Okay, I'm really wishing I was fluent in German already. However, I know that the painful and difficult struggle I am about to pursue is part of the whole exchange experience, so I'm not focusing on my regrets. I am still pretty tired after many hours of travel but I don't think it's fatigue from being surrounded by a new country yet. I think that's probably coming soon, though. Our flight was good, although dinner was served at midnight, and so I finally fell asleep at 1 am and then at about 3:30 I woke up and it was light out (because it was 7:00 where we were flying over. We landed at about 6, which was noon German time. Then I, along with a few other people, was taken to the waiting area for people leaving on trains. For some reason my train was full of Brazilian exchange students, so I couldn't even understand the other students! But I sat with some other Americans and we played cards and bought our first German items... except we were on a train so there wasn't much to choose from. I bought a Twix bar for 1,5 Euro. It was deliciously German. Then some of us switched trains and there weren't any open tables, so I sat by myself and tried to get some sleep while listening to Portuguese. At 8 p.m. (German time) we got to our stop and I met my host familie!!! They are very nice. Clara made me a sign and a pin with my name on them. When we got to the house we had dinner: bread with meat and cheese and salad. I was so happy there was salad. I met Simon and Lisa, his girlfriend, and everyone spoke in Deutsch while I sat there eating... oh well. Then I took a shower- the showerhead was really low but I managed. The toilets are very funny- they all have a sticker on the seat with 2 pictures of a man peeing (not real pictures, just those little black figures on bathroom doors) and one says "bitte" (please) with a red x over it and the other (the wrong way) says "danke" (thank you). The one with an x is a man standing, the other is a man sitting. Apparently German men don't stand when they pee. I haven't embarrassed myself terribly yet, although I did mistake a soup plate for a bread plate. Whoopsie-daisy.
I went to church with my host parents on Sunday, for the first time in my life. It was definitely a good experience, but I don't think I'll be going every week. Or even every other week. Clara talked to me all day long, and I'm not sure she realized that I couldn't understand anything she was saying, but sometimes I could get the jist of it. She taught me how to play this simple game with pegs and dice, and then we played Rummycube (I won!!) and pick-up sticks, and after the afternoon meal (lunch + dinner combined) we played "Cafe International", a board game from the 80s that was fun but definitely entailed some stereotypes... there were cartoon pictures of men and women from different countries, and all the Cubans had cigars and military outfits, the Russians had fur hats, and the Americans had big flashy sunglasses. It was fun, though. Today Daniela (host mom) took me to the market to get food. It was an interesting experience. Did you know that in Germany you have to put a Euro coin into the shopping carts in order to use them? And then when you're done you put the cart back and lock it with the others and it gives you your coin back, to prevent people from stealing. Also, everyone brings baskets or bags, if you don't then you have to buy bags. Overall it is very eco-friendly here.
I have found that at night and in the morning I feel pretty down, asking myself how I got myself into this mess where I can't understand anything and I won't be home for 10 months. But as soon as I go downstairs and start talking to people, even if they can't understand what I'm saying it makes me feel more cheerful and very lucky that I get to learn this cool language. Well, I love you all, but I'm going to go help make lunch now! Auf Wiedersehen!!!