It is weird to be back home. It is weird to have all my stuff back in my room and be able to return to a normal life again. Although it is strange it feels good to be back home. The flight was long and took almost a full day of traveling. Waking up the next morning was the weirdest part. I have not been in that room for over a month. At first i did not know where I was until my eye focused more. It was nice to be able to get up and have food in the house instead of having to go somewhere to buy food. The first day back I transplanted the sunflowers into the ground and did yard work after that. It was nice to have a home cooked meal but I do miss Europe a lot. I will miss the food, the public transportation, the culture, and the people. I do not worry because I will be back in Europe soon enough. I am so happy I did the program and put up with the nonsense in between. I feel like I can take on more stressful situations and my problem solving skills are better. It was an experience I will never forget.
I cannot believe it is already the end of the third week here. Time has been flying by but my days are pretty packed. Which makes me not think of the time. I still look forward to class everyday but just last friday we finished the work book. This last week was great progress and speaking german is becoming a normal thing it feels like. This last Wednesday my class as well as class six went to the famous Ritter Sport chocolate factory. And no, it was not like Willy Wonka’s factory. Their chocolate is mouth watering. They have been making chocolate for over 100 years so by this time they have it down. It makes Hersey chocolate taste bad.
On Friday, we had our end of the program party and it was so much fun. The food was great and the entertainment was better. They were serving cheap drinks and everyone was feeling good. The music was great and everyone was happy. It was a great night. As my friends from England say “It was a proper night”.
I was going to stay an extra week after the program to travel but decided to come home a few days earlier instead. By this time, I feel like I have spent so much money on food and the trip itself that it gives me anxiety.
Next week is our end of the course test and presentation. For all of you that know me, you better bet I am doing my presentation over soccer (fussball) in Germany. I am doing it with my friend from England cause of course, he loves fussball as well. It is going to be a busy week but I am excited for it to be over and to be able to head back home. The only thing I am not looking forward to is the plane ride…
I feel like these weeks are getting longer. Sleeping was hard and eating was harder. For the first week or so I was getting up at the strangest hours and eating hardly anything. Eventually I got use to the time zone and was back to at least three meals a day and just about eight hours a night of sleep. I would stay up late and Skype my girlfriend but to me it was worth it.
Class is my favorite thing (I never would think i’d say that) but it is so much fun. My german is improving very fast and communicating is becoming easier and easier everyday. What we were working on was very helpful because it is what I struggled with back in Uni. I was becoming more comfortable with my classmates and I love the people at my table. I sit next to a Russian kid and across from a girl from Taiwan. Next to her is my friend Tom from London. I have learned a lot about another cultures. I sure wish it was more like that in the States. I did a short presentation on Oregon and I feel like it went well except I did not have pictures. I cannot describe the beauty of Oregon. Not even in english.
The first week was very hot. I did not plan for that weather. I was sweating all day everyday and I hated it. Eventually it started to cool down to a more comfortable temperature. As I write this, it is raining. Im happy with that.
The first week we took a walk to some woods near by and had a small snack by the river. I did not sit down, nor eat because I was to fascinated by the woods. I walked about a half mile up the river by myself and explored till I had to go back. Once I met back up with the group they were still sitting and talking. So I went another direction and climbed a tree to get a better view of the fields and forest. On the way back I found a huge frog on the path that everyone missed. It did not move and seemed very dehydrated. I picked up the frog with some bark and walked it down the path back towards the river. I waded in and set the frog on the other side away from people. It did not move once I set it down so it might have been to late. At least it was in a better place than the hot pavement.
In the middle of the week we had a Japanese night in which the Japanese students hosted a night where we could learn all about their culture. It was very interesting and seems like an awesome place to visit. At the end of the week, classes 1-8 took an excursion to the Bodensee. It was very beautiful and I would recommend it to anyone looking for some where to go in southern Germany.
The flight was a long one. I watched four movies along the way and sat next to a very nice lady who was traveling to Africa to do some volunteer work. I did not sleep on the plane flight from Portland to Amsterdam which was almost 10 hours. After landing, I got on my second flight to Frankfurt and from there I took a train to Stuttgart and from Stuttgart to Tübingen. It was a very hard last few hours to stay up and my body was feeling it. When I arrived to Tübingen I had no where to stay, no where to go, and no one to help me. It was interesting. After walking for about two hours with all my luggage and getting a few helpful hints from strangers I made it to a hostel. It was a very nice, cheap, friendly hostel and my roommates for the night were very nice. One of them spoke both english and german which made communicating easier.
The next day as I was checking out, I met a very nice Italian girl and her mom who were also doing the program. I spent the day with them walking around the beautiful, small town; killing time till we could check into our rooms. Eventually the time came and we were taken to our rooms along with four or five other people in the program. I am the only one from that section in a different building but I could not be happier. My view is…jaw dropping.
I did not know what to do with my free time so I would do small workouts and read and mess around on the computer. I was very excited for class and nervous at the same time even though actual class did not start until Wednesday. On Tuesday, everyone in the program took a placement test to figure out what class level they would be in. I got into class 5 out of 12. At first I was slightly disappointed but once class started, I was extremely happy with my placement. My teacher is awesome. He is a young, active, music playing guy with so much to teach. The classmates are all nice and friendly. I have never been around so much culture. Making friends was hard at first but eventually I met two guys both named Tom. One from England who is learning german for his girlfriend and the other from Rhode Island who is learning german for fun and school.
I have about a week until I have to leave for Germany. I have been so excited to go to Germany but as each day passes I become a little more and more nervous. I feel like there is still so much to do and so many bills to pay. Although I am trying to prepare myself for Germany, it seems much harder than I would have expected. I have been studying about German culture for the last six years and I still feel like there is so much to learn. The best way to learn is to surround myself in their culture. I cannot wait to get better, maybe even fluent, at speaking german. I am most excited to see the world and escape the United States. I want to play soccer, fussball,over there everyday. I believe that will be the easiest way for me to meet people and make new friends. I do not drink often and when I do it is only a small amount so that makes me nervous about drinking Germanys fine brews. Public intoxication is looked down upon in Germany compared to the U.S. where people are so drunk, they cannot even figure out how to stand. Small cultural differences like this are what interest me about going abroad.
I have a week after the program ends to travel and see what I can. Any suggestions to visit in or near Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany? I would love to visit neighboring towns and villages or even Lake Constance (Bodensee). How about some tips for preparing to study abroad? Any information is good information.