Laney Sorensen 
2012-13 Outbound to Germany
Hometown: Longwood, FL
School: Lake Brantley High School
Sponsor: District 6980, FL
Host: District 1880, Germany
The Rotary Club of Helmstedt

December 7, 2012

WHATTTTTTTT??? It has already been a month? It feels like just yesterday I was staying up all night doing some last minute packing and making sure my suitcases were the correct weight and going out to breakfast with my mom and sisters crying my eyes out, but with a smile on my face. I can't believe it has already been a month since I first arrived in Deutschland. I hadn't been on a plane for about 8 years and it was my first time flying alone so needless I was freaking out. My first mistake was wearing heels to the airport. Luckily I packed flats in my carryon because I had to run from gate to gate to get to my next flight. During each layover, the flight I was on was landing as the next flight was boarding. It was quite a stressful mission but it was a success! I made it to Berlin-Tegel airport the following morning and was welcomed by my YEO, counselor, a few Rotarians, and my host family. The first thing we did was go to a local bakery to buy some bread for my first German meal. When I first arrived to the town of Havelberg, I realized its size. Definitely smaller than Orlando with about 2,000 inhabitants. After getting over the initial shock of the small size of the town, we drove to my village of Vehlgast.

Vehlgast is one of the smallest villages around here with about 30-50 people living here and is about 17km from the town of Havelberg. Needless to say, it was very different from Orlando. But seeing the forests, trees, open lands, horses, cows, and the river Havel is a good change from the loud cars and sirens back in Orlando.

When I first walked into my host family's home I was blown away by the decor and everything about it. I have two rooms that are all mine. The first room you walk into is pretty much a living room with a TV, wardrobe, desk, and pullout couch. That leads into my bedroom which has a bed and a wardrobe. The upstairs is basically just for my host sister and me, but we often have breakfast in the upstairs kitchen. Downstairs is for my host parents where they watch TV and sometimes eat meals in the dining room together. Outside, they have a garden with a natural pool which kind of reminds me of a smaller version of the Wekiva Springs. They also have their own sauna which will be kind of neat in the winter time. One of the people in our village owns a few horses and I have pretty much fallen in love with him. My 2nd weekend in Germany there was a huge annual celebration which was a boat parade. My host family had a friend who built a pontoon boat where they put a table and chairs and decorations. It was awesome and there was a laser show and fireworks (kind of made me feel like the 4th of July in the middle of August). Needless to say it was an awesome night.

The next weekend there was another huge celebration which was a horse market. There were all sorts of fun activities and there were three parts: horse market, kind of like a fairground, and another part which was like a flea market. Those are the two biggest weekends for the town for the year, and they were both a lot of fun.

When I first started school I was extremely nervous. I'm used to about 3,400 students at Lake Brantley High School, but at Diesterweg Gymnasium, there are about 200 students. I was first put into the 9th class where I felt very old. The students were a little closed off at first but after a few days I started to make friends and I am now switched into the 12th class. School here is very different, students actually have respect for their teachers, and let me be honest and say it makes it very difficult not to fall asleep when you don't know what anyone is saying during the lesson. There are a lot of nice teachers and students here. Everyone seems to know everyone and that is a wonderful feeling. The weather here is beautiful without that Florida humidity, and it is quite colder here. This winter, I will see snow for the first time in my life; I just hope I brought enough warm clothes. There are so many more amazing things that have happened to me, it is just hard to put everything into one journal!

Time is flying, I am already 1/10 of the way through my exchange year and I can't believe it!

Needless to say, this has been a great start to a wonderful year. There have been many bumps along the road, but the rainbow will soon come after the storm (it happens to be raining outside as I am writing this). I am extremely thankful and blessed to be here and I want to thank my friends and family for supporting me and especially thanks to Rotary for giving me such an amazing life changing opportunity.

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go..."
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!