Ashley, outbound to Germany

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Whoops! Time got away from me and I forgot to tell you all about my wonderful October here in Germany. I wrote this in a word document, but forgot to submit it, so here you go!
So I'll tell you first off that the language is coming so much smoother!! I have had many Rotarians, teachers, and friends tell me that my German has improved leaps and bounds since I first got here! If you are an exchange student and those words don't make you happy and feel good about yourself and what you are doing this year, then I don't know what else will. Ok, back to what actually happened in the month of October.
I had the opportunity this month to to a lot of exciting things with my school!! I was able to tour a plastic factory in Wipperfurth! The highlight of that visit? Watching plastic get made and then afterwards finding out that it is lemon scented! No, it wasn't just the fumes getting to my head. It says on the bottom, smell me for some fresh lemon scent!! Then I spent the day in Wipperfurth with my school friends which included riding a horse and singing lots of German... I also went climbing on a ropes course! It was so much fun and I literally had to bend over backwards sometimes!! 

I also had my first school holidays. What? In the month of October? Yes, you read that right! Two weeks in the middle of October. One of the nice things about living on a continent where the next international border is only 1-2 hours away is that it is really easy to travel. In those two weeks I was able to vacation with my host family in Holland. Or is it the Netherlands? I don't know the difference, so if someone could please inform me that'd be wonderful! My new home was in the tiny village of Zuizande! I loved the cute little Dutch houses and the people were so nice! A lot of Germans vacation in the area, so there was definitely lots of familiar sounds. Not that Dutch is COMPLETELY different, because I was able to kind of understand what the street signs and construction signs and so on and so forth were saying between both my German and my English. Alejandra and my second host family were also in the neighboring area. Like a 20 minute bike ride away. We also were ther e with family friends (who also happen to be Rotarians from another district in Germany) and my host aunt, host uncle, and host cousins. It was never really quiet which was a good thing because that meant there was lots of entertainment! In my time in Holland, I went to Sluis, Breskens, a LOT of little villages, and we made multiple day trips to Bruges and Ghent which are in Belgium. In Ghent there was a car show where the Porsches were the cheapest cars there. My host family called it the Monaco of Belgium. And Bruges, Oh my goodness. It felt like I had stepped onto a movie set or a step back in time. It was so beautiful!! Bruges is a UNESCO World Culture Site because pretty much EVERYTHING is in Middle Age architecture and is gorgeous! I climbed a giant tower of some sort, I ate a chocolate covered waffle, a regular waffle, regular Belgian chocolate, Belgian hot chocolate, Belgian Pommes and so on and so forth. It was absolutely amazing and I would go back anytime! But back to Ho lland. I saw Dutch potato farms, rode my bike... a lot..., saw the Ocean, saw a light house, and most of all, was reunited with my beloved Orange Juice! Now you may be thinking, "Ashley, you are from Florida. Why do you care so much about the Dutch orange juice?" Ok, the true answer is that the machine that it is made with is just so dang cool!! But it is like REALLY freshly pressed and it tastes like heaven!
I do want to talk for a moment about the Dutch potato farms. So, after the big machines come through and harvest the big potatoes, a lot of the little ones that are perfectly tasty and good to eat are left behind. (I know they taste good because I myself ate one or many...) The farmers don't care about them, so you can just go to the fields and pick up what you'd like and take them home for free. My host sister did say something though that really made me feel a little bad though, "Think about all of the hungry people in Africa or other countries who would give anything to have these potatoes and we are just taking the pretty ones to eat back at home." Can someone please start up a Second Harvest or Project Potato or something, because there were SO MANY that we could probably feed like a village for a month or two... Ok, enough random thoughts from Ashley! I enjoyed my wonderful vacation time, and then it was time to head back to Germany.

Not a ton happened after I arrived back in Deutschland, but I did receive and perform my first solo in my theatre/choir group here!! It was at a concert in Gummersbach called, "City of Light." It was so cool and I hope to perform a lot more this year! I also walked 27,6 KM to climb the highest monument/point in the Ober-Bergische Kreis, the region I am living in! It was so much fun!! Everything has been going great here and I look forward to the upcoming months!