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!