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, 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...

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.