Freitag, 22. Mai 2009

on wednesday, several things occurred.
  1. i stood up and presented part of a physics proof auf deutsch. it was wordy, something about sunbeams or sunstrands or something and i was, quite obviously, completely lost. my physics teacher told me that she thought it was really nice that i did so much with the class.
  2. i gave my english presentation and my class enjoyed it. prom? school buses? cafeteria lunches? sounds like magic.
  3. i also went to a grill party in one of those little garden-house parks and ate sheeps cheese and baked a really, really delicious cake.
on thursday i had a class get together with my speaking course and made friends with some children while playing in the sand in a themed tiki bar. i also stole a glass.


a big glass.

and today i went and bummed around the city. got my bangs cut, bought hair dye, bought ink and hairbands and eyeliner and toothpaste. it rained and got cold, i spent a lot of time inside. i ate a pretzel and a cookie and an ice cream. now it is cold and stormy. i am tired and ready for beds.

lots of love

Montag, 18. Mai 2009

i am sorry for the use of you. ms jarnot would slay me

you know you've been an exchange student when you meet someone, briefly (and i do mean briefly-- tea and cake will do) and you think, hmmm, i really wouldn't mind living with them. an exchange year is an experience, an adventure; one of those things that creates stories on a daily basis. but the excitement of september-- of, oh my god, i'm in a foreign country, i'm eating foreign bread, the novelty of trying new words, the newness of a language where every word understood is a triumph-- fades. the novelty wears off, and you're left with life. a startling mononity, but without the comfort you've grown to expect. you have new parents, but they're not your parents. you have a new family, but they're not your family.

you're a new person-- an old person, the same one as you were, in the beginning, but without this support that you'd gotten used to, hardly ever noticed any more. it makes an interesting panic moment the first time you realize how much you rely on the people you never notice. but you learn a lot-- as the calendar months fly, and believe me, they do, even though in real-time it seems like forever, you discover so much, cornily, about yourself. you learn how much a part of you culture is-- how your culture defines you and changes you and, cast into a sea of somewhere else, you may be suddenly at a loss.

some days are challenges, others breezes, others, still, end in tears, others in the confusing feelings of never wanting to leave this place that you call home. the year is harder than you thought, harder than you expected. perhaps, a lack of preperation, the glowing promises of, signing onto the best year of your life, made you think it would be easier. expect to work for it-- work hard for it. friends do not come easily-- the wonders wear off, and you have to just, work hard for it. bus as far as years go, it is a rewarding one. friendships, both internationally and domestically, are strengthened. you start to get the feeling that if being physically uncapable of understanding math isn't going to break you, than not so much will.

the idea of going home leaves me with equal parts excitement and fear. i'm excited to start university, to see my family and friends, to be allowed to drive and not be afraid that misunderstanding a word will send me into previously unthinkable amounts of confusion.

so it i with qual parts trepidation and fear that i say that i am finished. i am heading back to the united states on june 2, approximately a month before the end of the program, in order to firm up the future.


Sonntag, 17. Mai 2009

practical tips. part 1.

as my year draws to a close, i have been thinking about some of the things i learned about being an exchange student, and i thought that i would pass them on to other exchange students in a convenient blog form. let me know if you guys have any more questions, and I'll do my best to answer them.

preparation is don't sweat it, too much. if you're feeling adventurous, a quick nip over to culture shocked is enough to send your pulse to new levels of claminess. check out facebook and see if your group of inbounds has a group. Ask an AFSer is a great place for questions and answers, as well as networking. The book, The Exchange Student Survival Guide, is a very realistic portrayal of what to expect, as well as some interesting peaks into the mind of a hostfamily. Try learning some basic phrases in your new language, or brushing up on some helpful vocabulary that you may or may not have learned in school. (The first words I learned were "home" words-- foods, furniture, and so forth.) I didn't speak German when I came, and I survived. However, if you have the opportunity... learn a bit of your new host language.

packing is a pain in the butt. just getting that out there, right now. no matter what you pack, i think, you end up regretting what you forgot and what you didn't bring. I've ended up buying a lot of clothes here, but I think if I packed better, I wouldn't have had to. In Germany, the dark skinny jeans and converse look is super trendy, and converse are wicked expensive here. I wouldn't have come without a laptop, or an iPod, and I wouldn't recommend bringing a phone with you. I wish that I'd brought my favorite hoodie and a few comfort items. I would pack less more than more because you accumulate so much stuff over the course of a year.

budget oh man, i bet my mum's laughing about this again. but germany and europe is expensive, and you're dealing with a dollar to euro switcheroo, which is... not a very good rate at this point in time. I am meant to get 100 dollars a month from my parents (ca. 70€), and I don't think I've ever had a month where I haven't used extra money from somewhere else or had to ask for more money. Clothes here are very expensive comparatively, and kids (in my school at least) are very into brand names. We wear a lot of H&M-- it's the same price as it is in the US (EXPENSIVE) and because of the price difference, it's cheap. There's also the issue that you're paying for a lot of things that you didn't in the US-- shampoo and haircuts and school supplies and a bus pass or train tickets, perhaps. You might have the opportunity to travel-- train tickets are expensive, even if you buy them well in advance. I don't feel comfortable 'snacking' from my family (i.e., when I have my German class, I end up getting something to eat. plus, in germany, you're faced with the possibility of going out. a night in the disko (without drinks), will set you back, in my experience, normally about 7-8€. A movie ticket on a Friday night, bottom seating with student discount? 8€. A lot of kids are spending in the 150-200€ a month range.

coming next:
school, weight gain, host family gifts, rush week, homesickness


so, i got my nose pierced.

i ended up going for the more expensive studio, because it was cleaner and there weren't needles sitting on the counter and the guy at one studio was... creepy. and there was no one else waiting there. so, a speedy walk around the city later, I ended up at the slightly scary piercing place where all of the hipsters go.

I signed up, went upstairs (to where they were selling bongs and postcards, lol at germany) and panicked for the 5 or ten minutes until the piercer got there. he was a young-ish man, who shook my hands and went over the sheet of rules and made sure I understood everything. He gave my his phone number for if I had any questions, made sure the girl I was waiting with was waiting for me and we went into his little room.

He made a mark on my nose, stuck the bits into the sterilizer box and put on gloves. He cleaned off my nose, handed me a tissue and told me to lie back. Now, this is when I'm not exactly sure what happened. But he grabbed my nose with a pair tweezers, stuck a cork up and said "this is going to hurt. So don't freak out, and don't move."

So, he got the needle in, asked if I was okay, and then PULLED THE NEEDLE THROUGH MY NOSE and twisted the stud in. this entire procedure took maybe... 20 seconds? a minute? it was an uncomfortable undetermined amount of time though. And then I was like "is that it?" and he was like, yep.

So, I told him i was going to sit in the chair for a few minutes and he was like, take as long as you want. My eye was running and my nose was burny and that was it. I went and got ice cream and dragged Cat to the Apotheke to buy all sorts of antibiotic things. After, it is a little bit burny and red. The day of, my nose ran pink, and there was a bit of blood, but not as much as i was expecting. I'm super pleased with it. I can't wait to swap out the starter stud (a little crystal stud) for a star. or maybe a ring. maal sehen. Total cost? About 50 euros. Getting my nose pierced on my own and being able to understand the piercer? Priceless.

Or, at least, until my mum checks my bank account.



Sonntag, 26. April 2009

in german

Freitag, 24. April 2009

also, i am thinking about getting my nose pierced. yes/no/maybe/stories?


Professor, rolling up a blackboard to reveal a second blackboard that is covered in general chemistry: Oh god! Oh god...get it off! Ew!

(class laughs)

Professor: No, not the ideal gas law! We don't need that, we're organic chemists! There is no such thing as gas! No such thing as gas!

Student #1: Organic chemists are very sensitive.

Student #2: This is kind of tragic.