Ashley, outbound to Germany

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Okay, are we really sure January is almost over? Like, last week I was skiing in the Alps with my best friend and this morning I woke up to January 30th, 2017. This year is flying by WAY too quickly. So, to start out I will tell you about the amazing adventures I had this month! On exactly January 1st I took a plane to the city of Salzburg to meet the sweetest, most amazing Austrian rebound/Rotex that I could ever ask to have in my life, ISABEL!!! It was almost like a dream that I was actually there, hanging out with her again, talking with her again (this time in German!), and getting a glimpse into what her life is like! Well, vacation life that is. She lives in Vienna, but they were on a ski vacation in the town of Böckstein which is near Bad Gastein which is near Salzburg for those of you who have no clue where I am talking about! We stayed in this really cool house that belongs to the whole family. Their cousins have the first floor and were so welcoming and sweets to us all! There was also this amazing tea, but I'm not sure what it is, although it's what I imagine a sugar plum tastes like in Candy Land! It was just so amazing! Enough about the tea and back to the adventure. 

So we were skiing for four days and went to a different slope each time. Now, let me tell you, I've gone skiing in North Carolina many a time with my family and grandparents, but NOTHING WILL PREPARE YOU FOR SKIING IN THE ALPS!!! I was so lucky that both Isabel's parents were ski instructors at some point in time because I probably would not have made it down safely if it wasn't so. I learned quickly that being on the blue or "easy" course doesn't always mean it is easy. Isabel said that they determine the toughness of the course based on how many trees, sharp turns, anything that can potentially harm you are in your way. That does not mean that a direct drop qualifies a slope for a red or black course. I just about had a heart attack when I saw on the first day a direct drop on a blue course! I did eventually master the art though. Well, somewhat. I was still a little slow with carrying my skis and putting on the ski shoes but they were very patient with me and helped me out! Okay, there was also another exchange student there from California, Chris!

Isabel’s brother is currently on exchange and they have Chris for the whole year. Just like for me, snow and mountains are a really cool thing! The first day there wasn’t a whole lot of snow of the mountains. The ski slopes were covered but not over all. Chris and I were still being the touristy exchange students and taking thousands of pictures and just in awe at the mountains and talking about how beautiful it is and what does Isabel say to us? “That isn’t pretty. There isn’t enough snow!” That was the running joke for the rest of the week. We ended up getting A LOT of snow, like 15 centimeters a day later in the week, but we would always say to Isabel that it, “Isn’t pretty enough because there isn’t enough snow!” Also in Austria are the most amazing chocolate bon-bons I have eaten in a while, Mozart Kügeln! I may have gone a little overboard and bought like, 5 different types when we visited Salzburg… Speaking of which, Hey! I visited Salzburg! Some of you theater nerds are probably already freaking out like I was, but for those of you who don’t know, that is where a good portion of The Sound of Music was filmed. A lot of the sights were closed due to the winter weather, but I still got a picture or two. Don’t worry about that! We went to a couple of museums, saw Mozart’s birthplace, and took a lot of pictures. Some of the most interesting facts I learned were: 1) There was a Mozart Cult back in the day and people would like steal old things from his family. One of the strangest things that was on display in this section was a lock of Mozart’s hair, donated by a family member of a previous Cult member. 2) There is an on-going war between the Mozart Kügeln manufacturers about who is the real Mozart Kugel. It is a proven fact that Fürst made the first ones, but that isn’t good enough for the other factories who claim that they aren’t the first ones, but the real ones! I had a wonderful time with my amazing friend and her family, but it was eventually time for me to head back…  I did have a surprise for me waiting back in Germany though, MORE SNOW! We finally had our first REAL snow of the season. To the point that we actually had a snow day. And the Germans are very prepared people especially when it comes to snow! I traveled to Cologne and Bonn with another district for a weekend and got to tour the Dom, eat some delicious blood sausage and potatoes (I’m not kidding, it was REALLY GOOD), see lots of famous Cologne sights, and then travel to Haus der Geschichte in Bonn! I was able to learn so much and had an amazing time. It was actually quite funny because all of this history information from Bonn was fresh in my mind and I was able to use it exactly a week later when I traveled with MY district to Haus der Geschichte in Bonn. I kind of cheated the system because they would ask questions that I already knew the answer to and they weren’t expecting anyone to know the answer, but I finally confessed why I was able to answer the questions. The tour guide even called me Ms. Correct because I kept solving the questions! I got to meet the future outbounds of my district here, see some of the rebounds again, and then also see my inbound class! That was a jam packed day and then I was off again the next day to start building my costume for Karneval. Why am I building a costume? Because I am blessed with the opportunity to walk IN a Cologne Karneval Parade because my host family is the coolest ever! Something also really cool happened to me in the month of January, I turned 16! I may not of had the stereotypical Sweet 16 that most of my friends are having this year, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else! I spent it surrounded by my loving German friends and loving Host families. I truly won’t forget it! And lastly, speaking of host families, I have some very important information/an update to share: I am no longer living in Marienheide, but am now in Engelskirchen because I switched host families! I have had no troubles in my first one because I already knew them pretty well and we have gotten along just fine. It’s a little strange being an only child in the house because I’ve not experienced that since I was like, 1 year old. I do think it is interesting for me to see how different life can be without siblings though. Like, we are doing a lot more out of the house stuff because we only have one kid’s schedule to balance and not 3. I’m lucky though that I do get to see my other family still. Of course I do miss them, but I am very happy in my second family! Just all around in life, I’m doing great! School is going well, the language is really coming along, and my friends and host families are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. It is so sad for me to think that I have only a half of my exchange year left, but I will use all of it to the fullest! I know February may be a short month, but I can predict that it will be jam packed and I can’t wait to tell you all about it! I’ll write again in a couple of weeks! Until then, here are five German phrases/words that I just love for you to learn and remember!
1.Unabhängigkeitserklärung: Declaration of Independence
2.Erziehungswissenschaft: Educational Sciences
3.Brötchen: Basically it means tiny bread which I think is cute because it is literally a tiny loaf of bread
Hope you all just learned a little German! Have fun!