Vale, Outbound to Germany

I've made it to my 7th month of exchange! Just last August I put a pause to my daily routine in South Florida and took a plane to Germany to begin a new daily routine. It's truly an indescribable feeling because it's like I've lived my whole life in Berlin yet at the same time, it feels like I left just yesterday. If I were to share how much I've changed since the beginning of my exchange to now, I would never finish. The experiences I've encountered, the people I've met, the culture I've adopted, and the new language I've learned, are what have shaped me every day to becoming an independent, strong, and confident person, and just for that, I'm so grateful for this opportunity given to me by Rotary.

So, this month is probably the calmest I've had since my exchange started. I had a wonderful dinner outing with a fellow Rotarian and my counselor. One of the exotic foods I had to try was Goulash and I can finally check it off my list. Just for a little extra info, Goulash is a stew of meat and vegetables, seasoned with paprika and other spices. Originating from the medieval Hungary, Goulash is a popular meal predominantly eaten in Central Europe but also in other parts of Europe. And all I can say, is that it is absolutely delicious! I enjoyed every bite. I'm blessed to have the counselor that I have. It's thanks to him that I've tried a variety of delicious and foreign food. We went to the Goulash restaurant near his home and chatted the whole night, just him, a Rotarian friend, and I. Chatting with adults in German is something I never imagined myself doing but now, it's something I plan to do as much as possible. It's amazing how much wisdom one can acquire when speaking to those who have gone through life's obstacles and overcome them. I can also say that the relationship I have with my counselor is very unique. There isn't a week I don't see him or do something fascinating with him. He's like a best friend to me, someone I can also talk to, whether I have a problem or not. He's always there and all I can say is that he's been the biggest angel on my exchange. The next exciting thing I did this month was attend a theater show called Frau Luna, a "burlesque-fantastic equipment operetta " by the composer Paul Lincke based on a libretto by Heinrich Bolten-Baeckers. The most famous pieces of music from the operetta are the march That makes the Berlin Luft, Luft, Luft, ( air ) the duet Give me a little bit of love and the aria castles that lie in the moon. It was so much fun to see a show in German and listen to the actors sing and see them dance. It is a very well known operetta in Germany, specifically to Berlin. I went with my host mom, a friend of hers, and her daughter. Definitely a night to remember.

It was in this month that I decided to cut my hair! Right before Eurotour, I wanted a drastic change, so I made my appointment and what took me a year to grow out, only took a few seconds to cut. My hair is definitely lighter, healthier, and it was so much fun going to class with a new look. Everyone turning their heads as I walked by and then finally noticing the new look. Of course, my parents approved but for the first time, I made a decision for myself and made my own appointment. It doesn't seem like much but for me, it was a big step. It was also fun to do it with a good friend of mine from exchange. Carol from Brazil. As I cut my hair, she colored hers and it brought us even closer, as cheesy as it sounds.

During the month of March, German schools in Berlin have Easter vacation, from the 23rd until the 8th of April. However, I have Eurotour from the 8th until the 26th of May, so for an entire month I'll be missing school. Of course I am so excited for this trip and I've waited for it since before my exchange; however, I've made such great friends at school that not seeing them for a month is just a bit sad for me. So we took a group picture before the break started and now I can post it in my journal as a memory. The next and greatest adventure I've had this month was visiting my sister in Austria. The last time I saw her was for New Years when she came to Germany to visit me so for this vacation, my host family took me to visit her and it was a beautiful Easter gift. She lives in a small village called Ried Im Innkreis. I left early on Sunday morning from the main station in Berlin and it took about 8 hours to arrive to her station. Monday we walked to the center of her town and Tuesday the adventure began. We took an early train to Salzburg which is only 2 hours away from where she lives and without a plan in mind, we were on our way. The German spoken in Austria is different from in Berlin, accent wise. So, thankfully Valentina could understand them because I could not. We had no idea how to get anywhere; however, people were really nice and helped us out. We saw Die Mirabell Palace, a historical building in the city of Salzburg, Austria. The palace with its gardens is a listed cultural heritage monument and part of the Historic Centre of the City of Salzburg UNESCO World Heritage Site. They also filmed a scene from the movie " The sound of music, " when the von trapp family and the nun walk up and down the stairs singing the famous song DO A DEER. The day was also beautiful, very sunny! Then we walked to the birth house of Mozart and then the house where he grew up in. From there we went to the famous Cafe Tomaselli, and we ate the famous Sachertorte, a specific type of chocolate cake, or torte, invented by Austrian Franz Sacher in 1832 for Prince Wenzel von Metternich in Vienna, Austria. It is one of the most famous Viennese culinary specialties, yet we ate it in Salzburg. Wednesday through Friday we spent tim in Vienna with an exchange student from Valentina's district. Iciar from Spain, a great hostess. We also spent some quality time with Valentina's families, her second and third one. Unfortunately, it was time for me to leave her and head back to Berlin but over all it was a beautiful week in Austria. I could go on about how amazing my 7th month was but these were my highlights that I wanted to share. Until next time!!

Click HERE to read more about Vale and all her blogs