Marcella, Outbound to Germany

In the end of October, my school had its second break. My sister, living in Paris, had invited me to spend a week with her. So I took an ICE (fast German train), and in three hours I was, for the first time, in Paris! As much as I had heard about how beautiful Paris is, and that is the best place to go on vacation, I didn't really believe it, but as soon as I walked through the city, I understood the wonders of the capital! 
What is so amazing about Paris is that the buildings are all very old and makes you feel like you've gone back in time! I also had the chance to spend Halloween in Paris and that was so much fun! My sister, her friends and I painted our faces in the Halloween spirit, and walked around the city till dawn! I also got to try real French escargot, which was interesting, tasty actually!

Then came my Birthday! I really didn't know what to expect, but it was actually the best birthday I've ever had! I went with some friends to a club and we danced like there was no tomorrow. I also got presents from my host family, and probably the best was the Shoe Horn. I know that doesn't sound that exciting but I have never seen that before in the USA or Brazil and it blew my mind!

In the beginning of December, we had a field trip with the school's Choir, Orchestra and Jazz Band. We went to a big historical hotel in Ochsenhausen to practice for our Winter/Christmas concert later that month. The three days there were all about singing, singing and having fun. I bonded so much with my classmates and just had an amazing time singing nonstop! The concert was very well done and each performance was better than the last.

Christmas in German is very special, because of all the traditions they have! The towns are turned into Christmas Markets in a blink of an eye, the people huddle up outside drinking warm drinks and buying presents for their friends and family. It's truly amazing to see so many people gathered in the streets even though it is freezing outside. 

Also, I had to switch families a week before Christmas, which wasn't very appealing to me at first, because I would spend Christmas with strangers, but I couldn't be more wrong. 
After I said my goodbyes to the Pfeiffer family, I was warmly welcomed by the Vetter/ Goldstein family. Because they were so friendly, Christmas was great. We went to Church, cooked dinner, and then opened presents. 

This Christmas was very, very different from what I am used to because my family always has big, energetic Christmases with usually more than twenty people, and here I had just a small, cozy Christmas just my host mom, host dad, and my host brother.

I have just been having the best days here in Germany, every day finding something new and exciting in my path! 

After Christmas, I was invited to join my third host family on a trip to the north of Germany; we were to spend two weeks in the Nordsee. After 8 hours from train to train, we finally got there, and boy, was it windy! That was the first time I had gone to an unbearably cold beach; there was always wind and the water was so cold that it would instantly freeze one's hand with the mere touch- but in its defense it was still Winter!

We stayed at my third host family's friend's villa along with another 30 friends to celebrate the holidays. We even had a Late-Christmas celebration since everyone was together.

Because it was always cold, we would play games all day or travel to neighboring cities. I even saw the process of milking cows, which was pretty interesting!

On New Year's Eve, some German families have the tradition of feasting with grills, that means that we would have the ingredients on the table and grill the food ourselves. I also ate cow's tong and deer heart, liver, and kidney for the first time, which was a little weird, to be honest. Not to mention that my host brother had hunted the deer. But overall, we had an awesome New Year with Fireworks and typical New Year's songs.

In the Winter season, several churches in Stuttgart have soup kitchens every day to feed the homeless. So this January, I helped Rotary with their Hands-On Project of feeding the homeless. Hundreds of people came and we helped serve them.

It was surely an awesome experience to help the community.

In the beginning of February, my school had a one-day ski trip to Oberstdorf, in the border of Germany and Austria. This is a funny story because I haven't skied, or more specifically, snowboarded for two years, and was not especially good at it when I did it, either. But, I always liked snow and winter sports so I told myself "Let's give it a try". And indeed I did... I really did try, but I would fall on my face every time, and all of my school friends were pros because they have grown up with snow, so in my opinion, they had an unfair advantage! But after many, many, many falls, I started to kind of get the hang of it. And regardless of how bad I was, it is always fun when you are with friends. One of my friends even tried to teach me and was really sweet to me even though I was terrible.

A German tradition that I also really liked was the Karnaval. I was only familiar with the colorful, energetic Brazilian Carnaval and its Parades, but this was totally different. In German Karnavals, people are supposed to look ugly and scare the public. These people participating in the parade, wear ugly masks of witches or ogres, for example, scaring, giving people high fives, and just acting silly. The Karnaval has a really nice energy and everyone is very into it, which I thought was very special.

It has already been 6 Months and I am still loving it!!!

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