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."