As you may have guessed I am not the best blogger in the world….. I am actually quite bad, so I would first like to apologize at how erratic this blog is going to be. But enough of the apologies…. Lets start.
115km. That is how many kilometers I have hiked since setting foot in Germany. And a lot has happened during that time.
When I first got here I was struck by the undeniable beauty of the land. When I first heard that I would be going to Northern Germany, I was not 100% happy. I never thought that it was that pretty up here, and always thought of the Schwarzwald and Bavaria, however I can now say that here is just as beautiful as there. No doubts about it. After the first few days though, I started to sink into the grove of things, and the initial excitement over all the new things was starting to subside. That’s when the homesickness came into play. I found it hard to motivate myself, and was constantly comparing myself to other Rotary students, this years, and previous years. I was finding it hard to cope. But I found a solution. Hiking. Simply putting my shoes on and walking out my door; my tiny village is located in between two massive hills and in Germany all forests are open to the public. These forests are lined with many trails, and I quickly took to exploring these forest alleyways, and streets. I found it very helpful to be able to be alone, and to be able to think things through and clear my head, often times with the aid of some acoustic music. Even though the homesickness is not completely gone, I am getting better everyday, and everyday I realize even more so how much I truly love this country.
My first week, I had Monday and Tuesday free and then started school on Wednesday. School here is similar and completely different at the same time. My schedule is different everyday. Usually I will have 3-4 classes per day, and they can last anywhere from 1-2 hours. Also, I have free hours every once and a while, and sometimes a school day could be 5 hours long and other times 9. It all depends on the day of the week. AND I am LOVING Donnerstags (Thursdays) because I have 2 hours free for my first two hours so I don’t have to go to school till later in the day. Definitely better then a 1 hour late start every Wednesday! As far as classes go I am taking Biologie LK, Kunst LK, Russian, English, German, Math, Religion, and Sport. LK means I have more time in that class per week and it is a bit more intense! Kunst (art) is by far my favorite class so far! Our first project is making a clay bust of our heads. I am finding it very enjoyable, and a way to relax and just think about what’s in front of me. Here we also have to walk between classes, like in America. Unlike in America though, it is more then normal to go into the City of Epselkamp during a free stunde (hour). I have gone to the local bakery several times now. And most importantly, I am slowly, but surely making friends. I am finding it hard, as I am a VERY shy person, but I am managing.
The language is proving to be easy and hard at the same time. Having studied German extensively before I came here, I am not finding it difficult to express myself, and make conversation with Germans. HOWEVER, I am finding it very hard to read German textbooks, and participate in class because by the time I work out how to respond in an elegant way, they have moved to a new topic. So for the time being it is either me controlling the conversation, or me listening trying to follow it and make interjections when possible. I KNOW that my German will be excellent when this exchange is over! I am already very good in my Clubs eyes, and I know I can be even better!
I am finding the best way to get to know Germans is through organized activities, and school. I am currently gearing up to be part of a small soccer club in my town. I will be playing with people younger then me, but then again I have never really played soccer so I guess that is OK. Though people tell me I am very good at defense! That was my fellow students commentary in Sport class. I am playing chess sometimes on Fridays with a local chess club in Lubbecke. I am doing that with my host brother from my 3rd host family. I can’t play violin in school and am trying to find a way to play it. My host mother is attempting to get me into the Lubbecke Symphony, and if I am in that I will be playing with people of all ages and I believe it will be fairly intense! Which will be good! I really want to find a farm to work on, or someplace to volunteer. I am going to ask my counselor when he gets back from France if there are any opportunities that I can exploit. Overall, activities wise, I am not maintaining as full of a schedule as I did in America, but having time to hike everyday isn’t bad either!
Now I am going to say a little about my families, and the area I am living in. I am living in Preusisch Oldendorf which consists of a bunch of small towns. I live in the Village of Boerninghausen (pronounced Burning Hausen). It is a small village located in a valley with lots of farmland inclosing it. My rotary club is in Lubbecke, which is a city a bit bigger then Northfield and is situated on the side of a huge hill and spreads out from there. I go to school in Epselkamp which is about a 20-30min bus ride every morning. It is a fairly large town of about 30,000 and has a nice center area that you can walk around in. All of my host families are very nice! I am an “only” child in my first host family because my sisters, Paulina, Charlotte, and Franziska are all away from home right now. My father is Peter, and my mother is Ute. In my second and third host families, I will have host siblings and will be living in and around the town of Lubbecke, about 20mins from Boerninghausen. All in all, I am very psyched to be in such a neat place with such great people.
This past weekend, I went on a Ruhrtour with District 1900s Rotex. We visited Essen, and Bochum and stayed at a Gynasium in Hagen. In Bochum, we visited a mining museum, and got to go under the city into the old coal mines, which was really cool. And then they had a really cool collection of artifacts from the mining industry too!!! I was so happy. And then we went to Essen to visit a huge villa on top of a hill. It was very pretty. After that we ate lunch by a lake and watched a BMW sponsored yacht race! Then, we went to a hill near Essen and climbed up this huge pyramid like structure. At the very top you could see out for miles and miles. My fear of heights kicked in, but it was more then worth it for the amazing view. AND after all of this we went back to the Gynasium to have a party. IT was a GOOD time. I can’t wait for the next Rotex organized event!
I am having a great time, and I hope that is apparent. I am very sorry it took me so long to post this, I know a lot of people were checking for it, and well here it is. At times I feel like this was a bit of a brain dump, and I know that I have missed something, but I think I got the majority. PICTURES will be coming soon. Once I get my camera cable, I will upload all of my pictures to a flickr account that I will post here, and my facebook wall, so just be on a look out for them.
Till Next time from lovely Germany,