Vale, Outbound to Germany

Schon 6 Monate in Deutschland!! Just a tad late but better late than never. This is my 6th journal and every month has more surprises and adventures!

From my last journal, I forgot to post more pictures so I will be posting a few from my wonderful trip to St. Moritz!

Early in February, for winter break, my second host family and I went on a trip for a week to Norderney. It is one the East Frisian Islands off the North Sea coast of Germany. Its sandy beaches include Weisse Düne and family-friendly Westbad. The island is part of the Lower Saxony Wadden Sea National Park, home to seals and waterbirds. It was a lot colder than I expected with temperatures below 30F, but still, the sun shined and the sound of the ocean brought good memories of back home. During my trip there, I saw a seal on shore, up close and personal, my first time ever being so close to one. It was so beautiful, small, and white!! I've never walked so much in my life, everyday for about 6 hours, 10km ( 6MILES ) and for a Floridian that is always in a car, it's a lot. But it's something about walking with family that makes the time pass so quickly. This trip definitely brought us closer, even more than we were. I shared a bed with my host sister while my host mom shared a bed with my host brother. Every morning, my host mom walked to the bakery to buy us warm toasted bread with incredible toppings and at night we walked to the center to go grocery shopping and we cooked delicious food along with great desserts. I took some cool pictures along the beach and just for the pop of colors, I took my jacket off, in freezing weather. That was quite a thrill!! After our trip, it was back to reality. I had my Rotary presentation, FINALLY! But the best part was, I did it all in German, a great accomplishment for me! I never imagined myself speaking in front of my Rotary club in German and rarely having to switch back to English. It's insane how much my German has improved!! It's very frustrating to not completely understand or follow a language when you really want to, and now, I can feel it coming, I can feel it becoming more and more fluent which makes me so happy!! I can now carry a conversation and when people speak to me in German, I no longer have to translate it to English, it just sort of clicks which is something I've been hoping for. Now, I just have to dream in German and my goals will be complete! Another cool thing I did this month was attending a an American play with my English class. We watched Fahrenheit 451 and it was so entertaining and touching at the same time. I had read the book in school, but the play was really cool. Also because it was in English so I felt somewhat at home.

Just this past weekend, I had my 2 and last orientation :( In my district we are around 50 exchange students, and we've created such a special bond that thinking about saying goodbye breaks my heart. I was a bit nervous going into this weekend because it was the "oldies" German test, which basically is a way of showing the district and yourself how good or bad your German is. The first exam was 50 questions of German grammar and then 100 word essay of our exchange. The second exam was an oral test, and you had to maintain a conversation with a German adult. At the end, they would call up the exchange students that had the best scores in either the written, oral, or both. I can proudly say that I was called up, among 7 others, for the best grade in both the written and oral. The biggest accomplishment from my exchange. It really showed me that my hard work is paying off and that watching German shows, reading German kid books, and forcing myself to only speak German in school and at home, is all worth it, no matter how uncomfortable or annoying it may be.

MY TIP to all exchange students and especially to those going to Germany is to push, even when it gets tough.

" When the going gets tough, the tough get going." I live by this quote and it has helped me push through the difficult times throughout my exchange. It's been a beautiful 6 months and I am beyond blessed to be in Berlin and in district 1940!!

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