. The more traditional markets are less hectic where tables and mats are layed out with fresh vegetables and goods. Women sit with a lap full of children silently watching.

I could go on forever describing what I saw, from a turkish rug factory (women at looms making fabulous oriental rugs... and seeing the practicalities and the potential horrors of child labor), to a resturant where you wonder who's cow was slaughtered in the village to provide the meal, to signs in the middle of no where pointing to villages 8-9 hours away, somewhere over the mountains and through the caves. Somehow i have the impression that what I have learned of Turkey is somewhat skewed, because the traditional villages and way of life is dying out with the young, who are moving to the cities. There is a tension between these two stark cultures that only naturally explodes into violence and that is what we see on the tv when these people rise up against the tide of westernization. In my opinion, from what I have seen in the past week, the American decision to go to war in Iraq and the ensuing conflict is only the product of a vast cultural misunderstanding. We have no right to be there. Sure, Iraq and Turkey are two very different countries... but when was the last time Mexico, Canada, France, or Germany looked or even resembled an arid middle or even near eastern land!?!? I'm sorry for the blantent comment of my opinion and if I offend anyone. And truely I have not seen enough to make an informed opinion of it so mabye I am making a rash and unbiased opinion, but even the glimpse of what I have seen gives me a new view point of the War on Terror.

And to be honest, I only got the chance to see all this in the span of 2-3 days. Most of the week I spent on the beach, sleeping in the sun. The resort life is vastly different than that of the city and of the villages. Everything is green and shade trees and flowering vines tumble off of white walls and arbors while the deep unimaginably blue and turqoise water plays with the sun and laps across stones of every imaginable color, shape, and size. Endless buffets of food line the beach side and turkish men wait on you hand and foot. It is impossible to describe how the mountains tower above and it takes a moment to figure out where the mountains end and the clouds start. People just lay spralled on beach chairs and under umbrella's. In the evening, when the sun goes down behind the mountains at only 5 and the earth begins to cool rapidly people flock to the sauna and turkish baths, which are a whole adventure to themsleves. The issue of nudity becomes a point of beauty where it doesn't matter if there are 20 people of all ages, both men and women, crammed into a sauna room, sitting only inches apart. The turkish baths are the hight of luxury where marble stone is heated and cooled by running water fountains and bath founts and one can take a bronze bowl and pour water over oneself as your muscles melt against the stone. And in the center of the steamy room are the turkish men literally bathing those who pay with scrubbies and pillows of bubbles, rubbing down, washing and massaging in luxury.

It was a week never to be forgotten. And I know I will never be the same.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Germany Tour

I will try to keep this short and sweet, but somehow it is next to impossible with all I have been up to in the past week. I went on a Tour of Germany, a Deutschlandreise, for 6 days and have had the time of my life. I spoke to my mother today for over an hour and only gave her the highlights and writing in my diary today took 25 pages. I was very happy to get out of East Frisa and see hills and trees... with colors! I even got to climb a mountain this week. I've done so much walking that I'm feeling quite in shape! I'm sorry if my spelling and grammar are going down the drain, but it's an unfortunate side effect of learning another language.

The first day we traveled to Eisenach, the location where Martin Luther translated the Bible into German, basically unifying and inventing high German. Then I saw a 400 year old Ostrich Egg and the actual bible he wrote! I found it interesting that he used a whale vertebrae for his footstool (we got to see his study). He wrote this in a castle called the Wartburg (Wait Mountain) which also the same place were Saint Elizabeth, the patron of the poor (I'm not positive what... it was in a strong German accent) lived. Then we went to an Irish pub and I found that I liked dark beers... no wonder I didn't like the beer in Germany... it's mostly light! Also, earlier that day we saw a checkpoint at the division of East and West Germany. It was really fascinating seeing the fence and the whole complex.

The second day we rode the bus to Weimer, the historical cultural capital of Germany (and also the capital of the Weimer Republic). I learned a lot about Goethe and Schiller, two really famous playwrights. I even saw the bed that Schiller died in. Then we continued on towards Lübbenau. There we slept in a Youth Hostel that used to be a DDR appartment complex. The town was really creepy DDR soviet architecture, all square identical buildings. Then we found a bowling ally and bar at the top of some building.

The third day we walked in the opposite direction to another town, which I absolutely fell in love with. Can you imagine me saying that? I would love to live in East Germany. At least this one town, because it was like walking into a fairytale. Everything was quaint old german architecture and the people are amazingly down to earth. There are gardens everywhere and people working in them and there are flowers everywhere. Then, we went on a Kahn, a boat similar to the Italian gondola's and traveled through the Spree Forest, while seeing the most beautiful landscape and buildings. After that, we took the bus to an old brown coal mine and had a tour of this huge crane that is almost twice as high as the empire state building. And we walked to the top! 502 meters. Not long after that we took the bus to Berlin. We had the night free and after failing to find a jazz bar and proving to the mexicans and brazilians that the Hard Rock Cafe is to expenisve, we found another Irish pub. It was near this apparently famous bombed out church, the Kaiser Willhem Kirche or something. And all the trees were a million different colors becasue there are flourecent lights in them.

The next day we had the whole day free in Berlin. Diana, and Brian (Columbus, Ohio... he lives only ten minutes away from my Grandma Sandy!), Shelby (Utica, NY), Renada (Washington State), and I went around seeing things. First we walked about East Germany and saw some really interesting things. It wasn't really run down, but it definately had not been remodernized, which we found West Berlin to be... lots of open spaces and modern. I found it interesting. Then we went in an old church, Marienkirsche, and saw some amazing art. After that, we stumbled upon the Berlin Cathedral, which from the outside was breathtaking... until you went into the inside which makes you want to imediately sit and pray because it is so astounding (which is what Diana and I did). After loosing Brian when we went into the Crypts and saw all the family members of the German first Reich, I found him upstairs (in the sanctuary) as the HUGE organ started playing. There was a theater peice that was being played out, which is apparently only played once a year. It gave me goosebumps is was so cool. Then we ran up to the top of the dome and back in a half an hour... a good 80-100 meters. I have no idea what the translation of that is... except, really high. After, we ate lunch and finally got to sit! and then we took the subway to Potsdamer Plazza, which was the closest to the culture plazza, where the Berlin Philharmonic Building is and also an amazing art gallary. On the way, I wore a gas mask that I had bought through the streets of Berlin and the Subway. It was so funny that I think I peed my pants, with the way people reacted. The ticket controller didn't even mad at us because our tickets were wrong! Then, the Gemäldegallarie, this art hall, was so phonominal that I was on cloud nine. I saw Raphael, Carrvaggio, Dürer, Rembrant, and a million others. We only stayed for 2 and a half hours and we got lost in it... and I didn't even see a fraction of the things. And that was only one building out of 5!!!!! I didn't even know until later that my favorite Vermeer painting was in the room next to the Rembrants... which I missed! Later that night I saw the Brandenburg Gate, the big Columned gate with the 4 horses and a rider on top, all lit up with colors... just the way the pictures are that you always see.

The fifth day... we got a guided tour of Berlin. I saw a lot that we missed but didn't understand a word because it was all in Spanish and German... and I was way to tired to concentrate that hard to understand. Plus.. I don't know Spanish. I saw Checkpoint Charly as well. Then we went to the Reichstag, which is their congress hall/parliment building. We got a tour and I thought it was amazing. There is a huge glass ball on the top and we climbed up there and saw the whole city, except this time I knew a little more about what I was seeing. After, I went shopping with Marie (France) and bought christmas presents and a sweatshirt in Potsdamer Platz. From there, we walked through the central park, called the Teirgarten (the Animal Garden) and found a huge 6 lane high way. Then, for some reason we ended up walking down the middle of it, but I was trying to find the perfect spot to take a picture of this monument that was in the middle of the traffic circle in the middle of the city, that is REALLY FAMOUS (because I would not have recognized it otherwise) monument in the middle. Then, when we got closer, I realized the sun was absolutely perfect and I had to run all the way around the traffic circle (carefully, or course) to get a picture, before the sun went down!! That night, Diana, Marie (France), Steve (Texas), Lachy (Australia), and I went to the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. There are no words to describe the experience. The building glowed this gold color and the orchestra was so good that it makes the Rochester Philharmonic sound like a high school band. We had red wine druing intermission and then at the last minute or so of the performance, they played the organ, a huge organ. And I cried it was so amazing.

The 6th day was much slower. We rode the bus back home and stoped at the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg, the headquarters of VW. It was a really weird version of a automobile Disney World. I was bored and some of us were upset that we spent just as long there as in Weimer. But, we saw the Tibetian Dali Lama's high monks there! It was definately interesting. They all dressed in orange robes.

It was the most amazing week of my life. Like I said, that is the bare bones, skeleton version of everything that happened. I leave for Turkey early tomorrow morning. I am so tired that last night I almost slept in my food. By the time we got to Berlin, it was party, party, party every night. And I have learned that the Brazilians and Mexicans can be very crazy people. I am looking forward to sleeping on the beach and roasting like a coffee bean... long and slow. I've had the time of my life and I can only imagine what the Euro Tour will be like next year, if I can get the money to go. I have made a lot of friends that I hope to stay in contact with the rest of my life and I can honestly say that I LOVE GERMANY now. And, I still need to pack for Turkey and its almost 11 at night now. What lies ahead in the next 9 months... who knows!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Today I went to the Volkswagen plant with school, that is only 45 minutes from here. they make all the Passat's in the entire world! It is also the plant that made most of the VW Beetles for export to the United States! Also, in two weeks, when I am on my Germany Tour, we are stopping in Wolfsburg which is the headquarters of VW. We will get tour, but this time in English!!

Inside the factory... it is difficult to discribe. Many of the operations are automated, so there are these cars and machines, only comparable to a scene in the Matrix. Imagine moving battery driven metal boxes, driving around in percision, carrying ghostly carframes competely empty with no windows and doors, engines or wheels... creeping around silently, while crashes, machines, and the sound of firesparks drumm on in the background. Then large, imposing orange arms reach down, with many flingerlike bolts, carrying car peices away and sending sparks flying in all directions as they work in midair... syncronized with hundreds of other similar machines that look like they will all run into each other and cause a massive malfunction. Later on, rows of men work on building engines and assembling the different pieces of the car... the dashboard, the doors pieces, the elecrical wires, packing the liner between the door and body, screwing together the radios... and massive machines picking empty carbodies, prickley looking motors, and steel undercarriges up like they are light as a feather. It is an awe inspiring and honestly scarey place. All I can say is... go watch The Matrix where the machines are ''harvesting'' humans.

Sunday, October 09, 2005


I forgot to add that yesterday on Langeoog we went to an exibit on Pablo Picasso (is that spelled right?) and actually saw REAL drawings, the original pieces! It was absolutely amazing.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

I'm sorry that I have not posted in 2 weeks. I have been having problems with the connection from my camera to the computer and other than pictures of my hostfamily and the house and the cats and things, nothing has really happened. I started going to the school choir and theather club, and the theater is not that bad because there are a lot of kids and energy. But the choir is awful, the music teacher wants to have more of a ''band'' type of thing, not a choir, and everything is in english. And, there is only 4 people that show up every week, and that is if you count me and the music teacher!

Today I went to Langeoog again, with the Rotary club president and his wife. I also sing with Frau Happach in a gospel choir not to far from here (there seems to be a lot of gospel choirs here, and they are all in english). The island was really nice, and warm! I got a lot of good pictures. Jacob (Australia) and Mario (Mexico) came along as well and we really had a wonderful time just hanging out on the beach and things. I even learned how to throw a boomerang (Herr Happach had made 2 boomerangs and brought them... i think he had been to Australia or something). Every time I threw it, it crash landed in the sand. Except once... and it was an absolute perfect throw. Jacob said that it might be the only time in my life that that ever happens!!

Then, when we came back to the mainland, I went with Frau Happach to a Gospel concert, that was actually quiet good, when you take into accout that Germans have a really strange english accent. Their rendition of Africa languages goes to a whole new level of horrible (diana comes from Africa, so I've come to learn a little about it!). But this one was really not that bad and had a lot of energy (Germans are somewhat stoic, or reserved). The sad thing, is that the whole situation in gerneral (Germans singing gospel) makes me want to hear a real gospel choir, which is normally the only type of music I actively avoid.

Yea, well, the last 2 weeks I have been desparately trying to find something I can do for the entire upcoming year... so that I can sorta settle in here, a weekly routine. There is not much of anything that interests me. There is almost no art or music of any kind and I can't even look forward to bright colorful trees this fall and snow this winter. Skiing, snowboarding, and igloos are definately out of the question. I think I might start playing ping-pong and tennis soon. Horseback riding is too expensive, but I would like to do that, or even better... to take some music lessons. Rotary finally listened to me that Mario and I need german lessons, so that starts soon too. School is short and slow. I'm only at school a couple hours a day. I am going to start going to church too, although I have not been able to find one person that actually goes to church. I want to find a youth group, but so far I have not heard of one, although, people sometimes actually know what it is! I've heard a rumor that there are 2 in Esens. Its been a slow and difficult process trying to find things to do because no one seems to actually do anything, except drink. That is all teens do, sit around and talk and drink. Whooo... fun! NOT.

But at the moment, I only have one more week to deal with, because I go on my Germany Tour on the 15th, to Weimer, Berlin, Eisenach, the Spreewald, and Wolfsburg (I'll clarify more about each one after I go there). I hope to see an orchetra in Berlin. The week after, I'm going to Turkey with my host family... all beach and sun. Not that I'm complaining, but what am I supposed to do for a week on a beach? I'm not really the sun roasting type. I think my host mom might teach me how to play tennis. Maybe I can convince my host dad to take me to the nearest ancient ruin... 45 minutes away, and yes... I've fully researched this... there is NOTHING within 45 minutes of this beach. Hey! Turkey is only on 3 different continents and is the location of the most wars and battles in the world... not to mention the city of Troy! AND... has only all the coolest ancient ruins and artifacts from prehistory.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Biking 2

I took a bike ride the other day. This is the ''Wanderweg'' (wandering path) of which I spent 13 km on. Not all of it was beautifully tree lined... other parts were cow lined. Litterally, there is so many cow (and horse) pastures here that i am convinced that there are more cows here than NY. Plus, the cows are allowed to actually eat the grass! The second picture is of the typical canals that are all over, between many of the feilds.

Friday, September 23, 2005


everything is soooo flat here that when I go bike riding i just keep going and going... like the energizer bunny, and there is really nothing to wear you out (ie: hills). So, I ended up going somewhere around 40 km the other day, which i guess works out to about 25-30 miles. I took some more pictures. I really should take more. (they failed to load... i'll try again sunday).

Yea... school is boring, and slow. Most days this week I have had school only 2-3 hours so I have had almost nothing to do. And I really don't know anyone, so I've been a little board. I go out with Lisa a lot, but I can only do that for so long because Lisa and her friends have very few of the same interests (ie: drinking and smoking, partying, talking for hours... etc... thats so not me!!). I don't understand what they say half the time and they don't include me in on the conversations, so... I've had a lot of time to think lately. I have met a couple kids in school that I like, I just haven't gotten to know them enough to do anything. There is one girl that was near Syracuse last year on exchange, and so we talk a lot. So many people go on exchanges here that when there is an exchange student here, its nothing new. Not like in NY! The exchange students are treated like movie stars practically. Yea... I like biking though. And there is a lot to do, if you can find a ride and some friends to do it with. Lots of festivals and activities in town (open markets, musicians, etc... and its such a small little town!).

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Here is the Wattenmeer... unfortunately, only an hour or so after high tide. but all that mud and shallow water that you see is the wattenmeer. At low tide, the water goes out for miles, so you can walk across the wattenmeer to some of the islands. the boat in the background is sailing in one of the many channels dug between the main land and the islands. There is a little wooden dike, only a foot or so high that helps to check the tide. It may seem that it is just a barren waste land and you would think that any animal that manages to live in the shallow water would die at low tide. But on the contrary, the wattenmeer has one of the highest concentrations of life in the world. there are many small creatures that bury into the mud during lowtide and also many species of crabs, seabirds (they aren't all just seaguls u know!), and even seals (called Seehund in german... hund is dog)! arrrg arg arrrrg. lol i haven't seen one yet, but i intend to before the year is up. I was walking along the coast last week and had lots of fun checking out the wattenmeer. i couldn't go far because the water was still high and its dangerous anyway. The big grassy mound... well that is about the highest elevation ya get here. The dikes are along the entire coast, and I would say are about the same height as in New Orleans. It would take a pretty massive storm to overtake these things here... but as we all know... not impossible.

Other than that little science lesson... not much is new. I might go to the Mediteranian in Turkey during my october school break. I'm also struggling to get back my french because I have a huge presentation in class next week. I can't believe I forgot it all. The worst part is that i have met 3 native french speakers so far while being here and all 3 know less german than me. And I can't even remember how to say ''I''!!!!! Its horrible.

I'm missing the warm weather all you people in New york (and probably in Ohio too) are having. Its always between 60-70. And rainy sometimes. The whole german elections were sunday too. Things are still up in the air and no one knows who won. The German government is so complicated... but I guess I would make my government that complicated too if I had some guy who took control of my country and killed millions of people. Its funny how the reports out of the US are so different than out of europe. I'm learning so much more about geography here too... for example, where different countries are. I think that HFL should do a better job at geography and countires... all the map stuff. I didn't even know that Africa was bigger than North America! People here are certainly much more global.

Even on the television, it is surprising to watch news stories about Iraq and Afganistan. At home you see pictures, but only of a soldier in a dust field, or a truck, or some people walking, etc. But here, you see images of soldiers firing at people, and panoramic views of the city or landscape. It looks so much more real. and scary. And I have never seen a news report before at home out of Africa either. You would not believe the poverty and the desparate situation so much of the continent is in. its not just that little group of starving kids you see on the television. Its everyone, and they have nothing. Not even a horrible Astrodome to take shelter in.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


It seems that no one ever reads this because no one ever posts comments. So I thought that I would try to get some pictures up so that people would become interested again.

So... I know that I can upload pictures here from the Hoyers, and I finally got all the everything working... but it takes forever! (Modems) What do you think of the cows I found... MOOOOOO. hehe

I updated two other posts with pictures too, below...

Sometime next week I can put up pics of the wattenmeer and of a Rotary picnic in Bremen that we are going to have tomorrow. It has been raining for 2 days straight, so hopefully we wont get rained out.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005



I'm all moved. So far, i really like it here. I like Lisa's family. And they are much more easy going than the Hedlefs. At first I thought because they lived more out of town that it would be horrible, but its actually pretty cool. I'm one minute closer to school and there are tons of little towns only 2-3 miles away. I'm closer to the forest and today when I went biking I discovered a bog (moor) which this part of the country is well known for, and also a huge canal. I biked for 15 miles today! I ended up in this absolutely gorgeous and cute town called Dunum and it had a little church in the middle that was built in the 1200's! It is the coolest thing ever. the town didn't have as many stores and shops as one would expect from it's size (even small villages have somewhat of a shopping center in the middle), but it was absolutely idylic. Hopefully because I'm not stuck so much in town, I can get out biking more in the forest, or to the coast, or inland further. Almost everything is withing 20 Kilometers (about 15 miles). I wouldn't be surprised if the entire penisula is 60 Kilometers wide. I'm not exactly sure on that, so don't quote me!

I got my own little bedroom here upstairs, and my bathroom (unfortunately) is downstairs. There are no little kids here screaming all day and there is a two cow fields next door. The only thing is that it is a little bit remote. But with Lisa here and with my bike, I don't think it is a problem to get out. I really like my Chorus that i'm singing it. (My next host parents are both in it, so that is cool too... I really like them too... but they live even more out in the middle of nowhere than here! But they are very cultural people, so that is going to be cool!) The Hoyers dont have a piano, so at the moment, I have no idea how I'm gunna practice. I'm not THAT good at occapella.

Monday, September 12, 2005


ahhh... this is the second time I have written this. Not much is new here. I am moving to the Hoyers today, that is Lisa's family. So everything is packed and I'm leaving soon. I'm not sure of the computer situation for the next few days.

This past weekend I went to a Roccoco Festival (Roccoco was a period after Classical, according to Diane) with Diane, Mario, and their host father. It was really fun and interesting. I even tried Piratentee (rum and black tee... it was tooo strong, so we all shared it.) It was funny seeing the costumes and the music and stuff. then we went back to their house for clams. They were tasty, and much better than the ones I had on my prom night.

I joined the local church choir and they sing a lot of classical, german stuff, and so far it is really fun. Rehersal is tonight, so i must go. i gotta move before I can go to practice. Tchüss.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

South African Soccer

the soccer game was awasome! I spent much of the game with the South African groups, learning their songs and dances. And Diana somehow ran into her best friend (from Africa, that she didn't know was there)! Germany won, but whatever. I was cheering for both anyway.

the reason y I thought I would post is because I was reading a list of all the things donated by the different countries because of Katrina. If you want to check it out, click on the title of my blog. I thought the funniest one was from Panama, 120,000 lbs of bananas! It sounds like things are getting both better and worse, with the government finally responding, but the floodwaters in New Orleans are getting really toxic. It is sad that the donations from the world were mostly needed a week ago. What would we do with thousands of tents now? The most interesting thing about being abroad is hearing how the news has a different spin. And what makes me angry is how much the american media censors! Its horrible.

Today I had gym class... it was almost like being in gym when u are in 2nd grade because its more fun and games than excersize. I wonder if it is normally like that. We had these long banner things that we spun around and made up games with.

The circus starts any minute now. So, got to go.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Elephants and Camels

there are elephants in my front yard. No, I'm not kidding. And I woke up to the sound of a heard of horses and poneys. This may sound like the begining of a story, but its not, there is literally a circus camped out practically in the front yard! Across the street is a huge field and the circus has come to town. I don't know if we are getting any lions or bears or something, but so far there are camels, dalmation dogs, horses, ponies, and elephants. I can see some of them from the house. I took some pictures and maybe I can get them posted tomorrow. Tonite my host dad and I, and Diane (from S. africa) and a new mexican exchange student are going to a soccer game in Bremen. Germany vs South Africa

School is going better. French is my favoirte class because I can understand it. Maybe I can even keep up enough to take the tests! I have a presentation in 2 weeks on Martinique.

Monday I move to the Hoyers house. So, I have been starting to think about what and how to pack my stuff. My new address is...

Rebecca Volzer
c/o Hoyer Familie
Lerchenweg 4
26427 Stedesdorf
Germany (Mom!... send my stuff to this address please!)

Yea, so I'll be about 7 minutes by bike further from town (Esens) but its not that big of a deal. I'm actually closer to school. Yesterday I lost the key to my bike lock and today one of the school teachers had to break the lock off so I could use it again. Its 15 minutes to the Hedlefs (where I am now) by foot but only 5 min by bike. and btw... its really hard to find gnomes in germany. You wouldn't think so, but it is. Maybe I'm just in the wrong part of the country. lol

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Not much new

hey. Not much is new here, so I'm sorry that I haven't been posting. One of the exchange students (Kor, from Tailand) in the area just left friday, so it's only me and Jacob (from Australia) left. We all went to Bremen to see Kor off. School is pretty slow, there is no school spirit, and its kind of slow, so its gunna take a while to get used to. People smoke a lot here too. Other than that, everything is good. Last night I went out with Lisa and Jacob and all their friends to a club. I didn't get home until 5 in the morning! I can't believe how much people drink and smoke here. The weather has finally started to warm up. Yeah!! Hopefully I can go to the north sea some time soon and go swimming. With the sun out and the water so shallow, they say that the water gets really warm! Like bath water! Well... not much else to say.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


I am very saddened to learn about Katrina and the horrible damage it is causing. Only today was I able to watch the CNN (in english!!!) so that I could understand what is going on. My heart goes out to everyone affected!! I can't believe that over 80% of New Orleans is under water. That is astronomical. There are few cities in Europe that are of the same size, only a dozen or less, so it is difficult to explain to people the magnitude of the situation.

School is better. I have a schedule now, I think... I'm going to classes, but tomorrow I will get the final answer. I enjoy most of themmy classes, although school here is very different from american schools. School here is simply school, and nothing more. There is no school spirit, no after-school activities , no anything. It is difficult to honestly describe. I have much more freetime because school gets out earlier.

Yesterday I found a Jewish museum in town. That was interesting, and I even managed to have conversations with the guy who ran it... he was telling me more about the Jewish populations and impact of the Nazi regime on East Frisia. The Synagog in Esens is now a garage.

I also have a problem that everyone can help me with. I need pins, the kind that you can get at tourist places and gift shops, that are ''typical'' american. Anything will work, even if it is a company pin, like something for Wegmans. If it is a pin, and it is in America, and you have some around the house that you don't need/want, I will be more than happy to have them. I don't care if they are from NY, and organization you are in, Ohio, California, or even Toronto (I know, its not american, but i'll take it)!! I'm supposed to give everyone I meet a pin from America, and I didn't bring enough. If you have any, leave me a comment or send me an email, concrete_angel0369@yahoo.com THANK YOU!!!

Friday, August 26, 2005


Hello! I had my frist day of school yesterday. I still don't know what grade I am in, but I should know by Wednesday next week. So.... I'm tagging along with Lisa, my host sister, to all of her classes. So far, I like school, but it's to early to tell about anything. I haven't really met very many people yet, but of course, I probably won't stay in most of Lisa's classes yet. So people aren't like Hi! right away. I have no idea about anything, so don't ask.

I just got back from town. Every time I go into town, I find something interesting to look at for an hour or two. Today I went into the church (Lutherin) and WOW. Its simple (compared to the catholic cathedrals), yet gorgeous. It must have once been a catholic church because it has an alter, painting on the walls, a huge organ, statues, and an impressive pulpit. There is a museum thing in the tour, but it wasn't open. Then it started to rain, so I spent almost an hour in a holographic museum. At first, I thought the almost 5 dollar admission price was a rip off, but by the time I left, I was impressed and now I have a completely different opinion about holograms. I always thought they were cheesey and a public money making scam. But some of these things can be a real peice of art and of high quality. They can even be used to present a 3d image of a sculture or other thing (especially if it is something that is valuable).

I went to the library too. I like reading the childrens books. There are some interesting things you can find.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

visting relatives

This is the second time that I have written this. Its been a while since I have posted because I went to vist my dad's cousin in Werl, which is near Dortmund (or about an hour and 30 min from Cologne) over the weekend. I just learned that you can't post more than 5 pictures in one post. And even then, it might not work. So, if you want to see the pictures, go to ringo. I had a wonderful time in Werl and it was just like I pictured Germany to be like. But even though it was so pretty, I came to realize that I really love Ostfriesland as well. Tomorrow I start school and I am nervous and also looking forward to it. I still don't know what grade I am in... but I should know tomorrow morning, hopefully!!!

There are lots of beautiful churches in Werl. The town is home to mostly Catholics (with 3 chuches, one is a Basilica!) and a neat Mosque where many of the Turkish imigrants worship (similar to our Mexican problem). They churches are made of old stone and all have artifacts in them of saints. The Basilica has a crypt and a golden statue of Mary.

Werl grew up as a rich town because of the springs in the area hold an exceptional amount of salt. In addition, Werl is one of the most popular pilgramage sites in Germany. There were many wars fought over the rights to produce salt because salt used to be such an important and valuable spice (much more valuabe than gold). To this day, the town still has a militia thing, that is actaully typical of most german small towns. Lucky for me, the Schuzenfest (sp?) was this weekend, where the Schuzen (the town militia) chooses a new ''king'' and ''queen'' and there is a lot of celerations for days. I didn't see much of it but I did see the parade. Many of the larger towns and cities ''own'' smaller ones in the area around them (think, castles and wars and domination) so there is a Schuzen King, Queen, and band and\or milita for each town that celebrate in the main city). The town center of the main city holds the central market place, shopping centers, and churches. (On a side note, Esens owns smaller towns, but is furthermore owned by nearby Wittmund.) The Schutzenfest is quite a sight to see.

In addition, saturday night I went to a Discotek with some girls my own age that Bobby knew. That was really neat. I wish that American towns would have Discoteks. It would be a good Edify project!! I also learned that the Youth Centers have little cafes and bars in them. What a great idea (well, maybe not the bars)!! Both Saturday and Sunday afternoons I did some sightseeing. Saturday I went to a nearby lake and saw lots of hills\mountains. Its sooo flat in East Frisa that it was a welcome sight. We also went to a thatched roof restaurant and gardens that had delicious german cakes (ooooo, german desserts are soooo good). The neatest part of the gardens, besides being tons better than Sonnenburg gardens was that the tree stumps were painted to look like gnomes!

So now I'm back here in Esens, and last nite I got together with my host sister from the Hoyers (my next family) and with Cor (the Thai student who is living with them now). We went out for pizza bread at a local bar\restaurant and then went back to the Hoyer's house to watch a movie. We watched a german comedy called the 7 Dwarfs (sp?)... not the disney version. I also met my next host parents, and I like them very much. My host dad is really cool and he is also the french teacher at my school, so I might be able to work out a chance to go to France! This is my last day of summer vacation and I have to say, this has been the strangest summer I have ever had. Hopefully I will hear from you all soon!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Ok, so I have the picture software connected, but I can't get my ''Handball'' and ''Day 2'' posts to upload pix, so here are the pics for them... handball pix; Langeoog; Me, Lisa, Merel on the beach; a lighthouse on the island; and the landscape in East Frisia! (actually, I think the picutures might be in backwards order. ooops) Click on the pictures to make them bigger.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Posting help

Apparently a lot of people have been having problems with the posting comments. I've gotten several emails. When posting comments, click on the ''0 comments'' link (or whatever number it is). The letter/mail icon does some sort of weird homepage link thing. So don't click that. Click the ''# Comments'' link and scroll to the bottom. There is another link at the bottom that says ''Post a Comment''. Click that. Then, a window will pop up and you must scroll to the bottom of that. Type your message and then click ''Other'' and fill in your Name, but not your webpage (cuz you probably don't have one). That way, I know who left the comment. Sorry for the trouble!!! I hope that helps. If not, just email me... concrete_angel0369@yahoo.com

On other news, went shopping in town and got a backpack for school, some school shoes, and a sweater jacket (its cold!). Actually, it has warmed up a little this week, 20° (69° F) today and hopefully 23° (75ish°) tomorrow. I am going to continue to look for more long sleeve shirts. I'm not big on them... I wear short sleeves all year at home, even in winter... just with a sweatshirt. But sweatshirts aren't big here, so I'm looking at the alternatives.

I talked to Denis today (Hi Denis, if you read this!!) For those who don't know Denis, he was the German exchange student at HFL this last year. It was neat because it finaly hit me that I am IN Europe. On a DIFFERENT continent. Plus, no more time difference to worry about when calling! I'm looking forward to school starting and have had a good day because the sun is out. The ''non existant'' bugs are out today, lots of fruit fly things, flys, and butterflys. All flys, lol. And of course the spiders. I even saw a couple of grasshoppers too today.

The Pope is in Cologne for World Youth Day this week... its actually more like world youth ''week'', but anyway, I figured out arrangements to go!! So, I'm going to Köln to see the Pope this weekend!! Wish me luck and hopefully fun! Bis dann.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Handball cup

No one has left me many comments lately. I feel lonely!

Its been busy here. Yesterday I went with Lisa (see previous blogs if you are lost) to Langeoog... one of the islands off the coast. It is absolutly gorgeous. And what makes it better is that cars are forbidden on the island, as are most of the islands. It is really neat! Quiet and calm. All the vegitation grows in sand because the entire island is sand dunes ''frozen'' in place by plants. It makes some interesting hills. And the beach looks like those picture perfect, idylic, white beaches from postcards. I took over 50 pictures but only got about a half a dozen good ones. The hills/dunes made difficult angles to deal with. The watenmeer (mudflats) are really interesting and I hope I get a chance to explore them a little. There is a lot of animals and plants in the watenmeer and even just in general. I don't know if I am noticing the animal life more than normal or not. For example, today i went in the forest (there is a little state park like thing, only a couple of miles deep) and I saw a deer and some big hawk/owl within only an hour. There are tons of little toads, seagauls, giant slugs, and spiders here. You would not belive the amount of spiders that live here. And their webs are strong, thick, and sticky. There don't seem to be mosquitos or flying bugs at all for that matter. But there are flys and its funny that they seem to be slower and stupider than american flys. No one swats them or tries to kill them so they sort of just lazily wander around. But american flys are always running for their lives!

The last two nites there was the German Handball championships in Esens and was a big deal because Esens is so small. I went to most of the games and found them a cross between boring and fascinating (what would you call that?) . I've never heard of Handball before and I would describe it as soccer, basketball, and dodgeball combined. There is this ball (about half the size of a basketball) that is really sticky and two goals, just like soccer goals at both ends of an indoor stadium, similar to basketball, except the floor is not wood, it is that athletic mating, and the players are always paranoid about the floor getting slippery (from sweat and spit, etc). So there are pairs of people who run around with mops to make sure that the floor is perfectly dry. The players just go back and forth, throwing the ball and trying to get the ball in the goals. I got some interesting photos, but they are a little dark. I wish I had photoshop (my photo editing software) to fix them up. I also wish I could post pictures. O well... it'll come eventually.

Friday, August 12, 2005


I saw my first garden gnome today! It was little and bland (not very colorful). But sooooo very cute. And I discovered how to spell Schätze (''Shotsy''). (This is for you Grandpa V.!) It means treasure, but often translates to ''baby''.... in the sense that mothers say, ''oh, my baby (my precious, or my sweetheart)''.

I also had a Dönner today. It is a Turkish ''fast food'' that is popular in Germany. There is a substantial excercize based about Dönner's in my German textbook. I enjoy going into town and poking around and Ihave done so several times. I went to the bookstore for indexcards (Karteikarten) and then found a kid's activity workbook, one that was not as childish, but still with easy words. The Hedlef's havea lot of kid's books as well, and so I went through a whole box today. I have never been one to read comics before, but I find them VERY helpful too. I found a whole book about Micky Mouse and also the oldest boy, Jan-Ole has several ''Asterix and Obelix''... a popular French series (that I have heard about in French class and is apparently popular in the US).

Tomorrow (Friday) I will go to a party with my host sister from my next famiy, Lisa. Her friend is returning from Brazil. And then that night I am going to a Handball game with Enno (my host father). 'The world's best goalie' is going to be playing or something. This family is very active and they play a lot of games and sports together. I like it a lot. The CD player in my room doesn't seem to work well so occasionally I listen to the radio. But the radio plays more Enlgish songs than German ones! I've never listened to so much of my own music before (CD's).

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Hello everyone from ANTARCTICA! It is sooo cold and windy. Apparently the summers are not like this but right now it is in the 50's. I've had a cold but eventful day. I rode my new bike to Benserseil, about 3 miles north of here, which right on the sea (with the dikes of course) and then back on a canal path. There are tons of tourists here and bike paths. The paths are numerous and very much not user friendly. They twist and turn and are not well marked. This one that I have been trying to follow for 3 days took me on a roundabout tour to Esens and I ended up first at the sewer plant and then half way to Bensersiel. So that is why I decided to continue on to the coast. There is a weekly market in the town square (which is actually the church yard... but we are talking a brick town center\parklike setting) every Wednesday that I stumbled upon today in Esens and I bought my host mother some roses. And there is a fishmarket in Bensersiel every satuday and sunday too. There are so many festivals and markets that you could go to one everyday. The land is so flat here that they have a saying that says you can see who is coming to visit Thursday on Tuesday. I can even see the church tower from the dikes in Bensersiel. And the wind! You would not beleive the number of windmills. I saw a whole windmill farm today. It is impressive and awe inspiring. I took pictures... but we can't get my camera software to load on the computer. We have to troubleshoot and hopefuly I will be all set up soon.

My host sister, Lisa, from my next family spent a year in Texas and just got back about a month ago. This afternoon I went for ice cream with her and her older sister. Then I went with Lisa to her friends' house. East Frisian tea and all the customs are definately unique. They always use china and have a speical kind of sugar in it. And the german cakes (and ice cream) are amazing. Everything that I have had to eat is sooo good. I finally have my german text book now too... so now I can actually learn some german. I feel like I am starting to settle in. Hopefully if I keep biking every day, I won't gain any wieght.

Monday, August 08, 2005

my bike

Today I bought a used bike. So now I can go around on all the bike trails. I went to my school, NIGE, and was planning on going to the coast, but then it started to rain again. My blood sugar is a little off, so I have been trying to figure out what to eat and how to adjust... but it might be just that I am tired. The raisin bread here is soooo good! Satuday we (the Rotary club) went to a neighboring town for a festival to sell raisin bread. We had several dozen loaves laid out on boards made into a looooong table that was 60 meters (about 40 feet) long. We sold it all!!! When the sun is out, it is so beautiful. And it is nice to see the sheep on the dike. We had lamb chops for dinner last night and it was really good. Not much is new, I have been staying around the house mostly. I also watched the 2nd and 3rd Lord of the Rings (in german, of course). The subtitles help a lot. I don't have enough pictures on my camera yet to bother installing the software on my camera onto the computer, but when I do, I will add the pictures of the festival onto this post. Until later...

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

day 2

It is wierd that when ever I open my blog, all the main pages on blogspot are in german. The keyboards are different too. But now I actually know what I am typing because at home I had the computer keyboard set to the german one, and all the keys were messed up! The keyboard is a little different here... but it's not that hard.

There are 3 children, Jan-ole is 13 and Wieke is 9. There is also another boy who is 11, but I have not really met him yet, he has been out. Today I tried eel. I didn't like it. Oh well. But I saw the mudflats and the dike and we went to talk to the baker today who was working at a local festival. I wanted to take a picture, but I forgot. He says that I can come visit him in the morning while he making bread, at 2 in the morning! So far, I had a red cabbage sourkraut, a venison dish (it tasted like the sauce and meat in beef strogonoff), brötchen (breakfast rolls), lots of cheeses, and a german noodle dish. Everything is going good so far. And the milk is in boxes! Yesterday I went with Wieke to the supermarket to get the milk and we stoped for icecream. The chocolate ice cream is much better here, but it is a darker chocolate... and i like dark chocolate.

Also, today I went to the bank... and now I have a german bank account. There are a lot of offices that I have to go to to get registered. We went to the rathouse (town hall) and tomorrow we go to the foriegn office. When I flew in, I didn't need to go through customs and I didn't even get a stamp in my passport. Apparently I will get it when I go to the foreign office.

My host family is very very nice. Here in ostfriesland, everything is cold and rainy but there are a lot of farms with corn, wheat, straw, cows, donkeys, sheep... I even met a camel today! It was living on the farm where my host mother keeps her horse. The town is really pretty and just like the typical german picture you always see with stone roads and pretty gabeled buildings. Everyone rides their bike or walks here too. It is schön toll! I'm having trouble learning any german. I was learning more at home with my text book than here. My host mother speaks english too readily, but its not all bad. It is making the adjustment easier. I just hope I know enough german before school starts.

I don't have any pictures yet, but I'll put them on my blog or on ringo when I get some. Bye!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Ich bin in Deutchland!

Hello every one! I made it to Germany. Everything is very nice and Esens is just like the picture books. Sehr schön! My german is better than expected but my host mother talks in English readily so I have not been able to learn much. The children do not know much english at all. It is cold and rainy here but I am only 5 miles from the sea and Diane (one of the exchange students here from South Africa) wants to walk across the mudflats to the islands. The bikes here are very different as well and I am having trouble staying on them! Everyone rides bikes and has baskets hanging off of them. And so far the food has been very good too! Send me emails. Otherwise, not much is new around here.

My flight was long and I didn't get much sleep, but I did meet an interesting woman from Ukraine who talked to me the whole night. I didn't get much sleep for several days, so my adjustment to the jet leg is really not bad at all... at least so far. But already I am having difficulties thinking in English trying to write this. That is very weird.

Saturday, July 30, 2005


With just a few hours before I leave, it is a three ring cirucus trying to get everything done. But, I just realized that when you say goodbye, its not a bad thing. Otherwise it would be called sadbye or a badbye. Instead, it is a goodbye. Here is my address in East Frisia...

c\o Familie xxxx
Münkenlander Weg 7
26427 Esens

I'll talk to ya all from the other side of the pond!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

check list

its so disappointing that no one leaves me comments about my posts.

With only 2 days until I leave, I'm getting a little nervous. I thought I lost my guarentee forms... which took 5 months to get all the required signatures (in blue ink, not black, long story). I have a suspicion that my first host family does not have a computer in their home so my posts might be a little sparse at first, until I get to my original "first" host family. My "first" host family is currently hosting a Thai boy until early September, so I am staying with the Rotary Youth Exchange Officer. I hope everything works out. I have no idea what to expect, whether I will be hanging around the house for 3 weeks before school starts or will we see the local area (lots of beaches!!), or something else. Hopefully I can do some bike riding, pending that they lend me a bike for my brief stay.

Passport- check
Visa & Residency Forms- Check
phone cards-check
plane tix- check
gaurentee form- check!
noterized forms- check
permission slip (and I still need one... even tho I'm 18)- check
luggage- check
the details and everything in between- im working on it... that's what friday and saturday are for, PANIC!!! (and very little sleep)... hey, it's 1:30 in the morning and I'm just finnishing up my paperwork so I can try to sleep tonite, guten nacht!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

5 days

The days are going fast! This weekend has been really busy... and i am all crispy now, lots o sun. I need it anyway if i'm gunna be on beaches. After going to ganodagon, the mill art gallery for an exhibit opening, and then niagra falls today, i'm exhausted. Thought you all would like some seanic pictures.

Monday, July 18, 2005


I have a 5 hour layover in Amsterdam because flights to Bremen only fly in the afternoons. This afternoon while panicing over my digital camera (will it work right? over there... I can hardly get it to work in the US) I realized that Amsterdam is in the Netherlands, and they don't speak German or French or English (I'm sure they do speak english... but not the signs?!?!). So now what. If I had my layover in Paris (which is shorter), at least I could read the signs. But I don't know any Dutch! I know Deutsch, a little. So now what? Its a good thing that I am there for 5 hours, it'll take me that long to figure it all out. I only wish my phone plan (and card) would work right. Then at least I could call home. And because my flight plans got messed up, I'm flying alone. Ok, so it just hit me right now... i'm sooo @&*$. Why am I going to Germany again?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


I got more news than usual. I guess my flight date got messed up, so i'm leaving saturday the 30th in the evening, around 5. It'll take me 18 real hours for the trip, exactly 24 if you take in account for the time change (and the fact that you are chasing the earth when going east). Hopefully this is my confirmed time.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Map's and stuff

Ok, so the town my school is in is called Esens. It is right in the middle near the coast. Sort of in the middle of nowhere. The towns I live in are too small to make it on any map I find. Stedesdorf is actually the village I live in. It is about halfway between Esens and Wittmund. Click on the map to make it bigger. On the map of the whole of Germany, I am going to be on the peninsula right next to the Neatherlands (which is cut off). The area is called Ostfriesland (East Frisia) and is actually one part of the ancient kingdom of Frisia. The "state" that Ostfriesland is located in is called Niedersachen (Lower Saxony). Ostfriesland is very low lying and is plagued by massive flooding (at it's worst in history, it was about to Wittmund). Today there are massive dikes. The islands and coast make East Frisia one of the most popular tourist locations in northern Germany for natives.

My school is called the NIGE, which is short for

Niedersächsisches Internatsgymnasium Esens.

Which is a mouth-full (and I still can not pronounce). I will be staying with 4 different host families. School for me starts on the 24th of August. My host family wants me to bike to school, which I think is cool, because I love to bike. I guess that is all my essential information. Let me know if there is something that I should add.


ok, so i need to make sure that I can get all this picture business working. This is my trial. If you want to see all my albums, you need to ask me for an invite for www.ringo.com and sign up. Yippie! I leave the 29th of July. I wonder how many pictures I can upload? The flower I took when I was on a walk with Tim. The B&W is an art photo. And that is me... talking on the phone with Denis with Abbi. I'm wearing my College of Wooster shirt, but you can't really see it. It says COW GURL... the COW stands for college of wooster. It goes well with my cowboy hat! I guess I can move the pictures around, but I don't have enough to say to experiment.

There is this funny thing about the german language that I thought I would comment on... many of the words have an "e" on the end which essentially makes you feel like you are speaking babytalk... u know, when you always adding y's to the end of words to sound cute?!?!? If you have any experience with the German language, i recomend reading the widely popular essay by Mark Twain, "The Awful German Language". Well... I guess it all works! I'm ready!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I am leaving

I am a graduate. I graduated. Summer is here and I am studying german. I leave on the 29th of July. Things are crazy trying to get ready. I am going to work out all the picture uploading details asap. uuuhhhhh... I am so tired. gute nacht

Monday, June 06, 2005

still waiting, sorta

hey!... I'm going to the north sea. Its my 18th b-day and i found out on friday where, and then today i found out my host family's email. Tomorrow I will write them a letter. When I know more info i'll update. Whoooo hooo. btw... i got lugguge today. haha.