All Good Things Come to an End.

Today was the fateful day. Jule and I stayed up all night last night and I packed the rest of my bags and then had to weigh them since I didn’t want them to be overweight and I have already shipped a box home. I am going to miss this place so much. It’s like a second home to me, the Bauer’s feel like my family. I have friends at school. But this morning

I got on the train to Frankfurt with Connor the other exchange student that was living in my town with all of our suitcases and headed to Frankfurt to meet up with the other Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Scholars so we can all fly back to DC together tomorrow. I am excited to see everyone but I am just so sad to leave everyone. I know I was only here for a year but I built a life here, I have friends and more importantly I have a family here, leaving is going to be one of the hardest things I am ever going to have to do. The memories from this year I will always hold close to my heart and Germany will never be far.”

 

 Journal Entry Friday July 11th,  2008. Waren, Müritz

 

Leaving that day was and still is one of the hardest things that I have ever had to do. All the girls skipped class that morning to see me off at the train station. I guess one of the hardest things to grasp or to realize about that situation was sure I would and did go back to visit senior year of high school and I would eventually go back to study abroad but my friend group kind of drifted and everyone more or less went their own way. It would just never be the same we kept in touch which is awesome but I would never live at Dorfstr. 22a and attend high school there again. You grow up, get responsibilities and have to change but the only thing you can do I guess is whole on to the memories you have and hope that in the future there are more memories to come, to be made with the same wonderful people you already have some great memories with.

 

I went up to visit the Bauer’s (my host family) the third week of July before I left to come home to have one more weekend to spend with them. The weather was wonderful and we were able to do cookouts with Oma and Opa (grandma and grandpa) from both sides of the family. I got to go swimming in the Muritz that’s the lake that I lived on and most of all I got to see my family one last time. I made it up to see them about 5 times this semester and so when I got a train headed back to Leipzig I was excited to be going back I had some paperwork to attend to but all my finals were done and then I had to start packing so I could head home the following Monday. It wasn’t until I said goodbye to the family found a seat on the train that it all started to hit me. I don’t know when I will be comeing back to this country, my post grad plans are taken me to the other side of the world (New Zealand) and my host family is busy and although we keep in touch it may be another 4 or 5 years until I do see them again. So as the train pulled away I had a flashback to July 2008 and all the feelings that I had that day, I didn’t know when im going to make it back and I always feel like I’m leaving a little bit of myself behind. Sometimes I just don’t want to face the music that I’m growing up and at this time next year after graduation ill like actually have to be an adult.

 

I flew home Tuesday July 31st Berlin-London-Chicago-Syracuse. Well first of all I was the idiot to book my return flight home out of London the second day of the summer Olympics but luckily there were no problems. Danielle, Ricky and I drove to Berlin from Leipzig and stopped in Wittenberg where Martin Luther composed his theses and then in Potsdam on the way. And it was as we were driving through all the small towns in between and on the radio came the famous song mostly known for being in Toy Story  “you’ve got a friend in me” that made me smile to myself. We were the last of the international students to leave and after saying our goodbyes and knowing that it would be awhile until I saw some of these people that song kind of reminded me of the quote about friends and stars. About how you may not always see them but you know they are always there. This was an amazing semester I had a great time and made some wonderful friends. Germany will always and still does have a special place in my heart. HWS and the Blocker Fellowship were amazing throughout this whole experience and I know without them this would not be possible.

 

Auf Wiedersehen Deutschland und Bis Bald.

 

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The Invasion of the Americans

“So the visit has come and gone! It was a good surprise, which then turned into a very interesting 10 days. My mother accidentally lost her purse in the Subway inBerlin, when we were on our way to finding the apartment. Which of course had all her cards, passport etc. But after we got over that little hiccup the trip was so much fun. It was my sister, my mother, her boyfriend, and my two best friends Monica and Paola. The week they were here was of course horrible weather, we rented an apartment in Berlin and did the normal sightseeing touristy things, and then we took the train up to Waren for the weekend so my family could meet the Bauer’s. It was wonderful!! We had a BBQ and even though my family doesn’t speak German, and the Bauer’s don’t speak much English it was a great weekend. Then we went back to Berlin on Monday, and spent the last couple of days in Berlin exploringPotsdamand did Checkpoint Charlie. Then we had to say goodbye but it wasn’t that bad, there are only 2 and a half months left until I fly home.”

Journal Entry Tuesday April 22nd , 2008. Waren, Müritz

Well there was no visit from my family this time around, since I was only here for a bit and my sister graduated from Niagara University and they had to move her home etc. And besides I was only gone for almost 6 months this time it’s not like they forgot what I looked like. However, my Aunt Jackie did come to visit, with her niece, Morgan as part of Morgan’s graduation from high school present. They spent the week in Berlin and I met them in Dresden for the weekend. It was an absolutely wonderful weekend. Jackie worked on a tourist ship that used to travel up and down the Elbe River and her German is very good. We explored Dresden and the surrounding areas. We also rented a canoe on Sunday and paddled down the river. Then sadly we had to say our goodbyes, as I headed back to Leipzig to finish up finals, and they took the train to Berlin to send there last two days.

From Knights in Shining Armor to Minnie Mouse.

“After weeks of preparation, last night was amazing. Every year or so, my host family has a themed party. This time they decided to have a knight or middle ages themed party. They have almost used every theme (seaman, hippie, GDR,Bavaria, lumberjacks and so on.) So everyone must come in costume, and the food and drink were that of the middle ages, hey at least we saved on dishes since no silverware was used. It was a great party though. Jule went as a peasant woman, but because I always have to be different, I went as a Jester, and then was pestered all night to provide entertainment. The weather was great; we built a big fire with a spit on it and cooked the chickens over it. It was a great time and all of the family friends came!”

Journal Entry Sunday June 8th, 2008. Waren, Müritz

As to be expected the Bauer’s threw another party this time around. This time it was a little bigger though. It was a combined 50th birthday party. Sonja whose birthday is in January and Volker’s is in March they decided to have it Easter Weekend so all of the out of town family could make it. This time they rented out one of the house/disco of the private boarding school that Volker works at, which is in our village and it was catered. This time around the theme was Movie stars with the invitation being a James Bond movie poster, with Volker, of course being Mr. Bond and Sonja being a Bond girl. I decided that I needed an easy costume something that I could wear again, so I decided to go as Minnie Mouse. I mean who doesn’t love Minnie Mouse. Pirates were the hit of the evening though, with about 4 different Jack Sparrows showing up. Somehow in the course of the night I got stuck behind the bar being a bartender with Jule and Michi and Laura. It was a great party though and an overall great Easter

FUßBALL!!!

“GERMANY=FINAL!!!

 They won their game yesterday against Turkey, it was a shit game and was so stressful, but my boys pulled through. They are playing Spain in the final, which will be another stressful game to say the least.Spainhas been good this whole tournament, but I think Germany can win it. Tonight we had everyone over for the game, almost half the town was there (yes that is how small my dorf or village is). The Burgermeister (Mayor) and a bunch of other family friends were here and we pulled the TV outside and it was so much fun. Sunday it is the Burgermeister’s turn to host for the game which should be awesome. Volker brought home flag dresses for both me and Jule to wear on Sunday which are so cute!! Can’t believe this is all almost over. The girls at school are trying so hard to plan a surprise party for me. but they are so obvious about it. 2 WEEKS=HOME!”

 

Journal Entry Thursday June 26th, 2008. Waren, Müritz

Well sad to say but Germany didn’t even make it to the Final this year. They lost toItalyin the Semi-finals and of course Spain won, again. It was their third major title in the last 5 years. So annoying. There is something about football. I can’t stand to play it, but when it’s The Euro or The World Cup then no one can talk to me when Germanyis playing. They are the only team that I follow religious. This time around for the games we always went to the Music pavilion at Clara Zetin park where they had a huge projector and food stands and whatnot. It was a great atmosphere.Germany won every game in the group stage and smashed Greece in the Quarters. It was a great effort to say the least and the boys laid their hearts out. It was almost sad to watch towards the end. But not to worry only a little over 700 days until the start of the World Cup!!

Cow Bells & Gothic’s

“This weekend is Pfingston or Pentecost, as we call it in America. This weekend was also the half marathon inBerlin. Volker and Anne both ran it. Sonja, Jule and I of course were there to support them! I would have loved to run it, except for the fact that I can’t even run around 3 blocks without being out of breath. But the track for the half marathon was so awesome. It hit all of the famous areas and sites inBerlin. We of course cut across the middle and at one point we were given cow bells to ring. I had mine a total of 10 minutes before Sonja threatened to take it away. What can I say I am a very enthusiastic cow bell ringer. For it being the end of May the weather really sucked. It was rainy and not warmer than 60 degrees. Volker and Anne both completed the race in good time and I didn’t freeze to death so it was a win-win all around I must say, and Sonja even let me keep my cow bell!”

 Journal Entry Sunday May 25th, 2008. Waren, Müritz

 

To this day that cow bell hangs off one of my shelves in my room at home. My running skills have not aroved and I still usually just stick to walking. However, Pfingston this year was also eventful to say the least. Every year inLeipzigthe Gothik Wave Treffen takes place. It is the largest Gothic festival in Germany. Needless to say the entire weekend there was a large black cloud that moved over the city of Leipzig. We were told about this in our grammar classes, about how it has been happening for the past 20 years and the first couple of years the citizens of Leipzig were afraid of the people dressed from head to toe in black and they wear this perfume that smells like a funeral home. We were all told to grab a coffee at an outdoor café, and just watched the parade of the gothics through the city.

 

I had completely forgotten about it and when I got on the tram on Friday I was in for quite the surprise. They were all very nice, however some of them really get into it, such as having there girlfriends on leashes and whatnot. And the smell, that definitely gave me a headache. Its more than just a fad for a lot of these people, it’s like a culture they really commit to. I even saw some families that had their children dressed from head to toe in black as well. It was very cool to see all the different costumes, but it was also nice on Monday when color was restored to the city. It was definitely one of the coolest things that I have seen since I have been here.

God Save the Queen.

“We have been in Hamburgfor 3 days now and it’s awesome. It reminds me a lot of Bostonwith the harbors and all. The whole 11th grade is here and it’s been a good trip except for the fact that we are 6 students to a room at the youth hostel, and I sent the fire alarm off yesterday blow drying my hair, and caused the whole building to have a fire drill. Needless to say our room wasn’t that appreciated after that. We are going to see Dirty Dancing the Musical tonight and I am so excited it is my favorite movie and all. We took a tour of the art museum today and it was fun I guess but kind of boring. I have to go get ready since I don’t want to be late the show!”

Journal Entry Wednesday May 14th, 2008. Waren, Müritz

 

Well there was no class trip this time however, Laura and I decided to take a trip toLondonon one of our long weekends since she has a friend who is doing a year long internship there and has an apartment. So we packed our bags and headed for the Queen’s house. Sadly we were not invited for tea with her Highness, or her equally adorable grandsons.

 

We did the normal touristy things like Big Ben and renting bikes inHyde Park. I even got to meet up with New Zealand Host family’s oldest daughter Hannah, who is currently living in London with her husband. It was a great trip and although the weather wasn’t great the rain at least held off. I was very surprised at the city though. It is a big city but very clean, and surprisingly not too scary. They are preparing for the Olympics so that is exciting. We also met a lot of cool people too and being an American was almost like being cool. It was a great trip and I had so much fun.

 

Getting there was interesting to say the least. First the washing machine broke the night before when I had to my laundry before packing. Finally found a working machine and I thought I was in the clear. The printer in the library refused to print my ticket. Then there was no hot water in my building when I went to take a shower before heading to class, the elevator was also broken when I was already running late, and I had to run and I mean run, down eight flights of stairs to make sure I didn’t miss my tram so I could make it to class on time. Then after class was over, finally got home packed had some time to spare figured I would head to Laura’s early just to make sure I wasn’t late taking the train to the airport. Good thing I did because there was a gang fight on the tram, and they stopped all trams to and from my stop so I had to walk 3 blocks to the next stop but all in all we got on the plane and landed safely in London with little or no problems with customs. It was a great trip, London is a great city and I hope to someday live there.

 

Fulfilling the dream of my 9 year old self.

Tonight was awesome! Volker and his band (Heizraum) translated it means radiator room which is funny, because that’s where they practice every Wednesday night, in the radiator room in the garage. Tonight was one of the biggest performances that they have ever done! Volker surprised Jule and I with Heizraum groupie t-shirts. They are so cute. The concert was in the next town over, and it was all old man bands. Not that Volker is old, but there weren’t any high school bands there. They played all the classics though German and English, and then one of the most embarrassing things that has ever happened to me occurred. I was talking to Jule and some other family friends when I heard my name. The entire band was calling me u on stage to help sing “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Joni. I tried very nicely to say no, but Germans don’t really take no for an answer, so I then joined the band, and sang next to my host dad one of the classic American rock songs. Definitely top of the list of cool things that I have done here, definitely.”

Journal Entry Friday June 13th, 2008. Waren, Müritz

 

Although nothing could ever compare to Heizraum on Sunday, May 6th Laura, Peter and I attended a NKOTBSB Concert. For those of you that are unaware of that acronym, it stands for New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys. They are doing a European tour and stopped in the small city ofLeipzig for one night. We had standing room tickets and I felt like I was 9 again, singing into the TV, with my friends fighting over which Backstreet Boy we were going to marry, I of course was always partial to Nick I think it was the blonde hair that did me in.

Although it was 3 hours of bad attempts at the German language, horrible choreography, that I used to be in awe at, and out of date wardrobes, it is the best concert that I have ever been to. I assumed that they would lip-sync or be horrible live however, they were simply amazing. They still have it! We of course made t-shirts I was a B for the back (Obviously). They were looking for girls to pull up on stage and however even though Laura confessed her love for Brian loudly I must say, and I whipped out my passport screaming that I was from America they pulled the girl that was standing directly in front of us.

The concert lasted a wonderful three hours and for those three hours I was able to relive my childhood, even though most of them are happily married now they sang all of their hits, and of course, I knew every word. New Kids were pretty good too. They can still move, but is it sad that I only know the Wahlberg one because he’s in the NBC show Bluebloods that my mom always watches, and definitely not because of his role in New Kids. They can dance really well, but when they get really close you realize actually how old they are, not that it’s a bad thing but they were  the only people there just for BSB, most of the people that came were mother daughter pairs, mom came for the New Kids and brought their daughters for BSB.

Although it was 11 years since I have BSB fever it was still an amazing concert and a great memory.

 

May 1st : This is something they only write about in books.

“Today was the first of May or Mayday, just another reason for a day off if you ask me but I’m not complaining. We went to Nadine’s for a garden party on Wednesday which was fun we kind of just sat in a shed, and had some drinks. Tonight we’re sleeping at the farm to help out with the horses since the owner Frau Kautzmann is gone this weekend. That should be fun, but also a lot of work since we have to do everything for 30 horses. Tomorrow night at home is prom. Still can’t believe I’m missing it. A girl dreams about her prom since she knows what is and I’m missing it. I mean I would never give up this great opportunity to go home and go to prom but it definitely has its ups and downs.”

Journal Entry Thursday May 1st, 2008. Waren, Müritz

 

May 1st this time around was a lot more interesting. Being a national holiday and all we didn’t have classes which was nice and it was beautiful out. So we decided to head to the nearest beach. Yes, although I am in the southeast ofGermany there are 4 lakes inLeipzig alone. So we headed to the one that supposedly had a nice beach. First thing, that I had forgotten about German or European beaches for that matter is that clothing is always optional. Quite eye opening I must say. The beach was so nice and it was so hot. For the first day of May it was beautiful. There was also a place where you could rent boats so Laura, Megan, Peter and I decided that I would be a good idea to rent a paddle boat. Boy, were we wrong.

 

At first it started out just fine. We were just paddling along enjoying the sun, and the warm weather. Then Peter challenged me to a race to swim from the middle of the lake(our current position) to shore where Nick, Tim and Adam were waiting. To do so however Megan had to switch with me, and come up to the front of the boat. So Peter hoped in the water and Megan and I started slowly to transition ourselves to switch places. Well Megan moved a little too fast and her wallet then became fish food, by falling over the side of the boat. This then started the shrieking process and the rocking of the boat. Of course Peter the only one in the water, who could of caught it, was on the wrong side of the boat. So after Megan stands up on the not so sturdy paddle boat and we finally get her to calm down and sit down we soon realize that Laura was laughing so hard she peed her ants. Yes, my 20 year old best friend peed her pants.

 

Then the half an hour long process of trying to locate the wallet on the lake floor began, and we are just floating around on this paddle boat. Peter who is still in the water is also looking. It is after 15 minutes of intensive looking that I am about to give up when I look u and see a ripple in the water. Now we weren’t in that big of a lake, and although you could see some fish, the ripple that was slowly coming at us through the water was bigger than anything I had ever seen. I, then nudge Laura who see the wave coming at us and decides to scream that it is a shark, mind you we are in a fresh water lake. This then causes Peter to jump up back onto the boat causing it to rock and almost tip over. As the wave is slowly approaching our boat, Laura suggests that we abandon ship, the obvious most reasonable suggestion when you think that a shark is swimming towards you, why not get in and have a little swim with it. Upon closer inspection we discover that it’s actually a scuba diver, the perfect person that we need. However, because we all that it was a giant fish, lockness monster, or shark we are left pretty much speechless(yes I know, me speechless) and only can scream the German word for wallet, then causing the scuba diver to give us a weird look and swim away.

 

It is at this point that decide it is time to give up and head back to shore, however Peter still wants to race, so I jump into the water. However, after jumping into the water I then decide that it was not such a good idea, because it feels like I am swimming in the artic circle. We then start to swim to shore, short of breath, because the water is so cold I’m pretty sure my lungs started to constrict. Halfway to shore we get called back to the boat, they have spotted the wallet. After swimming back out to the boat and trying multiple times to reach the wallet, we soon discover although the water looks very shallow, and clear its at least 30 ft. deep. We then get back up onto the boat and Megan and Laura paddle us back to shore. Once back at shore we tell Tim, Adam and Nick our story, however they quickly fill us in that we were so loud, that everyone from shore could hear everything that we were saying, and that we entertainment for the afternoon.

 

Megan never did get her wallet back that day, and Laura never wore those shorts again.

Who knew Mayday could be so eventful.

I couldn’t have made that story up if I wanted to.

Biking is life.

“So today was interesting to say the least. Jule and I cleaned the house as we normally do on Saturday mornings and then she asked me if I had to do my Christmas shopping and if I wanted to ride into Waren on bikes. So like an idiot I said sure not realizing that it’s 8 miles one way. I mean I can ride a bike as good as anyone else but come on now I ride bikes as a leisure activity not as a race to get into town in 20 minutes. It took us an hour to get there and it was raining and we got soaking wet to say the least and Jule was not very happy, but I got all my Christmas shopping done which is good. I also don’t understand the part of bike lanes here, and how people actually really pay attention to those things. Needless to say I almost hit an old woman and then almost got hit by a bus myself but not to worry it stopped. It was really funny though because Jule was just so embarrassed of me but I was just glad I made it home in one piece if were being honest.”

 

Journal Entry Saturday November 3rd, 2007. Waren, Müritz

 

Although some of you may be thinking right now, is she really doing a blog entry about bikes, you have no idea how important they are in this city. One of the first things that I promised my mother upon my arrival to this wonderful city was that I would not purchase a bike. For those of you who know me well enough know that I have enough problems walking, and although I can ride a bike no problems, it more like the moving vehicles and trams that my mother was worried about. In America riding bikes is a more recreational activity on a Sunday afternoon, and not a way of life. For example there is no parking garage on campus however there is a bike garage (see photo) seriously though. Free with a student ID and open until 10 pm during the week, and midnight on the weekends. For those of you who are still unsure of some bike rules in the wonderful city ofLeipzighere are a few tips:

 

  1. There is a bike lane and a lane for pedestrians. These are not suggestions, it is a rule. DO NOT walk in the bike lane ever, there are no exceptions. I found this out the hard way.
  2. Although the little man is telling you not to walk but you see no cars coming that does not mean it is safe to walk. Fun fact: bikers can reach up to speeds of 50 mph. For this reason and many others, only walk when the little man is green.
  3. Seeing bikes weaving in and out of traffic is a normal occurrence, starring with your mouth open like you are trying to catch flies, will only cause more people to look at you. No one cares it happens everyday.
  4. Finally, always be aware of your surroundings even if you are jamming out to your favorite Beyonce song, making someone fall off of their bike, or hit another biker is not cool, and it is not like they are in a car, and you can avoid eye contact and quickly walk away. No you will be starred down and you awkwardly try to slip away.

   

 

For now I will just be sticking with my two wonderful legs, to carry me around this city the safety of myself, and the safety of the people city of Leipzig.

 

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There’s Nothing Like the First Day of School

“Tomorrow is Friday and the end of the week, thank goodness. School was interesting this week and very tiring. I take all the same classes as Jule (Host sister) and I am in 11th grade here too. We switch rooms like we do at home but here it’s different because 90% of our classes are with the same people, and lucky for me I have a class of just girls. The students are separated into their classes in the 8th grade depending on which language and electives they want to take. For example my class is taking Spanish, art and philosophy. However, all students have to take the regular classes English, German, Geography, History, and Math. They have a weird system here with the way they plan their schedules though. Back home we do the block system where there are 4 days and you just keep rotating. Here Mondays match Mondays; Tuesdays match Tuesdays, and so on. Weird.

 The girls in my class are super nice though. They are all Jule’s friends (Lea, Anne, Lisa, Nadine, Kristin, Jasmine, and Franzi) and when she was sick on Tuesday they helped me get from class to class, and they can even speak English. Our school is right on the water like the rest of the town, and it is beautiful. It has an outdoor campus, nothing like Henninger where you only ever go outside for gym and whatnot. My English class is just interesting. The most interesting part is that my English teacher can’t really speak English. Her name is Frau Tertle but all the girls call her Frau Turtle because, of course, she looks like a Turtle. Another really weird thing they don’t have a lunch break they just have breaks between each period and around lunch time the breaks are longer like 15-20 minutes, but there is no cafeteria or anything you just bring your own. All is all school is good, it’s just weird that I sit the whole day and only hear German, slowly causing a lot of headaches, but the girls are really nice so it should be a fun year.”

 

Journal Entry Friday October 13th, 2007 Waren, Müritz

 

It’s funny to think that it was over four years ago that I started my first day at Richard Wossildo Gymnasium as part of the 11v4 class. I have kept in touch with all of those girls and still receive birthday and Christmas cards. I saw them all my first weekend here when I went up to stay with my host family, and we had a small reunion over dinner. Of course they are all studying, as am I, at different universities around the country, and some have gotten closer and some barely talk anymore. That’s what happens when you grow up and move away, however it was wonderful for all of us to get together for dinner once again. They are all doing wonderful and since in Germany a bachelor’s degree only takes 3 years most of them are writing their final thesis now and will be finished in June.

Tuesday April 10th, was the first day of classes here and was hectic at that. I am taking 6 classes total. Three of them are German language (grammar, writing and speaking practice) and three lectures in German of course. One on new German Literature from the 15th century until today, my second lecture is History of the Cold War from 1945-1961, and finally I am taking introduction to German Political Systems. I have managed to have no class on Thursday or Friday which is amazing if I do say so myself. Then again that just means more time to study right? The Leipzig University campus isn’t really centralized; it is placed throughout the entire city, with only some buildings being in the center. It definitely took some getting used to.

Interesting fact about German universities is that there is no such thing as central registration, say in the internet or whatnot, you must ask each professor for permission to take their classes either by email or in person during their office hours, which just means more running around the city in the week before classes trying to get into all the lectures that you need, and making sure that you can do a final exam for each one, and how many credits they are each worth and whatnot. Needless to say although I complained about having to get up at 7am on registration days at HWS, I would much rather prefer to do that than run around the city trying to get permission to attend each and every class.

It was very eye-opening the first week of classes because I had three lectures. Now classes at HWS are about 30 people at the most, however here there more like 250. Something that I am definitely not used to, there is no attendance or participation grade, you are just expected to sit there and listen/get talked at for 90 minutes which is tiring, the first week especially when one of your lectures is German politics.

So the first week of classes has come and gone, and now I am settling in to the growing amount of reading and homework. The library located in the center of campus is slowly becoming my best friend. Monday marked a month in Germany already, and to be honest I have no idea where the time went. I feel like the whole semester is going to be like that, before I know it I will be packing and flying home.