Mittwoch, 29. Oktober 2008

and they race for a prize at the end...

eh, so it's been a while. time flies and all...

On Saturday, I rode the train up to Hamburg with my host dad. The weather was surprisingly beautiful and we met up with Almut, my host mum, and Wiebke, my oldest host sister, and went on a tour of the harbor.

Lie! This is the Hamburg Rathaus.
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I was really pleased by the colors of the boxes.
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I liked this one's name
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On Sunday, we had an AFS committee meeting in the living room. I'm not a committee member, so I just baked muffins and hung out with another exchange student from Thailand.

This has nothing to do with Sunday, but I took a picture of it. So, look. I read paragraphs! (actually, right now I'm reading Harry Potter).
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On Monday, I had my first day of school. I was pretty nervous, but it isn't so bad, really. I have three courses (including gym) in English, but in everything else... I'm completely lost. I'm not holding out much hope for French-- I'm really learning German right now, and almost all trace of French has been driven out of my head. I wrote the test the other students took in my French class today (first class for me!) and I'm pretty sure if the teacher was actually grading mine I'd fail.

I had gym yesterday which was quite unpleasant. Apparently, we get graded on our skills, so I'm not really expecting to pass. They set up parallel bars and kids were swinging around like gymnasts. They learned... "a few weeks ago... we haven't practiced very much". They clapped when I turned a somersault, though.

So today I knitted. I'm completely lost in physics (my homework tonight is to 'derive' two formulas that I've never heard of. Fortunately, gravity is still the same here... that was about the only number I understood. It took me the entire class period today to decipher the worksheet.

From the "day book"

"I haven’t been this nervous about school since I was six or so, I can only imagine. I manage to wake myself up 10 minutes earlier than I actually need to get up and spend them hiding under my covers. I count backwards in German, thinking that maybe if I look pathetic I can go back to language school and never go to gymnasium. But my host mum comes into my room and pulls open the shades and pokes insistently at me until I grumble that I’m getting up.

The bus runs half an hour late and breaks down on the side of the road and the contents of the bus and I wait by the aforementioned side of the road for another ten minutes for another bus to come. Fortunately, a classmate that I sort of remember grabs my hand and pulls me in the direction of other classmates that I vaguely remember meeting. We stand in a circle for a while: I still haven’t gotten over the fact that there are a lot of really tall boys. It’s either that or they stand a lot closer, so my perception is really screwed up.

We still make it to school ten minutes before the first bell buzzes, half an hour before our first teacher shows up, her legs goose-pimpled in the cold. I stare on in abject confusion as she buzzes into the room, her hair messily pulled back, opens her mouth and starts speaking some horrid, bastardized version of a language that isn’t German. I turn in confusion to my desk-mate, who confirms: yes, she’s speaking English. When I focus, hard, and concentrate on the wild movements her hands make, I can almost understand what she’s saying. At some point, she recognizes that I don’t actually belong in this class and she switches to German, rattle-firing questions at me. Another student steps up to the plate and slows down her words. I manage a shaky introduction and pen my name in her ledger book.

Everyone else is nodding in easy comprehension, which I fail to understand until another student opens his mouth. His English sounds suspiciously similar to that of his teacher. The class continues in much of the same fashion: they’re discussing something regarding geography, although what exactly escapes me. It’s not until that I begin to copy someone else’s notes that I understand what’s happening. The teacher’s continued spiel about “beeeeeeooooohmzth” is actually about biomes.

The bell rings and the girl-woman standing at the front of the class yells test-grades over the din. Eva 4+, Wiebke 2-, you know why. Students smile triumphantly or bite nervously on their lips and zip up their backpacks. After a brief break and an extended detour, we return to the same classroom. Students are divided into groups: the teacher with the Mohawk and earring, wearing jeans and a hoodie points lazily with his finger and accepts the fact that I’m an exchange student with an easy shrug of his shoulders.

A possible skinhead slams himself down into a tiny chair that trembles in terror and rummages into his torn messenger bag, the top flap largely adorned with a patch that proclaims “WAR SUCKS, LETS [sic] PARTY”, crudely stitched on in red thread. No one else laughs when he pulls out a sage-colored pencil case with a Chuck Taylor logo and unzips the lid quite daintily with his blunt, tobacco-stained, decaying, fingernails. He rummages through pastel colored marker pens, two high lighters, an eraser, glue sticks, scissors and other school-related objects until his fingers prove triumphant. He fishes through the sea of pens, drawing a fat fountain pen with a proper nib up by the cap. He smiles and hands over the pen with a smile. No one else laughs, so I smoosh my lips determinedly together and drop my gaze to the floor. His giant feet are covered in torn, checked Vans. Brand loyalty, anyone?

After an hour of sitting around in circles, crossing out nothings in a communal hunk of graph paper, a handful of kids sit on a table at the front of the room and start talking. No one else stops talking though, and the girl rambles on for a long time about Ikea. Then a boy in a star sweatshirt talks about music for a while. Then everyone packs up their bags and heads out to the bus station. The bell didn’t ring. I am confused, someone else shrugs. It’s Germany, they say. I think."

So I've been wandering around for a few days... no one seems to really care that I'm not actually enrolled in the school (no teachers knew I was coming...). I didn't introduce myself to my math teacher yesterday and he didn't notice/point out that there was a girl coloring in the back of his class. (They were going over a test! I didn't have a copy! But I understood the math...)

At the end of the day, everyone goes around and gives everyone hugs and kisses. It's cute.

Also, I am taking a German class on Tuesday and Thursday nights, so I didn't get home until really late last night.

I also had a really weird dream. I was on the Elbe, but the tour boat was like the titantic. Donna, my old neighbor, had set up a chair on the side of the other tour boat that was somehow attached to the forest? my mum was there too. There were animals in the forest that I could see-- tigers and lions and things. And then we were on the Elbe and we convinced Donna to come to our boat because there were animals and they wanted to nom us. So we got off the boat and ran through the forest. Then we were at Johnson's Market, but there were stalls (?) with bamboo fronts and my Mom and I got in one and closed the door. I had a vial of yellow-colored liquid in a longer test tube and said "well, at least I'm an endocrinologist now..." while the animals tried to eat us. (i think it was some sort of gland-hormone from the animals and that's why they were trying to get us. So I decided we should call Dad but Mum's purse was on the other side of the fence, so we stuck our hands out and got the cell phone.

Then my host mum got me up-- but I think the dream was mostly in German. I think I know because I was an endocrinologist, and I actually randomly know the German word for that. (die Endokrinologin-- clearly my vocabulary is very sensible), and I probably wouldn't haben chosen to be an endocrinologist.

so now i'm doing homework and working on college stuff.

"the endoplastic reticulum makes the streets for proteins. When there are small dots, it is for cooking the proteins." clearly, I am destined to be a microbiologist. Cornell, here I come!

love always

ps-- quote of the day "they are like peas and carrots, when you buy them together in a can. I am a box of chocolates, you never know which one you will get." (we're watching Forrest Gump in English)

also, i think my english teacher is sort of racist. Or maybe just doesn't understand the KKK... she made it out to be some sort of game society-- she said they ran around "scaring people". Very good.

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