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.