Dustin, outbound to Germany

Where to begin with my two weeks here in Germany…?

Well my flights went extremely well from Jacksonville to Atlanta, and Atlanta to Frankfurt. I had to sway my bittersweet goodbyes to my family and close friends in the airport. Luckily I was TSA pre-checked so going through security was painless. The flight from Jacksonville to Atlanta was relatively short.

When I arrived at Atlanta I was completely confused on where to go, and how to get there. I had to ask two different employees to point me towards the train that takes you to the international section of the airport. After what seemed like a mile of walking I finally reached the escalator that took me to the train, and ultimately my gate.

My layover was about 4 hours and I sat at my gate hoping another exchange student would be on their way to Germany along side me. About two hours in I had decided to eat. While I was eating, a button on my blazer popped off. I interpreted that as a sign for things to come. At my gate I met another exchange student from Pennsylvania. She was on her way to Bonn which is about two hours from me.

On the plane, I had the opportunity to meet my first German. She was on her way home from studying abroad in Chile. On the entire flight she talked to me about Germany and I got to practice some German for when I landed. At the Airport I met my host family and they spoke the fastest German I have ever heard. I have picked up German quickly and I can understand it way better than my speaking. I have been complimented on my German and they always ask if I ever took German in school.

My host family lives in Marienheide, a small town with the most breathtaking views. Almost every house except for two are white and it is insanely picturesque. Germany is one of the prettiest places I have ever seen. There are many lakes surrounding this town and the hills are fantastic. The only factor I could live with out is walking up these hills at seven in the morning.

I have one brother and one sister. I had the opportunity to live with both of them for one week before my host sister left for her exchange to Argentina. They are both wonderful kids and I got along with all of them extremely well.

After two days of being in Germany my family took me to Holland. The beach was about a mile walk away from the parking lot and it poured on us the entire way. At the time we arrived at the beach my jeans were soaked all the way through. I have never felt such cold water in my life. I have been used to the warm waters of the Atlantic off the coast of Florida. After about two minutes of being in the water my feet went numb.
Holland is breath taking as well. Unfortunately the tulips weren't in bloom but the windmills exist and a sight to see.

School started for me on the 20th of August and I absolutely love it. There are so many fantastic people in the school and they love to come up to me because I will try and talk to them in German. I think they only like to talk to me because my accent and German is funny but I'm okay with that, I am making such incredible friends already. My school starts at 7:40 am which means I have to catch the bus for 6:45. That is very early for me. There are about 1500 people in my school from grades 6-12. The classes are sort of like college class here. You will not have the same schedule every day with the possibility of "freistunde" which is free time. Every day there is an hour break after the third class. In that break the older students are allowed to go into town and eat. Typical German fast food is a Turkish Döner Kabap. That is the best fast food I have ever had in my life. It is lamb cooked on a vertical rotisserie served with salt, tomato, onion, sumac, pickled cucumber, chili, and satsuki sauce.

From the 29th of August to the 31st I have an Inbound weekend with the other inbounds. Then from September 16th to the 26th I have a tour of Germany where we will travel for ten ten days to the major cities of Germany to see them all.

Okay, the differences between USA and Germany. Many people say that Germany and the USA are very similar in ways but I have noticed that that isn't so true. There are many differences between German cultures and American cultures.

Here in Germany you cannot eat until everyone has food in front of them. I unfortunately forgot that one morning but I can tell you I will never again.

Ice is never served in drinks and they mainly drink carbonated water. I can tell you I have finally found a taste for carbonated water. That is the only water I will drink now. I have found such a love for it that I have never had before.

All stores are closed on Sundays except for bakeries and that is the day I go with my host brother to pick up fresh brötchen. Bötchen is the best bread in the world. You can buy it with just about anything imaginable baked into it.

Here in Germany they only use a bottom sheet on their beds and the blanket isn't big enough for the entire bed. The blankets are very skinny and long. The pillows here are even different. The pillows are so large that you can wrap it around yourself.

When Germans come to an intersection they will not cross the street until the little green man appears signaling its okay to cross even when there isn't a car in sight for one mile. That was hard for me to get used too. Some times I will show them how we Americans cross roads and they always find it funny.

Here in Germany people rarely look at each other and smile when walking past one another.

Gas pumps are hard to find here in Germany. You will pull up to a gas station and there will be two types of diesel and three types of medium grade but no standard gasoline. Those pumps are always found in the back of gas stations. The gas pumps have to be screwed on and the smell is very different.

Tax is already included in the price so there are no tricks like in the USA.

When I tell people I am from the USA in Florida they automatically think I live in or near Miami.

Almost every time the second question I am asked is "if I have guns at home?" They are always surprised buy my answer.

They also think its fascinating that I am able to drive at home and ask me if I can here.Which leads me to another point, the Autobahn. I have never seen cars drive so fast in my life. some cars are doing upwards of 130 mph on the autobahn just cruising like there is nothing to it. I still let freaked out sometimes when a car rips past me like those small motor cycles we have in America.

So far I have enjoyed every minute of my time here. I am in a small town which has forced me to make friends and I am glad I have because they have allowed me to learn German and experience Germany for myself. I have not yet run across a German who can speak fluent English and want to speak English with me. They always stare at me if I'm speaking English with another inbound in my school. They tell each other to speak German in Germany if they are trying to help me understand something in English. Which I find amazing because I will learn German here.

I would just love to thank Rotary for this Amazing opportunity I have been given and I have cherished every minute of it.

Until Next Time,