Ashley, outbound to Germany

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Hallo to all reading this first journal of mine! What a crazy couple of weeks it has been! So, I’m pretty sure you could have guessed it, but I have arrived in Germany and am living in the wonderful village of Marienheide. For the large majority of you who have no idea where that is, it is like thirty-minutes from the city of Cologne. I was welcomed to the beautiful country by my loving host family at the airport. They were very patient with me as I was so excited to meet them, that I left my phone on the plane. I got off the gate and grabbed my phone to call them and it wasn’t there. Thank you to the kind Lufthansa man who helped me figure out what gate I came in from and help me get my phone back. I had a wonderful week of just getting to know Germany before school started. I spent it meeting my host family’s extended family, speaking German every chance I got, and eating all of the different foods that they put in front of me! I h ave been reunited with my beloved Kartoffel Salat, after the lovely Inbound Isabel made it for me last year. We live right next door to my host-grandparents and my host-aunt, uncle, and cousins. Everyone is so nice here and are very patient when I ask them to please repeat what they have told me in German a little more slowly. During my “free-week” I met my Rotary Exchange Officer and my counselor, who were both very nice. I haven’t made it to a meeting yet because it meets during the school day the majority of the month, except for one evening meeting which hasn’t happened yet. I also met the other inbound in my area, Alejandra! She is very nice and it is nice to know there is someone else who understands the roller coaster of emotions I am going through during the beginning of my exchange. 

I saw the beautiful cities of Dusseldorf, Wipperfurth, and Gummersbach within my first two weeks here. For anyone applying this upcoming year, I just want to say if you are blessed with the opportunity ride your bike every day for a month or two before you come!!! I did ride my bike for about a month, but boy was I not prepared for the amount of activity that I would encounter here. I have biked multiple times (including a trip to Wipperfurth that was 26,8 km total), played sand volleyball, ran around the lake near our house with my host mom, and walked my host-dog a gazillion times. Some of those things I really had to be a “yes-person” to participate, but I am really glad I did. 

I enjoyed my week of fun, and then came even more fun, SCHOOL!! I was low-key really nervous because I was getting really good at understanding what people were saying in the German language, but speaking it is a whole different story. Not many people at my school speak English which is a blessing in disguise I guess because now my German will improve faster. I have made a couple of really nice friends and have already been invited to some things! I look forward to the upcoming weeks of school and I can’t wait to see how much my German has improved!

Ok, final thought train. Just German things that I absolutely love!! First off is a delicious treat called spaghetti eis (that means spaghetti ice-cream). It quite literally is ice cream, only it looks exactly like spaghetti. They have about 15 different flavors of it in the ice cream parlor in the village, so guess who has a new exchange goal?!?! Not really a high-standard exchange goal, but a goal nonetheless. Second, I am officially that crazy American who bought a Dirndl. They don’t really wear them here unless it is an Oktoberfest or Carnival, but I still bought it and I love it!!! The only reason why I bought mine so quickly was that it was a really good deal, for a really good quality. They are usually really expensive. Finally, the bread. Eat as much German Bread as you can whenever you are here!! It is always fresh, and hearty and I just love it!!

I just wanted to make sure everyone knew I am having a fabulous time. Yes, there have been really hard days. But, I wouldn’t give up those bad days in Germany for an ok day in America. The experiences I have already had have made me grow stronger as a person. I know I have a long year ahead of me that is going to go by in the blink of an eye. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!!