Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Going home.

In less than 24 hours, I'll be on a train out of here. I found my passport (in a small pocket of my backpack- I thought it was so smart to put it there until I forgot) and my train ticket (in my old journal- I was still using it often when I put the ticket and papers in it, and then switched journals and forgot about it). So, all panic aside, I still have to manage to fit everything... my overstuffed duffel bag weighs in at 19,5 kilos, so I'm good on that (max weight is 23) and my backpack can go up to 20 but I've only got 10 because I'm really bad at squishing things. I have a small cardboard box filled with random stuff- notebooks, american money, pictures, cds... and I have to find a place for it all or send YET ANOTHER package home. I'm really hoping I don't have to do that. I have faith in my packing skills. I think. I hope.

Other than packing, it's really weird to be going back... to be leaving... VERY weird. I can't really even describe how I feel. I'm leaving the people who I've lived with for a year, and going back to people I've lived with for 16 years but haven't seen in such a long time. Who knows when I'll see my German family again, who knows when I'll get a chance to come back here. It makes me feel empty inside when I think about it, so instead I focus on packing and everything is well.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Winding down...

In sixteen days I'll be on a plane. Out of Deutschland. For who knows how long.

I'm not particularly sad. I'm also not particularly happy. I'm so excited to see my friends and family again, but to know that this year is coming to an end and I will never be able to live the same way again is very strange. I'm already packing all my stuff because my host brother comes home from his AFS year in Tennessee in a few days, and I'm in his room. I'm planning to have all my stuff packed by Friday so I can move into my older host sister's room- she actually comes back home on the day I leave, so the timing works out perfectly. But thinking about goodbyes is so hard, because I don't know what to do- these people have taken me into their house for ten months, and now I'm packing my bags and leave, and it could be many years before I return. Even if I do, it'll all be different. I'll be older, they'll be older, and we'll have lived apart for a long time. I won't be a part of the household anymore. And that is just odd to consider.

Other things:
-today is the first day since End-of-Stay Camp (June 9-13) that I haven't needed a sweatshirt to go outside. Hello? It's summer! Where's the summer weather?
-next Monday my class is heading off to Holland for a 4-night Klassenfahrt, or class trip. We'll be spending a day in Amsterdam, and I'm quite excited.
-I got next year's class schedule- future exchange students, if you're doing your year as a junior, watch out. Your senior year is going to be KILLER. (Okay, well, it is in my case.)

Okay, gotta go pack now... Daniela bought me two bier steins, which was very nice of course, but how on earth am I supposed to pack them? Sheesh...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Juni und Jammern

"And what is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days; Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune, And over it softly her warm ear lays." -James Russell Lowell

Well, apparently Mr. Lowell didn't spend much time in Berlin in June... it's the first day of June and barely scraping over 50°, and it's poured every day for a week. I keep forgetting it's already spring because it's so darn chilly, and then I remember that SUMMER is in TWENTY DAYS. Now that's exciting.

We also got our travel information from AFS Germany... flying out of Frankfurt-am-Main at 12:20 on the 9th of July! I think the three Berlin Americans and I are taking the train on the 8th so we don't have to get up at 2 a.m. the next day. I'm pretty darn pumped, myself. I'll miss Germany, but I'm quite excited to get on with the next chapter of my life (aka summertime.)

Also, as for the title, "Juni" is German for June and "jammern" means to complain or lament. Which I've been doing a lot of lately- about 99% being aimed at the weather. I think we're supposed to see a few minutes of sun this weekend, though. So I'm hopeful that I can stop jammering soon.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

a good quote

"To succeed in life, you need 3 things: a wishbone, a backbone, and a funnybone." -Reba McEntire

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I am taking the German SAT subject test in 10 days. My head is currently whirling with coordinating conjunctions, subjunctive moods, and auxiliary verbs... not to mention I'm trying to shove as much vocabulary in as I possibly can. So I apologize for my slight lack of communication... between June 5th and June 9th I'll get on that! And then I'll be gone again for our AFS END OF STAY camp. That means we're almost at the end. I believe the current count is 44 days. Holy guacamole!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

And we're off!

Tomorrow, at 10:10 am (promptly- we are in Germany, you know), I am leaving on a flight to France! Well, actually a flight to Frankfurt am Main, and then a flight to Toulouse, Frankreich. It's only a one-hour layover, though. And then I'll be spending four days in the lovely south of France! I am quite excited, and all my stuff is packed (I'm guessing I overpacked like usual) and I'm prepared to leave the house at 7 am (yippee...) to take various buses and UBahns to the airport.

I'm looking forward to:
-seeing a new country
-meeting new people
-eating French pastries and various other delicacies

I'm not so much looking forward to:

(My uncle thinks I'm crazy that I'm going to France and I don't like cheese.)
There will be much Frenchness to come, I'm sure! Tschuss! Bonjour! Arrivaderci! Ciao! Goodbye!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Kiss Kiss

Our favorite American smooch...

and its German equivalent.

Monday, April 26, 2010


It's a German word ("Healthiness"). You'd think the Germans would use it. I'm pretty sure I've heard about a total of ten Gesundheits the entire time I've been here. In America, if you sneeze in class, you'll often get about 10 "bless yous", including from the teacher. In Germany, I think sneezes are treated more like coughs- just kind of ignored. Although apparently (I have not experienced this for myself but have heard it from other exchange students) if you sneeze three times in a row you get to make a wish. Now I'm shuffling my feet on the carpet trying to get enough dust to rise that I'll sneeze three times.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


DDR-Ville. Ost Deutschland. East Germany. Or, as our group of CBYXers have coined it, the East German Hood, or EGH. While I technically live in the former West Germany, I am probably only a few feet from the border. It's pretty hard to tell in the middle of Berlin at this point where the border was unless you look down and see a piece of Wall- a lot of East Berlin has been rebuilt and westernized. However, in what the Americans call the ghetto of Germany, there are groups of young guys who hang around in groups smoking Paul Malls and wearing what they think is gangsta gear. A typical outfit consists of the following: a white fake trucker hat, a plain white jacket, holey white jeans, shiny adidas sneakers, and a fanny pack. The Fanny Pack is essential. The Fanny Pack is where the kids of the EGH store their cigarette-rolling materials. They've got the filters, which they'll hold between their lips while they peel off a paper and pick a bit of tobacco out between their index finger and thumb. Then they'll spread it out all nice and evenly and lick the paper like an envelope to roll it all up into what they consider the coolest G thang ever. And the Americans sit by and watch, trying not to burst into (completely socially inappropriate) hysterical laughter. The G-wannabes swagger out of the S-Bahn, light their cigs with hot pink lighters (stored in the back pocket of their Fanny Packs) and toss their heads at each other in what they think is a gangster nod. And I nod back. Because they make my day every time I see them.

Oranienburger Straße

We've heard stories about this street. This street is the place to go if you're looking for SDA- Sex, Drugs, and Alcohol. It's where the bars and clubs are, it's where the shisha (hookah) dens are, and it's where the hookers are. This is what we've been told by our liasons and friends. And yet I have eaten in various restaurants all down the street, walked along it in daytime and at night, and it's never seemed any different than any other German street. Yesterday, a couple Americans and I were walking out of the U-Bahn in search for a little post-dinner kick. Immediately after we emerged from the smoky underground, Claire whacks me repeatedly on the arm, whispering excitedly, "prostitute! Prostitute!" I turn my head to see a woman wearing a white hoodie over a corset, jean shorts that consisted of less fabric than my underwear, and bright pink go-go boots. We had barely expressed our excitement and amazement at seeing one prostitute when I punch Claire- "there's another one!!" And so there was. In fact, in the entire short length of the street, we saw six different prostitutes, all of which completely fit the foggy picture of hookers we'd had in our inexperienced American minds. It was ridiculous. We lived off the craziness for the whole night, and after observing several sketch bars from the outside, we went looking in the more open and public vicinity of Friedrichstraße. We ended up getting a few cocktails at an Indian restaurant- I ordered a Latin Lover, which was quite delicious. My companions, who are probably much better at holding alcohol than I am (I don't consider myself experienced enough to say that I can hold anything at all), asked the women at the table next to ours what they were drinking. "Zombies", they laughed, clinking glasses. So they ordered two Zombies, and instead of being served what the women had, they got odd orange concoctions. Apparently they still tasted good, but the women laughed hysterically and pointed at us with their lollipops. (I wonder how many cocktails it takes to make a few middle-aged women suck on lollipops and play practical jokes on a group of teenagers). Oh, the adventures of one Friday night in Germany...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Hello. How are you? Beautiful weather today, isn't it?

The weather's got to be pretty darn impressive in order to warrant a blog post. This morning I got up and the sky looked dangerously grey, but I hoped I could make it to school before it rained and then maybe it'd clear up before I had to bike back home.

8:15- math class has begun. I look outside. It's twice as dark and pouring.
8:30- the sun pokes through the clouds.
9:00- it's pouring again.
11:20- sunny and gorgeous! Maybe it'll dry off my bike seat.
1:00- pouring. funky-colored sky.
1:20- the sun is back out! Hooray! My bike isn't dry, but with a little sleeve action it was reduced to a bit of dampness.
1:25- ow. It starts hailing on me as I bike home. The temperature seems to have dropped about five degrees (Celcius) since I started biking. My hands are frozen to the handlebars and being pelted by little hailstones.
1:50- full-out sunny. No worries. All this storming must be over.
2:00- walking back from the mailbox from sending a couple letters. It starts hailing again, harder than before. Ow. I run fast.
2:30- sunny. A 30-second rainbow shows up.
4:00- skies are dark, it's pouring.
5:00- host parents come home, it's sunny. They decide to go grocery shopping.
5:15- never mind. It started pour-hailing again.
7:00- we made dinner with what we had, and ate a lovely meal. Outside it is gorgeous and sunny out.

Phew. Germany sure likes to exhaust its full range of weather options.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It smells like the first spring rain. Outside my window I can see small pink blossoms falling from the tree like a spring snowstorm. And it's warm enough to wear a t-shirt outside. I love spring. It's the time of birth and regrowth. My fellow Amis and I are trying feebly to "regrow" our previous in-shape pre-Germany bodies... I did go running yesterday! Except then Daniela hinted that it probably wasn't the best idea as the air is full of volcanic ash spat over from Iceland- I was wondering why my lungs were hurting. Gee, I guess I'll just have to stay inside and study for the SATs instead. I actually took a practice test today, even though I'm technically supposed to be studying for the German SATs... but who cares about technicalities anyway. My excitement levels are growing for various trips and plans in the future... these are going to be a fabulous few months!!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy April!

Wahoo! The month of Easter, spring, and pranksters. I successfully convinced my mother that I'd spontaneously decided to pierce my nose. From what I hear she had a minor freakout until Olivia reminded her it was the first of April. Whew. It's been quite lovely weather here for the last few days, although I've heard New England has got crazy flooding going on. On Saturday we hung out a lot outside, planting pumpkin seeds, fixing the little bridge on the path to the front door, cleaning up the yard, etc. Clara and I biked down to the ice cream shop and picked up some delicacies to go, which were wrapped up neatly and put in the back basket of Clara's bike on the way home. It was quite delicious. Easter was quite fun as well- rather similar to American celebrations. Egg-dyeing, egg-finding, big breakfast, etc. We also went to a big bonfire downtown that was supposed to burn the evil ghosts- not sure what this has to do with Easter as a holiday, but it's an annual tradition. Then at about 7 p.m. we headed to Potsdamer Platz via train to see Dirty Dancing live on stage! It was pretty fabulous. The singing was Broadway-good: not Broadway-amazing, but Broadway-acceptable. The dancing, though, was a whole different story. THAT was Broaway-amazing. Times ten. Happy Easter!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Flatterers

Today I was reading through messages from "interested" colleges on a college website... you know, the kind where you put in your GPA, SAT scores, and maybe an intended major or two and colleges from all over the country start selling themselves at your feet. After the PSAT as a sophomore, I admit I was rather flattered- but at this point it's just dull- I hit the delete button for about 90 percent of the messages. However, today I hit the "yes, fine, send me your massive amounts of emails" button even though I have no intention of looking further into the school. My reason? This college had a major in Turf and Turfgrass Management. So if chimney sweeping doesn't work out, I know what my follow-up career choice will be.


I consider pancakes to be a Sunday-morning staple at home. Or at least every other Sunday. For those of you who feel the same, or have any sort of pancake fetish, here is your German pancake education.

A Pfannkuchen (literal translation "pancake") resembles a jelly donut. Quite delicious, in my personal opinion. You can find them in just about every bakery.

An Eierkuchen, however, more closely resembles a crepe. My aunt makes them at home but calls them German pancakes. They're not a very large part of German meals, but they do show up occasionally. They're usually eaten with jam or nutella and powdered sugar.

If you want to find a Pfannkuchen, you're going to have to ask for a Berliner. If you ask for a Pfannkuchen, you're going to end up holding an Eierkuchen. Confusing much? If you ask for a Berliner in Berlin, people will just think you're from outside of the city. If you want an American pancake, you're going to have to make 'em yourself- nobody's got a clue what they are.

Socks: They ain't just for your feet.

People in Germany have socks for every little piece of technology they've got. Cell phones, cameras, iPods. Some people have them for their books. I get German Stares when I pull out my cell phone and it's sockless.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Today my classmates recieved their MSA grades. I'm sure I've already touched on the grading system but now I've got a better understanding and have formulated this handy-dandy table for y'all. (Note that some of these reactions are based off of MSA responses, which are more dramatic than others as this test is so important.)

1: WOW! AWESOME! I'M AMAZING! High fives all around.
2: *Sob* But I should have gotten a one!
3: Are you SURE this is what I deserve? Okay, fine, I'll accept it. But don't expect me to smile.
4: My mum's going to kill me.
5: I bombed big-time. I'll just fake the parental signature on this one.
6: I fail at life.

It's funny, I almost think people react better when they get a 3 than a 2 because when people get 2s they get really defensive and try to talk the teacher into giving them a 1. With a three, they just deal.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The German Stare

I am going to introduce y'all to a new concept. The German Stare is often interpreted as a reaction to you being a foreigner. At least I thought so- I couldn't speak German, I might have worn clothing that shouted "American" though I didn't know it, and I didn't behave like a true German. However, I can at this point pass for a German in brief conversations, and I dress subtly enough that no one suspects I'm a foreigner until I open my mouth too far. The German Stare is simply a part of German culture. It's not as if we don't stare in America- I've certainly done my fair share of staring- but we tend to look away quickly and pretend we were doing something else if the person we're staring at looks our way. We hide the fact that we're watching, we look out of the corners of our eyes, watch people from behind our magazines or in window reflections. In Germany, if you are at all interesting, people will stare. They will stare directly, look you up and down, and even make eye contact with you if you look at them. Sometimes they'll twist an opinion into their facial expression- of humor, contempt, or distaste. They don't hide it. In some ways it's good- you don't have to wonder if the person likes you or not, as you do in America when people hide behind a fake polite mask. If someone thinks you're dumb or dressed funny, you'll know.

It was just one of those days...

You know the kind. The days where everything just falls into place and feels so right. I slept in until 9 and then did a bit more college research. I went to Bikram Yoga dressed in my red Converse and my favorite blue dress that Dad bought me in New Hampshire, and that's it. (Okay I had socks and underwear on too.) It was so deliciously warm and sunny out. It's supposed to drop about 15 degrees and pour this weekend, but I'm thoroughly enjoying the sun while it's here. I'm feelin' good.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I just purchased a plane ticket to Toulouse, France! On May 12 I'll be boarding a plane at 10:00 am, heading to go stay with the family my aunt was an au pair for once upon a time. At this point in time I'm going alone, but I'm hoping to find a travel partner soon (if anyone reading this wants to join me, feel free to call or email!). I'm extremely excited. I promise there will be lots of pictures taken.

About a week ago I recieved the following email: "Hi Jasmine, I’m writing to you to officially welcome you into the Junior Counselor program at Wildwood this summer. I feel you are a great candidate for this program and I’m looking forward to working with you!" I officially have my first legit job. From July 25 to August 21, my really good friend I will be working as Junior Counselors at Wildwood! Junior counselors aren't legit counselors (hence we don't have to sleep in the campers' cabins) and we get our own big cabin and all the counselor priveleges AND we get to put it on our college application. Plus I just love camp.

Speaking of colleges... I admit I've been doing a LOT of research lately. I've been making a lot of lists and taking notes on all the colleges that look remotely interesting. Mostly I've got a lot of northeast/ New England colleges, a few Universities of California, and one in Minnesota. My list is getting slowly shorter, and I'm becoming more and more interested in a select few. Of course, I'm also getting remarkably overwhelmed by the enormous tuition fees and tiny acceptance percentages. My mom did tell me about a Northamptonite who recieved $50,000 a year for her tuition at the college she was accepted at, so I'm just keeping positive and hoping for a massive scholarship. Either that or obtain California residence and only pay $7000 tuition or so.

I've got a lot of fuzzy future plans... I'll write more about them as time passes. For now, I'm going to go to a student q&a session for Boston University online... and enjoy the fact that I have no school tomorrow! One of the few positive features of being in the 10th grade is that the 10th graders have to write a Mittler Schulabschluss, which is a big test including German, English, and Math written sections and a presentation. And I will be sleeping in. Sometimes I really enjoy being an exchange student.

Langweilig- boring.

Today it was well into the 60°s, and sunny! I bombed a math test (I sort of forgot to study, and I've always been terrible with probability anyway) and aced a physiks test (I think), which evens out to an average academic day. Yesterday evening and again tonight my orchestra is playing along with the school choir in one song during a sort of concert-presentation about Alexander von Humbolt. I haven't actually seen much of it, but it's about this adventurer Humbolt, with a random selection of songs to sort of act as a soundtrack. It's a cool idea, it just isn't quite well-formulated enough to be great.

So what have I been up to lately... oh, I started watching Glee online- I now understand the new American phenomenon! It's extremely entertaining. Plus it always makes me wish I had the lungs to belt out showtunes without sounding like a strangled duck- ah well. Maybe in my next life. Speaking of American phenomena, I've heard there's quite the health care craze going on! Personally, I think it's an improvement simply because we're going somewhere. If Obama revokes the new bill, we'll just be moving back into the same rut where we've been stuck for several years now. Obama's shown he's got the strength and enough followers to pull across his ideas for improvement, and now there's only one direction to go: forward.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I went to an Australian restaurant yesterday with my liason. I ate a wrap with delicious mango sauce and kangaroo. Not kidding. It was really good.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chocolate and Behavior

I am longing for American chocolate products. Yeah, I know Germany's s'posed to have all this amazing chocolate, but there's something about the stuff made in the USA that really hits my taste buds. Maybe it's homey. Maybe it's just plain good.
The three top things I miss in this category:
1)S'Mores (this always comes around mid-winter when I'm on s'more withdrawal)
2)Chocolate chip cookies. Fresh out of the oven... oh so good...
3)Brownie mix brownies. Because I have yet to have tasted brownies that taste better than the ones that we make out of the Ghiradelli cardboard box.

Here's an interesting observation for you folks- Germans will ignore you. At first it seriously bugged me, but at this point I'm just used to it. In my house, if Clara calls Sebastian in the other room, he simply won't answer. She'll ask a question and he'll simply stay quiet. And it's not as though he's having a conversation with someone else and trying to teach a lesson by not responding- it seems like he just doesn't feel like answering. Daniela does it too, as does Simon. It's strange.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Die Zukunft, pt. 1

The future. It's a foggy topic, with wrinkled, fuzzy-edged images in grey tones. I have ideas about what I want to do, who I want to be. I have ideas. Thoughts. Dreams. But I know that nothing's set in stone. When I was in middle school, I planned on traveling in my summers, paying thousands of dollars to go surf in Fiji and paint a school building or two. I matured, went to high school, decided I wanted to go for a semester abroad. I was itching to get out of the country, experience something totally and completely new. As I researched more and more, I found that a semester never seemed to be enough for students. I nearly settled for a year in Ecuador or Finland, which would have meant I would have worked my entire spring semester, without rowing or extracurriculars. I would have worked the whole summer, sent out letters to businesses begging for assistance, to have my experience. But instead I looked to a country I'd never really even considered, rowed on my crew team, and spent my summer rowing and going to camp. I never imagined myself to be living in Berlin when I was an 8th grader.

On our last skype date, my dad asked me if I'd been thinking about colleges. I'm always thinking about colleges- they poke me from the back of my head, asking me if I should be doing something more productive with my time- studying German grammar instead of watching Grey's Anatomy; working on college essays instead of sleeping in. And the fact that my dad actually asked the question, that I am actually the age that I actually need to start thinking about college, sort of slapped me in the face. My friends are turning seventeen and getting their driver's lisences. They're visiting campuses and trying not to let their AP grades slide. They're taking the SATs and improving their athletic skills in hopes of scholarships. I'm working on my ideas. I don't know what I want to major in in college. Once upon a time I was certain I'd be a world-class novelist and major in English or something of the sort. Then I realized I liked foreign languages so much more, and thought I'd be a language instructor, or work in international relations. And now, as I'm learning more about foreign relations than ever before, I don't know. There are so many things I could do with a major in international relations, but I don't know if I want to go into that field at all. Lately I've been thinking a lot about a path in medicine. Maybe it's bloomed from my recent infatuation with Grey's Anatomy, which at first I was rather embarrassed about, but I realized that people are influenced by the media. That's what the media's there to do. To open minds, show opportunities and different ways of looking at life (oh, and to make money). I've been doing a little research, and stumbled across this guy and his vlog. He's a third-year med student at Columbia University, and I loved this video about his first day in the operating room. It made me dream about being that person someday- snapping on gloves for the first time... but it's still only an idea.

feeling listy.

Some songs. They make my bus rides a lot shorter.

1. Hiding My Heart Away- Brandi Carlile

2. Anna- Gunnar Madsen

3. The Quest- Bryn Christopher

4. Skinny Love- Bon Iver

5. Breathe (2AM)- Anna Nalick

6. Honey Let Me Sing You a Song- Matt Hires

7. It Happens- Sugarland (This one's just incredibly fun to listen to.)

8. When Fall Comes to New England- Cheryl Wheeler

9. Isn't It Worth It?- The Brilliant Inventions

10. The Way You Look Tonight- Maroon 5 (cover)

Friday, February 12, 2010

actually not sleeping.

Because I took a shower and I don't like sleeping with wet hair. So. I am going to educate y'all on the very exciting subject of my new school schedule. Which I have only experienced two and a half days of because of this awful bug thing.

8:00-8:45 Chemie
8:45-9:30 Musik
9:50-11:20 English
11:50-12:35 Deutsch
12:35-13:20 Ethik
13:40-15:10 Sport (every other week)

8:00-8:45 Latein
8:45-9:30 English
9:50-11:20 Sozialkunde (social studies- kind of)
11:50-13:20 Deutsch
13:20-14:25 Biologie

8:00-8:45 Mathe
8:45-9:30 Geschichte (History)
9:50-10:35 Physik
10:35-11:20 Musik
11:50-12:35 Chemie
12:35-13:20 Biologie
13:40-14:25 Latein

8:00-8:45 frei! sleep in...
8:45-9:30 Deutsch
9:50-11:20 Geographie
11:50-12:35 Geschichte
12:35-13:20 frei- but I still have classes. So I have to stay. Ugh.
13:40-14:25 Mathe
14:25-15:10 Latein

8:00-9:30 Musik
9:50-10:35 Mathe
10:35-11:20 Physik
11:50-13:20 Sport
13:40-14:25 Ethik

So a much fuller schedule than before... and longer days. Bleh. Apparently our class leader/ Math and Physiks teacher will be sick for the next 6 weeks, so we simply have no math or physik for the next six weeks. A little strange, but I'm not complaining. That doesn't mean we get free periods, though- just that we have extras of all the other classes to fill the slots. Oh well.


Holy crapoley. It's February 12. One of those dream days in the future that you know will come eventually and you'll have a massive party but it seems so far away that you don't bother thinking about it. And now... it's here. And I'm still hacking my lungs out and refilling the trash with kleenex every hour. (It is a very small trash can.) Ugh. I took hopefully my last day off from school today, and slept from 9 am to 5:30 pm pretty much straight through. I think I got up to pee once. And then I woke up still feeling shot and stumbled downstairs, where Sebastian made me eat tortellini (actually pretty good, especially as I'd eaten a banana for breakfast and nothing else the whole day) and then sent me off to dance lessons because apparently I needed to move my body. Which is probably true, and he is a doctor, but after an hour of dancing I thought I was just going to fall over in the middle of the dance floor, so I went home twenty minutes early- the host parents are AWOL. Clara's watching TV with a child's TV face (she didn't even notice me come in) and doesn't seem too worried. I'll probably go to sleep in the next twenty minutes- quite the celebration, don't you think?

On a positive note, I got my Wildwood application in! I'm crossing my fingers and squeezing my thumb (German luck-bringer, I think) that I'm early enough and experienced enough to get the job! Whenever I think about camp I get really cheerful and kind of dreamy, which in certain situations isn't actually a good thing. I have to make sure I keep Wildwood off my mind during school.

Also, I've developed a rather sudden and very strong desire to learn to play the guitar. There was a guitar floating around on my ski trip, and I picked it up a couple times, and now my fingers are legitimately itching to extend my knowledge. I remember about four chords- the ones from Neutral Milk Hotel's Aeroplane over the Sea. Not that that's not a great song, but it gets a little old after a while. I wonder how cheap I could find a guitar here. Hmm.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Bleh. I spent most of the day today sleeping, with a couple Grey's Anatomy episodes thrown in. I guess the sick bug I got during my ski trip decided to stick around after all. Monday I was fine- I still had to blow my nose every fifteen minutes but was feeling pretty good. Tuesday I woke up feeling crummy but figured it was just a morning thing, but instead of getting better as the day went on it got worse. So I actually had to leave school early, which I generally don't do unless I've got pink eye or something. Today I woke up feeling just as gross- mucusy cough, sore throat, stuffed snot locker, and general exhaustion. Luckily yesterday I got not one but TWO packages so I am thoroughly entertained during my waking hours. I've been drinking a lot of apple juice- that seems to be the German method of getting better. It hasn't worked too well so far but I'm hoping to be better quite soon! I called my friend Dani today to tell her I couldn't tutor her brother and she said I was missed in school (except better than that but I don't remember what she said exactly and I don't have the brainpower to translate). I was missed! Woohoo! Which doesn't really seem like that much of an accomplishment if I think about it but it made me feel a little better by any means. And now a little piece of wisdom:

The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.
-Mark Twain


We are no longer doing volleyball in Sport (thank goodness). Instead we are learning to somersault. Only two major injuries have occured so far- one girl fell on her arm the wrong way and sprained her wrist, and my friend Kaja got kicked in the eye. Eep.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Home Again

And back in Berlin! That week went remarkably quickly, although the first couple days I legitimately expected that my legs would just keep swelling and I'd come home in a wheelchair. Perhaps not. We left promptly at 11 p.m. (23.00 Uhr) on Saturday, which was very German of us. We watched Slumdog Millionare (auf Deutsch), which was really good, and not as intense as I'd expected it to be. Good thing, because there were 11-year-olds on the bus... it was still pretty intense. The Germans don't really follow the whole movie rating system. Anyhoo, we stopped at Mickey D's for breakfast (huh? Who knew they had muffins?) and already I could notice some differences in the language, because by that point we were in Austria. For example, they say Erdapfel (earth apple) instead of Kartoffel (potato). And their accents are really thick and remarkably difficult for a German to understand, so needless to say I was pretty lost when they spoke to me until they repeated it about three times.
On Sunday we had our first ski session in the afternoon, just to get used to the slopes. I've only ever done beginner slopes, and I don't think I've skiied since freshman year when I dumbly attempted the ski team. However, I think one of the things about being an exchange student is that it makes you more confident to just jump into something having no idea where you'll go with it. So, I just followed my group down the mountain and tried not to die. We spent most of the first day on an intermediate slope, and I lived! I think I fell over once but I didn't lose poles or skis, which all my other groupmates did at least once. The lifts are funny too- on our mountain there was a cable car, with closed "cars" that fit up to 8 people, and then a bunch of pulley line cable things... I don't really know what they're called. At Berkshire East the only one is at the bunny hill, you know, the one that rips your arms off? Yeah. Except these actually come from behind so it pulls you from your butt. Which is much more comfortable and easy.
Monday we were put into our groups for the week. There was a group of older kids who were studying theory and taking a test to be a ski/ snowboard teacher, so they were all together. The remaining skiiers were separated into two groups: advanced-ish and non-advanced-ish. I was in the non-advanced-ish. But we still stayed on intermediate slopes, one that was super steep and went the whole way down the mountain so we got to take the cable car up. I fell over a lot. My calves have these small muscles in the middle that apparently never get used outside of skiing, because they were KILLING. Plus at one point I made a particularly nasty fall and twisted my knee a bit- I woke up Tuesday morning and it was enormous. So I took the day off and enjoyed the gorgeous panoramic view from our bedroom. The rest of the week went smoothly except Friday, when I woke up with a wicked sore throat, headache, fever, and nausea. So day off number two. Luckily it's all better now except a kind of gross cough.
So, accomplishments/good parts of the trip:
-I can officially call myself an intermediate skiier!
-I made friends! Mostly who were younger, because most of the people closer to my age were in the theory group (although there was only one other 16-year-old so I didn't feel left out.)
-Food= delicious. We had a traditional Austrian dish called Kaiserschmarrn, which is hard to explain- basically it's chopped up Eierkuchen, which is the same as Linda's German pancakes. Somewhat crepe-like. We ate it with applesauce, and it was quite wonderful.
-The view was AMAZING. Except Wednesday when it was snowing so hard and so cloudy that we couldn't even see any mountains out the window. And with the lack of sunlight the sky and ground were the same color, so I skiied with a combination of trust, hope, and squinting.

So yesterday we hopped on the bus again- I had a great seat until one of the leader guys told me to get up and find another seat because he (a very small balding middle-aged guy) needed two seats. So I got stuck next to a boy (luckily pretty quiet) but right in front of all the other boys, which means I was surrounded by game systems and iphones and chips the whole time. We watched- count 'em- THREE movies. (It's about a 9 and a half hour drive.) First: Don't Mess With the Zohan. Stupid. Don't bother watching. The boys loved it. The men loved it. The girls couldn't wait for it to be over. Second: Hancock. Not bad, not exactly my type though. I do love Jason Bateman though. Third: Snatch. Definitely the best, although they couldn't figure out how to turn off the English subtitles and I have a feeling I wouldn't have been able to understand it without them. The other two were fine but Snatch had a pretty confusing plotline. It took me until about halfway through to figure out who everyone was.

So anyway, Simon picked me up (I like having an older brother) and I walked in the door and got a little whoosh of a smell that I distinctly remember as one of the first things I noticed on Sebtember 12 when I arrived. I guess I don't really notice it unless I've been away for a while. It's not a bad smell or a good smell, it's just a smell.

On my sick day I watched Juno on my ipod, and I particularly liked this bit:
"I never realize how much I like being home unless I've been somewhere really different for a while."

Friday, January 29, 2010

Okay, yes, I'm a total fail blogger. So from now on I'm going to promise not to make any more promises about what I'm going to write about. Because I'm trying not to live in the past. (No, not really, but I've already written about my holidays in about four different places, and they seem pretty boring to me now.) Anyhoo. It's January 29! Guess what that means! It means tomorrow, at 11 pm, I am leaving for ÖSTERREICH!!! (Austria for you non-Germans out there). I have my Koffer packed, camera batteries charged, and muscles pumped (or they will be after rowing and dance lessons tonight) for seven days of skiing in the Alps! Woot woot! I get back February 7 at one in the morning. My host parents and Clara are spending the weekend in London (Sebastian has work and Clara has a friend) so Simon is picking me up from the bus, and then I'll probably spend the whole day sleeping. Hopefully I'll get to upload pictures as well! Because the coming week won't allow a lot of time- today we got our new school schedule, which is wayyy more intense than last semesters' in my opinion. I don't really like it at all, although we do have a free period on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, so I get an extra half hour of sleep... frankly, I'd rather get up a little earlier and be done earlier, rather than at 2:30 (my shortest day). Plus, my favorite classes (English and Biology) have been reduced to twice a week each, whereas my least favorite (German and Physik) are three times a week, with one double period in German. Luckily, I have my AFS trip to Bad Honnef February 23-28, so I get to miss school, and then we have easter break for two weeks, and then in May we have two four-day weekends on which I'm hoping to do some travel of sorts. We'll see. So while I do rather detest the idea of my new German schedule, I do appreciate the vacations.
For a while during my Praktikum it was FREEZING- hovering around 0° fahrenheit, and going down to -10 at one point. And I was walking around Frohnau and Hermsdorf, wearing my black overalls and black jacket, but with no scarf or gloves... so that bit wasn't that fun. It wasn't a terribly complicated job, and I didn't find it all that exciting, but it was a fun experience. I didn't get to go up on the roof ever because a) I'm only a praktikantin and b) Jörg is my host mother's younger brother, and if I fell off a roof I bet he'd really get beaten up. But I did get to see a whole lot of pretty cool houses, and quite a few stinkers as well. They gave me some ideas on how not to live.
Yesterday I saw AVATAR! It was pretty much the coolest idea ever. And now I really want an avatar. Plus I saw it in German and understood the whole thing, so score one for me! I think I'm starting to get to the place where I can begin to call myself conversationally fluent. I would often be talking with people whose chimneys we were sweeping, and they would look at me curiously and ask me where I was from, and when I said America they were momentarily shocked, as though they'd expected me to say Bayern or Dortmund or something. Which is kinda cool, if I do say so myself.
Until February...
P.S. February 12 is my 5-month mark. 5 months out of ten. That means I'll be halfway through! Which is a really ridiculous prospect.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

happy thoughts

Something that made me cheery today: I was showing Clara my bucket list, and she decided to make one of her own. At the moment it's very short, but its contents are the following: visit Thailand, visit Jakob's host family, go to Sweden, become an aunt, go to Legoland, and visit the Landrys. (The last was actually higher on the list, but I wanted it to have more punch.) HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!! longggg post coming soon... or many shorts...