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!!