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....