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!

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