Brad Patterson
2007-08 Outbound to Germany

Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
School: Bartram Trail High School
Sponsor: Bartram Trail Rotary Club, District 6970, Florida
Host: Salzgitter-Wolfenbüttel-Vorharz Rotary Club
         District 1800, Germany

Brad's Bio

Guten Tag! My name is Brad Patterson and I will be graduating from Bartram Trail High School in May 2007. I live with my mom and dad, my sister, Jamie, and my dog, Cisco. I also have another sister, Tiffany, who will be getting married while I am away. I have lived in Jacksonville my whole life and as much as I love the Florida sun, I think it's time to mix things up. This summer I will pack my bags and head off to the Futterland (a.k.a. Germany).

My interests include swimming (I did varsity swimming at BTHS for all four years), cycling, bowling, Apple computers, history, and politics.

I'd like to thank everyone who made this possible for me. I also have to give Roman Karkosch (an inbound from Germany) a huge thank you for helping me prepare for my trip and being a great friend. I can't wait to write my first journal entry from Germany! Auf Wiedersehen!


September 16 Journal

 Guten Tag aus Deutschland!!!!!!

I am finally here. In Germany. Not jealously reading other’s journals as I sit in the States, but writing my own. From Germany.

Saying goodbye to my family was much harder than I expected. Taylor and I left our family, our friends, and our lives in Jacksonville as we flew to Detroit to catch our connecting flight to Amsterdam. We managed to keep each other awake the whole time by playing the in-flight trivia on the TVs. We said goodbye in Amsterdam and went our separate ways. Then our exchange really began, we were finally on our own. I was asleep before my plane took off and woke up only minutes before landing. This is it. This is Germany.

Hannover is an incredibly beautiful city with such an amazing history. I visited with Roman and then headed south to my city, Salzgitter-Bad. When I first arrived I was a little disappointed. It wasn’t the Germany I had imagined. My town is small, only 33,000 people, and not exactly your classic little German city. Needless to say, the first few days were very rough as I tried to build my relationship with my host family and also attend school. It took time but things are much better now and I am excited for the year ahead of me.

Every morning I wake up bright and early at 6 a.m. and walk up two stories to my shower. My house is situated on the face of a hill and every morning before I shower I look out a window and view a golden city, lit up by the rising sun with the beautiful Harz Mountains in the background. Sometimes when I go to Braunschweig and walk down the streets looking at buildings older than America, people sitting out in cafés sipping cappuccinos, and vendors selling Bratwursts by the meter. It’s moments like these when I realize I’m not in Florida anymore.

The food here is utterly amazing. I’ve had so many different types of cheeses, wursts, and bread that half the time I don’t know what I’m eating. If you have never had Italian Ice Cream, you have not had Ice Cream. I never thought vanilla ice cream could possibly taste so good. I might be the only exchange student looking forward to the infamous ‘Rotary 15’ but there’s no doubt that it’s only a matter of time. I just don’t know if it will be 15 pounds or 15 kilograms.

Tschüüüüüs!!!!!!


October 22 Journal

 I’ve been sitting here for about 30 minutes trying to start writing this journal. I end up writing a couple sentences and then deleting everything and starting all over again.

I guess one of the coolest things that happened since my last journal is that I’ve started to fly in gliders and single engine airplanes here. My host-brother is a member of a private airclub called Schäferstuhl which is just a place with a grass runway and a lot of airplanes. Usually one of the older men from the club take me up with them and we just fly around and do fun little acrobatics. Germany is beautiful this time of year because of all the leaves changing colors, but seeing that from 5,000 feet up was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life. Unfortunately it is starting to get too cold and the weather is becoming worse and worse and we are done flying until next spring.

It is very hard for me to make friends here. In America you can say “I’m a foreigner!” and people think it’s really cool. My school here does a lot of short-term exchanges with a school in South Carolina and so I’m just ‘another American’. It’s also difficult because there are no school sports or after school clubs to meet new people. School here works differently too, you have about 25 kids in your classroom and the teachers come to you instead of you going to the teacher. While this is nice because I don’t have to worry about getting lost in the halls, it’s to my disadvantage because out of my whole school I only know those 25 kids. In most German cities there are swim clubs and soccer clubs that you can join and do that in your spare time but my town here is really small and doesn’t offer such things. It’s very difficult for me to stay busy but I manage.

I went to Hamburg with Rotex 1800 in early October, which was very neat. To be in such a historic city that played such a huge role in the history of modern civilization is very cool. We saw some very old cathedrals and of course had to take a quick stroll through the red light district. I still think its weird how Germans walk by buildings built in the 1600’s everyday without even giving any attention to it, but when I see it I can’t help but think, “This building is older than my country!”. Sometimes the train rides to and from the cities is the best part. All of the exchange students just... click. We get it. We are all going through the same feelings and become immediate friends.

During these two months I’ve experienced some of the coolest things in my life but it would be a lie to say it’s been easy. In fact, this has been the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. Sometimes I feel so close to being fluent while sometimes I feel like I’ll never get there. I feel pressured to ‘be fluent by the holidays’ like everyone says happens. Although I go to German lessons 15 hours a week, it seems that as soon as I learn one rule of grammar they throw 3 more at me. It doesn’t help that everyone always speaks English with me outside of school. I ask them to speak German but the second I say ‘Wie bitte?’ (Pardon?) they go right back to English. I’m taking it one day at a time and slowly making progress.

I’m excited for the next few months though. I think the Holidays are going to be very very cool (and cold). Talk to you then!

Bis dann!  


November 5 Journal

 Ok guys, so I know I’m gonna seem like a nerd for writing the extra journal, but I really feel like I need to. Just as last time, I’m struggling to put my thoughts and feelings into pixels on a screen. I just don’t even know where to begin, so in advance, I’m sorry if I ramble. I’m sort of writing this for all the current and future outbounds.

I have just completed what I would consider the longest hardest two months of my life. The fact is that October was, honestly, just a really, really, REALLY bad month. I really felt like I was having one of the worst exchanges in the history of Rotary. Now that I look back, I realize that I was just sulking in my problems and not doing anything about them.

My “City”

Salzgitter is made up of 31 small villages. I was born and raised in Jacksonville and I have found it extremely difficult to adjust to the ‘small town’ atmosphere. My house is situated on the very tippy-top of, what a Floridian would call a mountain, they would call a hill. Although this provides us with a beautiful view of the distant mountains, it sort of separates me from the rest of the village. Walking down, or up for that matter, the ‘hill’ is no easy feat. Every German city has a central area with shops and cafés known as the Innerstadt (Inner-city) or Altstadt (Old-city). The larger cities have magnificent, beautifully decorated, ridiculously German-looking buildings bursting with the latest designer clothes and bustling Germans wandering through the narrow streets. Unfortunately for me, my village has a few cafés, a post office, and... yea. That’s about it.

My solution to this is public transportation. Every hour a train leaves for the nearby city of Braunschweig which is only a 15 minute commute. There I can bask in my natural habitat. Braunschweig is a truly wonderful city with an amazingly rich history. Everywhere you go you find buildings and get frustrated you can’t read the plaques explaining the history because everything’s in German (duh!). The only downside to this is that I ended up getting a 40€ ticket for riding a tram with an expired ticket (they are good for 90 minutes and mine was 7 minutes over!). I tried pulling the “just an exchange kid, didn’t know better (I really didn’t!!!)” routine but I still ended up getting one. Oh well. Live and learn.

My School

As I mentioned in my previous journal entry, schools here are different. One of my biggest problems is that I am now 19 years old and I am in a class of 16 year olds. My class here never really accepted me, and I never made any friends. I figured this was because of the age difference and it turns out I could not have been more wrong. Recently I went to a birthday party and started talking to a few girls. Then more girls came. And more. Then I realized, “People were actually caring that I am an exchange student?!”. After talking more I realized that all these people were in another class in the same grade as me. We all collectively decided that I should switch into their class since things seem like they have a lot more potential for friendships.

My Host Family

To be honest, the first 1½ months I just didn’t really click with my host family. We got along but I couldn’t help but felt like something just wasn’t right. It turns out I was just being a little harsh on them. My host brother and I are really good friends and I’ve been talking to him about some of my issues. I’m not going to get into details but I’ve definitely changed my mind and things are much much much better. Either way, I will be switching to a temporary host family for 10 days in November so I will see how that goes. I guess that’s when I have something to compare things to.

So I guess I’m really just hitting a giant reset button. I’ll get to experience a different family and I’ll get to transfer classes in school. I’ll still be in Salzgitter but hopefully this time I’ll have some more friends and get out of the house more. When you are an exchange student, boredom is your biggest enemy.

I’m not writing this journal to scare off potential outbounds. I’m writing this to let people know that you DO get homesick, and you DO get Culture Fatigue (Culture Shock). It’s just... part of it all. It’s even in the “The Exchange Student Survival Kit”. I plan on not just surviving this year; I plan on really doing things right and getting the most out of it.

Tschüß!


November 30 Journal

 It happened on Friday, November 16, 2007 around 6 P.M.

It was bound to happen. It was what I had been waiting for for well over a year now. On that cold, wet, windy evening something clicked. Ever since then I have been learning so much easier and things just make much more sense.

But first, I need to take you back a little bit.

Right now I am living with a temporary host family, only for 12 days. My (new) host mom works for my (old) host dad. Long story short, they heard about me and where interested in hosting me and so here I am. I can honestly say this is best time of my life. I am so happy here that I'm actually afraid to go back to my old (semi-permanent, as I will be living with them for 2/3 of this year) host family. This family is much younger and much more... alive. It's an apartment-type house, which is really great because it's so much smaller and more modern. I like the fact that it's smaller because it forces you to be with each other. At my 1st house I would just sit in my room doing absolutely nothing other than German Course homework whereas here we play games, watch TV, and do, well, normal family things. I've only been here for a few days but I really do already love this family. It really saddens me, however, that I can only stay for these 12 days, as they really don't have the room for me, there just aren't enough beds.

My 1st host family was fluent in English, which I liked for about a week. Then the English just never stopped. Here they don't speak much English so my German has drastically improved. Now I am finally at a point where I speak more German than most people can speak English, which is one of the coolest feelings I've ever experienced. In fact, I was out with my new host sister and a friend of hers and it wasn't until the very end of the night when her friend realized that I wasn't a German. That was a great feeling. All my hard work is paying off. All the hours spent literally reading and copying pages and pages of notes out of dictionaries and researching the different types of grammar have finally added up and are finally making sense. It's really funny how much I'm learning about English grammar by learning German grammar. I wish I had paid more attention in English class as to what direct-objects and indirect-objects are because in German that can change EVERYTHING! A little advice to the upcomers, pay attention in your English class! You'll be glad you did!

One normal morning I woke up, went and ate breakfast, showered, and came back to my room. But as I walked past my window I noticed it was unusually bright outside so I did a double take to realize there was a good 6 cm of snow on the ground! It's been snowing on and off since then, but there's no more snow on the ground.

I recently switched classes. That made a HUGE difference as far as friends and general morale is concerned. I am finally not just some bothersome exchange student but I am (happily) just another kid in school. People actually wave me down to come sit with them and walking through the halls I get so many people (most of which I don't remember) come up and say hey. It's really nice to finally feel welcome.

As the temperature continues to drop I am noticing more and more Christmas decorations popping up here and there and it always reminds me of home. People always ask me if I get homesick. That's a really interesting question, actually. I think you are always homesick, you just get used to it. It becomes a part of your life and you just accept it. I know that I won't get to see my parents or feel the Florida sand in between my toes until sometime next summer and I've just... accepted it. But as I notice more and more holiday decorations go up I find myself thinking about previous time with my family and how I took them for granted. It's funny how 3,000 miles of separation and limited contact can bring you closer to people.

I guess that's about all I've got for this update.

To everyone who reads this (which I would imagine is limited to relatives and Rotary kids), please make the most of this holiday season. Spend it with friends and family and not just wasting it on the computer or in front of the TV. Just go out and be American. Speak English. Enjoy life.

Tschüß!

Brad


 

December 21 Journal

 Can you believe it's already Christmas time? I sure can't. I knew this year would go by fast but this is incredible.

I've been sick the last few days so I've spent the majority of my time watching Blues Clues and Dora the Explorer in German. I think my IQ has lowered significantly, but even this far into my exchange, even though I would say it's safe to say I'm fluent (albeit barely), I am still learning a lot about grammar and some new words by watching these kids shows. In the U.S. Dora the Explorer was bilingual with English and Spanish (don't ask me how I know this, hahaha), English obviously the main language. In Germany she is, naturally, speaking German, but has English as her second language. It makes me feel pretty smart when she asks what something is called in English and I always get it right.

So, yea. Wow. It's already December. What a month. I'm going through all my pictures trying to remember what all happened this month, seeing as all the months just seem to blur together. December was a pretty normal month, I had a Rotary Weekend in Wernigeröder, a Rotex Weekend in Stadthagen, and... oh yea... I WENT TO BREMEN AND SAW TAYLOR BRESNAHAN (aka Timmy) and we had the best time ever! It was so great to see him again. But let's start at the beginning.

Rotary Weekend

So like once every-other-month we have a Rotary Weekend in some random city. This time it was in a city called Werniger. The weekends are a great time to relax with other exchange students, and seeing as this was our first time staying in a Hostel, we did not sleep much. Now I'm at a point where I know I won't get sleep at any Rotary Weekends. Really all we did this weekend is went for like a kajillion kilometer (about a gazillion miles) hike through the woods. We also got to check out a really old castle. It STILL blows my mind when I get to walk through such historic buildings that are older than western civilization. We came out into the courtyard after a tour through the castle and noticed some Santa wannabe singing Christmas Carols on a microphone and everything, so, naturally, we ALL (and by all I mean about 70 of us) went up there and starting screaming along with him at the top of our lungs. It was one of the coolest memories I have of Germany.

Rotex Weekend

Just like the Rotary Weekends, we have these once every-other-month. Rotex Weekends are just cool. We essentially just all sleep in the big gym on the ground (in a sleeping bag, if you can remember one) and just... talk. and talk. and talk. We went Ice Skating together which was REALLY funny. I'm no pro, but at least I know how to roller skate, which helps. Some of the kids from Brazil just... couldn't. It was really funny. I brought an American Football with me which was a huge hit with everyone. There was always lots of really loud music in the gym and we had dances every night. Even Santa popped in to say hello and deliver some presents a little early.

Bremen

So. Yes. I went with one of my friends from Brazil to Bremen to go visit Taylor, which could NOT have been any more fun. It was really really great. We just talked and talked and talked. We ventured through Weihnachtsmarkts (I'll explain these next!) and just walked through historic Bremen. We shopped for socks. We ate some typical German food at a restaurant. It was just really fun. We prepped for this year together and to see each other after 4 months of not seeing anyone you know, it's a great feeling to meet an old friend. We will definitely have to do that again soon.

Weihnachtsmarkt

Germans love Christmas. In every city, no matter how small, they have a Christmas Market called, you guessed it, Weihnachtsmarkt. It's really just a bunch of booths set up, each of which sells something different. One will sell candy while others sell Bratwursts, beer, Crepes, Candles, etc. They are really cool and very VERY typical German. Lots of white Christmas lights, the smell of cinnamon and caramel apples in the air. The FREEEEEEEZING cold. Doesn't get much better.

So I guess that about wraps this one up. Christmas is coming up. So is my first change of Host Families. I'm really excited for both. I'll probably write my next post shortly after New Years so I can write about the Holidays in a little better detail.

I hope everyone that reads this is doing well and is enjoying their time with their family.

Bis 2008! Frohe Weihnachten!

Brad


 

January 22 Journal

 It’s official. I love Germany. Let me explain.

Christmas came and went, for the most part, without much celebration. On the evening of the 24th of December we went into a Goslar for our Christmas service. Although I may not be the most religious person in the world, it was really cool to experience a Protestant service in the country that started the Protestant revolution. The cathedral we went to was built in the 11th century and for this particular service it was only candlelit. It was so surreal. I felt like I had taken a time machine back to the time of Martin Luther. It was also really neat when we sang Silent Night, Holy Night (Stille Nacht) in German, the original language. The actual Christmas stuff occurs that night. After dinner the little kids (in this case, two 19 year olds) go to their rooms until ‘The Christmas Man’ comes through the chimney, lays the presents under the Christmas tree, lights candles on the trees (they don’t use electric lights), rings a little bell and quickly disappears through the chimney off to the next house. Hearing the bell, the kids come back to the room and open their gifts.

On the 26th of December I took a train up to Hannover to spend a few days with Roman. It was nice to see a familiar face again, and I had a great time. We actually ended up seeing the ‘Governor’ of Lower-Saxony doing a photo-shoot, so I got a few pictures of him.

I stayed there until the 28th and at noon the next day I moved to my next host family. This was the changing point in my exchange. I see my exchange as ‘before the switch’ and ‘after the switch’. Pretty much my first host family wasn’t really competing to win the ‘Best Host Family Award’. I never really felt totally comfortable and it turns out I was actually sort of depressed there. After I switched to my new host family all of that changed. Now I live downtown and I can actually go out. I immediately fell in love with my new host family and I am loving every minute of it. Just waking up and eating normal food is a Godsend and makes my day right off the bat.

Pretty much my dad runs a very successful, very formal restaurant in Braunschweig and my mom runs a nice Hotel here in my village. I have a 16 year old sister and a 13 year old brother and we all get along great. I think one of the newest things for me is that now I have a maid that comes and cleans my room two times a week… that’s always nice. Here we do a lot of traveling and eating out at nice restaurants. I am very very happy here and I am very lucky to stay here until I have to (yes, HAVE TO, not ‘get to’) leave Germany.

On the 19th of January I woke up very early and took a train to Aachen, Germany where I met Blaire, Chloe, and a few others from their country. It was really nice to see them and show them my country. Then we took a train to Belgium where I got to see Liege, Belgium for a while. It was kind of weird for me because for the last five months I have been speaking German and all of a sudden I get to this new place and NOBODY speaks my language! I really truly missed speaking German and that was a new feeling I had never really felt before. On my way back I had an hour to kill in Köln (Cologne), Germany. On the train I saw the huge Cathedral it had to offer and I decided I’d see if I could find it. I only had an hour and Köln is a huge city so I ran out of the train station and before I even really notice what I’m looking at my jaw hit the floor. Before me was the nearly 800 year old, 515 foot tall Cathedral of Köln. It was bigger than I had ever imagined. The only way I can really describe what it looks like is like this: you know when you build those sand castles at the beach where you pick up a scoop of very wet sand and let it drip out one drop at a time to slowly build up, higher and higher. Imagine that but a million times bigger, and a few other engineering differences. It was truly just mind blowing. I ran inside and took over 100 pictures in under 45 minutes. My theory was, take pictures now, learn about it later. It worked out pretty well.

So now I’m sort of getting ready for another very intensive German course I will be taking soon. I am going to my first German concert, my first formal ball, and then we are traveling to Berlin. I am really starting to travel a lot more which is very cool and I can’t wait for my 23 day EuroTour coming up in March.

Tchao,

Brad


 

March 11 Journal

 Hey guys, I don’t have much of a post for this month, as not too much has happened.

"Berlin is the newest city I have come across. Even Chicago would appear old and gray in comparison."

Okay, okay. That was actually written by Mark Twain, but the man couldn’t be more right! Berlin was FANTASTIC! Everyone needs to see Berlin before they die. It’s just… I’ve been fortunate enough throughout my childhood to see A LOT of the U.S. but never before have I been so emotionally attached to a city like I am to Berlin. It is my ‘perfect city’. I could ramble on forever about how cool it was, but I’m going to sum it up with another quote from Hiroshi Motomura:

“Berlin combines the culture of New York, the traffic system of Tokyo, the nature of Seattle, and the historical treasures of, well, Berlin.”

This Friday, March 14th, I will hop on a train to Hannover and officially begin ROTEX 1800’s famous EuroTour. Ever since I read Julie Hundersmarck’s post about this last year I’ve been ready to get on that train. And here I am, days away, staring at it in the face. It’s 23 days, 15 cities, 8 countries, and 44 other exchange kids and it will for sure be the highlight of my year. It’s weird being so close to something that you know will be so utterly amazing that you will never in a million years forget.

I’ve just got one more quote for you before I wrap this one up. It’s a German saying that goes, "Träume nicht dein Leben, sondern lebe deinen Traum" and it translates to ‘Don't dream about your life, but live your dream’. I heard that when I first got here and I didn’t even understand it because it was, obviously, in German. But I printed it out and hung it on my wall and look at it every day. By now I have it memorized and I am doing my best to fulfill it because I know the truth is the end is just a few calendar pages away, and for an exchange student, that’s not much. I can’t wait to be sitting here next month telling you about my awesome travels through beautiful Europe.

Oh yea – this week the temperature got into the double digits! I think it’s time to break out those Florida flip-flops and the long-forgotten sunglasses.

Auf Wiedersehen,

Brad



April 21 Journal

 When I last left you off, I was preparing to go on a trip through Europe with the other exchange students from my district and our Rotex.

I had the time of my life and made friends I will never forget.

Hannover, Prague, Budapest, Munich, Vienna, Venice, Rome, Vatican, Florence, Pisa, Nice, Lyon, Monaco, Paris, Antwerp, Brussels. 45 Exchange kids, 6 Rotex, 1 Bus. Talk about a dream vacation.

The trip was obviously amazing. I did all the typical touristy stuff which was nice. Living in Florida you sort of never get to experience the typical tourist stuff because you grow up around it, but that is obviously not the case in Europe.

We went to Europe’s largest Disco. We went to castle after castle after castle. We rode on a Gondola in Venice. We ate our weight in real Italian pizza and Ice cream. We threw coins into the Trevi fountain in Rome. WE SAW THE POPE IN THE VATICAN. We did pictures trying to ‘hold’ The Leaning Tower of Pisa. We sunbathed in Monaco. (Read: We saw the sun for the first time in months.) We went to the Palace of Versailles. We walked the Champs-Elysées from the Louvre to the Arc de Triomphe. We saw the Eiffel Tower at night. We gave each other kisses under the Eiffel Tower (for good luck!). We had real Belgium waffles, chocolate, and ‘Belgian Fries’.

It was nice to be a tourist again. Us exchange students really became a great big family over that tour, and it was kind of hard not to. Waking up at 6, riding in a cramped bus until noon, see exotic European city until evening, partying at a disco until 4 am, squeeze in a quick nap. Repeat. That was our lives for 23 days, the best 23 days of our lives.

Coming back to reality was very hard and abrupt. Saying goodbye was a tearful event and being back home felt very awkward (and quiet). I was kind of depressed it was over for a few days, but realized life goes on. School seems a little more boring now, but I always have a blast with friends after school.

I think spring in finally here. Unlike Florida, Germany actually does have seasons. The Winter was not as cold as usual but stayed a lot longer than usual. I think yesterday was the first day I actually felt like it was Spring. Hopefully soon I can unpack those shorts and flip flops.

Us exchange students meet up a bit more on the weekends now, too. The sad thing is, they are for Going Away Parties, a harsh bit of reality. Saying goodbye to people is a lot harder than I ever thought it would be. I don’t think I will fare too well having to get on my plane in July. But that is still a while away and I have time to prepare. The next big thing coming up for me is that my little sister (whom I am trying to convince to become an exchange student) and my best friend are flying here together in early May, followed immediately by a Rotex Weekend, so I have that to look forward to.

Pretty much I am back in the routine of things, chugging along, trying to stay busy.

Enjoy the Florida sun for me. I miss it.

Bis nächste mal!

Brad


 

May 25 Journal

 And so it begins, the beginning of the end. I suppose this is the 4th of 5 stages an exchange student goes through. First there’s the “oh my god, I’m going to (insert country here)!” phase, then there’s the “oh my god, I’m in (country)!” stage. Then you get used to life in said country, and that’s stage 3. Now I am in the “Wow. I have to leave my country soon” phase. It’s kind of weird because for so long everything was so new and so foreign, and now it’s my home, these are my friends, this is my family. And soon I will have to say goodbye to it all.

I remember before I got here I would read these journals and think to myself, ‘man, one day my face will be up there. One day I’ll be in Germany writing about all the cool things I did.’. And here I am, 10 months into my exchange with just 1 left to go. I suppose it’s just kind of surreal. I try to not think about having to say goodbye, but at the same time I try to keep in mind that every second I spend here is precious and try to enjoy it to the most. And I think I am doing a pretty good job of it. I had a lot of help getting me prepared to enter Germany thanks to a lot of Rebounds, but there’s one thing I’ve learned recently and that’s that nobody can ever teach you how to say goodbye.

I still have a month in a half left, but I just sort of got slapped in the face by father time as I realized just last week how little time I had left. I had another Rotex Weekend and had to say goodbye to 3 more kids that are leaving before our next, and final, Rotex Weekend. Needless to say, I am a huge crybaby when it comes to saying Goodbye.

But onto a happier subject: I recently had some visitors! My friend and sister came to visit me and it was a really unique experience and I loved every minute. It was hard at first, my English was not exactly as it was 10 months ago and I forgot A LOT of words, but to be able to translate everything for them was great. I took them to Berlin, Munich, and Vienna and had some pretty cool adventures. In Munich we visited the Hofbraühaus and took a daylong bicycle trip to a castle called Neuschwanstein which is actually the castle that inspired the Cinderella Castle in Disney World. In Vienna we rented bikes and I took them on a tour of the city (until I lost the map, and that’s when speaking German comes in handy). All in all it was a real treat and nice to see them again.

It’s kind of weird knowing I only have one journal left to write from Deutschland, but hopefully it will be a great one, full of awesome memories.

So until then,

Brad “Holzbrett” Patterson