So I suppose I'm a terrible blogger but that's okay because the internet here is really flakey. Here is a copy of the email I sent my parents that describes my journey. Beware it's long!
Traveling 24 hours on 2 and a half hours of sleep is not fun, I would advise against it. At the same time I would never take back those 8 hours on a plane laughing and chatting with 59… yes 59 other exchange students to Germany and 2 flight attendants from Belgium. ☺ The flight to Dulles was one of the smoothest I’ve ever taken, scared me a little bit it was so smooth. The flight to Frankfurt started out a bit shaky and settled down once we were over the ocean.
Once we landed in Germany the first German word I saw was Technik on the side of the building. Good grief. As we landed and had to haul our carrying up a huge flight of stairs (good grief Dad, did I HAVE to pack all that? Checking luggage works just fine! Or so I thought at the time!) We deplaned and split up in to CBYXers and non CBYXers and went on our merry way to passport control. To which, while waiting in line, a student in our group experienced German culture first hand. He could not find a trashcan. After ten minutes of search we discovered that there was indeed a place to put his trash only if we could find out which of the 4 containers it was allowed in. Considering we were allowed to cross the checkpoint, I should say we succeeded. Then we went through customs and then into Germany! After everyone split off only Matthew Berry and I were left. The lone train riders.
Thus begins possibly the most amusing and slightly frightening thing that has ever happened to me while traveling. Our YFU person told us that we would go get our luggage and then head to the train station. Simple right? As Matthew was about to head off into the deep unknown I decided to question my directions. “uhmm, In Germany I assume you need a ticket to ride the train?” To which we found out that there were no tickets for us and that our YFU person was very confused. After a few calls we were told to go get our luggage and someone would meet us. “who?” “Someone” “Fan. Tas. Tic.” So we went to go get our luggage… which wasn’t there. After about 10 mins I was beginning to wonder if God hadn’t decided to play a cruel joke on us and ditch us in Frankfurt Airport with no luggage and no one to meet us. But God is merciful and help came in the form of an 18 year old named Marcus. He talked to the baggage agent and apparently they had already put our bags in holding. And yes mom I had my luggage ticket. So we went and met a group of other exchangers and waited. And waited. For two girls who showed up about 2 hours later. And off we were to the train station. Dragging to fifty pound bags onto a train with angry Germans trying to get on and off is not fun. Standing to close to a walkway will get you pushed, someone needs to tell that lady that Americans (if not loaded down with luggage and completely confused) will push back! Soooo. Two train rides later, about 24 hours since my trip to RDU and there I was at my final destination and got to meet my waiting host family. Did you know it’s hard to hug people when you are about to fall over??? They were kind and helped me with my luggage. So then we went to the market and bought some odds ‘n ends. Laura (my host sister) wanted beer in particular. ☺ And we also got some pastries… oh gotta love Germany.
We went from there to our house and it’s all so German! I live in a small village called Hambach and will travel about 15 mins on bike to my school in Jülich. The house is very pretty and the surrounding area is so pretty and German-y that one of the things I thought to myself was “Do I really have to go home?” How could anyone leave??
Once I got to the house I discovered that my red bag was completely soaked. I knew the bottom had been wet but thought that it was just little damp from rain or something. Oh no, I am starting to wonder if they did not dump a bucket of water it was so bad. But, luckily, and thanks to my dear father I suppose everything of value and electronic was in my dead weight carryon. A book and my bible were water damaged and possibly ruined and while sad, not irreplaceable. The boxes will have to be trashed though, and I had to dry all my clothes. But in the end I came out of it perfectly fine, albeit annoyed.
I did a few more things with my family, at a true German dinner; there was steak and pork, bread, and salad. Yes mom, be jealous! My family is really nice, I’ve gotten really good at speaking Germlish. I speak German until I don’t know the word and then I just put in the English word. It works fairly well.
Fast forward to today:
Last night I went to Aachen with my host sister and we hung out with friends of hers who go to the university there. It wasn't exciting or anything but definetly fun. I enjoyed myself a lot. I've been in language school 2 days and in Germany for 5, Hambach is a really small nice village and my host family is wonderful. My host dad is the mayor. :) I've had a lot of fun so far and am loving Germany!
It's funny how I haven't been on exchange yet and it's already changing me.
Like how for the past 3 months all I've felt is how ready I am for it and now with one day to go I realize just how not ready I might be. Don't get me wrong, it's nothing big, but it's in the sense once I get there I'm on my own. Yes I'll have a host family, but it won't be my parents who have always supported me and been there. But I am ready, just the thought of being in a foreign country by myself (kinda) for five months has started to freak me out a little. Just a little! :)
This past Friday I flew home from Dallas. Now THAT was an ordeal. I left at 7 am and got home at 9 pm. Yeahhh. But it made me realize just how much I've grown up. I was by myself, trying to get on planes, get connections, all that shinanagins. And I didn't freak, break down, or anything. I sucked it up and did what I had to do to get home. I only broke down crying when I actually got home but that's another story.
So what am I trying to say here?
One day to go. I leave Thursday morning. July 23rd 2009. Return January 9th 2010.