Thursday, October 15, 2009

I think I'll build an airplane.

I was just reminded of one of my favorite childhood books, titled "Bored, Nothing To Do", in which two young boys decide to gather materials from all over the neighborhood in order to construct an aircraft in the backyard. Fond memories... But I am not all that bored. Simply relaxed, which is rather impressive being that it was my fourth day of German school. But I only had class until 12:35, and I didn't do any work all day. In German we had a breakfast party sort of thing with bröchten and nutella and Früstuckuchen, so that was quite delicious. In Physik one of the students, Lukas, did a presentation on the Dampfmaschine, which I believe is something along the lines of a mechanical water wheel. But I didn't understand all that much. Then I had double art, and people were doing all sorts of cool self-driven 2d projects based on famous paintings- we had about 5 to choose from. So the teacher asked me what I liked to do and then listed a couple things but I only recognized the word for 'to draw', so that's what I chose. So I am now drawing a sketch of a painting of a china doll or a very china-looking girl. I'll upload a picture when she's done... but it might be a month or so as I only have art once a week and I have 2 weeks of vacation. In math, Lukas got up again and explained a problem to the class... so I sort of spaced out. But I asked the math teacher some questions after class and she answered all of them and told me that I didn't need to worry about not understanding because it will come to me quickly. After school I biked down to Frohnau and bought a Thursday treat- a Pfannkuchen, which I believe is like a jelly donut except much better. I enjoyed it quite a lot. I biked around the little Frohnau town circle- there wasn't much to see. A church, an apothoke (I don't know exactly what this is but they're everywhere!), another bakery, a fruit and vegetable store, a little grocery store, a lotto store. And a post office. It was raining (as usual) so I went home and watched some German tv for a while- some Nickelodeon shows that I recognized vaguely from the US, a little Zack and Cody and Hannah Montana, and a German show interviewing kids who were doing their Praktikum. That was cool for me because I'm thinking about trying to do mine with a veterinarian or something of that nature, so it was neat to see what other kids are doing. I also spent some time reading my first journal, which spans from the beginning of August to a week and a half ago. I stopped reading once I got to October, but it was actually kind of cool to see how my emotions progressed. In the beginning there were a lot of pep-talks that I'd written to myself about how awesome this is all going to be and how I'm going to understand German before I know it. Well, I'm not sure about that, but now I don't feel like I need a set date for when I'm going to be fluent. I've kind of settled in here and I'm okay with the fact that I probably won't understand everything that goes on in school until after the Christmas break, and that I'm going to be missing a lot at home. Tonight at dinner I actually understood a lot of the conversation, which was pretty entertaining- Daniela was making fun of Simon because last year in the military he ran every day and was fit and trim, and now he sits at home and eats. He's not fat, but it's a funny thing to talk about in the German sense of humor. But I feel like the family is starting to open up a little more around me- as though they've gotten used to the fact that I'm going to be around for 9 more months. It's really quite cool.
Tomorrow I am leaving school early (which isn't saying that much as I've done that every day except today already) so I can take the bus to Spandau for my orientation!!! I'm so excited!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


So. here is my school schedule, then I will write all about it.
MONTAG (Monday)
8:00-9:30: Mathematik
9:50-10:35: Latein
10:35-11:20: Englisch
11:50-12:35: Deutsch
12:35-1:20: Biologie
1:40-3:10: Sport

DIENSTAG (Tuesday)
8:00-8:45: Geschichte
8:45-9:30: Englisch
9:50-11:20: Sozialkunde
11:50-12:35: Latein
12:35-1:20: Deutsch
1:40-2:25: Mathematik

MITTWOCH (Wednesday)
8:00-8:45: Deutsch
8:45-9:30: Englisch
9:50-10:35: Ethik
10:35-11:20: Mathematik
11:50-1:20: Chemie/ Biologie
1:40-2:25: Geschichte

8:00-8:45: Deutsch
8:45-9:30: Physik
9:50-11:20: Kunst
11:50-12:35: Mathematik

FREITAG (Friday)
8:00-9:30: Musik
9:50-10:35: Chemie
10:35-11:20: Ethik
11:50-1:20: Sport
1:40-2:25: Physik
2:25-3:10: Latein

So I think all of those are probably self-explanatory except Kunst- Art, Sozialkunde-economics??? and Geschichte- History. So on Thursdays I only have classes until 12:35, and an hour and a half is spent doing art. I love it. So I've been in school for 2 days now, and I understand nothing except in English class. In math they're learning about material I've already covered, so once I get my book and review it, I think I'll just need to work on learning the vocabulary. They're all in their second year of Latin so I think I'll be able to do okay in that too. I asked my mom to send me my notes that I kept, so that I can review a bit. It's going to be a long process at first though- I'll have to translate from Latin into German, and then into English so that I know what it means. Hopefully soon I won't have to translate to English anymore, though! My German teacher told me that she doesn't know if I can handle the class- after our fall break, they're going to be putting on a play by the German equivalent of Shakespeare, and she said it was difficult even for the native speakers. I'm going to try my best to read the play, and if I can do it then I'll have proved her wrong, and if I can't then I'll get put in an easier class, so I'm fine either way. I haven't really had enough experience in any of my other classes to say anything about them- I either haven't had them yet or I simply didn't understand anything that was going on. All the teachers seem really nice though, as are the students, and people are willing to help. On the first day two girls, Sofia and Mirja, offered to help me because I have at least one of them in all of my classes. So they've been super helpful to have around. It's going to be weird though, because on Friday we start our 2-week Herbstferien, or fall break. So I'm going to have to get used to school all over again in 2 1/2 weeks. But I think that sometime in mid-November I should be feeling comfortable in school, and much more comfortable with the German language. Don't get me wrong- I am definitely excited for my Herbstferien! For the second week I think my host family is taking me on a trip around Germany so I can see some of the other parts. And in the first week I think I'm going to do a little American baking, and hopefully get together with some other exchange students who also have their fall break. Plus I have AFS Late Orientation Camp this weekend! I'm excited for that. Now I have to go to rowing though.. not so excited for the temperature... but after today, I only have 2 more outdoor practices! Cheers! I don't know what we'll do indoors but I don't think it will be particularly strenuous as we're a noncompetitive team. Which I am really quite fine with- I don't think I could handle much more stress in my day right now. Thank you all who have been keeping in touch, I really do love hearing from you! Really!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

schule tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And I am so excited! I'm hoping to get into a Latin class instead of French- I really know about 3 words in French and I would not receive a passing grade, guaranteed. But it's pleasant to listen to, I suppose, so if I do get stuck in French at least it will sound nice, even though it won't make any sense. Simon is taking me tomorrow morning to help me get set up with classes and such- Daniela is working and Sebastian is going to Vienna- I don't know why.
This weekend was really good, starting with Friday being the official last day of language school!!! A couple of the other students, including the funny French-speaking Swiss guy who sat next to me and kept asking questions because he was even newer than I was to the class, said goodbye to me and wished me luck with my next 9 months. Oh yeah, and I have been here A MONTH!!!!!!! That is so crazy to me, I don't really know how it all blew by... Anyway, on Friday night I went out to Potsdamer Platz with my liasons, Ulrike and Sofie. Sofie is around my age, and she spent the last year in Brazil with AFS, so she doesn't speak much English but she seems very nice. Ulrike is really nice too, and I also met her boyfriend. We had dinner in the Sony Center, and I had my first German beer, which was actually a mix of beer and sprite, which sounds gross but it wasn't. Plus it wasn't too strong so I drank the whole thing. We wandered the mall at Potsdamer Platz for a while because we were going to see a movie but it didn't start until later. Then we walked over to the Brandenburger Tor and it was all lit up and very pretty. There was a demonstration against the war in Iraq- apparently there is always a demonstration there. We said goodbye to Sofie, who had a friend staying with her so she couldn't stay for the movie, and walked to the Kino. I payed a ridiculous amouount of money for M&Ms, a mistake which I will not be making again (pre-movie candy shopping at the market is clearly a necessity). But they were good, and we saw Julie and Julia in German! I understood most of it and it was quite funny, but I think that was because I'd already read the book, so I knew what it was about, and Meryl Streep makes me laugh even if her voice isn't coming out of her mouth. That took a little getting used to, but it was fine.
On Saturday I slept in (I didn't get home until almost midnight) and then Judith came home from Dortmund with her boyfriend Vincent. The three of us walked to S. Frohnau to Vincent's house and sat with his mom and talked for a few hours. She had chocolate chip cookies- even drier than Chips Ahoy, but you take what you can get here! Vincent's younger sister is in my class at school, but she's in France right now... I don't know why that is. But I met his other sister who's 13, and she seems very nice. So his mom was nice and we ended up playing this memory game with pictures from the Berlin national art museum, which was funny... Judith clobbered us, of course. She and Vincent left after dinner because apparently Judith is going to Zurich for her fall break, and her train left last night.
Today Daniela, Sebastian, Clara and I went to the Technik-Museum. We were going to go to the Judischer museum but there was a long line, and I'm kind of glad we didn't because I would really like to spend some time there without an eleven-year-old, I think. The Technik Museum was cool actually- it had all these hands-on exhibits with optical illusions and sensory stuff and displays about how things work. In the technology building it had old trains and rowing boats and sailboats, as well as sewing machines and typewriters and looms. It showed the history of a lot of machines, and we saw a demonstration about paper-making. That was pretty cool, although at that point I was getting really tired and my legs felt like they were going to melt a little bit. Luckily we left soon after that, and at home we watched a German tv show about a German exchange student in Texas. It was really funny for me, because she lived in this mansion of a Texas home with a pool in the backyard, and her school said the Pledge of Alleigance every morning, and the host mom gave this whole speech about how boys and girls can only be together in public areas. To nearly all of these things Daniela looked at me for an explanation. 'You say the Pledge of Alleigance every day?' 'American houses are so BIG!' 'You're not allowed to be alone with a boy?' So I had to debase some more American stereotypes and talk about how Massachusetts is a verrrrry different place from Texas. I think the thing she thought was the most bizarre was that girls and boys aren't allowed into each others' bedrooms. 'Hier es ist kein problem.' (Here it is no problem.)
After that little episode I skyped with a majority of my extended family gathered at my grandma's house for the annual chicken sacrifice. It was really fun to talk to them all! All of the kids gathered in front of the screen and had a fun time looking at themselves.
Well, that's all for now, I think- sometime this week I will try to post an update about my first week of SCHULE!!! I'm pumped. Gute nacht alles!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Jussssst kidding...

I'm still in language school. I guess it was a misinterpretation, but I could have SWORN that Daniela told me I was starting the first week in October... ah well. I've been understanding more and more, and I had a legitimate phone conversation in Deutsch the other day, plus I've been emailing with my liason in German, so I'm feeling pretty proud of myself. Now I definitely and absolutely have only two more days of language class... and THEN I get to start school. Of course, I only have a week before I have two weeks of vacation, so that will be interesting... I'm guessing I won't be able to really start making friends until November. But I'm not giving up hope- I'm going to try to get to know someone well enough to make plans to get together over vacation at some point! I think Judith is coming home from Dortmund, too, and she said she'd show me around Berlin a little. On Friday, I'm meeting my liason! We're going out to dinner at Potsdamer Platz and then to see Julie and Julia!!! I'm super-psyched, both to meet her and to see Meryl Streep. She always makes me really happy. I'm not sure if we're seeing it in English or German yet, I think it would probably be more beneficial to see it in German of course, but I'd rather see it in English because I like Amy Adams' and Meryl Streep's voices so much.
This week has been excellent so far- on Monday I got a wonderful letter from Grandma (thanks- I'm writing a letter!), and on Tuesday I got a Halloween-themed package from Linda (thank you SO MUCH!!! Clara was very excited about the decorations.) Today I am skyping home for the first time, and tomorrow I'm expecting a package from my friend, and Friday I have my Potsdamer Platz date!!! So quite good overall. Today is really warm, and it wasn't raining during rowing yesterday so I stayed much warmer! Warm weather always makes me cheerful.
Yesterday I wandered through Tegel and found a bookstore where I bought a new journal (I've already filled up my first one!) and The Book Thief in German. It is my favorite book in English, and I couldn't resist. I'm going to wait a few months before trying to read it though.
Oh, and last weekend... it was Clara's birthday and she liked the scarf that I bought her! Score one for Jasmine. She had some friends over for a sewing party, and they all made pillowcases- she made me make one as well, and it was pretty fun, although I messed up an embarrassing amount of times, but I ended up with a fun jungle-themed sort of pillow. Maybe I'll use it on the plane on the way home... my neck got really stiff on the way here! She also received a fotoapparat (digital camera) with which she has been photographing me in every possible state, and a fondue pot, with which we made chocolate fondue the other day. Actually we just melted a chocolate bar, but as it's German chocolate, it was still lecker. On Sunday Simon, Lisa (his girlfriend), some family friends and I went to a motorcycle rally! It was really fun, and my first time on a motorcycle. It reminded me of snowmobiling, except warmer. I think I like snowmobiling better because a) you're on tracks instead of wheels, and it seems so much less likely to fall over and b) it's generally a lot prettier in snowmobiling areas than it is in motorcycling. But of course I can't really say this as I've only been once.
More to come after this weekend, perhaps sooner if I have time!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

one more day

of language school!!! And then I have the weekend and then I start in the Georg-Herweg Oberschule! I am pretty excited. Today Clara and Daniela helped me with my German homework, it was very funny because sometimes they would come across a question about a combination of articles and they would just look at each other for a few seconds while they processed it, and then they would simultaneously tell me the right answer. It was pretty funny. Also, I showed them the scrapbook I made today, so now they know what y'all look like. I think I'm going to give them their American gifts sometime next week. This weekend is Clara's birthday, so she's having a sewing party Saturday afternoon, and I think I'm helping to make a birthday cake. So that will be my first European cooking experience! Wahoo! I still have to get her a present, though. Tomorrow after Sprachschule I'm going to eat something delicious to celebrate the fact that I finished, and then go birthday-present-shopping. I hope the weather's nice- today it was cold and windy and rainy, and I braved it to go looking in Charlottenberg for an English bookstore, which I found and wandered around in for about half an hour browsing the lovely English titles. I bought She's Come Undone, which I'm saving for when I'm desperate for my mother tongue, and War and Peace, which I'm hoping will keep me busy reading-wise for quite a while, so that I don't have to go spend more money. Although I did just get a library card for the library in Tegel. Unfortunately, there are around 30 English books, but by the time I finish War and Peace I probably won't even want to read in English anymore. It was funny- apparently you have to be 18 to have your own library card or be on a family plan or something, so I had to be under Daniela's name and so I had to be part of the family, so basically Daniela had to claim that I was her tochter... which she thought was really funny. "Du bist meine Tochter, hahaha!" I don't really know why it was so funny, but it was, and now I have a library card. So that's that. On the topic of reading, the other day I remembered that Mom had sent me The Little Prince (one of my favorites- Thanks Mom!) and I so I brought it downstairs to read it- it usually only takes me an hour or so, so I was just going to enjoy the woodstove (we have a woodstove, I am so happy!), but then Sebastian said that they had the German version, and went on a search for it. So then he found it and Clara and I read them together- she would read a few paragraphs aloud of the German version, and I would read a few paragraphs in English, and so on. It's been quite nice- I can follow along in English what she's reading in German- or at least sort of, as the sentence structure is different. But it's fun. Also, Judith has the French version, so if I get bored of learning German in a few months I can start learning French instead.
Tomorrow, I need to restock my chocolate supply- I've been keeping a bar in my closet/wardrobe/cabinet thing, and eating a little bit every now and then... but they really don't last very long. But they are so good. Milka is one brand I see everywhere, rather hershey-like except not as big. It is so delicious, and it comes with all these different yogurty-fillings. But I've also been eating lots of soup and meat and vegetables so hopefully my nutrition is evening out a little? I hope so.
I am feeling really glücklich right now- certainly tired but I've had a busyish day. I understand a lot of what my host family says to me, and the sentence structure and grammar is starting to fall into place in my mind a little bit. I would say I'm quite confident in finding my way around, even if I get lost I have maps and I know how to ask for help in German. I'm about to start normal school and start making friends, and I feel really relaxed and glad about where I am.
I'll update again after this weekend- Simon's bringing me to a motorcycle race on Sunday, so maybe that will bring up some exciting stories... I love you all!
p.s. happy oktober!