Samstag, 21. Februar 2009

she's watching the detectives (it's so cute)

january seemed like forever, but now february is almost over and it seems like it has been only days. somehow i am eighteen. i bought a certain substance yesterday and was not asked for an id. i am going next week to bonn, leaving on monday afternoon and coming home on sunday.

last saturday, i said goodbye to an exchange student from the us, karen. she was only here for a half-year, and we'd hung out a bit, but weren't incredibly close. nevertheless, i went to the trainstation on saturday morning to see her off.

it wasn't a terribly glamorous affair-- it was cold and rainy, and she almost missed her train, and nicha and i were running around, looking for her. but her host mum was crying and her friend was crying and then, to my surprise, i was crying too-- i don't think it was really that i will miss her, although she was lovely-- i think it's more some sort of jealously, knowing that she was going home and that i am still 5 months away.

it's not that i'm not having fun, but exchange is just not what i expected. it's a lot of hard work, and it's a lot of misunderstandings. it's a lot of frustrations, long-lasting moments of confusion-- interspersed, of course, with moments of laughing and perfection and other things. i can't decide sometimes, when i have bad days, when i am exhausted, when even the german i KNOW i know can't be used, if i would be happier at home.

but other days-- i couldn't be happier. it is odd, but i suppose...

i've started my new speaking course, and have discovered that skipping approximately 2 books into the final level and being in class with people who've been in germany for 1-2 years makes the class difficult enough to be interesting. i've missed some grammar stuff, and i still win at speaking, but i actually need to work at the exercises. which is nice. it's nice to be challenged.

on thursday, i went with my old class to berlin. i was reminded again why i moved-- because they are somewhat inconsiderate, incredibly clique-y and well... i don't know. i ask a question, and no one bothers to answer. and on friday, we had to make posters (in english) and they were just... meh- meh- meh translate! and it's annoying, but my new class is love. my old class has two folks that were exchange students in the last half-year, and they are back. the girl was in canada, and i think that perhaps we will become friends.

so, berlin was snowy and cold and wet and my belly hurt. i think i am getting sick. but it was a nice day, full of galavanting about and riding public transport. we started off the day at the airport where the candy bombers had dropped their loads that supplied the allied sectors of berlin for almost a year, and then saw the brandenburger tor, potsdamer platz. i got to go to the ddr museum, which was also quite interesting. i bought a new shirt, since i no longer fit into like any of my old ones. we ated pizza, and listened to a man speak who was held in solitary confinement for 9 YEARS by the DDR. he was amazing to hear, and i only wish i had understood more of it. there is a museum at checkpoint charlie (the mauer museum) which has all sorts of information about the wall and ways people escaped from the ddr. the links are in english, by the way, so if you want to read more about them.

then, on friday, we made posters. on friday night, i helped set up a surprise birthday party, made baileys, baked a cake and then celebrated. today i am packing for my trip to bonn, and then tomorrow is karneval and the survival camp for the new afsers. unfortunately, no pictures, since i killed my flickr upload limits for february.

lots of love


John hat gesagt…

"it's not that i'm not having fun, but exchange is just not what i expected."

i cant relate with that.
i have fun sometimes but othertimes not. I kind of expected germany to be a party...the entire time.
and it really isn't like that!
sometimes it is! haha but othertimes its also boring.

i agree. lots of hard work.

E.F.F. hat gesagt…

Hi Katie,

I came across your blog on the AFS site one day when I was feeling nostalgic about my exchange year, so I've been following it off and on for a few weeks now. (Sorry if that is creepy...I just like your style!)

I was living in Land Brandenburg way back in 2003-04 (I feel like such a senior citizen when I think about that), also completing my senior year abroad. Even though I had some previous knowledge of German, just being "the new kid" amidst a bunch of people who were decidedly NOT speaking the Hochdeutsch I'd heard on the cassettes in my German classes was really tough, and the whole year was a lot harder than I'd expected.

I'd say that for me,and for many of my exchange student friends, this time of year was the turning point...not the beginning of December. It's the time when you realize that, even if you don't come out speaking flawless German, and even if you don't leave Germany with a million German friends, you are definitely going to leave Germany as a stronger person. Part of this may be due to what I call "exchange student apathy," which I think is that sort of numb feeling that many of us get once we're used to feeling like idiots on a daily basis for several months -- after all, there's really no way to go but up.

So despite having spent approximately the first half of my year being terribly homesick and friendless, I emerged from Germany with several close (German) friends whom I still see and speak with today. The year really is a gift, though it might not seem that way as a time. Also, having dealt with away from my family for a year made going to college seem like a breeze.

Anyway, my point is: you're now at what I'd call the "real turning point" and I think you can go into the second half of your year with the certainty that it will blow the first half out of the water!

OK, sorry for hijacking your comment wall...


margot hat gesagt…

your german class sounds great. i'm sure you will learn so much.

i can completely relate to what you wrote about seeing the other exchange student off at the train station. five months feels so long sometimes, and sometimes it feels like nothing. and sometimes i just feel ready to be looking back on this experience instead of right here in it.