My plane ride to Frankfurt, Germany was very tiresome and long, but
nine hours in a plane is very expected, but I was happy it was a direct
flight. I didnít sleep at all on the plane, and the guy next to me slept
the whole plane ride I was envious of him. When I arrived in Frankfurt I
found my luggage fairly easy all thanks to the signs with the pictures and
text. My first host mom, dad and sister so my whole host family was there
to meet me. It took us an hour to get back to the small village
Kleinmaischeid where Iíll be staying for the first couple of months. I had
a week left of summer before I started school at Martin-Butzer Gymnasium
Dierdorf. I was really excited to get school started and meet my class
Kleinmaischeid is a very small village, thereís not much to do. I love
my room itís on the first floor where ever one elseís is on the second
floor, and the view from my window is really pretty. Well to me it is, itís
more of a view then back in Florida where you look out the window and youíre
staring at the side of your neighborís house. I was curious to see what
this village contains so I and my host dad Manuel went for a walk and he
doesnít speak English so he told me a bunch of words in German like bicycle,
tree, flowers, house, woods and cemetery etc. Then on Saturday my host mom
Bernhild and my host sister Antonia went shopping in KŲln. It seemed that
on every block there was a cafť. The big stores are like the malls in
Florida but they have 4 to 7 levels where in Florida itís usually 1 and if
you lucky 2. I also went camping at a local park, in a tent, with my host
sister and her friend, and my host momís whole family and close friends. It
was a lot of fun; we played fuŖball (soccer), table tennis, badminton.
Everyone was really nice to me and helped with my German a little. On the
second night everyone sat in a circle and sang mostly English songs while
one played the guitar, and everyone else sung, but there was some German
songs sung it was really cool. We danced a little, and I learned some
German folk dances.
My first hour of my first day of school was boring; because no one knows
you and the other students donít talk to you because theyíre too busy
catching up with their friends that they havenít seen all summer. My first
class I couldnít understand anything my teacher was saying, but luckily I
had a neighbor who would try his best to fill me in on what was going on. I
was really grateful for that. The way school runs in Germany is very
different from Lake Mary High. I have to take 13 classes; Math, English,
Latin, German, Geography, Biology, Chemistry, Physic, Music, Sports, Social
Science, Religion and History. Each day you have six of these classes for
45 minutes, and between the first three classes and last three you have a 25
minute where students usually eat their lunch, but they isnít a exact lunch
hour. And depending on the class you have a 7th lesson on one day of the
week for me itís on Thursday and I have Physics, and when you have a 7th
lesson your allowed an hour to go into to town to get something to eat.
Another difference about school in Germany is you stay with your class all
day, and the teachers usually come to you except for science classes, music,
and if the teacher has classes in another room.
The weather since I been here has been very on and off. The first week in
midsummer was cold. The second week the weather changed from cold to rainy
to hot. Then the third week I think it rained the whole week and now this
week its been hot. It sometimes feels like I'm still in Florida with all
this weather change.
I canít believe I been in Germany for almost a month, Iím absolutely
loving it and canít wait to visit more places and take lots of pictures.
view from my window.
Mine and my host sisters tent for the weekend.
view i woke up to on Saturday and Sunday.
Monday, October 24, 2011
I have been in Germany for officially 2 months as of September 27th. On
September 18 I went to my first inbound meeting and meet most of the other
inbounds. It was really nice getting to talk to other exchange students and
compare our first month in Germany. Then on September 23 to the 25 I had my
first Inbound Orientation in Bad Berleburg, with 47 other exchange students
from Brazil, Mexico, Taiwan, and so many other places. It was so confusing
when trading pins, not completely sure of whose you already have and havenít
gotten yet. This weekend we visited Bad Berleburg Castle, and for once in a
tour we were allowed to take pictures. This castle was beautiful it even had
the very first IKEA piece. We also got to go in this year old mine where
shingles were made and where people now a day can get married and have
birthday parties. I donít know if I want to have my birthday in there
regardless of how beautiful the old fashioned shingles are. All the exchange
students got to wear the yellow and red construction hats; I think that was
everyoneís highlight of the dark and cold cave. Then to finish off our tour
in Bad Berleburg we visited a Beer Brewery to see how the best beer in the
world is made (the guy said it was the best beer in the world). The whole
weekend was so much fun; I canít wait until December when we have our second
Inbound Orientation. I keep working really hard on my German, my German has
gotten better I can understand a lot more then I could a month ago, but my
problem is finding the words to answer, without saying Ďjaí, Ďneiní, ĎIch
weiŖ nichtí, or Ďbitte?í.
Two weeks ago I changed families and now I live in Puderbach, with my host
mother Inge, my host brother Nico, the dog Luke, and my host dad Stefan who
works in Milan Italy on the weeks and is home on the weekends.
The questions I get asked a lot are;
ē Why did you pick Germany?
ē How do you like Germany
ē Howís Germany treating you?
ē Whatís better United States or Germany?
ē And in Latin class, Can you explain what this word means?
ē Or my favorite question, Can you help me with my English Homework?
Last week I took a class test in Math and I didnít understand anything on
the test. Itís really hard to learn math when you barely know the language
and you have no book where you can look back and read the text. And when
someone works a problem out on the board I try to follow along with what
they are writing, but then its gets annoying when I think I understand one
way of solving the problem then another similar problem comes along and the
solution for it is different. I also wrote a class text in English and it
was good feeling to take a test and be able to at least write answers down,
but then I found out that I wonít get marks for any English assignments I
- How are you going to know what a dream is...if you've never
- How are you going to know what an adventure is...if you never
- How are you going to know what anguish is...if you never told your
family and friends "see you soon" with your eyes full of tears.
- How are you going to know what desperation is...if you never arrived
in a place, alone, without understanding anything the others were saying
- How are you going to know what it means to miss someone...if you've
never been away from home
- How are you going to know what diversity is...if you've never shared
under the same roof with people from all over the world
- How are you going to know what tolerance is...if you've never had to
get used to something different, even if you don't like it.
- How are you going to know what independence is...if you've never had
to make decisions for yourself.
- How are you going to know what it means to grow...if you never quit
being a child to start in a new
- How are you going to know what disability is...if you've never had
to urge to hug someone, but the
computer screen got in your way
- How are you going to know what distance is...if you've never looked
at a map and said "Wow, I'm far"
- How are you going to know what a language is...if youve never had to
learn one to make friends
- How are you going to know what patriotism is...if you've never
shouted "I love my country" holding a flag in the hand.
- How are you going to know what a party is...if you've never traveled
hours to go to one
- How are you going to know what true reality is...if you've never had
the opportunity to see many different ones so you can create your own.
- How are you going to know what an opportunity is...if you've never
taken advantage of one
- How are you going to know what pride is...if you never felt it for
yourself when you realize what you've accomplished.
- How are you going to know what it means to seize the moment...if
you've never seen how time passed through your hands with great strides
- How are you going to know what a friend is...if the circumstances
never taught you which ones are real
- How are you going to know what a family is...if you've never had one
that supported you unconditionally
- How are you going to know what your boundaries are...if you've never
passed them to see what lies beyond.
- How are you going to know what money is...if you never had to manage
it to get along.
- How are you going to know what imagination is...if you've never
thought about the moment you get back home
- How are you going to know what the world is...if you never were an
October 7th 2011
I and three other exchange students enjoyed the night in KŲln and going to
see a Red Hot Chili Peppers Concert. This day was also my first time ever
riding a train, in Florida you have no reason to take a train to the nearest
big city, but Germany it commonly used for normal day transportation.
Another thin I realized is that there are no exact speed limits on the high
ways and also they arenít any stop signs. I was informed that 98% of Germans
drive stick shift and the other drive automatic.
I went to my first German birthday party and they are nothing like
birthday parties in the US for a kid turning 16. And their Friday nights are
way different from Friday nights back home. While teens on a Friday night go
to the movies with friends, teens in Germany go to a kneipe and hang out
until 1 or 2 in the morning. The place we went to was called Erlebniskneipe
Florida and the decorations of this place was all Florida stuff like;
Florida licenses plates hanging around the room, Palm trees in the middle of
the room with string white lights. Itís funny knowing that 13 or 15 km away
from me is a small remembrance of Florida.
My host mother took me to The Eiffel where her mother lives and it was
really hard to understand the German they speak because it is old German and
everything is different. I felt like I was back at day one where I
understood nothing but hallo, my name is.., how are you?, the simple basics
again. Starting on Monday I will be joining the 5th class at my school to
learn German, because in Germany during the 5th class is where the German
kids start learning the grammar. I donít know exactly if Iím going to like
being in a class with a bunch of 8 to 9 year olds, but if my German approves
faster and gets better then thatís all I could ask for. On Monday 24 of
October my music teacher made me and the other exchange student read out a
passage in the text book in Deutsch. At first it was a little embarrassing
and totally surprising because the teachers never ask us to read anything
out in deutsch, but it was pretty cool everyone after we were done said ďoh
that was really good German speakingĒ or ďyou did a really good jobĒ. It was
nice to hear my classmates complementing me on my German even though itís
not completed and still needs a lot of work.
On October 27 , this date is also my motherís birthday which I thought was
cool, it is also my third month in Germany and I canít believe that I only
been here for three months and everything has been going by way too fast.
Well okay until next time.
December 29, 2011
So this last two months have been so crazy, first off not having
Thanksgiving with my family for the first time in 16 years. I asked my host
family if I could cook a turkey for them, but they donít eat bird. I went to
my third host family and they made a duck for dinner and a small dinner, it
wasnít the normal Thanksgiving I usually have, but I loved it. It was really
nice and I never had duck before and it was really tasty. After dinner me
and my friend Marvin built a Ginger bread house, it was so much fun. Every
year my third host family has a tradition where they make Christmas cookies
on the first Sunday advent before Christmas, and I was really happy that
this year I got to help and be a part of their tradition. It was a very
eventful Thanksgiving Dinner and night for me and I couldnít have been
happier for once that month I wasnít sad about not having Thanksgiving with
I learned a new tradition for when Christmas is almost here, itís an Advent
calendar almost but not 24 days before Christmas itís only the 4 Sundays
before Christmas, and instead of a calendar you use four Candles. You have
four candles and on the first Sunday advent you only light one candle and
then on the Second Advent you light the second one and the first, and so on.
And on each weekend before Christmas some certain towns or Germany have a
Weihnachtsmarkt, which is a Christmas Market, and what you do here is people
open shops and sell things for Christmas or sometimes there are games for
the little kids and you can drink a special drink ďGluhweinĒ that people
drink during the Holidays. Itís basically just wine sometimes mixed with cut
up lemons and oranges to add flavor and then it is heated over a fire or in
a Crockpot. I been to so many Weihnachtsmarkt and each one was better than
the last, but my favorite was Weihnachtsmarkt in KŲln, because all the
Christmas lights and decorations right in front of the KŲlner Dom it was
just breath-taking. On It snowed here in my city for the first time on a
Sunday morning, but it wasnít a lot of snow just enough so when you first
walk outside everything is covered in white. It was so pretty seeing things
in white. This month I went on two class trips with my class, first with my
English class to see an English film in a Kino in KŲln and also to the
Weihnachtsmarkt and the other class trips was with my Geography class to
Bonn to Ice Skate and see the historical places of Bonn.
Christmas this year was really cool and a special Christmas for me, and I
finally see that itís not just about presents but being with people who care
for each other what counts. I really enjoyed the big family Christmas dinner
at my host motherís parentís house. I miss that in the USA we donít have
that big of a family dinner. A tradition in my second familyís house for
Christmas is to only put up the tree the night before December 24th. On
December 24th in Germany you open presents not like in America where we open
presents the morning of the 25th. Then after dinner we all went to my host
brothers room and played Soccer on his Play station. This was a Christmas I
will always remember.
I canít wait to see how New Years is like in Germany and how they
celebrate if itís different from the States. For New Years I am making an
early New Yearís resolution: I wonít speak English unless in English class
or talking with my Family on Skype.
This is my last Rotary blog of 2011 while Iím 16 years old, next blog
will be in the year 2012 and I will be 17, and I will be in my third and
finally host family for this exchange year.
I just want to thank Rotary again for this wonderful opportunity of a
life-time, without Rotary I wouldnít have meet such amazing friends. Frohe
Weihnachten und ein gutes Neuen Jahr! (Merry Christmas and a good New
First let me say sorry for not writing recently, but when your into that
last couple months of your Exchange, there just doesnít seem to be enough
time to sit down at a computer and write what your feelings and new
experiences are. I donít know where to start to tell you about my new
country, friends, and family. I come to realize that words and pictures just
donít describe it as the way I am living it.
It is really hard for an American or English speaker to go to another
country that doesnít speak much English, because most people here might not
know English but they always want to talk in English and improve their
English. Itís sad I been in my school for over 8 months and I start talking
with one of the teachers in my school at a German-American Fest and she
doesnít even know who I am?? Itís funny I been in that school for this long,
and I learned my share of German and I can speak it pretty good now, but she
automatically thinks that I canít speak German, and she starts speaking to
me in English in my ninth month here.. so I tell her ďI can speak German and
understand what youíre saying.Ē , but come on just because Iím from America
donít assume Iím not up to learning another language. I have heard so many
stereo types about America/Americans over this one year that just make me
laugh. I had someone say to me that all Americans are fat -_- Vielen Dank
McDonalds. So many people this year have been really negative toward me
about learning German and made it really hard to stay here and complete my
exchange year, but I know better to let other people change my mind. One in
particular is a teacher, someone who is suppose to encourage the students to
do better and to learn more, not tell them that he/she thinks your school
work and new language should be a lot better then what it is. I didnít let
what one person say affect me, it just made me work a lot harder so they
canít think that Iím just another ignorant American, and so I can show them
that their first 2 months impression on me was completely wrong.
These last two months have been really hard and filled with so much
emotion, I still have until July, but so many of my friends that I really
got to know this year are starting to go back to their countries. Itís so
sad that, this one Saturday was the last time that I will possibly see them.
I start to think about how will school go for me next year? How will I be
around my old friends? How can I sit in a class and after a year of not
doing the assignments for actually grades, but now it really matters and I
actually get the credits for the class? I still donít know the answer to
these questions. It is going to be awkward when we aren't the foreign kid
anymore when we go home, nor will they care about us being exchange
students. For a month they might comment on it but our awesome stories will
be forgotten to them, we will fade in with the others at school. Family
gatherings might bring it up or the curious teacher, but our eventful life
will be forgotten, except to us. The way we live from the day we return is
influenced by our host country, with our self esteem boosted, confidence
amazing, humor worldly, and all barriers broken. They may not see it but we
will always be exchange students, kids who actually grew up and saw the
My Exchange year has truly been a blessing and if I could I would in a
heartbeat repeat this year in the same country with my wonderful new family
and friends. While I am sad about leaving I am also really happy that I will
be with my friends again, and be able to march in my schoolís marching band
and sitting in the stands for a football game watching our school team lose
every Friday night, going to that one college I always dream of going to. It
was easy for me to leave behind my old life in Florida with my friends and
family, because I knew that I would come back to that known place, but now
itís so much harder for me to leave my new life, knowing that I might
possibly not see any of these people again. That I wonít sit at my host
familyís dinner table and share funny stories and laughs with them. Iíll
even miss the way how my host brother acts like my real brother and bugs me
every chance he gets. Knowing itís the last time going to KŲln on a Saturday
with some of the most amazing exchange students and hanging out by the
river. Time is really flying by and before I know and will be able to accept
the fact I have to leave Iíll already be on that 10 hour plane ride back
This April I was on the most amazing two week trip with some of the most
amazing people i have come to meet and know this year. It is funny an
Exchange Student has seen more of their host country and other countries
around it, then a native living in that country. For a seventeen year old
girl in her sophomore year in ONE year has seen more of her host country
then she has her home country in sixteen years. This trip took us to the
famous Black Forest, to the highest mountain in Germany, the birth house of
Mozart in Salzburg Austria, to the Capital of Germany, to the West Sea, to
where they make the ships for Disney Cruise Line and where Titanic was
built, and then right back to the small Rheinland-Pfalz.
I am really thankful to have the chance to visit another country and meet
wonderful people and this life changing experience is something I will never
forget. I want to thank you so much for Rotary who allowed me to go on this
year. Vielen, Vielen Dank! :)
I had an amazing chance to represent my country in my cityís Deutsch-Amerikanisch
Fest and got to take a picture with the BŁrgermeister of Dierdorf and be in
the online Newspaper. :)
these 40-50 people have become my anchor throughout this
Highest mountain in Germany