Guten Tag! My name is Taylor Bresnahan. I live in Ponte Vedra, Florida. I am a 15 year old sophomore attending Nease High School. I live with my Dad, Mom, and my two brothers.
I am very active in sports, my favorite sport is soccer. I have been playing soccer since I was 3, and I love it! My two brothers also play soccer. They help me out whenever I can get it. I have been playing club soccer for quite some time, so hopefully I might pursue a career in soccer.
My family has hosted two exchange students so far. Both were amazing! That is the reason why I got interested in Rotary Youth Exchange. As soon as I saw what it was like, and how much fun they were having, I knew I had to do it! Once I heard I was going to Germany I was ecstatic! That was my number one pick, so you could imagine. I can not wait to go and have the trip of a lifetime, just a few months away! I would like to thank anybody who made this entire trip possible.
September 25 Journal
Deep down inside of me, I never thought that I would actually be leaving my country. All the days leading up to my departure I did not feel anything, until I hit that airport. Let me tell you, this feeling was the worst feeling I have ever felt in my life. I realized that leaving my family, all my best friends, my school, and especially my spoken language was not going to be as fun as I imagined. As much as I wanted to let the tears run, I did not, mainly because I didn't want my friend Brad Patterson to see me cry. Brad flew with me from America to Amsterdam, and he made the plane ride a WHOLE lot better for me! He never stopped talking and saying, "DUDE WE'RE GOING TO GERMANY"!!! That one got old after 300 times. Without Brad on the plane and in the airports, I would have been extremely lost, so I have to thank him for that one. The plane rides were long, and the entire time I was thinking about my host family, and what I was going to say to them.
When I arrived in Bremen, Germany, I was greeted by my host family, and another family from Rotary. They made me a huge banner with Taylor written on it. Of course this greeting was spoiled in a way, because the exchange student from Canada right next to me was named Taylor, and she tried to convince me that the banner was for her, but I ended up winning that one. I was exposed to German culture right when I stepped through the sliding doors. A man from Rotary shook my hand and kissed me on the cheek, after a long plane ride and a bunch of nerves, this didn't please me too well at the time, but obviously I understood. When we got my luggage the family drove back to our small little town named Wildeshausen. There are about 18,000 inhabitants in Wildeshausen, it is very small and cozy. When we arrived at the house, we all sat around the table and spoke to each other.....but me. This is because they were speaking German, and it was so fast, I could only pick up the occasional "the" here and there.
My first host family consists of a mom, and a sister. Having 3 brothers in my past, this was a huge change for me. I thought to myself "now I cant act goofy all the time without being frowned upon". Nevertheless they are really nice, and very generous. So far I am loving all of it here with the family. The second day I was here they took me down to the soccer club, and I had try-outs for the team. I was confident that I would make it, but then again I don't think I was born without confidence. After the try-outs the coach pulled me aside and said that I made it, and was very excited for me to start playing. This right there made my trip so worthwhile, making the soccer team was one of my goals that I was going for while I was in Germany. The third day I was here, my host sister and a friend took me to Bremen, and Hamburg, two of the biggest cities in the north. They took me to go sightseeing, and I loved it, all the cities here are full of churches and many older buildings, so these were great picture places.
About a week later, I had my first Rotary orientation weekend. This weekend was awesome. I met everybody from around the world, and just talked all day long. The majority of us were American, and Mexican, then two or three from each other country. We had little games like at the orientations back in the USA. I made about 40 new friends here at this orientation, and it helps when you are bored and want someone to talk to, because just pick one of these 40 people and they will talk to you. Every single one of them is very nice.
The first day of school I have to say was, AWESOME. I made like 100 friends off the bat. Making friends was so much easier that I had thought. All I had to do was say a German word wrong and everybody would laugh, then somehow they all wanted to talk to me. Right now 4 weeks in, and at school I still have not received any books. So it's been this long and I have not had to study or do homework. I am loving it!!!!! Not to mention we get off of school October 11 for a big break, about 6 weeks. My October coming up is going to be a big one. On September 30- October 3, my host Mom is taking me to Oktoberfest, with her daughter and another exchange student from India. We are staying with her Mom in Bayern München. I can not wait for this, I always thought Oktoberfest was a dream for me, but now I am actually going. After the Oktoberfest, I have my first Rotary trip with all the exchange students from around the world. We are having our German tour, and we go everywhere in Germany, this tour last 5 days and is on October 20-25. I am really looking forward to meeting everybody again. After that tour, the very next day I am going to Barcelona with my host Dad, and my host sister. We are staying for 5 days, and are going to the beach and sightseeing. I am extremely anxious for this to come. Then November 3 I am going to a soccer game, Werder Bremen.
So overall, I am having the time of my life, and I don't really want to leave and it's only been one month. I am looking forward to eating more German foods, and growing even more. I still feel the deep pain of missing everybody from home, but I know that in the future I will make so many friends that will help me out and be there for me, so I have nothing to worry about.
Auf Wiedersehen, and greetings from everybody in Wildeshausen, Germany!!!!!!!!!!!!!
November 26 Journal
Alright, where should I start? This last months, was probably the busiest and most fun filled experiences I have ever had. In October I did so much. In the beginning of the month, I traveled to Bavaria with my host mom, and another exchange student from India. A few weeks later, I attended my Rotary German Tour, then I went to Barcelona, then I went to the Netherlands. I would say that was a pretty decent month for me.
Ok, first of all, I traveled to Bavaria with my host mom and a friend for OKTOBERFEST!!!!! Now let me tell you something, Oktoberfest is quite something. The atmosphere, and the people, and the BEER ;). I absolutely loved it. Having a beer with my host mom was hilarious, we went into one of the tents, and we got 2 beers. After we drank the beers, we walked around the tent, of course I had my American flag and everybody was like “no flags kid”, I didn’t put it away because I had to support my great country at one of the greatest places on earth.
After Oktoberfest I went home and settled down for a few days, and then I was off to my German Tour. I had gone to Weimar, and Berlin. Our group had seen a Concentration Camp, and then the next few days, we stayed in Berlin. Berlin is amazing!! Mainly because they had a Billabong store, and I stayed there for like an hour, haha. I went to the soccer stadium, and saw all the historical places in Berlin, like Checkpoint Charlie, and Hitler’s Bunker, and the Berlin Wall, which in fact, there is 200 yards of it still standing, just a little fun fact for you. Basically I had an amazing time meeting other exchange students, and viewing a new city, one of the best times I have had here in Germany, I highly recommend going to Berlin if you have the chance, you will love it.
Three days after my German Tour, I went with my host dad to Barcelona for 5 days. Barcelona was pretty much amazing, and was so beautiful. I really liked how they built houses and villages right into the mountains, that was a really cool thing to see. My host dad and I went into the city, and saw the ocean, and the Olympic Stadium, also a really historical church, but I kind of forgot the name, haha. Overall Barcelona was a little bit cold, but was amazing in every way, and I would love to go there again.
Yesterday I just got back from the Netherlands; I traveled with my Rotary club to the city of Franeker. The first day I was there, we visited a farm, and here they experimented on cows. They also created BioEnergy here, and was cool to see how that worked. One neat thing about this place was they had water beds for the cows!!! Talk about a luxury place for cows! The second day we went to the coast and saw the Dikes, it was just alright because it was so bloody cold! We were pushing 35 degrees there.
My school right now is going great, I now understand most of what the teacher says, so it is getting a whole lot easier, and now I can actually start doing homework!! Haha no, I have tried but very unsuccessful. I am still making more and more friends, and I am loving it, the people here are amazing and are so caring, most of them help you out with absolutely anything you could imagine. Just a great bunch of friends, and I am extremely grateful that I have them. I also have German lessons two times a week, and they are going well. I am picking up just so much more and it is the best feeling in the whole world.
My host family is still going good; I love my host mom because she goes out of her way to buy me meat, and heavy foods. What a nice lady! I found out that I stay with my host family until February, so it’s a long time, and I am pretty sure that I am going to love the whole stay.
Ok so my last month was amazing, and I look forward to having much more. Just seeing everything that I have seen, and learning so much German makes me feel great. I am loving Germany more and more every day, I have a great family and great friends to look forward to. Even though the weather could be much better, I am going to get through it. I miss everybody back in America, hey if you’re reading this! I hope to write another journal at the end of November, so I will talk to you then.
December 3 Journal
I’m not going to lie, this month has been pretty slow going and boring. Typically you want to tell everybody that you're having a great time. But in my case November truly has been nothing that special. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I have just felt down and bored all the time. I am thinking the problem is the weather, but it's just the fact that everybody gets depressed during winter, so after school I want to make plans or do something, and my friends are too lazy or tired. Having nothing to do is basically terrible and drives you crazy.
The one thing that really made this month sad was my host mom’s mom died about a week ago. So my host mom traveled to Munich to visit the family, and I stayed home. It was really tough to see my host mom go through that, and hopefully she can recover. Also maybe the weather can brighten up a little bit, I think my friend Brad is aware of the weather that I am talking about. Ohhh man, it's cold, rainy, windy, and I'm turning white!!!! I guess the only good thing is that I know I have a great group of friends to keep looking forward to, and an extremely nice and caring host family. So I always have that going for me. Even though it gets boring, I can always go to my host mom, and she makes me laugh, I love that so much.
Ohh almost forgot, this past weekend I went to a very small town called HARZ, its about 1000 km above sea level. That means there was tons of snow! I went with my friend from India and my future host family. We visited their relatives, and it was so funny. I met pretty much the only guy in Germany that is in love with an American. I walked in the door, and he kissed my hand, then later at dinner he was rubbing my ear chanting.. "I love Americans, I love Americans". Haha. He was also asking for pictures with me and playing with my hair, and telling me how great America is. That was extremely fun staying at his house J. But I really enjoyed seeing snow again, and having a snowball fight and building a castle!
Anyways, out of thoughts for now, so Tschüss.
April 3 Journal
It has been a while since I have written a journal entry, but now I think it is an appropriate time to fill everybody in.
I’m going to start way back at the beginning of Christmas. Here in Germany Christmas was definitely not what I expected at all, not by a long shot. I’m not going to sit here and lie to you about what a wonderful time I am having and how everything is perfect because it is not. I knew on Christmas it was going to be tough without the family. This being my first Christmas away from home, it felt extremely uncomfortable. In Germany for Christmas it is not quite different from that in the United States. You get with your families and just enjoy the holidays, and you open presents. But for me I was shuffled between 2 families. I hated that so much, as much as I wanted to enjoy it I couldn’t. It was too hard and way too hectic to be going between 2 families on Christmas. I guess the only cool thing was that here in Germany you get to open 1 gift for the 25 days leading up to Christmas. They were small gifts, but still appreciated. During Christmas I was with my first host family and my host mom did everything she could to make me comfortable and took me out to eat. She is truly the most amazing host mom anybody could stay with, and I am grateful I got that chance to stay in her house.
After Christmas I got to do something amazing. I got to visit my old exchange student that my family had hosted back in the USA in 2006. Olga was the 1 and only reason I decided to go on my exchange program and I was ecstatic to see her again. I stayed for 4 days and she showed me around Heidelberg and overall I had a great time with her catching up on old times and spending time with her family, and seeing new things.
Absolutely nothing happened in January, it was only wet, cold, rainy and just no fun. But hanging out with my friends and playing soccer kept my mind off of it.
February we celebrated “carnival”. I went to a small city called Gardagasee, it was very colorful and fun, except for the fact that is snowed. My host mom dressed as a Hippie, and ended up getting a little drunk and flirting with some guys dressed as German troops. Carnival is a big deal here and I had a lot of fun going with my family and get hit in the face by flying candy.
March was absolutely AMAZING!!! So far March has been the highlight of my stay. Soccer started getting better, the weather is warmer and my old host mom took my friend and me to ITALY!! Italy was soooo amazing in every way. We stayed in a city called Limone, for 1 week. Every day was full of sightseeing and fun. I went to Torino, Bugliaco, Gardasee, and Verona. Verona was definitely the best part of the trip. So much to see in this city, the most popular landmark being the “Romeo and Juliet Balcony”. Not to mention the weather was amazing. The cool thing is I get to go back in 1 week for my Europe tour J
The language is going great. I would say I am about 80 percent fluent at this point, and it just feels great to know another language.
Soccer is just going up, up, up. I was recently named Co-Captain to my team. So yeah, I would say things could be worse.
So that is all I have for you until the next journal. Overall I am doing great and am looking forward to everything else to come.