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.

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