Monday, October 26, 2009

Putt Putt Saves the Zoo!

After reading several blogs of other AFSers I'm starting to realize that perhaps I veered away from the whole purpose of a blog, which is to tell you what's going on here. Instead Ive just been sharing my reactions lately. So I thought I would try out telling you what I am doing, which is easier now as I am on October break (yes indeed, how awesome is that? Two weeks off in October!) and I am actually doing things.

So as I mentioned in my earlier entry, I am staying with another AFSer Jack. Jack also won the scholarship that I did. We met on the train from Frankfurt to Berlin, became friends at Late Orientation Camp, then I stayed at his place when I needed a host for my SAT weekend where we grew sick of eachother, and then now I am staying with him for the two week October Break where we are both sort of like "I can't get away from you, so I'm just ganna learn to deal with you". I imagine its like being a married couple. Why may you ask, is AFS allowing me to stay with Jack in Berlin for two weeks? Yes, well, I am changing families. And until AFS finds me a new family (cross your fingers not in the same town I was in = major awkwardness) I am staying here, which suits me just fine. I have done more here in the week I've stayed here than I did in a month with my old host family.

Although I can't act like I do something interesting all the time here (aka Jack and I sat with our laptops and ate candy on the couch for literally three days straight until we both turned to eachother, moaned, and went "we have to do something!"). This led to Jack and I taking a bikeride through the town and "spazieren" which is exploring woods. We found tons of creepy old treehouses that were so water-soden that we couldnt climb all but one. The woods in Germany are amazing, theres tons of old abandoned roads and you never run into other people. All you see is farms on all sides of you and a seemingly endless trail. It always reminds me of the movie "Pride and Prejudice" for those who have any idea the scenery I am referring to. I like to take walks on these walks to think and get outside.

Also, Jack and I had taken an earlier exploring adventure in another woods. We rode our bikes to a local "wilderness park"=forest and decided we'd rather walk (actually I wasn't wearing a belt and was tired of worrying about my shirt riding up on the bike so I insisted we drop the bikes). Unfortunately, in Germany, its the national past time to steal bikes, so we had to find a ditch and throw our bikes in there to make sure they werent stolen. We quickly got lost as the path was both neverending and constantly forking. But it was all in good fun. At one point we ended up in this huge field where goats with horns were kept. It was surrounded by an electric fence which of course Jack and I spent about 20 minutes taking turns grabbing...I know, our maturity level is astounding. Finally, we-by the grace of God- somehow made our way back to our bikes. We stopped by the local shop and had Fanta and German pastries and then continued our ride home.

Recently, I've been going out a lot. I went to see...fuck, I forget the name. Some movie with...oh God, I forget that too. This is turning out to be a really good story...Okay, so I went to see a movie with Phillip (Jacks host brother), Dennis (I'll hold out my opinions on this creeper), and Phillips friends. I actually understood the movie! Hooray me. We also went Christmas shopping on Saturday in Berlin. I'd name what I bought but my family reads this thing (hey guys!). Then yesterday, I found out that my Grandpa had passed away. It really hit me hard cause I couldn't be there and he meant so much to me. But last night I went to a classical symphony with the Neubauer's (Jacks family) which was fun, as we got to dress up all fancy-like and the concert was surprisingly more interesting than it might sound. When the last song played I was like, "Hmm that was good" BUT THEN people kept clapping, and clapping-and clapping. And three encores later I was on the verge of taking the U-baun home. This is especially since, 1. High heels are a bitch to wear no matter if your sitting or standing, 2. Panty hose from hell. I hate when the crotch falls down to like your knees and unless you go to the bathroom theres no way you can pull them up (I'm crossing my fingers some girl reading this understands my pain)--panty hose really need some evolving because I dont know a woman who actually likes wearing them . But yes, the concert was enjoyable and the family activities in this family always make me exceptionally happy.

Oh my god, I almost forgot the zoo. Today I went to the zoo with Jack, Phillip, Claudia (host mom), and another family that has a 10 year old daughter, a 16 year old daughter Leo whose a friend of Jacks, and a mom. Oh, the zoo-trip, how to describe you? I'll name my favorite parts.

1. When in the monkey part of the park Claudia goes "Hey Claire, look at those monkeys-so cute!" and I look and go 'Thats officially the ugliest freaking animal I've ever seen!" and promptly asked what the hell was wrong with its face. But then suddenly the monkey turned around and instead of seeing a regular monkey butt-I saw a typical monkey face. Turns out, that ugly monkey I had seen before was its BUTT. It had like a tumor on its butt that looked like a face. It was both incredible and absolutely pain stakingly disgusting.

2. Of course, with little kids we naturally had to go to the petting zoo. Some little kid shoved feed in my hand and insisted I feed the stupid-looking horse, and instead of throwing feed in her face, I did it (I can only imagine how proud my parents are of this). Naturally, my hand was absolutely disgusting and smelled awful afterwards so I just pulled a sheep near me and used its fur as a napkin--crafty right? Then I ran into my new best friend. It was a goat that when it...cried (is that what a goat does?) it sounded like it was choking on a spoon and gurgling water at the same time. It sounds awful but it about got me to pee myself laughing. Also, I got to see an elephant bash as one elephant got pushed over and then the other sat on it. Then when the fallen elephant got up it went out for revenge and pushed over the elephant that had sat on it. P.S. For Christmas, I want a baby elephant.

3. I have no three, that's unfortunate.

Tomorrow we leave for Northwestern Germany to celebrate their Grandpa's birthday. We are staying until Thursday and I'm excited to go to the other side of Germany. So yeah, that was my attempt at explaining a little bit of what I do. I feel like it was a bit dull, but whatever- its experimentation.

OH, speaking of experimentation. I'm going through this really cool 'what-the hell" phase where I'll pretty much try anything if you ask me just to know I tried. This has led to many new foods that I like and very few things that I've tried have been unenjoyable. I tried:

1. Cows tongue
2. Snails
3. Salad ( I actually really like it parents! I know, me liking salad?!)
4. Mexican curry
5. Sauercraut<-- absolutely disgusting
6. Bacon wrapped plum <--- the nastiest thing I've ever eaten in my whole life which says a lot considering I ate mexican worms and crickets for extra credit in Science
7. Gorka<-- like pickles but so much better (Dad, I shall make sure we eat this when you visit)
8. Doenner<-- Turkish meat pocket thats like the German blt
9. Chili Chocolate<--- Delicious at first and then has a horrible aftertaste
10. Buttermilk<-- Really popular here and does that not sound absolutely delicious? I was disappointed that its both bitter and un-butter-like. Fail.
11. My first beer <-- I always thought that beer smelled like perfume, and hey, what do you know if it tastes like it too?

My parents will be amazed by this list, as I've managed to stay a very picky eater-along with my brother- for the majority of my life. Then this Summer I realized that perhaps if I tried foods other than pizza and mac n cheese that I might actually like them, and look at me now!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mag order nicht zu mag

I think you would be proud to hear that I actually considered putting pictures up on this thing. Unluckily, my computer seems to have other plans and would rather throw a temper tantrum and make me call it foul names than actually have me like it for once. But thats only because I'm technologically challenged and also a wee bit impatient. So no pictures at the moment. I also cant put them on Facebook as Facebook and my computer are working together as evil technological supervillians set on overheating Claire's brain. But yeah, I tried.

Anyhow, I thought Id put a list of simple things I like and don't like here in Germany. I shall start will my likes as those are easier to think of and I'm also currently in an optimistic mood.

Claire Likes:

1. Haribo- I get this weird dejavu feeling when I write this because I feel like Ive mentioned it before and probably have. I repeat myself all the time in person. But maybe that emphasizes how good they are. They are gummy snacks that come in like hundreds of different types. Its both aww inspiring and addicting.

2. Brotchen- It means little bread. But its what you have for breakfast every morning with jams, nutella (Ill get to that later...), fresh cheeses, and meats. Im currently mastering the art of cutting a brotchen in half.

3. Fat "who cares?"- I love that the Germans eat and dont think about it. When its good, its good and thats that. Theres no "Oh, that will make my hips too big" or "Im ganna skip breakfast because Im sure that will solve all my insecurities". Its freeing to not have to deal with the American habit of always concentrating on weight. And ya know what, Ive hardly seen an overweight person here. So, take that.

4. Sheets- When you have a bed in Germany you have one gigantic pillow that takes up like half your bed and then one gigantic sheet that weighs a ton. Ive heard some complaints from other exchange students about it, but I love it! Its like being Patrick Star and sleeping with a boulder on top of you.

5. Transportation- I'm not used to being able to go wherever I so want to. Here, no matter if your in the middle of nowhere, by train or by bus you have the ability to go anywhere. Its not exactly cheap but its not expensive either. In my town theres just a train to Philly and back and you have to drive a car to get to the train station which pretty much deletes the whole freeness of it.

6. Weather- Cold, wet, and windy. Every day.

7. Language- I really respect the Germans, and other European countries, for how well they teach language classes. And not only that, they all take several languages. Here, all language classes are conducted entirely in that language and the teacher actually speaks the language fluently. Its a deduction from your grade when you speak in your native tongue. Kids really know their foreign languages here and could easily pull off a conversation in it. In America, you'd be lucky to pull off a conversation with my teacher.

8. NUTELLA- I am addicted. I go through withdrawal when I don't have it on a daily basis. Its really becoming a problem. And yes, I do know that its available in the United States, but had I ever had Nutella before I came here? No. I remember last year telling my stepmom how disgusting it was that a girl in my chorus class ate a chocolate sandwich, well, that was nutella. And now I am jealous of her for finding this gem before I did. It sounds nasty, but chocolate on bread is magical. Id compare nutella to america's peanut butter. But yeah, it got so bad at one point that I ended up buying my own jar of nutella to eat by the spoonful...I know....

Claire Dislikes:

1. Lack of DO for the BO- I can understand after a sports game stinking, but its like 10 am here and guys are making me back vomit and breathe through my mouth to avoid dieing. I'm not kidding, I really don't know where the governments storing the supply of deodorant but Id really appreciate if the problem was worked out. Its only with guys and the odd thing is that I get the feeling they have absolutely no idea how atrocious their body odor is. Hate to be blunt, but thats how its going down.

2. Copying US- I think this might only be a problem for me as I know a lot of others who like how United States-ish Germany is. But like, they copy our TV shows and put different names on it, and copy our cereals, and theres a bunch of English words in the German language that stand out like a sore thumb such as the word "chill" or "shopping". I'm sure there are good reasons as to why this shouldn't bother me, and I really don't know why it does. I guess I just wish everybody else didn't know so much about my country, cause it makes me feel really lame and boring.

3. No Naturalness- This goes for the women here, and I believe its only where I live. But I could count on one hand the amount of women Ive seen with their natural hair color its so few. Even old old women in walkers have crazy ass dyed hair. The old women with white hair especially like to put pink in their hair ---NOT kidding. Women here also are not discrete about how much makeup they wear. I'm used to at my school girls being embarrassed that they need to wear makeup, but here girls put it on like a beauty pageant. Its crazy colors and lots of liquid eyeliner and I just sort of like the naturalness of American teen girls.

4. Dependence on Alcohol- I know that when me and my step mom talked about drinking, we spoke about the fact that since alcohol isn't illegal for teens here then they don't drink to get drunk. But I'm really disappointed at what Ive seen. Kids in fact still find drinking a "bad ass" thing to do despite the fact its totally legal for them. Theres broken beer bottles everywhere and at night the kids hang around public places, get absolutely smashed, fight, and make complete asses out of themselves. Its also assumed that at a gathering of friends that some sort of alcohol will always be there. I think I'm incredibly biased on this because I'm sure it goes on in the US and I just don't see it. But still, I'm disappointed in how teens here wanna get drunk for fun as well.

5. Homophobia- This is much like the drinking situation. I thought that since Germany had legalized gay marriage that there wouldn't be homophobia and that it would just be totally socially acceptable. Unfortunately, its the same as in America. Kids make fun of gays and have nicknames just like in English for them. Its something to be ashamed over and to poke fun at. I'm really ashamed of the people like this who are so egotistical that they believe others are less human than they are.

So yeah, its a give and take just like it is in any country. But already its broadened my thinking and given me a new perspective on some subjects. And of course on others its only strengthened my beliefs. For now, I am staying with my friend Jack inbetween Berlin and Potsdam and we are being "Faulkinder" (lazy kids) sitting on the couch with our laptops eating Haribo and listening to music. Right now its cold and raining so we are stuck indoors.

I have no interesting conclusion for this so, Tschuess!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Claire Can't Walk

After a couple weeks in Germany Ive come to the sad conclusion that Im not physically capable of walking. Ive given in my best shot here but apparently my best efforts are not cuttin it here. Id estimate that I trip about two times on every street. When I turn onto a new street, two more trips. And God forbid I be on public transportation which seems to make me fall over at every stop. BUT in my defense, all the streets here are cobblestone and if youve ever visited Philadelphia you cant lie and say you never tripped. Also, I have new German shoes that have a heel on them. Cobblestones + Heels= Claire in a ditch somewhere.

Anywho, I thought Id go over some observations Ive made on Germany. Please remember that this isnt for all of Germany, its just for where I live. Ive heard a bunch of things from other CBYXers and a lot of them dont apply to me and Im pretty sure some of mine dont apply to them. So here we go.

Eating Habits. I cant begin to describe the differences in eating habits here. First off, Im almost certain that theres a quick eating competition going on with prizes and Im not aware of it because people eat lighting quick. I have tried to match their incredible speed but have eaten dust. Secondly, its totally acceptable to talk with food in your mouth and I mean like full on "A glub blug aggh Rah fah" type of food-talking.

Blowing Your Nose. This one I find absolutely amusing. Let me start off by saying that the people here seem to be perpetually sick and everyone always has tissues on them. Whats the best part is that here its absolutely okay to FULL OUT blow your nose. You know in America youll like go into the bathroom to blow your nose and when you do it in class its really awkward and loud and everyone looks at you? No such thing here. You can blow your nose talking to someone, eating, in class, riding a bike, you name it. And as loud as you want. You would even do it here talking face to face with a guy you like. Its so weird for me.

Sleepovers. Lets just say that sleepovers have a bit of a different meaning here. A sleepover is between opposite sexes and its perfectly normal. I was absolutely mortified to hear that my host brothers girlfriend was sleeping over (especially after having to spend a whole day watching their out right disgusting PDA). But its perfectly normal here. The thing thats unheard of is having a sleepover with the same sex. I did with my friend Mili (Australia) on a school night and when we go on the bus we were promptly informed wed just declared ourselves lesbians. Not exactly what I was going for with my sleepover but it shows you the cultural differences.

ALSO I went to an AFS meeting for the weekend in Berlin and it was absolutely amazing. I had the best time which rocks and sucks at the same time. Its awesome cause i met great people and had an amazing time but its made this week that much harder cause ive missed them so much.

At the moment Im trying to figure out my weekend because I have to take the SATs on Saturday morning so I need to find a host fam. Im pretty sure my brain will be blasted by the end cause people always ask me the english words for stuff here and I forget 99% of them cause I dont use them now.

Whoa...I just had the greatest idea...