Dienstag, 18. November 2008

awkward string arrangements of the smiths, take two.

ah, tuesday. it's really cold today and now it's raining and I'm dreading my foray into the city tonight, seeing as it involves walking through the cold and the rain. Yesterday was so beautiful-- the sky was properly blue and it was cold, the lovely kind of new hampshire cold that I already miss. but today, as if to say 'heh-- as if you thought that weather would stick', it's cold and disgusting and I am debating crawling back into bed and sleeping until tomorrow.

tuesdays are kind of weird, actually. i only have one hour out of six in real german, and everything else is sort of a medley. we start out with a double hour of english, then we have geography. also in english. then maths and two hours of French.

english is pretty boring. we've been watching the same scene of Forrest Gump for about 3 weeks now, I'm pretty sure. Not that Forrest Gump isn't lovely, but (SPOILER ALERT) the scene where Bubba dies is only touching the first eight times. my english teacher doesn't like me to answer questions except for when she does and then she gets all pissy when I wasn't paying attention.

geography is pretty annoying. the teacher is really hard to understand and we spent today describing a leaf. which might have been nice, except it was all like "the leaf is fat and not wide. it is leathery." but then you get to hear the kids try to pronounce photosynthesis. It's cute.

math is normally a complete fail. but today, omg, i actually understood something! i was so pleased. synthetic division. who'd of thunk it? i mean, completely lost in everything else. but i thought i was going to cry, i was so pleased.

french is awkward. i tried to speak for the first time today and managed to get about three different languages in one sentence. i think this just shows how sweet and lovely my class is though, because one of the girls said "hush, let her try, it's hard when you're learning a new language" and everyone was quiet and let me make a bumbling fool of myself without feeling like an idiot. well, i felt like an idiot. but not because of them.

then i ride the bus home. we have a hot lunch and then dessert (sometimes... today was pudding. and ice cream. at the same time.) and then a nap. Then we have coffee and cake or cookies in the living room. I pretend to read the newspaper, (except now it's going beyond pretending-- sometimes I can understand entire articles!) and then work on homework. or blog. or whatever.

today is tuesday so just before five i leave for my german class. i'll come home late and then try to get ready for the chor-fahrt. i won't be back until friday or so, and then i will be baking. i have thanksgiving take two on saturday, and i've promised a pie.

oh, and college. the applications (minus final edits on two essays) are finished! i've already applied to stonybrook and albany (via suny), and now I'm just holding my breath for Macaulay and Cornell. We'll see.

my english is getting pretty bad already, so i'm starting to struggle with my english course work. I did my first switch into german because it was easier to explain thing yesterday, which is really disconcerting. i'm sort of melding between two languages, which is a really awkward sensation. my english is starting to disintegrate, all while i'm still pretty incapable of being normal in german.

so, without further ado:

Things I have begun to learn.
1. if my host mother explains that she is making a 'typical german lunch' it probably means that i am not going to enjoy it. i have also learned that i will eat it anyway.
2. when restaurants say "vegetarian", they most likely mean that they will have picked out the larger chunks of flesh and that I should probably watch where I stick my fork.
3. public transportation does have it's drawbacks. and it is not always on time.
4. answering the phone in germany is even scarier than answering it at sunbridge.
5. a word is not automatically incorrect if there are more than four consonants in a row. in fact, you're pretty safe as long as you keep it under six, I think. Applying these phonetic spellings to English is not culturally acceptable.
6. physics makes the same amount of sense whether or not I pay attention. It's highly more productive just to knit.
7. licorice is a comfort food. as are gummi bears. the candy here (including the chocolate, heavens!) is lovely.
8. math is not universal.
9. baking in ounces isn't as fun as baking with cups and spoons.
10. the true way to prove how exhausted I am is to look at my feet. When I'm running on empty, I've left the house in my house shoes, clogs with little flowers on them.
11. it's really nice to sometimes speak english.
12. subtitles are funny. they are more-often-than-not (in my experience) incorrect.
13. it's really helpful that you can just squish a whole lot of words together to make a big one in german. it's also helpful that you can sort of make up the word orders for sentences, which is good.
14. the weirdest things trigger homesickness.
15. i understand more than people think I do, and am starting to think about using it as an excuse.
16. i hate pants.
17. would like you to know that moving halfway around the world does not automatically make you better at sports.
18. bread is really good, and so is cheese. somedays that's all i eat. than and chocolate, of course. and it's doable. but it does make you a bit pudgier, I suppose.
19. somedays i understand things. others I don't. it's seemingly random and uncontrollable and sometimes quite entertaining. (i.e., but katie, you knew that yesterday!)
20. dreaming in german is disorienting and scary. i tend to have really graphic dreams (i.e., nightmares) in German-- about the night of broken glass and world war ii and everything. except it's my friends and family instead of victims and it's really unfortunate. i think my brain is tired and is spinning tales around itself.

that's all for now


Vickie hat gesagt…

Wow! Raking leaves & eating things you don't like. Who is this girl?????

Benjamin hat gesagt…

Dear Katie,

my name is Benjamin and my home country is indeed Germany which is the reason why I have the strong drive to comment on your blog in order to clarify some of your statements since I felt very disappointed while reading your tendentious text.
Nevertheless, my origin and the resentments which are connected with that towards your text shall not be the main point of my comment. I would rather write about the general self- perception which an exchange student should have when going abroad.

As a former exchange student in Canada who is now living in Brussels the fact which I would like to point out is that you first of all have to be aware that the opportunity you were given by living in a foreign country is somewhat a great gift which you seem to waste by not giving the country where you are living in, it doesn't matter whether it was Germany, France or Timbuktu, the chance to present you its differences compared to your home country.
Every single country in this world is different when it comes to culture, history, habits, weather etc. and if you are not open and tolerant you will not enjoy it

Have you ever talked about the role of an exchange country for their home country but also for the country they will experience for a year? Exactly, they are supposed to be ambassadors between those countries who are expected to contribute tremendously to bilateral cultural understanding.
Your text is doing the exact opposite. By stating that you have nightmares in German about the "Reichskristallnacht" and WWII you are exactly serving the usual images and prejudices towards Germany.
Nobody disagrees with you that this the darkest chapter in German history but there is definitely so much more and positive things which you could find if you would look for it ...
Do not make the mistake and reduce a countries identity to one period of time because this is very dangerous simplification!
Please think about the people who read your blog and who will build up their opinion about Germany on the base of that.
There is nothing to say against justified criticism but your text contains from the beginning to the end negative connotation and superficial stereotypes.

Just by reading the first parts of your introductions: ”Tuesdays are kind of weird, actually”, “English is pretty boring”, “geography is pretty annoying.”, “math is normally a complete fail.”, “French is awkward.”, I got the impression that you expect people to adjust their usual habits as you please. Nobody told you that it would be easy going to a new school system and every exchange student has to go through a difficult time while trying to cope with it. It is completely up to you how you deal with it and I have the impression that you gave up before you even tried.

PS: Nevertheless I had a really funny moment while reading your blog. At some point you write that the German public transportation has its drawbacks and is not always on time.
After having lived in Germany’s capital and biggest city for 19 years and after having compared it to other public transport systems around the world I entirely disagree and it seems rather to be a huge exaggeration (not minding the generalization) after having had one bad experience, am I right? Besides, a lack in being on time is a stereotype (and I have been confronted with a lot) which I have never, ever heard in connection with a German. Have you not observed that we all follow rules without questioning, are humorless and always right on time?

Hope your next blog will be more informing about the real life in Germany.


Anonym hat gesagt…

Benjamin, I think you should get a life and stop reading and, more importantly, stop commenting on blogs of those you do not know -- unless you have kind words, of course. We all appreciate a little kindness, right?

I'm not commenting on your blog comment because I haven't read Katie's blog -- clearly her blog is to stay in touch with friends and family and probably to work through some of her feelings regarding being abroad.

Ok, I'll stop being annoying...

- Dad of another kid abroad

Benjamin hat gesagt…

Wow, very constructive criticism you applied here milonmaine.
I very much do have a life which is why it is even more sad to waste time by writing a long comment on this blog.
I think I made my point clear enough which is why I will not bother you again.
i wish you a more pleasant prospective stay (but try to think about my words).