Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Ok... so one of the first times I ever got interested in Europe was when I read a book called Clan of the Cave Bear (I have heard this has been made into movie). This fictional story is about a young woman during the time when 2 species of humans lived on the earth (of which really only europe, the middle east, and africa was populated on the earth). When the woman (Homo Sapien... our type) was a girl she lost her family unit in a earthquake and was adopted by a clan of the other species (of which I forget the scientific name at the moment). The book describes what it was like to grow up with people so different and she eventually gets thrown out of the clan and she manages to survive on her own until meeting a man (a homo sapian) and the two travel across europe in a series of books following the first. ...the point I am getting at is, I always have been interested in this part of history, but never in my wildest dreams imagined that it would be possible to actually learn about it first hand.

That is until I met Herr Heinzel, the teacher who took me to the museum and on a tour of churches. Last night I went with him to a presentation he made, about 45 minutes away, about the work he does in the Wattenmeer. Herr Heinzel is one of the leading experts on early civilizations and everything since then in East Frisia. He has been digging in the Watt with students and experts for 25 years and has found over 20 villages. Besides that, he is a very nice man and seems to know everything about East Frisia. (I find it funny that my host dad claims Herr Heinzel knows ''every stone in Ostfriesland''.) What I find amazing is that he wants teach me all about everything he does and has even invited me to visit a few museums (one as far as in Holland!) and go out into the Watt to dig. I think I have learned more from him about Germany in a few hours than I have the entire time I have been here alone. I also think the students like him a lot because he seems to be a very good teacher.

At school, things seem to be going better. My german improved a lot over break because I did so much reading in German at the museums I visited. It is a lot easier to talk in German (besides the fact that I am starting to notice where all my mistakes are) and people are starting to talk to me more. The people that I am meeting with my new schedule are really nice. I love my art class (although it is only 2 hours a week) and although my german teacher is the most boring person I ever met as a teacher, he is always very nice to me and talks to me or answers all my questions. I am also looking forward to starting German history in my History class when the new semester starts after working on American history all this time. I think that it must be hard for a teacher to have a student that can't speak the language in their class. And even though most of my teachers don't have time for me, I am always surprised at how they will speak to me (or other students) like equals between breaks or out of school.

I really feel like this week is the begining of my second half of my year. Yesterday was full of tearful goodbyes as I went to Bremen to see Diana off to South Africa and said goodbye at school to the short exchange students (the flew home today) and Jacob who flies early tomorrow morning. It really hit me that I was alone today... but makes me more determined to make the most of what I got. They always say that you get more out of an exchange when you make good friends with the locals and not just the other exchange students. I am really looking forward to moving to my new host family, if only for the change of pace but also because I like them very much (and I am pretty sure the other way around as well). There will be so much to write about in the next few weeks about settling into a different german family and seeing how things are different and the same as my first two.

And after 5 months and a lot of traveling in the past month, I can acutally say I am glad that I am here and not somewhere else. If I was closer to the cities I would not be learning German so fast. But also, I really love having the coast nearby. I have discovered that I really love having water near me, whether a lake, river, or ocean. And the drinking water here in East Frisia tastes better than the water in the entrie rest of Germany (hence... better tea!). The open and fresh air, the beautiful landscape, the food, and the cows eating the greenest, brightest grass (even in the dead of winter it is still bright green) that I have ever seen. I had a really hard time the past few months but I really think that I have fought the hardest part of the battle. It can only get better from here. And then I will be home and thinking back... wow, it's all over, what a great trip!


David said...

Hey! That's really good to hear that you are doing better in school. Making new friends and learning the language and all. I'm sure that the better your German gets the more fun you will have because you won't have to think about trying to commmunicate, it will just happen. I hope you make some rly cool friends around where your living, and hopefully you can stay in touch with them when you get back! And hopefully you can stay proccupied with things near you and not traveling every weekend, haha. talk to ya later!

Grandma M. said...

Sounds good, Becky. So happy to hear your positive feelings and your readiness to take on the last half of your time in Germany. Keep smiling!

Dad said...

Hi Becky:

As the depth of this experience becomes evident to us all, I think of you, your heart, and mind as you navigate that real big world out there! Somewhere in the frienzy of taking all this in, I think you are beginning to really appreciate life and love for others whom you will share just a slice of life with. As you allow this experience to reinforce and expand yourself in everyway possible, remember to also give back, leaving the best of yourself with all those whose paths you are fortunate to cross. That's the Exchange! Please always know we are missing you, loving you, and are so very proud of you.

Best wishes for your travels -