Thursday, November 30, 2006

After Thanksgiving

Thankgiving is come and gone. I'm now back at school. Things are tons better now that the Lyme Disease is slowly going away. But I guess this is going to be affecting me for at least another month of two.

There is only next week and then exam week and then my first semester is over! Tests already are starting this week. There is never enough time for anything. I hope next semester will be better with me better and all... *knock on wood*.

Not much is new. I'm back to working again. I spent Thanksgiving in Columbus. I'm slowly getting my life back. .... a pretty sorry update.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Back in Action

you may be all wondering if I have dropped off the face of the earth. I have in fact gone to the edge and back. Well... not really, but close enough. I hope that I have not lost everyone. I have missed you all!

School here has been busy, but my excuse of absence is valid. I've been struggling (unknowingly) with Lyme Disease since August and was only diagnosed this Sunday. EAKKK! This disease is twice as bad as mono and almost twice as debilitating. But guess what! I'M GETTING BETTER!!!! Amazing what just a few days of antibiotics can do.

It seems that the semester is just about gone. After Thanksgiving Break (Wed. Nov 22- 24) I've got 2 weeks of class and then exam week.

I certainly have settled in. I have my own dorm room (as in no roommate), so I have everything set up how I want it. It has helped since I have been so sick to have my own space. The girls on my floor are really nice and it is fun to have so many nationalities in my dorm. My two circles of friends include one with a lot of Indian and Pakistanis and the other a group of mostly American girls that share my interests. I met one of the guys from Pakistan and we are now dating.

Class work has been heavy, but manageable. My chemisty class is much better and my chem teacher is considering me for a research project. Over the next two breaks I will read through a senior IS (Independent Study) to get some background knowledge on the project. Biology is a lot of review and catching my interest. My First Year Seminar focuses on Sleep and Dreams and the health care system. Anthropology is interesting and similar to the work I did with Herr. Heinze last year. Yesterday I registered for Spring Semester with all biology and chemistry classes. I am seriously considering a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology degree to fill out my pre-health requirements.

Everything otherwise is well. Aneeb (my boyfriend) is going to Chicago this weekend with the Model U.N. team (I couldn't try out to get on the team because I was too sick) and so it will be a quiet weekend. Perfect opportunity to get ahead on my classwork! Saturday I have my written examination for First Responders, our campus EMT crew. I passed my local examination and practicals last weekend, so Saturday is the national certification! YEA! I'd love to hear from y'all if you're still there!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

fall leaves

I really feel like I have settled in here. This weekend was Parent's Weekend and my midterms are over as well. It was nice to have my parents here and to show them how i am doing and to meet all the people here. We went out to eat several times and did a lot of the activities here on campus. As for my midterms... they didn't go as well as expected, despite the amount of effort I put into them.

Sunday night I hosted a prospective student. She was really interested in environmental issues and international studies. We draged the spare mattress from one of the triple dorm rooms into my room so she didn't have to sleep on the floor.

I think I am starting to get into a schedule and everything is starting to feel homey. The trees are just turning now too... oh so pretty, but not like in NY!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

... i should be yelled at for not updating. It has been an usually long time.

Well. Its been a month in college now. And I can't believe it! In actuality, it feels like a lot longer. I am taking a Pre-Health/Medicine track with a major in Anthropolgy. Chem is killing me, but on the flip side, my anthropology class is a breeze. Granted, there is a lot of reading, but the concepts behind them are totally not foreign to me (for once!). It's like everything that has ever interested me, my whole life long, is wrapped up into one discipline. That is sooo cool!

My dorm is located in the center of campus, next to the student union and physical education center. It is the international dorm, Babcock, so I have made tons of friends with similar values, interests, and goals. So far, some of my better friends are from the USA (Ohio and Washington St.), India, Pakistan, the UK, a global nomad (from Somalia, Ivory Coast, Egypt, USA, and Italy), and a German (from Hamburg). Life keeps me busy around here with the kitchen and lounge in the basement, and hence the center of late night activities.

Last week I started working because I got a job in the Wellness center. I enjoy it almost too much. Bascially, I'm getting paid for what I volunteered for, for 3 years in high school. That is, working with organizations and companies in drug and alcohol related issues and awareness, under the general heading of Health Promotion. I get to organize activities on campus, help with website design, manage grant money, create programs from the ground up and implement them, and do public relations as well. Then last night I had an interview with the campus volunteer student EMT group, which is under the same department heading coincidentally, to try and get on the team. If I make it, all be spending most of my October getting nationally certified in CPR and first aid. After that, I have security and call duties.

The food here is pretty good. There are two cafeterias. The main one has a wide variety, with vegetarian, international, "basic", a deli, and a grill, among other things. The smaller one is in a more formal lounge which serves more hearty and healthy single meals vs all you can eat buffet.

Midterms are already this week. So, that means I have to figure out what I have been actually learning in Chem. Maybe the third time will be the charm. I obviously didn't retain anything from high school, and "reviewing" it in class here didn't bring it back. I would love to get messages and comments!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

new mailing address

This college will (hopefully) never cease to amaze me! I'm finally through orientation and I'm settled into my room after much rearranging. Everyday has brought unique discoveries, from monkeys in the biology basement, practically the entire recordings of federal congressional reports and really strange and random stuff in the library (we even got lost in there after almost 2 hours!), amazing food, a hungarian bakery, and students from around the world! There is nothing like struggling with the summer project on the the middle east and asking someone from the middle east for help! Yesterday was a poster sale in the student union and a couple of pet therapy dogs came as well. I hope that tonight I can go to a band called "Recycled Percussion", which use only recycled materials. Unfortunately i can't upload pictures because I lost my picture software. I believe it is still somewhere in Esens!

my new mailing address is...

Box 2926
1189 Beall Ave.
Wooster, OH 44691

Friday, August 25, 2006

College of Wooster (Ohio)

ok, so yet again, it's been a while. But guess what... I AM A COLLEGE STUDENT! And it is so different that it actually feels normal. Orientation has been packed solid and I have been trying to organize and arrange my (single) room in all my spare time. Today we talked to our academic advisors and picked classes. Now, since I wanna get into Med-school, I gotta lot of work ahead of me. But then, when I went to the website of the graduate school that I am looking at, I discovered that their requirements are about twice as much as (the rigorous and high level) Wooster standards. That basically means.... I bearly have time to fit in my major! For all that are interested, I'm taking introductory courses in Chemistry, Biology, and Anthropology. My "First Year Seminar" is on Sleep and Dreams.

So... I thought I'd update and try to fill in the blanks here of what I've been up to, and the 30 reply-able email I recieved since Monday on Sunday when we finally have free time!

Monday, August 14, 2006

the last of summer

One of by best friends (Robert) in Germany is sitting in a plane, as I type, and heading to Michigan for a year. Tomorrow morning, one of my best friends here in the USA (Abbi) is going to be sitting in a plane, flying to Japan for a year. Both are Rotary exchange students. Oh how I empathize! It is a little wierd to think of how I felt last summer as I was flying to Germany and to think that Abbi and Robert are going through that now!

This, of course, is also my last week of summer (or freedom, if you want to call it) before college. My parents and I are driving down to Wooster, Ohio on Friday afternoon. It hit me last night that I gotta pack, again!!! Coming home, that is to the USA, was about simply just the country, and was about the furthest I got to thinking about what was after "I got home". Just being there. Now, I'm not just home, I got another new life coming up. Another new bed, a new room, new people. Another new beginning. Last night as I was running around the house making more german food (actually this one was Hungarian, thanks to my host mom's wonderful cooking) I got to packing stuff into boxes that we had been collecting from all the stores across the greater Rochester area in preparation for dorm time. I'm doing the Freshman thing now! My computer arrives tonight and we gotta pick up the TV friday. My mini-fridge freezeer is shut tight in an ice-block that needs thawed (it's not frosted, its frozen... and unfortunate error on the part of the english language... defrosted? It's gotta be de-frozen!!!), so now it's basking in the sun out in the front yard. AND, I can't forget the summer project! I've been working on the book for amost 3 months now. 4 days and counting....

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I feel like I've suddenly woken up from a dream. I guess some sort of shock. I guess I'm home now. I wanna go back!

It was the moon that did it for me. I walked outside to the car so that I could accompany my father to the laundromat (you know.... big industrial cool washers that clean towels super good and super fast!) and I looked up. All the stars looked "normal". Not so foreign and wonder inspiring (despite being a million times more numerous than any I saw 'over there'). The sky is different. Standing on the street, I looked up, and the wild darkness threatens to encroach upon the glow bubble of civilization lighting up the atmosphere. Back in Europe, the darkness of the sky seems tamed and the lights were much more likely to theaten the little darkness actually obtained. It is what seems like a reversal of roles, of whats ''out there".

Now honestly, if I had to describe Europe in one word, I would say tamed. It's not just the sky that seems tamed, it's the woods, and the flowers, the animals, and the streets. Nature looks natual, but it's not the natural nature: the wild "you'll get eaten alive by wolves or mosquitos (there are next to none in Europe) or get lost" natural. It's a tamed land, a conquored continent.

And back to the moon... this is the first time i've seen it on this side of the big pond, for a loooong time. I guess the moon just always conjures up lots of memories and images for me. I did my middle school science project on the moon, I camped out under's it's brightness, stumbled along hidden paths in the wood by it's glow, marvelled at it's beauty reflecting across lake waters, peaking from behind mountain tops, shinning through trees, skipping across the mud-flats, and so many more. Now, though, I got two more.....

In my last week in Esens, I was biking home at about 4 in the morning after schützenfest. There was the early morning glow of sunrise and the stars and the moon overhead. Since I live about 15 minutes out in the countryside of the countryside, it was just me, trees, cows, and the celestrial beauties lighting my way along the curvy road. Behind me was the cute little Esens; in front of me was my true home away from home (I'll skip the sentimentals!). Now, my second image is a orange cresent moon, hanging in picture prefect harmony with idyllic American street buildings, low in the sky. As we are driving along the vast expanses of the countryside, I watch the mom & pop taverns and dinners slide past, telephone poles every 2 seconds, distant glow bubbles of shopping centers and town streets, and a true sense of the hidden beauty of our continent that we have destroyed with light pollution and houses between every other field, in a blantent display of hillside dis-purity, just wasted. Why can't we keep our houses in the villages? The landscape is wasted, just like the starlight by lights brighter than we really need, or like the garbage can of trash that we produce every day that would take my host families a week to produce. Wasted like the typical bag of american paper napkins, a pile twice as large as all the napkins, all four of my families in the entre year combined would use.

What happened to appreaciation for the little things?... taking the extra 10 minutes to enjoy the taste of your meal, the extra couple of hours for a summertime full of colorfull flowers, or even the 30 seconds to set the table instead of the TV trays, so that we learned more about our loved ones instead of the families who just lost loved ones in wars half way around the world? We own the land of opportunity, full of every kind of invention, natual riches, and representatives of all the people of the world. We have amongs the worlds smartest and best educated people, with the most resources and cutting edge knowlegde in human histroy, the materialistic riches to rival King Tutencoman (sp?) (the typical american household holds more objucts than he ever posessed), enough land to practically give it away, and the political, economical, social, and media powers to do whatever our hearts desire, with little cost.... and without consiencious use for good. So why is it we take for granted and nearly ruin what many, many people around the world dream for, work hard for, and try to maintain???

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

culture shock... setting in

woah... culture shock. I went to the Livingston county fair, which I guess wouldn't be, ideally, that different from the town carnival that I went to in Esens before I left. But, I was wrong. First, in Esens at the Schuetzenfest, many of the booths and rides had an overly prominant "american" theme. Here, it was the other way around, it was German! haha! If only the two countries knew they idolized each other. Another difference, was that here, everything was soooo spread out. And, in the beer tent, the Americans weren't weathing the drinks as well. What was the biggest difference was the car derby. There cannot be anything more American than two hands full of corndogs, fried milkyways, and blooming onions watching cars and trucks going at each other till they all die. The more mud, fire, smoke, and crunched steel, the better!!! Yeeeehaww! It's not everyday you see 300 overweight americans in cotten tees cheering on reconstructed steel piles as the firetrucks circle in anxious anticipation!

As my week has dragged on, it has hit me how I have become much more aware of my punctuality, among other things. If I wanted to pick up the phone and talk to someone in Germany, I gotta do that before 2 or 3 pm. AND, i can't use military time anymore. That confuses me now. The Germans usually very concerned about health and how other people are feeling. I've picked that up too. But, that isn't a bad thing either. Spending so much time "at home" while in Germany, I also learned a lot about house keeping, etc.

I hope I can keep up a couple things about my german diet. For example, LOTS of bread. Contrary to popular opinion, the more carbs you eat, the better off you are. The greatest part is that carbs will "solidify" the fat deposits on your body. No more jiggles!!!!

Monday, July 17, 2006

I'm home!

IIIIII"MMMMM HOME! It's strange and exciting and new. The weather is in the 90's (low 30's!) and humid, but fun. I've missed heat! But admitingly, not this much! My english skills are coming back, although I continue to start thinking and speaking in german without realizing it. And the keyboards are different here, so it is taking me forever to write this because I have to find all the keys again!

So far, coming home has been smooth. Honestly, I feel as though I am in a little bit of a western cowboy movie, or I have gone back to some sort of colonial america, because all of the store fronts have high wooden, flat edifices, the streets are wide and the hills roll on forever. Even the forests seem "wild". But, this is home, and that is the way I like it.

I have been very busy. When I got home, lots of my friends and family met me at the airport and we went out to Pizza Hut. 5 pieces of unbeatable AMERICAN pizza later, we drove home. Since then, we have been to Wegmans (the international supermarket) twice and have been planning "tea time" with as many people as possible for an excuse to bake german cakes! Not much is new, besides just settling back in. My dog is finally not mad at me anymore (he ignored me for almost 3 days! as retaliation for me leaving me). At least now I have a bit of a summer vacation to do my summer project. My dad redesigned my room, so I gotta move in as well.

So, I'm home safe and sound. Thank you everyone for reading my blog! I intend on keeping up on blogging, so you all can keep in touch. Readjusting should make for some interesting comments! Its already weird what kind of things I pick up on as different. For example, I notice accents a lot more than I used to. We will see how things go! 5 more weeks until college!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Auf Wiedersehen

I'm sitting at the end of my last day here in Germany. It is midnight here and there is only 3 hours, before I need to be on my way to the airport. The last week has been one of the best of my entire year here in Esens. Almost everynight I partied at Schützenfest and got to say goodbye to everyone I met the whole year. I ran into 2 Americans that were here visiting a friend, and got somewhat of an ''introduction'' what it will be like to be home again. My Cultural Readjustment. Yesterday and today I have been working at the archeological dig project of the castle that once exsited in Esens. That has been absolutely amazing.

So, what should I say? A year ago, several hours before I left home, I posted a blog. I was nervous about what the future would hold for me but excited that I would learn something new. I knew that my life would be changed forever. I also wondered what I would feel like at the very moment I am at right now. I can honestly say, that those feelings haven't changed.

Saying goodbye then, I reflected that goodbyes are good. Otherwise they wouldn't be call ''good''-byes... Today, I can reflect another step further. Not every language says goodbye the same way. German express ''Until we meet again''. Auf Wiedersehen.

When I said goodbye and Auf Wiedersehen to my family and friends last summer, I never let the tears flow. I wanted to be a strong and brave girl. Today, as I type, my tears fall on the keyboard, as a scared and grown up woman.

Danke Deutschland für alle die schöne Erfahrungen. Ich würde dich NIE vorgessen. Du bleibst immer noch in eine besondere Stellung in meinem Herz.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Best 101

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OK,.... check this out. I've taken around 3,500 photo's this year. After actively posting nearly 1,000 of them between and here on blogger, I have narowed it down to the best 101 and made a little slide show thing. I hope you enjoy!

In the event that it does not work, I have a copy in my myspace profile....


It's Schützenfest time! And, we'll be seeing each other in a matter of 3 days, you could almost do an hourly countdown. whooo, hoooo! Everyone all year tells me the best (and only worthwhile) thing to do in Esens is Schützenfest, which is currently residing on in the middle of town.... a rather giant (for the town) carnival, with ferris wheel and parades everyday included. Es geht am Freitag los, (everything starts on friday) and runs until Tuesday night with fireworks and, probably another parade. I only saw the torch parade and a bit of the marching bands on friday. Yesterday and today I missed them because I slept in too late after being up till/past the break of dawn (reminder: dawn is a lot earlier here). Everyday has been something new, and with the whole town turned out, its quiet an amazing opportunity to see everyone before I go, even the people that I haven't managed to see again since the beginning of the year. Quite fun! Last night, i met up with some Americans from Nebraska. One of them was an exchange student last year in Brazil with a girl here in my town.

Right now, we are waiting for some friends of my host mother from Budapest. They are passing through on the way to Amersterdam. I'm amazingly excited to come home, yet I know I am going to miss it here in Germany like crazy. Just not speaking German will be tough. Remember when I was struggling so hard to learn it? I believe now, I'm in a state of not fully knowing german and I am incapable of speaking fluent english. I'll just have to speak Denglish for the rest of my life. YAY!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


In the last 3 hours, Deutschland has gone through one of the most important changes since WWII and the reunification of East and West in the early 90's.

For 3 weeks already, Germany has been host of the Soccer World Cup (Fussball Weltmeisterschaff) and have fought from the first kick-off up to the semi-finals. Millions of people from around the world have cheered and celebrated here, as well as created international friendships, broken down stereotypes and boarders, and have discovered Germany as a modern and tolerant nation, full of history and traditions. As a relatively new nation, only ca. 15 years old, the people of the Federal Republic of Germany has struggled to come to terms with their past and have fought for the world to see who they are today, and not based on their history. The entire world is watching what is happening here. But not only has an amazing change occured through the international recognation of a tolerant and open Germany, but also a revolutionary one inside the hearts of the Germans.

The general German population carries the burden of what happened over 60 years ago. It is deeply engrained into their mindframe and culture. They are ashamed and are not particularily proud of their country. It is almost treason to sing the national anthem and the appearance of a german black, red, and yellow flag makes people cringe.

But in the last 3 weeks, for the first time in 60 years, the German's are waving newly made flags, flying proudly with their fold creases! As you walk down the street, the black, red, and yellow is hanging on houses and trailing behind cars. The newspapers and magazines are publishing testamonies of forigners about what they are discovering here and how their opinions of Deutschland have changed. Peace and anti-racism campaigns are racing across the TV ad spaces and city billboards. And everywhere you look there are German's helping forigners, whether by translating, waving pedestrians across the street as they sit in their cars at the corners, or simply having a good time and partying it up. And as the semi-finals began, just 3 hours ago, millions of German's stood hand in hand singing their own national anthem... the players on the fields, the childeren and families in the stands, the color bedeckted fans on the streets, and Angela Merkel (the Chancellor) in her box, together and PROUD! I have never seen such hopefull and proud faces, on the verge of crying, as so many people struggled to read the relatively new words on the screen and follow the blaring melody in a mush of sound.

Well, the game was well played. It ended 0:0. Germany played against Italy. The two 15 minute extentions nearly ended 0:0, until in the last 90 seconds, when Italy scored two goals.

What happened next, in my opinion was more impressive than seeing (and hearing) the national anthem being sung. Germany cried. Tears fell down the cheeks of the players, the fans fell into each other's arms, and it feels like the heavens broke open in sympathy. But, what happened is that Germany cried together as one nation, with a present, past, and a future. The players and the people lost their dream, als Weltmeister zu werden! (to become the World Champions!) but they gained A LOT more.

They have gained a new identity.

Monday, July 03, 2006

...running out of time

This weekend I went to visit Renata from Washington, who is living in a small town exactly halfway between Hamburg and Bremen. On my way I had to take the train through Bremen, which was swamped with german flags and people. Come to find out, everyone was gathered in the center square (like in pretty much every other city and town in Germany, but I had forgotten at the time) for a huge party to watch the games. We watched the quarter-finals World Soccor match, Germany vs. Argentinia (GERMANY WON!!!) at Renata's and talked and shared a lot of pictures, which included the Germany and Europe Tour, so there was a lot to share.

On Saturday, we took the train to Hamburg (it didn't snow this time!... rather it was 28 degrees celsius!). There, we visited the Art Museum and the Model Railroad museum (finally!, YAY) and walked around the city. I was really glad to get a chance to see more of Hamburg, especially since it is the 2nd largest German city, and one of the most important. It was really warm, but fun. In the Kunsthalle (Art museum) we saw several important pieces, including Munch's 3 girls on a bridge. Somehow we missed a few that I knew of, but we saw some Renoir's, Cezanne, Monet, and some intersteing pieces from the Baustill (originated in Wiemer and moved to Chicago during WWII). The museum had more quality works from the last 150 years, than those of the ''Old Masters''. For lunch we went german... wurst and the local drink specialties. At the Model Railroad Museum (das Modeleisenbahn Museum), is the largest model rail road in the world. I started to get a headache because it was a little bit overwhelming, but it was REALLY COOL! ... there really aren't words to describe it.

Then, on Sunday, we met up with Daniel (from Illinois, and one of my good exchange student friends) in Bremen. The 3 of us hung out in Bremen for the afternoon, taking in the sights, pretending to be tourists, and talking. Daniel flys home on Wednesday and I fly in 9 days, so it was really good to hang out again. We decided to get lots of photos, so I took quite a few (150 or so). It was a wonderful weekend, and one I will definately remember for a long time. To be able to blend into German society and to make lifelong friends, I believe, in the end, is one of the main points of being an exchange student. And that is what we did this weekend.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

What it means to be an exchange student

1. learning how to speak in other languages
2. Making friends with people that you would normally never speak to
3. Breaking down cultural barriers
4. learning about yourself
5. discovering yourself
6. becoming one of the luckiest people alive
7. exploring exotic places
8. understanding, and maybe even comprehending people, places, and things that are at first uncomprehensible
9. saying goodbyes
10. never letting go to dreams
11. confidence
12. becoming introspective and adaptable
13. knowing what the important things in life are
14. experimenting
15. making mistakes
16. learning from mistakes
17. hello, please, thankyou, and a smile will get you further than anything else in the world
18. realizing how big the world is, and how small our own lives are
19. realizing that no matter how insignificant our lives are, they mean something to other people
20. thinking outside the box is only the first step
21. be true to yourself
22. beauty is in the eye of the beholder
23. growing up
24. there is no such thing as a wrong answer, only a different one
25. appreciation
26. tolerance
27. tears
28. laughter
29. love
30. witnessing history
31. manners
32. home is where the heart is
33. nothing replaces family

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Smart cars!

COOL! DaimlerChrysler, a german company with a funky little half car model that is taking Europe by storm has decided to start selling to American markets! I've been seriously thinking about all the things that I will miss (and not miss here) and the Smart car is one of them. (as long as we are on the topic of cars, we can include all the awsome german cars here. Es ist nur einfach gewohnt, so viele schönen Autos zu sehen!) But I guess I won't have to worry anymore! I put link in this blog title. you can click on it to see the article.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I'm flying home early!!!

.... so my host parents are flying to China. It's a complicated story. But the point is, they are in China, and I am here, ''alone'', with my host-sib's. That means, Rotary doesn't like it and the new rules that the district passed this January (which has made my life 150% more difficult) make things so complicated, that I gotta come home early.

It's been a great year and I have learned so much!!! But you know, I'm ready. I'm ready to come home.

Since my last post, life has been relatively quiet (compared to my traveling escapades). I've been doing my summer project for Wooster and trying to organize all my new and old contacts in my email address book, IM, and web-communities. Last week I went to a rather dry lecture with Herr Heinzl on global warming. Only in the last 2 slides did they finally get to the point of the presentaion, ''How is the Northsea coast and the Wattenmeer in East Frisia being effected?''

This past weekend I went to visit some exchange students in a sorta going-away party. Everyone is organizing going-away activities. We went to a big disco that was having what was called a Schaum party. Gotta say... never seen anything like that before. There was a big bubble maker on the ceiling that would pour down foam until the building was exploding like the green goo in Ghost Busters. To be honest, I haven't been frequenting the disco's much here because they are all in the cities. (ie: 30-90 minutes from here... although we occasionally organize makeshift ones in the riding school... think huge indoor horse riding/training rink and barn thing) . But I'm glad I got a chance to meet up with some EuroTour buddies again.

Then Sunday, after being absolutely exhausted, I went on a class trip to the Orchestra in Oldenburg. a little bit of a drive back and forth (it would be like going to Buffalo from HFL) but well worth it. I'm surprised I didn't have problems concentrating. I guess I am finally getting the knack at sorting out classical pieces. They really don't all sound the same!

Yesterday I went for a 15 mile bike ride in the rain. Herr Heinzl gave me some ''Bike Tour'' pamphlets of the area. So, I hopped on the train and rode to Wittmund (the next town over, where Diana- South Africa, was living in the first half of the year) and rode in a big circle trying to differentiate the difference between the marsh-land and the geest (I can't find a translation... it is basically the land that has managed to stay at least 3 feet above sea level and is relatively ''storm safe''). I hope to get in a few more tours before my time is up! I still got my book to get through too! (... can't bring that home with me cuz it doesn't belong to me.)

So, I got only 2 weeks left here! I thought I would post my flight schedule. I would be absolutely OVERJOYED if anyone wanted to come and meet me at the airport! You don't have to be my best friend or close relative to come. OK, so here goes....





I'm coming home!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, June 16, 2006


cool!!!... I found an entire article about East Frisia on Wikipedia for anyone interested in a more indepth history lesson. Click on the titel of this blog entry to link to Wikipedia!

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Last night I went out in the watt with Herr Heinzel. We were looking for the wall of a wooden house. What I learned was a lot more about the ''lost cities''.

So... a little background history: Before there were dikes on the coast, there was little seperation between where land ended and water started. At high tide the water would overrun the marshes and fields. At low tide the ocean bottom would lie exposed for several kilometers. The rich nutrients of the sea nourished the fields daily and just like the Nile river in Egypt made it's inhabitants rich... so did the North sea on Netherland and German coast.

Apart from the Mediteranian coast, the North and Baltic sea's were the only large bodies of water known in the world at one time. In much the same way that the Mediteranian cultures traded with each other and fought with each other, so did the Northern cultures. The North Sea was essentialy the Northern Mediteranian. The most well known of these cultures were the Vikings. Other groups of people included the Celtic cultures, Fresians, and breakaway Viking outposts that became their own people, such as the Normans (in France... where William the Conqueror came from for anyone that knows a little bit about British history).

Here in East Frisia, where I live, the people carried on a busy life supported by rich agriculture, fishing, and trade. By the time the middle ages gripped Europe in an age of so called ''darkness'' with serfs and lords, wars, and the rise of the Church, the Frisians were enjoying a form of freedom, democracy, and a wealth that surpassed most of greatest kingdoms of Europe at that time.

So now you may ask... what happened to make East Frisia so POOR? Well... the Frisians were both blessed and cursed by the daily tides. The tides brought them everything they needed, but that also meant that the people had to create hills on which to live upon for protection from particularily high water and bad storms. Therefore, the people decided to build dikes. First they surounded individual towns and villages, particularily the ones that lived the closest to the coast. After a time, the entire coastline became enclosed by the so-called ''golden ring'' (although in my opinion, better described as a GREEN ring since dikes are covered by grass). What was originally intended as a symbol of ''man conqueroring nature'', became in effect, the opposite. The land could no longer be nourished by the sea because the sea was locked out and no number of manmade canals, ditches, and trenches could make up for what nature did naturally.

... the land started dying.

The people also continued to fight against the sea, having to rebuild their dikes, sometimes further out trying to gain more land and sometimes retreating with their dikes, loosing entire villages and fields. And because their fields were becoming poorer, the East Frisians became more and more a people of the sea and depended upon trade. But, bad luck struck again and the shallow Frisian coast became unaccessable as ships became bigger, leaving the East Frisians literally stranded at high water. And what happened to the West Frisians, the people of what are now the Netherlands? Simple... their harbors are deeper. And they didn't lock up their coast so tightly, rather, they built bigger hills and used dikes as barriers, not as a fence.

So now, back to what I was doing yesterday in the Watt... we were looking for a wooden structure of a house. After 2 hours, I discovered a vast land covered in a layer of slick. Some parts still have the turf only inches underneath. There are remnents of forests- more than 1000 year old tree roots laying in the mud as if they died only a couple of months ago. The stone foundations of churches, cathedral size for their day and time lie scattered across the landscape, intersected by the scars of ice flows and channels of water racing away out to sea. We climbed onto banks of shells, many being former garbage dumps on the edge of town and picked up bone fragments and pottery shards. Everywhere are signs of life. Tiny jellyfish populate these waters in unimaginable numbers, as well as crabs, oysters, and various assortments of mussels.

And at long last... we found our wooden structure, what looked to me like a raft, or some sort of wooden weaving fallen over into the mud. What was supposedly a part of a wall. (If guess if you stuffed the cracks full of grass, you could have quite a nice little hut, probably not that different than the hut that Herr Heinzel and his science class built in the school courtyard) Surrounding this wooden structure were little wooden posts sticking everywhere out of the ground. So in the end, we were successful in our quest!

Coming home I stank like sea water and rotten, black mud (the original turf and everything underneath doesn't get oxygen because the slick is so think, so it turns a tar black color) and my sneakers are next to destroyed (I didn't like them anyway!). But I learned a lot and had tons of fun. And it feels good to be able to piece together so many things of which I have been trying to learn this year! (Ps... if you click on my picutres, it makes them bigger!)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A little taste of home

I figured I should do two seprate posts for my time in Southern Germany. I don't have very many photos because I left that duty to my dear grandfather to do. Soooo, on with the story.... on my last day with Denis, we drove to Stuttgart to meet up with my grandparents. We then went out for lunch and Denis and I said a teary goodbye.

From there I went with my grandparents and their friends, Christa and Heinz Streicher (who have been very friendly with me this whole year as well, always sending pictures and writing emails) to their home, again 30 minutes from Stuttgart, but this time heading south. I found it quite amazing that the two area's could be so different for both being within the greater Stuttgart region. We spent the weekend relaxing, getting caught up, and celebrating Christa's birthday. Then on monday we drove to Ulm to see the cathedral (I believe it has the world's tallest Gothic spire) and then further to Dachau where we found the Kz (concentration camp) to be closed but the nuns in the monestary situated right up next to the walls to be friendly and open. Despite the rain (which never went away the whole week) we learned a lot and then drove south to the small town (and former artist's colony) of Murnau on the Staffelsee, right at the foot of the German Alps. You can't get more south than that without leaving the country, and we were in the very heart of Bavaria, where the men and women actually do wear Lederhosen and Dirndl on any given day and the beer flows like water.

We had a great time together visiting a castle up in the Alps (and being bombared by giant snow flakes... which is not a good thing if you sort of get lost on the castle grounds while looking for the hunting lodge). The whole time we tried the local cuisine and drinks, marveled at the sceanry, saw some small villages, and finally saw Munich as well. We intended on driving to Innsbruck on the other side of the boarder, but the rain was turning into snow at the high altitudes and so we had no desire to battle the cold in spring sandals.

After a very quick week, Grandma and Grandpa and I took the train from the very southern bowels of this beautiful land to the waaaay other end, basically the furthest place you could possibly go. So, naturally it took us the whole day (starting at 6:30 am!). But, what was amazing was getting the chance to see so many parts of the country that I have been to before, all at one time, and seeing Germany as a whole, in all it's variety and beauty. And then, at long last, we reached my little ''Doorstep of Europe''.

I think that my grandparents really enjoyed their time here. Since it was a holiday weekend, Pentacost (Pfingsten auf Deutch), there was lots going on across the pennisula of East Frisia. We saw Esens here, and my school and all the homes I have lived in, as well as the surrounding villages, the harbor towns, and the far away ''city'' of Norden where we visted the seal orphanage. I taught grandma and grandpa all about our tea ceremony here, and then on our last day we took the ferry over to the island of Langeoog. For only a few days, I think I thoroughly covered everything improtant to see!

It was difficult saying goodbye, especially since they left on my birthday. But getting a chance to travel with my grandparents in Bavaria and to show them the other end of the country where I have been living was really special. I got 2 months left now, and even though I can't wait to go home, I still have lot of things left to do and see.

And also, thank you everyone who sent me birthday cards and presents! I love you lots!

A lifelong Friend

Ok, sorry.... this isn't the best picture of Denis, but I liked the background! Wow, it was great to see Denis again after almost a year. And this time, I can speak german with him! (although... he refused to speak german with me... grrrrr) We had a fun filled week together and really became close friends. What made a difference is that we have both grown up a lot and have started to become the people that we want to be.

Ok, so a little bit of background stuff. Denis lives about 30 minutes north of Stuttgart, in southern Germany. The entire region is covered in vinyards and your cute little stereotypical German towns (that are ONLY found in southern Germany.... let me remind people that the images we see of Germany in the States are only based on the deep southern part. It's not that far off from imagining all of the USA to be just like Texas.) Anyway, back to the story: Deanis's town is called Löchgau and has a population of aprox. 5,ooo people. Between Löchgau and Stuttgart is one of the largest and most beautifully preserved castles in the country, called Ludwigsburg. Almost 2 years ago now, Denis flew to HFL on an exchange program. Now he is back home, and after a few months in school, he took the rest of the year off (he is going back again in Sept.) to work on his musical career. He is now taking music lessons from the vocal coach of Mamma Mia! there in Stuttgart, as well as focusing on dancing lessons, and keeping up with the piano. Recently he just landed the lead roll in a local production of the Little Shop of Horrors and while I was there we put on an audition to find people for a benefit concert that Denis is producing himself. A busy little man!

As for our week, we were in Stuttgart several times, visited many of the surrounding towns where his schools are located, etc, Ludwigsburg, Tübingen, and Heilbronn. Inbetween I met all of his friends and family, enjoyed the landscape and the (so far as I have experienced) very UNIQUE atmosphere of the greater Stuttgart area. We had a great time shopping, enoying the palaces and castles, lots of great food and laughter, boat rides, city lights, and being able to make music together again.

From Denis, I have a very big HELLO to everyone at home and he wanted me to say that he misses you all and will come back to visit soon.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Doggy Tired

Hey everyone!!!! I'm back ''home'', finnally. I'm soooo tired! I can't believe how much I have seen in the past 2 months, on the road, a different bed every night. Right now my grandparents are here with me and we have spent already a wonderful week together. I can't think straight (or see) because I'm so exhausted but we still have a few more days together. I can't wait to update about everything I've done (I haven't even finished my ringo pictures of the EuroTour) but I simply can't tonight. But I felt that I needed to tell eveyone that I'm home safe and sound. Tomorrow is my big concert at the church with an orchestra from Hannover playing Baroque style instruments. I have been singing with this choir since September. Wish me luck!

Friday, May 19, 2006

on the road again

I have to apologize for not writing this week despite being home. But I have a good excuse... I have been happily and busily reading away... in german! I've read a whole book (over 300 pages!) and I can read almost any article in a magazine or newspaper now. I am very happy! It certainly makes life a lot easier now that I can take in more than just the spoken word. Hehehe!

Not much of anything is new. I feel like a walking zombie after so much on the go, and laying around reading has not helped me rest, rather just made me lazy. Reality is starting to set in on me that I have to return to the States eventually, especially since I have been bombarded with college forms and things.

Tomorrow is our district conference and I get to meet with all the exchange students for the day. Then on Sunday I am catching the train down to Stutgartt (at last!!) to see Denis Rudisch (the german exchange student at HFL last year) and then meet up with my grandparents. I'm so excited!!!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Ein Paar Fotos!

Hello everyone! Here are a few pictures from my first week on the EuroTour! We were in Venice on our 7th day and we found a lot of mask shops for Mardi Gras... so in one of the shops, the guy let us try them on! The canals and small alleys in Venice are really neat... but this picture is of the Grande Canale... the main water way through the city! In the Alps we saw lots of beautiful sights... and the glacier on the topof and inbetween the mountians made the sceanery even more fascinating. In Florence we saw the sunset over the river which made the lighting really awsome for picture taking. In Strasbourg the flowering trees and bridges were a typical sight, but very pretty nontheless. Dan (from Illinois... my eurobuddy cuz he let me drag him along to everything that no one else would go to) and Keith (USA) with a girl from Australia in the background are in the last picture.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

I'm a world traveler!

Hallo Leute.... I'm back!

17 days, 7 countries, 40 exchange students.... what does that equal? CRAZINESS!

First of all... I want to thank my church and the Deacons for the Easter ''care package''. It was really cool!

Second of all... I need to thank Lima Rotary for the money for my EuroTrip. A really BIG thankyou.

This morning I went with Herr Heinzl to Emden (about 45 minutes from here) to an Archeology conference. It was located in a bombed out church that had been (very tastefully) renovated into a library and small musuem. The lectures were really meaningfull, especially being able to put what I am learning with Herr Heinzl in context after such a huge trip around Europe.

It is hard to believe that I have seen so much yet so little now of Europe. My favorite country was defintely the Czech Republic. It would take forever to remember everything that happened, so I am going to just give an outline...

Our first city was Strasbourg in France. We visited the European Union parliment building and spent a lot of time in the old town city center shopping and admiring the half timbered houses. I found the city to be real mix of both German and French culture, interesting yet slightly disapointing. My favorite part was the view from our hotel... right out over the train station.

From Strasbourg we drove to Switzerland and spent a few hours in Luzern, a georgous town in the middle of the Alps. There we visited a geology museum and learned a little about glaciers and then we rented paddle boats and we out on the lake were we swam and tanned. That night we slept in Engelburg. The next morning we went to the top of a mountain and took a look at the glaciers up there and had lots of fun in the snow (including tubing!).

After driving through probably the longest tunnel on the face of the earth (we were in the thing for over 10 minutes!) we finally made it to Italy. For a while were weren't sure if were were in Switzerland or Italy, so we renamed the area Switaly. But then we were going through Tuscany and you could definitely tell which country we were in. The picture perfect postcard images changed from perched wooden mountain homes to villas smack dab in the middle of vineyards. We spent the night on the mediteranian coast (and even swam in the icy waters). Later we met a group of kids from Milan and we went out to a bar together.

The next morning we went first to mass (a real italien catholic mass!) and then we drove further to Pisa and saw the leaning tower, which is actually a part of a complex of church buildings. I thought it was wierd that everywere we went in Italy, the baptismal fount was in it's own specialy built building. We ate Pizza in Pisa (and red wine!) and then drove on to Florence. That night we watched the sunset over the river.

In Florence I spent most of the day shopping and attempting to learn Italien. I ''inherited'' a 15 langauge translator from a Thai kid when he went home so I spent a lot of time searching through that. I even met a woman on the street while waiting for the bus and she sat with me for 10 minutes teaching me Italian! (unfortuatley I don't remember any of it).

The next night we made it to a resort town outside of Venice. It was on the beach as well and I had a lovely stroll on the beach that night. The next morning we were in Venice. Venice is everything everyone says it is. We did the typical... boat rides, getting lost in the tiny streets, eat pasta in the resturants, and gaggling at the shop windows, and listening to the Italiens sining love songs in the plazza. It was the saint day of the patron saint of venice, so the tourism was a little bit bad (we couldn't even get into the cathedral), but on the whole, it was a beautiful day.

From Venice we drove over 10 hours through Austria into Hungary and spent the night on the Balton, one of the biggest lakes in Europe. We got to sleep in the next day, but it started raining, so we couldn't go out and enjoy. I ended up doing laundry in the bathtub the night before with one of the Australians' which turned out to be an amusing situation with water everywhere.

After getting a little bit of rest, we spent only a few more hours in the bus and made it to Budapest. Now, with my host mom from Budapest, I was more that excited and ready to see the city. It turned out to be amazing (regardless that it rained almost the entire time). We saw the castle district, ate hungarian wurst (the best in the world, in my opinion) in the garden of the ''Kings Palace'' on the top of a mountain overlooking Pest (Budapest is two cities... Buda and Pest), saw one of the most amazing churches that I have ever seen so far, went to the thermal baths, saw one of the largest Synagoges in Europe, visited the Terror Museum (about communism), and went on a dinner boat cruise after dark... just to name a few things. I had a terrible time with the language but still managed between English and German. Apart from everything being really REALLY impressive, what will always stick with me the most is what I learned in the Terror musuem. It was the REAL story about what happened and it made me frustrated that after a whole year supposedly learning about socialism and communism in 10th grade English and history class, it didn't prepare me at all for the truth.... the stories of the people, the work camps, the torture chambers and prison cells, and what happened to the contries and the people who lived under Soviet-Russian control. It made me honestly feel that everything I had learned in school was american propoganda.

Our next stop was Vienna in Austria. Vienna is another tourist haven, just like Venice. They both know what they got and they flaunt it. But both cities also do a pretty good job at living up to thier reputation. The first evening in Vienna we went a music museum and afterwards met a group of Italians on tour in Vienna and we sang and danced with them for almost an hour and then walked around the city together for a while. The next day was a Sunday, so we went to Catholic mass again (our chaprone was Catholic and so he always brought a big group of us along of those that had interest). It was first communion and it was really neat. I finally got a chance to get into an art museum and I found a couple of my favorite pieces from Dürer that I did projects on in 11th grade. That night I went to a concert in the palace, supposedly in the same room that Mozart played his fist piece (at the age of 4) for the queen.

After Vienna we drove to Prag in the Czech Republic. I had absolutly no expectations. However I had heard that it was really pretty. Since I had had such a great time in Budapest, I wanted to try to live up to Hungary. What happened is that Prag impressed me and surpassed my wonder of Budapest within 45 minutes of being in the inner city. Since my Germany tour in October, I have been somewhat facinated by Eastern Europe and the Czech Republic simply fascinated me even more. The city was never bombed in the WWII (therefore all original and georgeous... the hidden pearl of Europe) and the people are very down-to-earth and hard workers. My initial attempts at learning Czech worked (!!!!) and I think the language just simply ''klingt'' good. I don't remember seeing anything particularily special, just that I was amazed by everything around me.

We spent most of the day after Prag in a city/concentration camp complex and then we had a brief stop at a market. We reached Dresden that evening. I visted the remnents of the May Day market in the central square and went to a church service and tour at the Frauenkirche (one of the most famous churches in Europe). The next day I rented a bike and rode about 15 miles along the riverside to a castle/palace with a small group and then later I went to the Zwinger, a famous art museum. There, I discovered that Raffeal's angel's (cherub things) were there (the two little board angels that are on everything in every gift shop in every first world country)! I also discovered a couple more peices that I recognized as well. It was a good feeling.

So then, yesterday, May 5th, we drove across Germany and I finally made it back ''home'' to East Frisia. I must have brought the good weather with me because it is absolutely beautiful here now. Spring has finally come and the trees are in bloom and the fields are glow in the dark green again, and the cows and horses and goats and donkeys are all back outside again.

I guess I've learned a lot in the past month.... 4 weeks of traveling. I'm looking forward to a bit of peace, but I am also really excited to get on the road again in 2 weeks. It's hard to think of the trip on a whole, I got to think about each city individually. So, if you write to me and ask me about things, I can explain a lot more (if anyone is interested). Write to me!!!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Until next time

Hey everybody! I'm so excited for tomorrow morning. And the sun is shining here and the grass is green. Very green... but still not ''glow in the dark'' green like it was last August.

Sunday, Easter, was fairly uneventful. I got most of my stuff unpacked from last week and I had a big breakfast. I even ate an easter egg (although everyone else had 5 or 6... I don't like eggs). My host mom is all happy that there is a reason to buy new types of cheese and things to try... so much so that today at the table we had over 10 types of cheese and 6 or so types of meat and wurst and caviars in tubes. Sunday night I talked with some friends on the phone and my whole family. I also saw most of Braveheart (in German, of course!).

Yesterday, Monday, I went to Neuharlingersiel (one of the the harbor/ports on the coast) and went to the Buddelschiff Museum (Bottled Ships). There were some really awsome models inside wine bottles. Some of the bottles themselves were impressive. Then we took a shopt stoll on the coast. I was surprised to see so much water. It was the first time I have see the sea at high tide... normally it is gone and only the mud-flats with big puddles are there. Then, I went for a bike ride and later watched the relatively new German version of the 7 Dwarves.

Today I have been scrambling about trying to get everything I need for my Europe Tour and things for cheese. In Bavaria I got a chance to make cheese and we got a recipe, so we are going to try and make cheese today. We had to go to the Apotheke (the drug store... but a little different) and get something called Lab, which is a microbe that you make cheese and jogourt with. We will see how that goes. It needs to sit for at least a week or two, so then we can try it when I get back!

Wish me luck on my trip!!! WHEEEEEEE!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter! Frohes Ostern!

I'm only just back from my week in the Franconian region of Bavaria (over 6 hour train ride) and still spinning from lack of sleep. Almost every night I got between one and a half hours and 4 hours of sleep. What a time!

I have got to say that it was really neat to see some of the things about Germany that are famous for Germany... huge beer mugs, rolling hills with towns jammed in the valleys, wonderful cheese and wurst, and a friendly and open people that laugh and sing. Not that the stereotypes were the best part of the week, but certainly fun.

There were over 35 of us between the age of 15-18 from 16 different countries. It was fun to learn a little of spanish, hungarian, finnish, portugues, and of course, lots more german (and the franconian dialect). We saw lots of castles, art, and different types of ''factories'' where we got chances to make cheese, see how candles were made, or how advertisements are printed (on plotters!). The cities of Nürnberg and Würzburg and absolutley beautiful as well as packed full of history (and souvenier shops!... with coocoo clocks, hümmel figures, and every other typical bavarian thing you can find). In Nürnberg we saw the parade grounds and other buildings were official gatherings of the Nazi party were held. In Würzburg we visted the world renowned city wine cellers were we had a wine taste testing. Even American presidents, the princess from Tailand, kings and queens from all over the world have been there, sitting at the same tables as we did. We learned a little bit about the wine from Würzburg, how to properly drink a white wine, and then try to walk straight after 4-5 glasses of 12% alcholic drink. What I found interesting is that each of the wines we tried are famous varieties. One, the Würtzburger Stein, was one that Goethe would have at his dinner table every night. I also understand and appreciate a little more about our own Finger lakes wine region and Reislings. On the last day we even visited a medieval town, still enclosed by the defensive walls. Not much has changed since then (it is perhaps one of the only exsiting towns preserved like this) and you can really ''connect the dots'' about all the different parts of old europe that survive only in pieces in modern times.

And what's more, the food in Franconian Bavaria is simply, AMAZING. Even better than northern kitchens. (WHAT AM I going to eat when I get back HOME!???) Wurst, cheese, bio-everything, bread, cakes and pastries, beer, sparkling apple juice, etc, etc. Lunch was always something to look forward to. And every night we did something special. One night we went 9 pin bowling (das Bayerisches Bier naturlisch dazu!), another night we had a traditional folkdance (with lederhosen and accordians... Bavarian folkdance are very similar to american folk I know where square dancing comes from!), a formal black-tie event in another castle, and visits with the rotary clubs. After that, we always partied in the Youth Hostel until 2, 3, even 5 in the morning.

The arcitecture and art we saw was splendid. A lot of it was baroque (with the emphasis on detail, gold, and complexity) which is very different (and more modern) than the romantic and gothic located in the north. South Germany has always been fairly well off, where as the northern kingdoms had their hay day between 1000-1600 ac. Therefore, southern kingdoms (such as Prussia, Bavaria, and the former Austrian empire for german language examples) were able to constantly rebuild, renew, and modernize to exemplify their glory. Some of the frescos, silk rugs, and porcelian simply take your breath away. But what tops it all off is when you step into a room covered in mirrors and laced in gold, all hand painted in every crack left available. Something that a picture not only can't capture, but can't possibly show the feeling of magnificance and awe.

It really was a wonderful week. I am really looking forward to seeing a little more of Bavaria when my grandparents come here. Coming home to Ostfriesland was hard but I gotta get some sleep and rest before heading out again Wednesday. 17 more days of friends, fun, art, castles, cities, great food, and little sleep.

My new host family has been really great. I am learning so much from them. We are right behind the dikes on the coast and so it is really easy to get to everything. Saturday night there was the ''Easter fires'' across all of Niedersachsen, huge bonfires all night. This morning was easter baskets, lots of eggs, and chocolate. Hopefully if we have time today, we will take a trip to the coast to see a museum full of model ships in bottles. One of the coolest things about this family is that they are very international. My host mom is from Hungary and my host dad is always in China (organizing what is called Choir Olympics... a singing version of the sports Olympics). My host mom's family was Jewish and lives in Budapest, so I have learned a few stories about communism, concentration camps, and everything that happened when Nazi Germany entered Hungary. We spend what seems every minute talking, laughing, and joking.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter with lots of good food, family, and friends!

Friday, April 07, 2006

it's like living out of a suitcase

It has been a busy and stressful week! I've been trying to pack and unpack all my stuff so that I can move to Laura's house. School is out this week so at least I had lots of time! Getting to know the family and talking everything is lots of work!

I have now moved back to Esens and it is only 5 minutes with the bike into the center of the ''city''. It takes about 15 minutes by bike to get to school (the school is on the other edge of town, right next to where I used to live by the Hedlefs and Hoyers)

Wednesday I spent the day at Björn's house... we made pancakes for brunch and then took a bike ride around Esens. Laura left for Hanover on Wednesday to visit her boyfriend.

Sunday I start my whirl-wind tour of Europe. Next week I am touring around to see the highlights of northern Bavaria. Then I will be home for Easter weekend before I start my Europa Tour on the 19th (the wednesday after Easter). I'll be finally home on the 6th of May (after almost 3 weeks), here in Esens for 2 weeks, then another 2 weeks in Baden-Württenburg and southern Bavaria bringing me up to the 6th of June (my birthday!). Wow!

My new address is..

c/o Familie xxx
Hartwarder Str. 34
26427 Esens

... and my telephone number is 011-49-4971-5515

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Spring time rain

Spring has finally come! And with it the rain. A little depressing, but the sping flowers here are georgeous... bold yellows, purples, blues, and whites.

Easter Break started for me today and goes until the 18th. A lot of things are coming up, so I'm getting excited. I've got Rotary trips (to Bavaria and a European Tour) and oportunities to see lots of old friends and make new ones!

Then, a really cool opportunity came up this week. My friend Laura (see previous blog) invited me to move in with her and her family. We get along really great and since her mom is ''Auslander'' (a foreigner) as well, they are really supportive and funny when it comes to living in a different country. They understand. Laura's mom thinks that it would be fun.

In a normal exchange year with Rotary, there is one finnal switch to a host family around Easter and since I don't have an official new host family (I was scheduled to stay with the Groppe's till July) Rotary decided that it would be ok. It looks like I will be moving anytime this week. YEAH!

I'm looking forward to a little peace this week. I'm going to try and visit some of my friends this week. Björn and I are going to meet and make pancakes and I might get to hang out at another friends house and learn how to milk the cows and muck the stalls. My baseball team is sorta stalled at the moment, but we plan on getting it back up on it's feet after break.

After 8 months here and so much struggle I feel that I have really started to fit in. Sometimes I even forget how to speak English or don't even realize I'm speaking German. It's really amazing and I have so much more coming up. Easter is soon and I'm traveling almost the whole time between now and my birthday (June 6th) and my grandparents are coming to visit me at the end of May! And then, I have two months and I come home. I'm flying home the 26th of July. I can't wait to see you all!

I'm on the home stretch here and it looks like nothing but fun (cross your fingers!).

Thursday, March 23, 2006

be a leaf and soak up rays

I can't believe I only have one more week left of school and then I am out for Easter break! School is pretty boring so I have been going to different classes with some of my friends in the 11th grade. The English teachers here can be pretty funny because their accents are terrible... a mix between German and British. Last Friday I spent the afternoon at Laura's house. Laura is in the Theater club with me and her mom is from Hungary so we looked at a lot of pictures of Budapest so that I will have an idea of what to do when I am there. We had a traditional meal of Goulash as well. REAL goulash is actually a meat soup of beef chunks served over chunky handmade noodles and sour cream on top. Sunday I visited Björn at his house and saw lots of picutres of Vancouver (where he was on exchange last semester).

Then Tuesday I played baseball. I decided a couple of weeks ago to try and start a baseball club. Well... there is another kid at the school that knows how to play and the two of us managed to get 200 euros from the school to buy baseball equipment. Pretty cool! Only thing is, I don't know how to play baseball very well. Only Laura and Björn and Tobias (the kid that knows how to play) showed up Tuesday... but we will try again next week. There are a lot of tests this week, so not many people have time. We will see and cross our fingers that more people show up.

Tuesday night I went to church! My french teacher approached me Monday and asked if I wanted to go with her to her church. She attends a ''Free'' church... meaning that it isn't supported (more like propped up) by the state and it is very much like American churches. There was a live feed from Munich where some big event was going on that we watched over an internet connection through a projector onto the wall. One of the English teachers at the school goes there as well, and both of them said that they would take me Sundays. I'm really excited. Now... I've never been one to be overly exstatic about sunday morning church. But after almost 8 months of being away... I really miss it.

Anyway, this weekend we are going to the Sauerland, a region in the middle part of Germany for Clemen's parents Golden wedding anniversary. How many years the ''Golden'' anniversary is, don't ask me, but it must be something over 30 because the 20th is the porcelain anniversary and the 30th is the silver. (I know this because people have some really wierd house decorating traditions when it comes to anniversaries of different things including baby carriages on roof tops, strings of socks everywhere, and porcelain plates pinned all over the house).

The weather is finally making signs of coming out of winter ''horribleness'' and the sun has been shinning all day. It makes me want to be a leaf and soak up rays or something. ... speaking of leaves, I'm learning about photosynthesis for the 5th time (!!!) in my bio class. whooooo.

Monday, March 13, 2006


This weekend, I had a lot of fun on a school trip to London. London was really great but I can't believe how expensive it was. Just to get into the London Tower or St. Pauls cathedral was 15 and 9 Pounds, respectively (that is 26 and 15.50 american dollars!). Everything was like that. So therefore, we walked around a lot and saw the sights, but didn't go inside and see much.

On Friday we rode the bus (14 hours total) from the school, through the Netherlands, Belgium, and France, over the English Channel on a ferry boat, and then 2 hours from Dover to London. We saw the famous White Cliffs of Dover when we landed. Although it was night time, they still seemed to glow because they were so white.

Once in London, I was in a group with a a couple of guys, one from my theater group (Jonas) , one that I don't know (but I've seen him around the school), and another that I sat next to on the bus (Björn... not exactly sure on the spelling). We walked up the Thames River from Cleopatra's Needle (a gift from the Egyptian Cleopatra herself) to Big Ben and the Parliment buildings and then to Westminister Abbey. Since the Abbey didn't open for another hour and a half (we thought at first only a half an hour...but there is an hour time change) we walked to Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus. In Trafalgar Square is the National Gallary of Art and a really controversial statue that I read about last year in the newspaper. At Piccadilly Circus we went to Starbucks and to Virgin Records where I found a whole music section for Country and Scottish Celtic!!! Then we walked back to the Abbey and split up. Björn and I went to Tate Britian, a large art gallary, and saw an exhibit on Gothic Horror art that I saw a review about in Newsweek 2 weeks ago. It was a little disturbing and hard to understand, especially since we didn't have much time to see it because we had to meet Jonas at Buckingham Palace to see the Changing of the Gaurds. We ended up missing most of the ceramony because the London underground is so confusing. I like the subway systems in Paris and Berlin much better.

After the Changing of the Gaurds, we split up again and had lunch and Björn and I headed towards St. Pauls Cathedral. We ended up not seeing anything inside becasue we didn't want to pay 9 Pounds to see a church, no matter how wonderful it may be. AND, there was a wedding starting as we arrived and half of it was blocked off anyway. So, we took the underground to the London Tower Bridge (not the London Bridge... that was bought by some american and actually transported to the US and stands somewhere out west), walked across, and walked around the Tower of London (a small castle that is famous for it's history as a prison and execution yard), although we didn't go in. After wandering around the gift shop a little, we headed towards the London Dungon, a ''Enter at your own Peril'' interactive horror show/museum explaining about the Black Plauge, the Siege of London, Jack the Ripper, and the British court/torture system (if you understand the horrors of this... you'll understand why the American constitution protects us from ''cruel and unusual punisments''). I even got sentenced to death just because I'm an American!

So, after that little adventure, we intended to meet up with Jonas again at the main entrance of Harrods. No one believed me that there is more than one (11 to be exact...) and we never found them. But Björn and I had a great time wandering around the furniture department before we headed to Oxford Street for a quick look around shopping district and then catching the bus home.

It was really a great adventure for a weekend and I am exhausted. I'm starting to feel like a world traveler now or something. And, I've even made some new friends!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Pictures of Hamburg

We got a new computer here and I finally got the picture software loaded again. Last weekend I went to Hamburg for a day trip with my Clemens and Jonathan, the new Brazilian exchange student in Wittmund. We saw an exhibit on Charly Chaplin and a lot of the harbor because Hamburg is one of the biggest harbor towns in Europe. In addition we visited St. Micheals Cathedral which I really liked. It felt homey... sort of like the Presbyterian church in Lima. By the time we were getting ready to leave Hamburg, a big snow storm hit, so there wasn't much of a possibility to see anything else. But if I ever get a chance to go back, there is a rather large building labeled as a Model Railroad museum.... that I would really like to see.

Friday, March 03, 2006

i miss snow

I haven't written much lately because honestly, nothing much has been happening. It is hard to believe that I have been with my new family for a month and a half already. Even though I enjoy the musical environment and my family, it is difficult to find things to do when there are less than 300 people within a 3 mile radius. We finally have some snow, about an inch, and I have to say that I really miss snow. Especially skiiing and snowboarding and igloo making.

I have had a few opportunities on the weekends to do some things. Herr Heinzel took me to the Netherlands and I got a chance to try out my Dutch (not very good.... but i can actually understand a little bit of it!) and to walk around the city of Gröningen, which is about 30 minutes inside the boarder. I have been learning a lot about archeology with Herr Heinzel, and in particular, the people and the land of this area and how they are unique. Surprisingly, the Netherlands are very similar to East Frisia. The question is.... why does the Netherlands have a sucessful and growing economy while in East Frisia the economy is sputtering out, and dying. (I call it the Netherlands because in actuality, Holland is only a province in the southern part of the country) And there are in fact tulips, lots of fish, grass in the cafes, and wooden shoes (but the are used in the garden, as work shoes.... and acutally quite practical). After only a few hours of exposure, I can say on a first impression basis that the Dutch are a very diverse and open people and their culture is very much based on the ocean, in that they eat a lot of fresh sea food and do a lot of trade. Just walking up and down the streets, you will find a lot of foreign shops (in particular from Moccoco) and in grocery and convienence stores you will find a wide variety of products from all over the world. AND, the dutch tend to know several languages as well, especially english and german (and french if you include the amount of Moroccians (sp?) that are around and that Belgium is along the entire southern boarder). In fact, at the movie theathers, many english movies are not even translated, but played in English!

Herr Heinzel has made it his personal mission to show me EVERYTHING possible. We watched a movie on fire-baked brick cathedrals in Mecklenburg this week, 2 weeks ago saw a presentation on monestaries in the area (they were all destroyed after the reformation), and we have plans to do another tour of his museum exhibits (only this time focusing on the art work). Also, maybe do a tour of the Town Hall (there is some really neat architecture and art!), some work in the Mudflats off the coast, and acutally do some archeological work in Esens.... we are going to dig up the ''castle'' (the lord that ''ruled'' this area had a palace) that used to be in Esens!

Last weekend I went to a play that was all in Plattdeutch in a neighboring town. It is the first time that I really tried to understand Platt. And surprisingly, I understand it.... at least much better than Dutch, but still not as well as real German. And I actually counted how many windmills I can see from the house (I found a whole new field of them from a different window of the house)... which is 106, give or take a few.

This weekend in ''theater weekend'' so the theater group at school gets together all friday afternoon and saturday. Then Sunday my host family is taking me to Hamburg. I'm really looking forward to that. In the mean time, I am trying to fill up my time by studying german as hard as I can and to read books. Lately I have been trying to learn as much as I can about the Middle East and the several different conflicts there. Surprisingly (for me), what happens in the Middle East relatively directly affects Europe. There are also a lot of middle easterners here. So, it is an applicable subject. Till next time....

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cologne (Köln)

Happy (uncelebrated) Valentines Day!!

My host dad, Clemens, decided suddenly to take a drive to Cologne on Sunday (4 hours by car each way) so that I could see the cathedral located there, apparently a World Heritage Site and the final resting place of the 3 Kings of the Orient or the 3 Wise Men (.... to brush up on the bible story, the 3 Kings that visited Jesus in Bethlehem with gifts of Frankinsence, Gold, and Myrr, sp?). ... And there is a thorn from the crown Jesus wore as well... but that is what a sign said infront of a massive golden chalice thing with a center section made of thick, clouded glass of which relics are placed behind. But I couldn't actually see it. I suppose there were a lot of other significant relics as well, but I didn't see them either... the cathedral is a little bit big. Plus there was a pretty bad break-in in the 70's that caused most of the treasuy to be stolen or destroyed.

But anyway, how do you describe what it is like to step into a Cathedral? Well... start from the outside. They are ususally so tall that you have no idea where one part starts and another ends and you can't see the top very well without dropping your head back at a 90 degree angle. Depending on the style, there will be a range of decorations, towers, and ''Flying Butresses!'' (supporing arches). When you look at the size of the Cologne Cathedral, plus the fact that it is so spiky and prickly looking from all the ornamentation it makes you wonder how on earth it was built, and maybe even how it manages to defy gravity and not tumble down.

As you walk through the arched doorways, ringed by statued saints and gargolyes (to scare away the deamons!) you enter into a hall that absolutely feels like a magnificent underground cavern, meticulously sculpted, except that the walls are covered in brilliant stained glass that would normally anywhere else be breathtaking but are only blend into the background here. The scent of fresh incense hangs heavy in the air, clung to the distant memories of priests (bishops in the case of cathedrals) and the prayers of worshipers. Tourists crawl over the entire building, each wandering in a daze. At one time, the churchs were designed as protection for the people, so if there was an attack on the city, there was some place stong and safe to hide in. Over the centuries, they became more decorative and less about protection, but the original intention, in terms of size and strenth has not disapeared, even in the newer ones. Chairs now fill the massive hall between the columns, but when they are all taken out, there is an impression of a royal court on a much grander, heavenly scale...

The smooth, plastered arched ceilings and bold, thick columns create optical illusions with the angles created by wings and half hidden rooms. These are filled with priceless paintings older than the discovery of the Americas and the sculptures within threaten to conquer all space as they tower over everything below. At the very center is a huge platform where only the priests and other holy men are permitted to traverse, composed of podiums at the front and extends far beyond, lined in painted wood pannels and rows of chairs facing each other from each side so that they box the whole area in. At the end is the alter, and in the case of Cologne, there is a large golden shaped coffin that contains the remains of the 3 wise men. All the Catholic cathedrals I have visited have this coffin shaped thing, but I have never seen it this big. Usually it is accompanied by painted pannels with hinged wing and scultures of Jesus. Often the ceiling is lavishly adorned above the alter with mosaics or paintings, sometimes even frescos.

Surrounding the alter area are chapel rooms, which are ''carved'' out areas of the overall dome of the cathedral that encases the alter. You can walk around behind the alter to all these tiny little chapels, filled with the sarcofigous (sp???) of bishops and other holy people and prescious art to the point that there is hardly enough room for 5 people to squeeze into the spaces that are left within each chapel. Far fewer if you want to acually move. Then try to get an acurate look at the (much) bigger than life scultupes mounted only a few feet from you (if you stand on the other side) and you will feel absolutely tiny as an ant in this coloseum of stone, history, culture, and reverance. Several hours in a cathedral would not be enough to thoughly read the picture stories on the walls, windows, floors, and ceilings, look at the treasures and holy relics, read about and look at all the sarcofigous in the walls, in the crypt, under the floors, and in massive stone containers tucked into every corner, and truely pay respect to what these buildings are designed to provoke... a feeling of humbleness, reverance, awe, and holiness. I guess that is one of the reasons that there are more candles in a European church (or cathedral) than one can count. However, imagine that large European cities will have at least a few of these types buildings and a dozens of ''smaller'' ones that even so, still rival some of the biggest churches I have ever seen in America.

... unfortunately, my description doesn't even begin to describe this defiance of nature. As for the rest of my day in Cologne, we ate at an Argentinian chain resturant (a south amerian version of olive garten or something) and briefly saw a Romantic style church (Cologne is reportedly famous for these) before going home. Although I wish I could have seen more of the city, I am still satisfyed by my visit to the Cathedral. And I am definately glad I actually got a chance to go to Cologne after I wasn't able to this summer during World Youth Day. It is pretty cool to think that I was standing in the same place the Pope did only 6 months earlier. From what I saw of the city, it is very pretty. And on my trip to France, my train went though the station there, and I can easily say that the Cologne train station is the nicest, best looking, and most modern one I have ever seen.

Clemens is looking forward to taking me to Hamburg and Amsterdam as well before the year is over and I am glad that we are getting along so well. Although I don't see much of my host brother because he is always locked up in his room with his girlfriend (she pretty much lives here), everything is great with my host parents. Saturday I made baked beans with hotdogs (... no premade beans in cans here!) with carrots and rice as side dishes. I guess my host mom liked not having to cook because she wants me to make lunch (lunch is the main meal of the day) next weekend too. She is sort of funny when it comes to me and food. One day I was making a salad with an iceburg head and I slammed it on the counter (like I always do) to get the core out and she thought it was so revolutionary in salad making that she told everyone she met over the following week. I think she found the beans funny too, because she nick-named them ''Cowboy Food''.

Piano is going great, although I am not making an extrodinary strides in ability or talant. But I did discover that I can still play the flute (And much better than the piano too). That was sort of nice to pick the flute up after 5 years or so. Clemens is now scemeing to find a song I can play along with in his little church choir.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

My trip to France

Wow... I am finally home after a very busy few days in France and then at my Dad's cousin's house for the weekend. Last Saturday I left for Osnabrueck and spent the night with an exchange student, Marie (coincidentally from France). We went out to the movies and saw Harry Potter 4, which I thought was really good. It was a little creepy that Harry Potter indeed really does look like Rob, my high school sweetheart. The next morning I caught the train and spent almost 12 hours riding all the way south, through the Rhine Valley (that was really cool!!!!!... see the map to see the route of the train) and across the boarder somewhere near Stuttgart. That night, at 10 pm, I pulled into the station in Verdun, France and met Trevor. It was really great to see someone from home and I really enjoyed getting to know Trevor better. We talked until 5 in the morning and then slept in a little.

Monday we walked around Verdun. Verdun was the site of a very important battle in WWI with a lot of casualties. The 90th anniversary is this year, so there is a lot of talk and stuff. We visited a rather impressive cathedral (the picture of the stained glass window) for such a small town (approx. 30,000 inhabitants) and then a museum which explained a little bit about the Battle of Verdun. I was having a terrible time remembering my high school french (6 years!) but after about 2 days, I could understand a lot. By the time I left I could understand about the same amount of German that took me 4 months here to learn! On the other hand... my speaking skills are horrendous... vitually non-exsistant. Getting German and French mixed up was my biggest problem, but I am proud of the fact that I can say that I know 3 languages well enough to get around! Monday night we went to a Rotary meeting for Trevor's club and saw a presentation about the 60th, 70th, and 80th anniversary celebrations of the Battle of Verdun. Then (starting at at 9:15 pm!) we had dinner which lasted for over 2 hours! Unfortunatley the food wasn't all that great... the wine was good, as was the chocolate and the quail, but I guess it is a well know fact (???) that french food is much better on an international scale than the food eaten domestically. The bread was great (baguettes!) but I couldn't eat that much white bread every day. ... I actually was homesick for German food!

Tuesday morning we woke up early and caught the train at 6 am to Paris (so cool!!). We spend the whole day there, just seeing the sights. Sacre de coeur, the bohemian quarter, the painters, the moulin rouge, Notre Dame, Le Louvre, Champs d'elysse, l'arc de Triumph, and finally the Eiffel tower. (Please excuse my terrible misspellings... but trying to translate between 3 different languages and with the british english here, I have no idea how things are spelled anymore.) But, it was a really neat day of sight seeing. I even ate chocolate croissants and cafe au lait at a cafe across the street from the Notre Dame and a real Crepe at the Eiffel tower! We got back home late, caught a few hours of sleep and then had to get up early, after so much walking around Paris, to go to school. I find French schools not that different than what you find in the movies (that is if you have ever seen a french film... by the way a really good one won awards at the Grammys? last year, and it was actually about a french boarding school). Then wednesday night we went to a bar and celebrated a birthday of one of the foriegn language assistants (there is a whole gang of them at the schools in Verdun, hired by the government, and a really neat alternative to exchange programs!). There were a lot of cool people from all over the world.

Thursday morning I caught the train early and traveled a more direct path (instead of through the georgeous Rhine valley) towards Dortmund, where I spend the weekend with my Dad's cousin, Bobby, and his family. It was nice to see them again after visiting them in the first few weeks I was here. I spent most of the time at the house, trying to recuperate from France, but on Saturday I went with Bobby to a city called Soest, which has not changed a whole lot since the medeavel times. We took a tour and walked around a bit on our own. It was a really neat place. In these types of towns, the streets are built in circles, supposedly so an army cannot march directly into town but will get confused. ...I definately got very confused. But Bobby supposedly knew the way!

So, finally I'm back home. It is strange to think that this past weekend was exactly half way for me in my year. 6 months behind me, 6 months in front of me.... I even finnished up my first diary book today and will start a new one soon, but this time only in german. I can't help but think about how much I've seen and learned in the past 6 months and how much more is to come! I know it will only go by so much faster (and my english will only get worse... hang in there with me folks!)

Friday, January 27, 2006

19th Century living!... or may just simply country life

I finally remembered to take some pictures while it is light out. I got a few of the windmills and one of the house. There are 3 windparks right nearby, one to the east and to the west of the house, one lonely little windmill right behind the house, and a larger one closer to the coast that cannot be seen from the house. Literally windmills in every direction. Each windpark has between 20-50 windmills. Like normal, you can click on the pictures to make them bigger.

The house is taken from the south side... I know that because it is positioned exactly north-south-east-west. The sun is still up (only 6 hours of light in the winter!... 6 hours of ''dark'' in the summer... but even then it is not total darkness) so I couldn't take a picture from the north. The right hand door on the balcony goes to my room. I found a hammock under the couch yesterday that can be tied up there as well. Since it faces south, lots of good sun! The computer and piano room is on the corner, right under my room, and the two windows on the corner belong to that room as well. The kitchen is the middle window in the front of the house and the back window on the side of the house belongs to the living room. It doesn't look like it from the picture, but the house is surrounded by country side, as far as the eye can see. The neighbors own a lot of cows and so sometimes you get some real nice ''country air,'' but always fresh milk! We get eggs and chickens from some people further up the road. All the other types of meat we buy at the store, but only relatively local (ostfriesland) meat and vegatables are sold here. I think we get more tractor traffic on the road here than cars.

Wednesday was Clemens birthday, so the neighbors came over for dinner. It's been freezing the past two weeks (-7 degrees Celsius!) and the roads were really icy wednesday morning, so school got cancelled, of course, an hour after we got there, so Clemens had to come and get us. He played taxi most of the day, unfortunately. But back to dinner, dinner was great because Brigitte made a lasagna (it was almost as good as mom's at home!!) and I had this really good red wine. Everyone was really friendly, but I had a horrible time understanding what was being said because mostly plattdeutsch was spoken the whole night. It is very unfortunate to discover German is useless in Germany. Of course if the schools here would teach in platt, then I would have no problems, but the Gymnasiums (high schools) have to prepare for standardized testing and globalization. In fact a new law was just passed that eliminates the 11th year of school (the year that most german students go abroad because it is the lightest) and now all Gymnasium students in Niedersachsen have only 12 years of schooling. My head master claims that after gymnasium students (not all students go to high school, about 2/3 go to varying levels of vocational schools and apprenticeship programs) finish school, and then add a year of mandated military service (or community service disguised as cheep labor in many cases), and then Universtiy schooling, which takes several years longer due to class size and financial limitations, kids aren't getting into the work fields and starting a life until about 30. Therefore, Niedersachen is attempting to ''globalize'' their school system. And apparently, all the other West German states are following suit. The East German states already have 12 years in their Gymnasium program because of Soviet control.

But back to platt... you see, I just don't understand, when Ostfriesland is such an isolated, unique area of Germany, and STILL is a remote farming and costal culture (up until 30 years ago, everyone still used metal fire stoves and a lot of the kitchen and farm tools that Americans used at the end of the 1800's... excepting, ''modern'' versions... and many people still use some of the things...but mostly the people really out in the country.... like Roggestede. They aren't common anymore, but not impossible to find), then wouldn't it be easier to still use the FARMING and COASTAL language of the land? I wish I could be learning platt and german at the same time. But that is simply not possible. I guess my use of Hochdeutsch will forever make me a stranger in this land. Hochdeutsch (regular german) is the language of the tourists and the young. It finally makes sense to me why all these American influences bother me so much.... because it is simply so out of place. (However, everytime I have been in a city environment... the '''americanized, world cluture just seems to fit in and be the norm). On the other hand, I always wanted to know what it is like to live in the 18oo's. I always thought it would be interesting. Well... to be honest, it's really not that extreme here, but I'm privalleged to get a modern glimpse of it. To be serious... it's actually somewhat charming. And it proves to me that it is possible to live a more down to earth, natural lifestyle in a modern society.

As for other things, i'm leaving for France to visit Trevor Kellogg tomorrow, so I got a few last minute things I still got to do and hopefully slip in some tea time as well! Until later....