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.

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