Ana Barrientos

 Germany

Hometown: Gainesville, Florida
School: PK Yonge
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Gainesville, Florida
Host District: 1930
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Villingen-Schwennigen


My Bio


Hallo! My name is Ana Barrientos, I’m currently a senior at PK Yonge High School in Gainesville, FL, and I’m ecstatic to be spending a year in Germany! Ever since I was a little girl, I was fascinated with other cultures, learning new languages, and traveling around the world. My family is originally from Guatemala which taught me to value the ability to communicate in different languages. One of the accomplishments I most look forward to as a result of this exchange is to be trilingual (knowing English, Spanish, and German). I live in Florida with my dad, my mom, and my sister. We are a really close family so we enjoy doing many different things together like swimming, cooking, fishing, going to the movies, and traveling (we’ve been to Madrid, London, Paris, and Equatorial Guinea (Africa)). Some of the things I enjoy doing on my own however are drawing/painting, indoor rock climbing, yoga, dancing, Colorguard, and playing music on multiple instruments. At school, I’ve participated in Hispanic Honor Society, Marine Science Club, Cooking through Cultures Club, the Varsity Swim Team, Marching Band, Concert Band, and Winterguard. I can’t wait to bring what I’ve learned and experienced to Germany but even more than that, learning and experiencing new things in Germany. I’d like to expressly thank everyone who has helped me get to this point because without your support, I wouldn’t be where I am. With an open mind and heart, I look forward to where this journey will take me!

Me trying to find a way home from Switzerland

Me trying to find a way home from Switzerland

My Friend, Camilla and I at Language Camp

My Friend, Camilla and I at Language Camp

A cow at the farm I went to see on my first day in Germany!

A cow at the farm I went to see on my first day in Germany!

The Inbounds of 1930

The Inbounds of 1930

The poster my host family made for me!

The poster my host family made for me!

Chyna from Australia and me with our flags

Chyna from Australia and me with our flags

Genie from Taiwan and me! She's also my Co-Group Speaker :)

Genie from Taiwan and me! She's also my Co-Group Speaker :)

My group on our hike to see waterfalls at Language Camp!

My group on our hike to see waterfalls at Language Camp!

At the Christmas market in Ulm with other exchange students during the rotary weekend

At the Christmas market in Ulm with other exchange students during the rotary weekend

Snapchat picture from the view in Schwarzwald

Snapchat picture from the view in Schwarzwald

My friend Kassandra's birthday party

My friend Kassandra's birthday party

Genie and I after a couple of hours of sledding

Genie and I after a couple of hours of sledding

With my two host sisters and some friends at the German rap concert

With my two host sisters and some friends at the German rap concert

A picture at the classical music concert

A picture at the classical music concert

A Christmas market in Triberg

A Christmas market in Triberg

A picture of the typical holiday food, Raclette

A picture of the typical holiday food, Raclette

With my host sister and some family friends at a Fastnacht party

With my host sister and some family friends at a Fastnacht party

A group photo from the trip to Paris

A group photo from the trip to Paris

Eating crepes with my latina group by Notre Dame

Eating crepes with my latina group by Notre Dame

My room the first night with my new host family

My room the first night with my new host family

Hexens at a Fastnacht parade

Hexens at a Fastnacht parade

Me and my American flag at the Eiffel Tower

Me and my American flag at the Eiffel Tower

The stereotypical exchange student photo you must take at least once in your exchange

The stereotypical exchange student photo you must take at least once in your exchange

The crazy amount of stuff I had when I moved houses

The crazy amount of stuff I had when I moved houses

Journals: Ana-Germany Blog 2017-18

  • Ana, Outbound to Germany

    Hallo Leute! Ich freue mich, euch zu schreiben!

    I’m extremely excited to tell you guys all about February!!! Lots of very exciting events happened this month and honestly, I can’t believe it’s already over.

    First of all, for the first and only time in my exchange, I switched to a new host family. Now, I can’t even begin to explain this feeling of changing families. You hear about changing host families from Rotex, Rebounds, and other exchange students so you think you’re prepared but it sort of hits you from nowhere. I hadn’t had contact with my second host family except for my host sister who was in Paraguay on exchange because my host families weren’t friends and I hadn’t had the chance to meet them before and that made me sort of panic the first night. With my first host family, I had talked to them very much before I had even come to Germany so I knew what to expect. With my second host family, I was going in almost completely blind and that is a completely terrifying feeling. However, it was apparent right away to me that I would be very happy in this new family and that my feelings of worry were totally for nothing. My host sister from my first family, Danny, stayed with me for a little bit longer and helped me break the ice and asked the first night questions which helped me a whole lot. After that, everything felt nice and relaxed because this new family is literally one of the most amazing families I’ve ever met. Right away, they were so attentive and always making sure that I was happy and comfortable. I was also worried at first because this family speaks no English! Now I know what you’re thinking, you shouldn’t be speaking English anyways. To be honest, I stopped speaking English with my first host family around the 3rd month when my language skills improved enough to be able to. However, if I needed to and I couldn’t think of a word or phrase, I could always fall back on my English. With this new host family, the training wheels were taken off and I felt like I was going to completely mess up every time I spoke German to them because I had lost my security. Now I see, this was the best thing that could’ve happened. As hard as it was at first to not have a back up plan, my language skills made a huge leap that first month with this new host family for which I’m actually extremely thankful.

    I didn’t have a whole lot of time in the family though before I was off to an event made by the Rotex in our district, the Paris Weekend. The Rotex arranged for the 11 exchange students in my district to spend a weekend in Paris at the beginning of the month! I had been to Paris before but as any exchange student can tell you, everything is more fun when you go anywhere with other exchange students. We did everything from climbing the Eiffel Tower, to going to the Louvre, to going the Champs Elysees at night. I was completely enchanted with this wonderful city and find that when you wander the streets with some of your best friends in the world, everything becomes brighter and you look at the world a little differently. I also can’t lie, eating crepes by Notre Dame was something I had really been looking forward to and it didn’t disappoint. I am so happy that the Rotex planned this for us!

    Coming home after this weekend, I was so exhausted and I caught a little cold. It was totally the worst timing however, seeing as what came next was perhaps my favorite German holiday. That’s right everyone, I’m talking about FASTNACHT! Now this holiday has different names all over Germany like Carnaval or Faschings but in Schwarzwald, it’s Fastnacht. The story behind this festival goes way back in history. The point of it is to dress up and celebrate for a week in order to scare away the Winter. I have to say, the parades during this time are amazing! There are all kinds of costumes and these things called Hexens. Hexens are a group of scary looking witches that perform dances throughout the Fastnacht week and also participate in parades. When you go to parades or fastnacht parties, you have to dress up too and it felt a little like Halloween, if Halloween lasted a week. The music at Fastnacht is very much like marching band music and everyone comes out to watch the shows that are given by the Hexens as well as other groups. I enjoyed dressing up and getting to experience something so unique to German culture. It was astounding to watch the way in which everyone was super enthusiastic and into this holiday.

    I have to say, February was one of my favorite months during my exchange. I liked my new family and I got to have a lot of fun always doing something. I’m so excited to see what March and April bring because next month I start the… wait for it… DEUTSCHLAND TOUR! Bis nächsten Monat!

    P.S. The crazy but cool German word of the month is Studentenkrankenversicherungsmeldeverordnung which means student health insurance registration. What I find totally crazy is that one word in German is four words in English. I learned this word because my schools has the students get their particular insurance though I didn’t need to because I had my Rotary insurance.

    Click HERE to read more about Ana and all her blogs

  • Ana, Outbound to Germany

    Hallo alles und frohes neues jahr! I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted a journal but I'm finally catching up on everything which is surprisingly hard to do when you're wrapped up in the world that is exchange. I’m glad to finally be able to share my experience with you all though!

    First, though I am not doing a journal for November, I would like to include something that happened from that time which was actually pretty cool! I was invited to attend a classical music concert with a Rotarian from my club because she knew of my interest for music. It was quite amazing and I was impressed with the level of musicianship and professionalism. I thoroughly enjoyed the concert and taking part in something that a Rotarian was kind enough to invite me to.

    That being said, I can’t wait to talk about the holiday season in Germany because it truly is a white Christmas!!! For a Florida girl, especially one who has never lived in anything other than a tropical climate, winter during my exchange was a huge shock and totally different to what I had previously experienced. When I suddenly was surrounded by snow, it was as though if I was living in a snow globe. I was walking to school in snow storms, shoveling snow from around my house, and embarrassingly, slipping on ice more often than I’d care to admit. However, I’ve never seen a more beautiful view than the Schwarzwald covered in a blanket of white!

    During the month of December, I went to one of my friends’ birthday party, went to a concert from a famous German rapper, experienced Nikolaustag, went to a school dance which doubled as a fundraiser for my class, went to a Rotary weekend in Ulm, and went to many German Christmas markets of course! The Christmas markets here are absolutely breathtaking because if ever there was a place to find holiday spirit, this would be it. There are lights everywhere, homemade Christmas ornaments being sold, and hot drinks being served constantly. One of these said drinks I think is quite delicious and it’s called Kinderpunsch. It almost like apple cider but it tastes slightly different, more fruity. There is, of course, an alcoholic version of this drink called Glüwein because usually the non-alcoholic version is only for kids. In Germany, the drinking culture is especially apparent during any kind of celebration and Christmas would be no exception to that. I think my favorite part of this time was simply experiencing the different way in which Christmas is celebrated. Sometimes in celebrating holidays the same way every year, you don’t realize that every person, city, and country celebrates differently but in a cool and exciting way.

    New Years was one of the most fun times I’ve ever experienced though because I spent this holiday with exchange students and some Rotex. We ate a typical meal for the holidays which is Raclette. It’s sort of like a buffet where you can cook things right there on the table because there’s a hot plate in the middle and everyone has their own little pan to cook things like vegetables and meat. We went out to a field right before midnight and watched the fireworks and it was so spectacular. One thing I found interesting however is that the tradition of the midnight kiss is not so common in Germany. When you turn on the TV in the US and see, for example, Times Square at midnight, it’s so normal to see couples kissing. However as I looked around at midnight, nobody really made a move to do something like that. Instead, the overage people were toasting the New Year in with some champagne which was really strange to see because in the US, these people wouldn’t be allowed to drink as they aren’t 21 yet. Overall though, I found that it’s celebrated quite similarly to us in the US.

    January was a month I was really looking forward to because my birthday is during this month!!!! It was really nice to celebrate it with my host family and my friends but I’ll admit, it was very strange not to see familiar faces. I think it was the first time I’ve felt something on the verge of homesickness but not quite. The good thing is though, my dad was in Frankfurt on business and was able to come visit me for my birthday. He was really shocked at how I was speaking German and totally intrigued at how my new life had become so normal to me! I think for family and friends back home it must be so strange for someone they know and love to be so different when they’re picturing the same person that got onto the plane at the beginning of exchange!

    I was also able to do more winter like things during this month because school slowed down enough to have more flexibility. For example, I was invited to go sledding with my friend, Genie. It was so fun and very thrilling which added to the reasons why I love snow! I really had an unforgettable winter in icy, cold Germany and I hope one day in the future, I’ll be able to come back and experience this season once more! Tschüss und bis bald Leute!

    P.S. Seeing as I’m doing two months this journal, I’ll include two crazy but cool German words :) The first word would be Naturwissenschaft which means science. I thought this was crazy because it sounds so long when you say it and I couldn’t believe it only meant science. The second word would be reaktionsgeschwindigkeit which means reaction time. I learned this one in biology and I almost died when I saw it on the page. I am seriously happy I have very good friends in that class because I immediately asked them what that meant and luckily for me, they are always happy to help me with my German!

    Click HERE to read more about Ana and all her blogs

  • Ana, Outbound to Germany

    Hallo Leute!

    I’m writing this as I hit the two month mark here in Germany and it seems as though time has started to move a little more quickly. October was definitely a fun-filled month with lots of different events happening which I’m excited to share with all of you!

    This month was filled with quite a few Rotary meetings which were really fun to go to! It’s a tradition in my club to eat typical German food at every evening meeting, which are the ones that I go to, and so it’s always fun for me to try new foods surrounded by Rotarians. I’ve come to very much appreciate their amicability and willingness to teach me all about Germany. It was also during this month that one of the Rotary meetings was at a Rotarian’s house, another tradition my Rotary club has, and I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much in my life. We had a typical German meal with a sausage called Weisswurst, different kinds of potato salads, salad with lettuce, and bread. I may have been stuffed by the end, but it was one of the best meals I’ve had in Germany. The family hosting was also really nice and after hearing about my love for classical music, invited me to a classical music concert in November (I’ll write about that in the next journal).

    As far as school goes, well, it’s actually quite hard now. In all the trainings and orientations that Rotary provides, you try to prep yourself mentally for what it’s like to not only be surrounded by this foreign language all the time but to have to think in the said language. It’s something completely different when you’re actually living it. That said, I’m becoming more and more comfortable with German. Some of the things I could barely follow before, I am able to follow quite well now. I am especially loving History and English because in English, my teacher is so cool and it’s a break for my brain and History because now that I can understand more, I can actually begin to participate more frequently as well as it being one of my favorite subjects. I am also enjoying school because of my wonderful German friends. I joined a group of girls at school who have known each other for a long time and it feels like they’ve taken me in as one of their own despite the fact that they’ve just met me which is a warm feeling I can’t quite put into words. I think on exchange you make so many friendships that you never thought possible and that is something I will have with me even when I do finish my exchange. One of my friends, Lucy, has this special book for the people she cares about and you get to decorate a page and write a message; almost like her own version of a yearbook. She gave that book to me this month and it almost brought me to tears because it was sort of a symbol of how far we’ve come in so little time. I had a great time filling that out and making it pretty (It’s included with the pictures for this month) but seeing her reaction to my page was the best part of having that book.

    So seeing as its October, I know most people must be wondering, what about Oktoberfest? Believe it or not, in Germany it is more common to celebrate Oktoberfest towards the end of September than to do it in October. Still, I was happy that my Brazilian exchange student friend, Bruna, invited me to come with her to an Oktoberfest party pretty late into October. Bruna lives in a small town close to Freiburg named Wettelbrunn and I stayed the weekend at her house because the actual event was in Munstertal which was one town over. I was so excited to go because it was also my first time wearing my traditional German outfit called a Dirndl. Oktoberfest was full of live music, dancing, and delicious traditional German drinks. My drink of choice here was hot chocolate and let me tell you guys, the hot chocolate in Germany is the best hot chocolate I’ve ever tried. It’s so rich and decadent as well as being so authentically chocolate. It was a great time with Bruna and my other exchange friend, Kara from the US. We got to experience such a unique tradition and the happiness on everyone’s faces told me how important it is to the German people. The Sunday after we went to Oktoberfest, we also joined Bruna’s host family at a carnival in Freiburg and it was amazing. We played the typical carnival games you would find in the US but there was also many stands to buy German food/souvenirs and places to buy clothes too. It was the best weekend in October for sure.

    Something different here, that I found completely fascinating, was that instead of having Thanksgiving holidays in November, you have Autumn holidays at the end of October. It felt weird to be off so early but this particular week off, we had a Rotary event called Wanderwoch (Hiking Week). All the exchange students from the district come to Triberg for the week and get to explore the Schwarzwald (The Black Forest). We did everything from ice skating to going to a shooting range to walking more than 10K in the rain to going to a water park. I would go on and on about this week but at the risk of making this journal any longer, I think the pictures speak for themselves. I really love the fact that all the exchange students in the district are so close; they feel like a second family. Though you don’t want to get inbound syndrome, it’s still always nice, those occasional times you do get together and share unforgettable experiences which is what this week really was. It also gave me a chance to appreciate the place that I was living in more because the other exchange students live in bigger cities and they pointed stuff out that I had missed just because I do happen to live in the Schwarzwald full time.

    All in all, as time passes by, I’m falling more in love with Germany. My friends, my family, and my life here have made me feel so at peace. I didn’t have this country as a choice when I applied to Rotary but I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. I think that I’m in exactly the country I should be in. I can’t wait to see what November brings! Until next time, bis bald!

    P. S. The crazy but cool German word of the month is Einhorchen which means squirrel (there’s an umlaut on the o)! It’s definitely a weird word and all my German friends asked me to say it because they say it’s funny to hear foreigners try to pronounce it. Now that I actually can say it though, I love it.

    Click HERE to read more about Ana and all her blogs

  • Ana, Outbound to Germany

    Click HERE to read more about Ana and all her blogs

    Hallo Zusammen!

    I can't believe it's been almost a month since I've been in Germany! It feels like I've been here for much longer and I think my family and friends would agree! I’ve been meaning to write a journal for a while now, because I feel like so much has happened, but the first lesson I’ve learned on exchange is that there is always so little time and so much to do! Naturally, I have no idea how to even begin to relay all that’s happened so let me start at the most logical point: the beginning.

    My Trip/Arrival: It was very bittersweet to leave pretty much the only place I’ve ever known. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling of walking away from my family and friends and onto a plane that would take me across the ocean to another continent. I think this is one of the hardest moments of being an exchange student. The moment you finally walk away from everyone and everything and realize, it’s just me and I’m going to be somewhere different for a year. Luckily, despite me leaving a little before Hurricane Irma would arrive in Florida, I had a really smooth trip. I had about an hour flight to Atlanta and an 8 hour flight to Stuttgart. I met a really nice stewardess on my flight to Atlanta and she asked about my blazer so we talked a lot that flight and now she wants her daughter to do RYE! I’m always happy to share about my experience with Rotary! When I landed, I didn’t have to wait long in Atlanta (30ish minutes), which was great becaus e I was anxious to get to Germany. Then the flight from Atlanta to Stuttgart felt so short, I couldn’t believe I had arrived in Germany so quickly! The Stuttgart airport was really easy to go through and though my luggage took what felt like forever to come out, I finally made it outside where some members of my host family were waiting. They were waiting with this really beautiful poster that they had made and it felt so nice to finally meet them!

    My first couple days in Germany: Stuttgart is about 1 ½ hours from my city, Sankt Georgen im Schwarzwald, which meant that I had time to take in the scenery and talk to my host family. Now, before I left I had talked to my host family a lot which actually made it so much easier to talk and I highly recommend it. They will always be strangers when you first meet them but I felt like talking to them before made me feel so much more comfortable and helped me transition from stranger to family much quicker than I would’ve thought. My host family is made up of my host mom (Conny), my host dad (Henny), my 3 host sisters (Jenny, Danny, and Anny), my 3 host brothers (Jonny, Benny, and Lenny), my host grandmother (Oma), and my host grandfather (Opa). It’s definitely different to be living with so many people, sometimes I feel like I’m living in the German version of Full House. I have to say though, I love it! I’ve always loved being around people and everyone i n my host family has been so welcoming that I can’t help but be happy to be living with so many people. Later that day, my host family took me to a farm owned by their friends and I got to see so many different farm animals! It was fun to see how a farm works and we got some fresh milk which I don’t think I’ve ever had but it was really good! The next morning, after eating breakfast, my host mom got straight to cooking because the following morning was my host brother Lenny’s birthday! One of the things I love most is to cook so I asked her if I could help her and she was happy to oblige. At that point she introduced me to a wonderful, magical machine called Thermomix. It’s like this machine that does everything from cooking rice to making bread dough to making slushies. My mind was blown because we don’t have anything like it in the US. After making stuff for Lenny’s birthday, I played some boards games with Lenny and my host mom. I felt li ke I really bonded with them which was a great feeling. That being said, I didn’t have much time with my host family before I had to be in Lindenberg for Language Camp so though I met everyone, I didn’t have much time to really talk to them.

    Language Camp: Sunday morning, I had time to sing my host brother happy birthday (my host family celebrates birthdays in the morning) and then I had to leave for language camp. To be more efficient, I carpooled with Genie, an inbound from Taiwan and also the nearest exchange student to me. It was great meeting another exchange student and I took a ferry in a car for the first time which was really cool! One of the most famous lakes in Germany is the Bodensee (Lake Constance) and this was the lake we took the ferry on. It took about 3 hours to get to Lindenberg but it was worth it because it’s a really nice town. Walking into the building where language camp was being held was crazy because I really didn’t know anyone, but that changed really quickly. At first, we had to sit through a presentation from Rotary about the rules, expectations, etc. and we had to take a placement test to see which class we would be in for the week. We didn’t really have the chance to talk to each other then but after that it was really cool because it was sort of like free time and we all got to talk. All of the inbounds are really great and throughout the course of the week, we all got really close. Though it was all German classes in the morning, in the afternoons we had activities like swimming, arts and crafts, and going out into the city. On Wednesday, it was a little different though because it was excursion day and we got to go see waterfalls which was a lot of hiking but it was worth it. Coincidentally, a couple of students from our group accidentally took the wrong path and ended up in Austria which we all had a good laugh about later. Overall, language camp was a great time! On my way home from language camp though, I was with another exchange student and for some reason our tickets were incorrectly labeled and we accidentally took a train to Switzerland! We both kept cool under pressure though and were able to get home again with just an hour delay. I als o got appointed to be the group speaker with my friend from Taiwan which means that we will be talking to the district chair and speaking for all of the inbounds in 1930 (like middle men). I was so honored to be chosen for that!

    My First Week of School: After coming home from language camp, I only had half a day and then suddenly it was time to go to school. I thought it was really surreal to be starting in a new school, especially since I’ve only ever gone to PK Yonge but it was refreshing to start somewhere new. Similarly to my school back home, my school in Germany has children of all ages so at first it was a tad overwhelming due to so many people in the halls, but my school here is so wonderful! My host sister went on exchange in Paraguay last year so she had to be in 10th grade instead of 11th this year, but she did introduce me to all her classmates from when she was in that grade which was nice because they were all super friendly and it made it easier to meet everyone in my class. In pretty much every subject they asked me to introduce myself briefly and let me just say, my district motivating me learn my elevator speech for language camp was the best thing to ever happen because now I know wh at to say whenever someone asks me to introduce myself. A whole day in a foreign language tends to make you so much more tired than you’d think but it’s the best way to learn and that first week was definitely one giant learning experience.

    My time here in Germany has been amazing so far! It’s had it’s hard times, especially when it comes to doing and thinking everything in German, but this new culture, family, and school that I find myself in has opened my heart and mind to so many new things. I wish I could write so much more but I don’t want to go on forever. Also to any future outbounds, if you guys have any questions or just want to talk, I would be glad to help or talk to any of you. When I was applying last year, talking to the current rebounds who were outbounds at the time, was really helpful and reassuring. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, find out everything you can, and enjoy the application process because as you’ll quickly learn on exchange, time flies by and you only get to live things once! Until next time, Auf Wiedersehen!

    P.S. Every time I post a journal, I’ll put a crazy but cool German word of the month. This month it is: Unwahrscheinlich which means Unlikely.

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