Ashley, outbound to Germany

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Twas the night 'for December and all through the house, not a creature was stirring including Ashley because she is still trying to recover from her amazing inbound weekend with her great Rotary Youth Exchange friends! So, I am apologizing now for the grammar mistakes that are most likely all throughout here... November was so amazing but also such a blur!! I have a brand new schedule in school that makes every day except for Tuesdays long days in school (that means I get out of school at 3:30) and then Tuesdays I have language school until 3:45, so I am staying VERY busy! 

I finally have become more active in my Rotary Club here in Germany! Technically my first meeting was in October (they requested that I wait until October so my German could be better for the meetings) but I have been a lot better about going to meetings. To any exchange student reading this or anyone who is going on a Rotary Youth Exchange, I HIGHLY recommend going to the meetings as much as you can! Get to know the Rotarians! I have been able to go to two handball games and meet the players afterward and I've had the opportunity to tour a firm here in Germany with a room that was -22 degrees Celsius. That's Cold! I honestly don't know what that is in Fahrenheit. It's so hard to convert back and forth from things like kilometers and celsius and things like that all the time. Anyhow, all of the Rotarians are so nice and make me feel welcome in the club! 
School is also going well. Well, for as good as midterm season can get for a student in a foreign country. I got high marks on my English exam though, so that's a plus! Didn't do great on my math (forgetting my calculator and dictionary probably didn't help my odds either) and I'm still waiting for some other grades to come back. So they don't really have tests any other time of the year here really. Homework is on the honor system, it really is quite easy! And, you don't have to take all of the midterms (called a Klausur here)! You have to take it in Math, English, and German, and then anything else that is going towards your Abitur (college acceptance/high school degree), which apparently for me is Spanish... not quite sure how that happened, but it's ok! Could I survive in Spain or Argentina? Hah! Not a chance, but I could probably order a small meal... of apples and water... Some of my teachers don't give me grades because they know that my grades don't count this year, but the ones that have given me grades are along the line of a C-B average. I'll take it! It has been a little hard for me to accept things like a C here because back home I am an A-B student most of the time. I just have to remind myself that the grades don't matter and that I am here to learn the language and learning the language means that I will get better grades! :) 

My friends are literally the best people I could ask for!! This month we went ice skating. They thought it was funny that I could already ice skate because I told them that we never really have snow or really cold weather in Florida, so they were expecting me to fall down a lot, but I think I held my own! We took multiple trips to Gummersbach (the "largest" city near us, aka 15 minutes by car) together because who doesn't love shopping with their friends?!? The best though was the "international" night. So, one of my school friend's dad actually comes from Paraguay! Cool right? So, we planned a night where we could have a little bit of food/culture from the U.S., Mexico (thanks to Alejandra), Paraguay, and Deutschland! I provided wonderful PB&J sandwiches and PB&Banana sandwiches along with peanut butter and apple slices! I've gotten the hint that peanut butter is DEFINITELY an American thing. We ate lots of good food and then we watched a l ot of Disney movies... in German!! Thanks to my avid Disney watching because I am a Disney fanatic back in Florida, I was able to understand the plot line and able to translate the words most of the time though. It is a little strange though because when you are watching Finding Dory and it isn't Ellen Degeneres talking you get a little sad and confused as to why it sounds like a German Ellen. By the way, would not recommend watching that movie on exchange. Great movie! I loved it! I also cried like a baby because (yes, I'll admit it) it made me homesick! The whole finding home and your family thing just kind of got to me and it made me think of home a little too much a little too fast so I didn't have enough time to process my emotions and what was happening, so I cried. Right there in the Gummersbach movie theatre. But I think it is important to recognize, YOU ARE GOING TO GET HOMESICK ON EXCHANGE. 

There is almost no changing that fact. But if you saw my first journal you will have noted my line that I always remember, "A homesick day in Germany is better than an normal day in Florida". I'm doing great and am having the time of my life here. Literally, wouldn't give it up for anything! But, that doesn't mean that there aren't nights when I open my jar of Jiff and eat half of it with apple slices just to make me feel a little more at home! It's ok and it's normal, I hope...

The German is coming along much better! I'm starting to sound more like a slightly broken down computer with incorrect grammar than a cave man. I'm getting corrected a little more by my friends, but that is ok! It has helped me realize what my weakest points are and then I can go home and fix them with a worksheet or an exercise. They also heard that I had a German test coming up with Rotary. They also heard that if I didn't pass that I'd be sent home, so I think they were also just trying to help! But just so you all don't worry, I did pass the test! 

The test took place over one of my amazing inbound weekends in Bonn and Rheinbach. I went to a Christmas market, saw the old Rathaus (capital building), Beethoven's birthplace, went ice skating, went to a Glass museum and learned how to etch glass, and just had an amazing time with the other inbounds!! It was a little sad because I had to say goodbye to my oldies, but I am so excited to meet my newbies!! 

So, I think I have just about covered all of November. December starts tomorrow and I know it is going to be BUSY! I am looking forward to every moment of it and can't wait to tell you all about it! Until then let me say Tschüss! That's another way to say goodbye instead of Auf Wiedersehen and it is actually used A LOT more often than the other version. I am loving every minute here and just want to end with a huge Thank You to Rotary for allowing me this opportunity and so many others like me. You are truly helping change lives! Until next time my friends!!