Weinheim

May 6, 2014 § Leave a comment


On Saturday my family and I went to a town called Weinheim. It’s a bit north of us and has about 30,000 citizens.

Unfortunately, my family is quite American. This means that although we were in a beautiful German town, with the ability to explore as many side streets as we pleased, we pretty much camped out at the dollar (euro) store for a good chunk of time. 

We didn’t get any souvenirs from our trip, except some ice cream for the boys and a sandwich for me. Also, the boys each got a gun (thankfully they’re both already broken) and my middle brother bought a visor with the colors of Germany on it.

Because we are the ultimate tourists.

That all being said, I will now present some pictures! I did not take any of these, since I always think to take pictures once I’m already home, or I get self-conscious about being such an obvious tourist. 

Enjoy!

 

    

   

 

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First Week Back

May 5, 2014 § Leave a comment


Well basically, my life is pretty boring right about now.

On Tuesday last week, we had a half day which was nice. It wasn’t too enjoyable though, since I had a major art project due on Friday and a big test on Friday.

As it turned out, the teacher was not there on Friday, so the test was postponed until this Friday, which is always a joyous occurrence. 

Then on Thursday, we had the day off school since it was a state holiday. These tend to pop up a lot in May and June, which helps ease the pangs of spring fever.

However, on Thursday, we had a church picnic planned up in the mountains. The weather forecast all week had shown probable forecasts of rain, and we were assured that in the event of a shower, the picnic would be canceled.

Well, we woke up Thursday morning and it was pouring. There was no email about the picnic being canceled though, so we called the pastor and asked. He affirmed that all was to go as scheduled.

We live a bit north of the town the picnic was supposed to be in, and he said that it wasn’t raining “at the moment.”

So we went and, just as the weather forecast said, it rained the entire time, literally without stopping. It was also very cold, which is not surprising, considering the altitude we were at, coupled with the rain. 

Thankfully there was a pavilion we all huddled under, while the brave people (and the 10 year old boys) played soccer or climbed rocks out in the elements.

It was pretty funny, but I will admit that I have attended more enjoyable picnics and next time it would probably be wise to postpone the event.

At least it made for something to write about!

School is going pretty well. Last week was the first back after spring break and it hasn’t been too difficult of an adjustment so far. The worst part is definitely getting up early in the morning. 

I think I’ll leave it at there for now, and try to keep you updated!

 

Spitting Wooden Nickels

April 21, 2014 § 1 Comment


A typical conversation in my family at mealtime consists of how our day is going or upcoming events. Sometimes we also permit ourselves to reminisce about our “old lives” in the States or something along those lines. Nothing too fantastic.

However, occasionally we stumble upon a real gold nugget of a topic, as was the case during lunch today.

I’ll briefly set the scene. Mom had just hung a comforter outside on a drying rack and was keeping an eye on it out in the backyard. Our table is positioned in such a way that as we were eating, she could still see the patio.

Let’s begin.

Mom: (stands up from the table) I’m gonna go spit wooden nickels.

Dad and I: (exchange extremely confused looks)

Me: Did she just say… Spit wooden nickels?

Dad: I think so. (chuckles)

Mom: (comes back) I thought a bird pooped on the comforter but it was just a bee.

Me: OK. Did you say, “I’m gonna go spit wooden nickels?”

Mom: Yeah?

Dad: What does it mean?

Mom: To be angry about something.

Dad and I: (laughing)

Dad: What? How?

Mom: Who is on the nickel?

Dad: Jefferson.

Mom: (scoffs) No, Washington.

Dad: OH, OF COURSE! That makes absolute PERFECT sense now. I completely understand.

Mom: What?

Dad: I’m very confused.

Me: What does Washington being on the nickel have to do with anything?

Mom: He had wooden teeth.

Dad and I: (laughing very hard)

Dad: I don’t even think that’s true, but even if it is, what does it have to do with anything?

Mom: Well I don’t know, it’s just what I heard as a kid.

Me (as the technologically somewhat advanced teenager, I pulled out my phone to do some research): According to Wikipedia, the saying is “stand upside down and spit wooden nickels-

Mom: Ok, whatever. So I missed a part.

Me: -and it means to try to do the impossible.

Dad: See, this is how language evolves. As a kid, you probably heard an adult say it out of frustration. You interpreted it as anger, but really the adult had just been asked to do a seemingly impossible task, so it was this other element that was the real meaning.

Now imagine if you left hundreds of years ago to be part of a remote colony and you were very influential as an English speaker, perhaps as a teacher or community leader of some kind.

The next generation would learn from you what the phrase means, but hundreds of years later when the two communities (the second being other English speakers around the world) met, they would misunderstand each other in regards to this saying.

Mom and I: PLEASE, stop!

Mom: None of this is even real! I like hearing real things and you’re just making up hypothetical situations that are never going to happen.

Dad: OK, OK, so imagine a hypothetical situation in which you moved to a remote colony hundreds of years-

Everyone: STOP!

Dad: (looks at a nickel) HEY! It is Jefferson on the nickel!

Me: And George Washington’s teeth were carved out of ivory, not wood.

Mom: I just heard it as a kid!


Maybe you just had to be there…

Welcome to the South!

April 18, 2014 § 1 Comment


It’s been pretty quiet around here. We’re still on break with a little over a week to go. Holidays tend to just stress me out because they go by so quickly and suddenly I realize that I have completed very very little of my schoolwork in comparison to how much time has gone by. What’s the point of break if you still have so much work? It completely ruins the relaxing aspect of vacation because now I’m just thinking about my Art project all the time.

Not fun.

Yesterday evening I was procrastinating on the internet and saw a picture of a woman with rather short hair above her shoulders. Well, my mom happened to be cutting my brothers’ hair at that moment so I decided on the spot to have her cut mine as well. It used to hit around my ribcage but now it’s maybe three or four inches below my shoulders. Haircuts are always very exciting for me, but I guess they’re not very interesting writing material.

In more comical news, I found this gem of a sweatshirt in a store yesterday:

Blog pic 2

If for some reason you cannot view this image, which unfortunately happens rather often, it says:

Welcome to the South

Your Favorite

Place to Loose

Yourself

And Follow Your Heart


Besides the fact that I found this in Bensheim, Germany, which is hopelessly far from the South (I can only presume that they do mean the south of the United States of God Bless America), and they therefore really have no business welcoming me there, this is such a classic example with the German preoccupation with America and English. Such a preoccupation, under the circumstances, deeply encourages grammatical errors and is often extremely poorly executed, as in this case.

One does not “loose” oneself. One “loses” oneself.

Also, what is it about the South that would cause someone to irrevocably follow their heart, which they were previously incapable of doing? What is so repulsive and oppressive about, say, the North that would force one to bend one’s will to some other entity without one’s own personal consent? I have never been that deeply affected by my geographical location, I must admit.

Maybe I just need to spend more time in the South.

Updating You

April 14, 2014 § 1 Comment


Well, there have been previous time periods during which I did, in fact, post more. I will grant that.

Do we have to dwell on the past? Not that I’m exactly promising I’ll be posting regularly again (sorry), but I would like to get back into it. I just don’t want to promise something I can’t keep my word on because that’s even more disappointing than simply not having any posts, no?

We’ll see how it goes.

I don’t totally know what to say since it’s been so long, but I’m at my “new” school which is international. Pretty much after having my head dampened by the spittle of 12 year old German males, I kind of decided not to darken the doors of my dearly beloved local German public school. Again, let’s not dwell on the past. Except I will keep bringing up that instance, because it’s actually the only remotely interesting story I have in circulation at this point.

It’s going well at the international school. I’ve pretty much been labeled as a lame nerd, since I try to keep my grades up and apparently my sarcasm is even less appreciated in real life than online. That’s fine because I still subject everyone to it. You’re not supposed to care what other people think about you, right?

My Dad’s trying to guilt me about my attitude towards life and also my verbal expression of said attitude. It’s not going so well, but now I whisper my complaints to my Mom instead of saying them to his face. That seems to have deterred his quest.

I’m currently on break for a couple of weeks, but since I have a few projects and an exam the first week back, it’s not as relaxing as hoped. It’s still nice to sleep in, though. Also, I’m taking extra German classes over break, since we would NOT want to be outside of class for too long. I’m kidding, it was my decision to take German classes anyway. Since I’m not speaking it too much anymore, it’s really going downhill.

Also, apparently (this is news to me) I’m doing a German exchange at some point this summer. My “choices” were either that or go back to German public school, but I’m pretty sure the second one was a joke. I’m just going to Munich or something to stay with a family whom I have never met.

Sounds like fun, I guess.

Well, that’s all I have to say for now, and hopefully I’ll be back soon.

Big News

August 21, 2013 § 2 Comments


OK. I am aware that it has been forever. I’m sorry. I don’t have an excuse, except that I don’t like talking about my visits to America, which is what I did this summer. It’s just a really emotional (I hate that word, but as a girl, I’m forced to use it sometimes) experience and if I tried to actually write about it I would probably not be able to stop sobbing for roughly two years so let’s not go down that road.

However, I really have no excuse for the past few days, since school started on Monday and I have basically the most bizarre story ever.

So, last year in the early spring I visited an international school in a town about 20 minutes away from where I live. The language of the school is English and I had it in the back of my mind as a backup plan.

This summer I decided to stay in the German public school though, so I sort of forgot about the international school.

Monday was the first day back and it was just not a good experience. When I got there my teacher acted extremely surprised to see me and said that the international school had contacted him over the summer and asked him to transfer all my paperwork because I was going to their school that year. My whole class was confused, as was I. I sort of brushed it off though, because honestly, I don’t have the highest opinion of the organization of the German school system. As far as the rest of the school day, it was the same story with the girls not being friendly and my feeling awkward about the language. At break I went down to my old Polish classroom to see if I could meet the new students. My old teacher saw me and she was also very surprised and thought I was going to the other school. At that point I was really confused, but again, German school system. What are you going to do?

So I then completed the day, growing more miserable by the second.

Somewhere around mid-way through first period an idea began to form in my mind. By the end of the day, I was pretty sure.

When I got home I told my mom that I was not going back to the German school and I wanted to go to the international school. My brother was going there anyway, so it wouldn’t be too much of an extra hassle.

After a long afternoon of crying and debating and talking, my mom and I came to the decision that I would transfer as soon as possible.

My Dad then called the schools and informed us of something astounding.

After I had visited the school last year, we reserved a spot for me for this year, because they told us that we could cancel it at any time and there would be no extra cancellation fee or anything like that.

As it turned out, we had forgotten to cancel it after I decided to stay at the public school, so technically I was enrolled at the international school.

They never sent anything in the mail or any confirmation email or anything, but apparently I was announced at the opening ceremony on Monday and obviously was not there, which must have been kind of awkward.

The general effect of this was that it was extremely easy for me to “transfer” on Tuesday, since it’s not even really a transfer.

If all of that was very confusing to you, I am not at the public school that I was at last year anymore. This means no more Polish stories.

Let us have a moment of silence.

Fortunately for you all, as I told my dad on the phone, my whole life is pretty much just one awkward situation, so there should still be a decent flow of stories.

Tuesday and then today I was at the international school, and I already have some good stories. I actually have no idea where to start. There’s such an overload of information that I feel like I NEED to address first, so sorry if the rest of this post feels really disorganized and all over the place.

It’s because my whole life, in addition to being one big awkward situation, is also really disorganized and all over the place.

I’m in the same class that I visited in March, so I already vaguely know some of the kids.

In my main classroom, I’m sitting on the end of a row right next to a boy who I don’t really know. Unfortunately for me, a fair amount of our teachers love to present us with an idea and then tell us to “discuss it with the person next to us.”

This is a painful enough experience when I’m next to an actual friend, but next to an equally gawky adolescent boy… There are no adequate words. I’m pretty sure all the people within a 10 mile radius are affected by the awkwardness that we emanate.

Half the time we just sit and stare at the floor, attempting to pretend we’ve suddenly gone deaf and mute. Because there are only so many feasible solutions to such a problem. Then the teacher gives us the hairy eyeball to the point where today, I turned around and said to my would-be conversational partner, “Let’s just pretend that we’re actually talking about this.”

This was the best decision I’ve ever made.

Now I think I’ll try to start from the beginning of the Tuesday to the end of Wednesday. On Tuesday, I got to the school and my mom took me to my classroom. The teacher hadn’t arrived yet and the whole class was waiting outside the door. I then asked her what I should do. She told me to sit down somewhere and then she left me all alone. A couple of people said hi, but for the most part they just ignored me.

When we got into the classroom, the teacher asked me to stand up and introduce myself. Once I sat down he asked the class if anyone wanted to volunteer to be my “friend” for the beginning and show me around. There was a long awkward silence until finally one girl slowly raised her hand.

She still hasn’t even said hi to me. I feel like I’m on my own on this one.

I actually have enjoyed all my classes so far, except for the Spanish. I’ve been learning Spanish for a few months and my class has been learning for 2 years, so they’re obviously way ahead of me.

Other than that, yesterday was good.

Today was interesting. I had first two periods English and I really like the class so far.

We’re doing a unit on friendship and why it’s important. The teacher had passed out a magazine article that was split into four sections. Each section asked a particular question about friendship and we were told to highlight the key words of each section. I was finished a full 10 minutes before the rest of the class, so I took out my little notebook that I write my in-school diary in. I did this all of last year and I firmly believe that it is the reason I am still sane.

I’m also planning on keeping these forever so that one day when I grow up I will find them packed away in a box in my attic and I will read them to all of my friends and I will be so embarrassed at what an idiot I was when I was a teenager and it will be hilarious.

This is the only thing that I’ve planned about my future at all. I don’t even know what continent I’m planning on living on. I do have it narrowed down to two though, so that’s pretty good progress.

Anyway, I got it out and started writing in it as the teacher started passing out the next worksheet. When he got to me he attempted to subtly read over my shoulder in the most non-subtle way known to man. So I closed the book and stared at the wall until he left.

The worksheet wanted you to summarize what the article was saying and then give your own opinion about the topics.

I’m pretty sure I finished that first as well, so I started writing again. He came over and proofread it and there were a couple of places he wanted me to give more information, so I did that and went back to my writing. I did that for about 10 or 15 minutes until the last people finished up. Then he passed one more sheet out. It was a fill-in-the-blank about the article we had read, but it was pretty hard. I finished it and then glanced over to see that the boy next to me was on the first word and that the girls in front of me were on the second. Then one of the girls raised her hand and asked how to spell the word “reciprocate.”

The teacher wrote “recipricate” up on the board and everyone continued with the handout.

This gave me agita, but again, I took out my notebook and started writing. Then the teacher came over again. He crouched down, but before he could say anything I said, “Uhm. Isn’t “reciprocate” spelled with an “o?” He stood up, looked at it, and said, “An “o?” Where?” Then I said, “Uh. R-E-C-I-P-R-O-C-A-T-E?”

He looked at me and said, “No. I don’t think so.”

So, instead of dropping it, I got my dictionary out. It’s because I knew I was right. I looked it up and sure enough, “reciprocate.”

I showed him and he looked shocked, but he went up to the board and corrected it.

He didn’t seem offended or anything, which I guess is one of the signs of a good teacher.

I thought he was gone for good, but he came back and asked me what I was writing. I couldn’t bring myself to say “a diary,” so I just handed him my finished worksheet and as soon as he glanced over it he stood up and told me to follow him.

He took me over to his desk and showed me a painting on his computer. He told me that he wanted me to describe it to the class in as much detail as I could when they finished the last worksheet.

He then let me awkwardly stand at the front of the class for about 10 minutes, giving no explanation to the rest of the kids.

After this experience, I am almost positive that I have been (probably correctly) labeled as the intelligent one who is somewhat socially challenged and secretive. As well as sarcastic and back-talky.

I’m slightly concerned about the rest of my classes with him, but I think it should be OK.

I just wonder how many lectures about being social and so on I’ll get from him by the end of the year.

 

The End has Come

July 9, 2013 § Leave a comment


Kind of. I still have to go back next year.

Friday was the last day of school and that means I made it. I’m quite proud of myself because when I think back on the first day of school and how atrocious that was I see how big of a year it’s been.

I’m a little upset that I’m not totally fluent in Greek, Polish, and German by now. And not only that, but my English has actually gone downhill. Learning a new language definitely does that to you. My spelling in English has gotten especially atrocious. As is my German spelling. I sense a disturbing pattern here.

I don’t even really know what to say about this year. It’s kind of been too long and weird so we’ll leave it at that.

The last week of school was pretty quiet. Monday was a normal day in which we had Biology. However, we made alcohol-free cocktails because it’s German school and nothing makes sense.

I think that actually is a really good explanation for everything: because it’s German school and nothing makes sense.

Then on Tuesday my German class had a field trip and so I only actually had two periods of Polish class which was pretty nice. On Wednesday a lot of the German classes in the school had a big sport event thing so we didn’t have to go in those classes and we again had only two periods. Thursday was another “normal” day, in terms of how long we were there, but we didn’t actually have any class. The first four periods I was with my Polish class which is really lovely. I’m not being sarcastic. I like the Polish.

Anyway, the first period we talked about what was going to happen on the first two days of school next year. On the first day we have to go completely in our German classes, which kind of sucks because I can think of no worse way to start the year. On the second day we have to meet at the old Polish classroom and we will all be split up into two classes according to how good our German is. I don’t know who all I’ll be with, but I do know that I’ll be in the higher class. I’m still pretty bummed that we won’t all stay together. So on the second day they’ll give us our schedules and we will know where to go for the rest of the semester. They’re not promising that half of these classes won’t usually be canceled due to the teacher not showing up, but at least it’s nice to know which classroom we’re supposed to be at.

Then we went over our homework for a period. I am always amazed by how much time teachers take to go over homework in class. It’s kind of a skill.

Then we talked about our German classes for a period and a half. It was so fun to mutually lament about how stressful they are. It also was funny because the teacher didn’t know how bad it was and she was pretty incredulous. She also asked us why a couple of the boys in our class skip their German class all the time.

No one answered so of course, I took the opportunity to enlighten her. I just said, “Probably because they’re horrible.”

After I opened up the subject everyone else pitched in with their terrible experiences in German class. One of the Polish girls who I really like mentioned that even when she knows the answer to a question in class, she’s too scared to raise her hand because she knows her German isn’t that good and she doesn’t want to make a mistake because her class would laugh at her if she messed up.

I almost hugged her when she said that because it’s how I always feel.

The teacher also lectured me about being more friendly to my class at which I countered and said that I am pretty friendly but often when I say hi they just ignore me. She then told me to confront them and ask why they were ignoring me.

We will come back to this later.

Then one of the boys mentioned that he thought it was weird that two of the kids from our Polish class were also in the same German class, because they usually try to split us up. The teacher acted really apologetic and just said that there weren’t enough classes for us all to be in different ones. Then I mentioned that I actually would rather have someone from the Polish class in my German class, just so someone else who I already knew was there.

Then the teacher said, “Well, if one of the Polish girls was in your class do you think you would make other German friends in your class?”

I just think this was a really dumb thing of her to say. So I said, “Uhm. Probably not, but so far I have no German friends so I don’t think it would really make a difference.”

She shut up. I hope that with the next class of immigrants they put some of them together when they go to German class. I think my experience would have been way more positive if I had had someone to go through it with.

Then we spent the rest of the last period cleaning up the classroom.

On Friday we only had two periods in Polish class. We had breakfast together then we got our grades for the past semester.

I got all 1’s (A+/A) in my Polish class with the exception of my “social conduct” grade, which stubbornly remains a 2 (A-/B).

I’m actually really sad that the year is over (shocker, I know). But only because I know next year is gonna be even harder than this year.

I should be more positive about this but it’s really hard.

Now back to my teacher’s comment about confronting people who are rude to you.

Today I was in town and I saw one of the really popular girls in my school who happens to be in my class and I smiled at her. We made eye contact and she just sort of glared at me.

When I got home I decided to message her and ask why she didn’t smile back. She said that she “saw me too late and wasn’t sure if it was me.”

I feel like this is a really bad excuse because we made eye contact and she actually glared at me, but oh well. There’s really not too much you can say.

I’m really proud that I talked to her about it. I actually wouldn’t have if she hadn’t been popular, because I know we’ll never in a million years be friends anyway, so why not tick her off?

Is that bad logic?

Probably.

More Americans

June 27, 2013 § Leave a comment


I did it. I went.

I went on the field trip to the theme park yesterday. I was social-ish. Shall we discuss the experience a little bit?

OK.

I had to be at school at 7 am to catch the bus that was taking us to the park. Then one of the girls asked if I would sit with her and so for three hours I was with her on the bus and it was awkward, so I fell asleep.

Once we finally got to the park it was also awkward because I realized after about 15 minutes that none of the girls in my group actually like each other for various reasons, so we spent a lot of time being annoyed at each other.

Actually, I just don’t particularly adore social contact right now, so I pretty much kept my mouth shut and just followed them wherever they wanted to go.

The actual rides were really fun, and there was one roller coaster which I stupidly rode that was so fast that I actually could not scream. I wanted to and I tried to, but no sound would come out. Of course, this was the particular moment that  they chose to take my picture, so I look slightly deranged. Not that I’m not slightly deranged, but you know. Now there’s more documented proof, I suppose.

All in all, I would say that I would like to go back either with people who I actually like or simply alone. I think that would be fun.

The teacher was a little embarrassing, because he likes to talk really loudly to me so that everyone can hear, and he doesn’t even have the decency to speak English so no one else can understand what he’s lecturing me about. This is so he can get the largest audience, one can only presume.

I was gone from 7 am to 7 pm. For those of you who are bad at math, this is roughly two gallons of ice cream and four pounds of gummy bears.

If not more.

Today. Oh my goodness. Today. I know every day is described as weird and bizarre, but this day truly takes the cake, at least as far as recent days go.

It’s Thursday, so I have the first four periods with the Polish class and the last two periods are religion with the Germans. As I was walking to the Polish class, one of the Italian girls came and told me that the teacher wasn’t there for the first period, and we had to wait until second period for her to come. All of the kids from the Polish class then had to figure out what to do for first period, so I went up to the library since I’m kind of lame.

As I was going up, a bunch of the boys from my Polish class saw me and followed me in and so we hung out for the period in the library. One of the Bulgarian boys started reading an English book but gave up after he saw how much progress I had made in my book versus how much he had made in his. Then they started teasing me about how I read too fast.

We’re all super close.

Then once that period was over, we all made our way down to the classroom where our Polish was supposed to come, but after fifteen minutes we determined that she probably wasn’t coming so I started hanging out with two of the Polish girls. We then walked bu the cafeteria, and as we passed the window we heard a great uproar. We started glancing around for the source of the noise, when I happened to glance into the cafeteria. It was, of course, my whole class banging on the window trying to get my attention. They apparently had the first two periods unexpectedly off, so that worked nicely for me.

I spent the rest of second period with the German kids playing hangman.

Then the real craziness began.

After second period everyone met back at the Polish classroom because we weren’t sure if our teacher was just coming later than we thought and we generally like to decide all together if we should just go home or stick around.

We’ve been in this situation often enough that we now know the procedure.

At that point, we had break, so we were just hanging out in our little hallway and goofing off, I guess. I was with the Syrian girl and I happened to glance over at the classroom at the other end of the hallway. There were a few teenage boys sitting in the room writing English words on the board. I pointed them out to the Syrian girl because she speaks really good English.

I was content to just sit there and creepily watch them, but she wanted to go in and ask them if they spoke English. She dragged me into the classroom where we awkwardly stood against the wall and watched them for a few seconds until one of them broke the silence by saying hi.

The girl from Syria then started asking them if they spoke English. They then told us that they were all American and I remembered a flyer that I had seen last week about an American exchange program (I say this so casually. When I saw it I started jumping up and down and then I took a picture of it. It was kind of a big deal) and so we started chatting. They’re all from Minnesota and they were greatly interested in the Minnesota stereotypes I was aware of.

It took them a while to figure out that I actually live here and am not just here for a year or two. They’re leaving on Sunday though, so they really aren’t sticking around.

Then for the next two periods the Polish kids (this includes the entire immigrant class, for the record. This is not good. I’m lumping myself in with the Polish. What is my life even coming to) all hung out in our classroom and waited until our next classes started.

I had Religion with my German class next and we had the first period normally but then for the last period we got ice cream. Let me just say really quickly that it is 50 DEGREES IN THIS COUNTRY and it will be July in about three days. Just so you’re aware of the conditions we’re operating under here.

So yes, the teacher thought it would be genius to take us out for ice cream in this weather and so we all got hypothermia and I’m missing half my toes. Not really, but I was so cold. Not to mention the fact that it was raining the entire time. Germany doesn’t mess around, let me tell you.

Before we left though, we all were congregated in our classroom and after a minute or two, I noticed that a few of the kids were hanging out the windows and I kept hearing the word “America.”

Now, being an American, I needed to check into this situation.

I looked out the window and lo and behold, all the exchange students were gathered outside right under our classroom. My class then started yelling things like, “YOU ARE ALL COMING FROM AMERICAN?!” and, “SHE ALSO IS COMING FROM AMERICAN!” while violently pointing at my head.

I then stuck my head out and yelled to the one boy I could see who I had met before and said hi.

This was my mistake.

I will try to order the questions that immediately followed in order from least asked to most.

  • Do you know him?
  • Is he your brother?
  • Does he speak English?
  • Is he American?
  • Does he live here?
  • Was he your neighbor in America?
  • Is he your boyfriend?

I’m so glad he wasn’t in the room to hear any of it.

Then we left, but he had to walk by the whole group to leave the school. I then saw the other two boys I had met and of course, the questions came again. I think I’m most confused by the neighbor one. I mean, there are over 300 million people in America and there weren’t even thirty Americans at school. Why is there any doubt in their minds that we did not know each other in America?

Whatever.

Then one of the girls came over and asked all these questions plus this one, “Why would you want to talk to exchange students?”

Perhaps, and correct me if I’m wrong, because we actually speak the same language and can understand each other when we want to communicate coherent thoughts?

Could that be it?

Probably.

On the way back from ice cream I saw the Random Popular Dude who still says hi to me.

One would think that he would eventually fizzle out and leave me be, but it’s actually gotten worse. He’s managed to learn my name, although I’m almost 100% certain that we have no mutual friends. This is not such a hard bet to make, considering the fact that I have basically no friends in the first place, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is that this person continues to be a nuisance.

Why do people insist on being nuisances?

After school I had Spanish, and as I left, the whole group of Americans walked by and I said hi to them one more time. I think they were slightly creeped out that they had seen me again.

The hilarious part of this whole exchange program thing is that the German kids are being sent to Minnesota in January. January in Minnesota.

I almost feel sorry for them.

Meeting the American

June 24, 2013 § Leave a comment


Thursday and Friday the Polish teacher was, of course, not actually in school, and I therefore had to decide if I wanted to go to German class for a bunch of extra periods or go home.

SPOILER ALERT: I went home.

I know. I know. I’m irresponsible.Please see literally any other entry on this entire site for a list of reasons why no human being should ever go to this school and why it should probably be burned to the ground.

It’s not that bad, I’ve learned a lot there. But still, the place is an abomination on this earth.

So yeah, I went home early both days, but I did go to my regularly scheduled German classes, although every single one of them was a substituted period, with the exception of one lonely period in which the teacher brought in cake and let us eat and listen to music and do absolutely no work of any shape or form.

As much as this might sound like heaven on earth, it’s still really stressful, because this means that all we do is be social. And being social at this point for me involves speaking German and if we’re all being totally truthful here, that is not exactly my cup of tea.

So it was actually still extremely painful. I did, however, pretty depressingly notice that teachers are basically me when they’re in the classroom but not actually teaching. I realize that they spend a very small fraction of their time doing this, but when it happens, for the most part they just sit and stare out the window or at the class. This is basically my life.

Especially the window part, since sometimes when I stare at my class a little part of my soul tries to jump off a cliff.

But anyhow, that was about what I got out of those two days, so let’s move on to today!

Today was just the most bizarre day.

Well, no. It really wasn’t. Because I feel like that every day. But today was really odd and one monumental thing happened that I am really excited to talk about.

So.

First of all, there is a Polish boy in my (you guessed it) Polish class who hasn’t been coming to class for the past couple weeks. The teacher finally told us what was going on.

His dad died, apparently very suddenly.

Now, I’m going to try to explain this in a way that isn’t cold or unfeeling.

Germans (in general, of course. There are exceptions. I’ve never met one, but they’re out there. Somewhere) are very . . . no-nonsense and exact. They don’t tend to mince their words and they tell things the way they are.

I feel so stupid.

They’re abrupt and often come across (at least to Americans such as myself) as tactless.

OK, that was so much more accurate.

Now, it can be a good thing, because they won’t hesitate to give you their honest opinion, but often it’s simply irritating.

So basically, what I’m awkwardly trying to say here, is that the way the teacher delivered the news was not exactly warm or kind, although she is a very nice lady. I was glad the Polish boy wasn’t there to hear it.

We can move on.

At break, I was roaming through the school during break with my friend from England, when we came upon the American guy that I’ve been casually stalking since about September. We’ve seen him around before, and actually purposely raised our voices to try to get him to hear us speaking English.

Unfortunately, it’s never worked and we’ve long since given up. We always sort of just chalked it up to him not really caring.

However, today, he heard us and looked at us with an extremely curious expression on his face, “Hey, are you guys American!”

When I replied with, “Well, I am. She’s English,” he said, “I’m American too!”

It was so incredibly difficult to resist the urge to say, “I know, I’ve been stalking you since early fall.”

But I did!

Probably one of my largest exhibits of self-control to date.

He then asked the question that delivered the death blow: “What grade are you in?”

Listen now. I am not obsessed with being older than I actually am. Going to college is one of my biggest fears and grocery shopping on my own will probably reduce me to tears. Let’s not even talk about my own laundry or taxes. I’m going to completely fail at adulthood and I’m horrified at the thought of leaving home. I am going to be the failure child in the family who ends up living with my parents until they die and then mooches off my siblings for the rest of my life. I can just feel it.

So don’t even start.

But it’s times like these where I wish I could just add three or four years and save the embarrassment.

So yep, once he heard that single digit number (my grade, not my age. Let’s make that clear. I’m not 9) he literally turned around and walked away with a group of friends. He didn’t even say goodbye.

I have absolutely no hope of exchanging even one word with him again.

Now I’m just scared that the American family that apparently lives on our street turns out to be him.

That would actually be really atrocious.

Make the Bad Things Go Away

June 19, 2013 § Leave a comment


So, it is extremely hot here.

It’s been over 90 degrees the past few days and while that might not seem so unbearable, you have to keep this in mind: this country is almost completely devoid of the modern convenience known to man as air conditioning.

The houses don’t have it, the stores don’t have it, but worst of all, the schools don’t have it.

A lot of people here also seem to have yet to discover the wonders of deodorant, so that’s a pretty nasty combination.

Monday was Biology. I’ll give you a second to brace yourselves.

Ready?

It wasn’t that bad, I guess.

In the first period the last group did their presentation and we started a new unit on alcohol. The second period consisted of sitting at our seats and copying out a chart while the teacher called us out one at a time and talked about each person’s grade with them. When it was my turn she told me that she doesn’t know how she should grade me and she was going to talk to my homeroom teacher.

Yesterday my class was nowhere to be found for gym and so I waited until the next class and asked where they were. Apparently, there is another gym building that the school uses. Since last week during gym I was on a field trip with my other class, I wasn’t there when this announcement was made.

Then there was one more period of  school. Usually there’s two after gym, but since it was so hot they let us off a period earlier than usual.

Today I had two periods of Math, one period with my (clueless and extremely tactless) homeroom teacher, and then two periods of substitute. There’s not much to report for Math, except that I sort of got a grade for the class. The problem is that I’m not there half the time, so the teacher is really confused as to how she should grade me.

So I got sort of a B/B-. I’m not really sure how to convert the grades from Germany to America, since they use a different system here.

Before I start talking about the period with my homeroom teacher I need to mention something. There is a class trip to a big theme park. And this is with the German class, by the way, not the Polish class.

OK, so basically, the last time I was on a field trip it was absolutely not fun and just really awkward, not to mention the fact that that’s when I met the psycho popular dude from one of the other trips. He still recognizes me.

So I was not super jumping-out-of-my-seat excited about this field trip thing.

But it’s kind of a given that everyone will be going, so the permission didn’t even have a space to say that you weren’t going. Dad then had a correspondence with my teacher, explaining that the last field trip wasn’t super enjoyable and I was just not going to go on this one. To my remembrance, my teacher wanted me to go anyway and said to think about it more. Then he and Dad had a conversation over the phone and as far as I was told, my teacher was told that I wasn’t going.

Then today in class he said, in front of the entire class, that he still needed my money for the field trip. I then had to reply that I was not, in fact, going.

By this point, no one is so much as breathing, because, watch out, CLAIREiss is talking, and we can’t miss any of that. So they were dead quiet and openly staring. This is basically my whole life.

Then he said, “Yes, actually, you are, I talked to your dad on the phone.”

Then I got irritated because I’m pretty much permanently one inch away from irritated at school and it takes virtually nothing to set me off. So I said (fairly forcefully. And loudly. Which is rare for me when I’m speaking German. I tend to whisper when I speak German because I’m embarrassed. But whatever), “Yes. And he told you I’m not going.”

Then, he felt the need to ask me why I’m not going.

Now we hit an awkward point since I can’t exactly say, “Because being with you is awkward. Due to the fact that I never know what any of you are actually . . . saying. So yeah.”

Because that’s rude and awkward.

So in real life I just shrugged and frantically tried to come up with a plausible excuse that I can actually say in German. Fabricating is so much more difficult in a foreign language, let me tell you.

Then he started listing the people who had specifically requested me in their groups. Granted, it was only two people, and they’re in the same group. But whatever. The point is that he was totally guilting me in front of the class and he had me backed into a corner.

He then proceeded to say that he, “thinks it would be a great chance for me to get to know people and get social contact.”

This is such a pervasive theme in my life that it probably is breaking some sort of record. On a bit of a side track, I feel like basically every class has someone who’s kind of removed from the group and quiet. In my experience, they also usually have no good excuse for this behavior besides that it’s simply their personality. I have an excuse, people. I can’t understand you, and when I can, I can’t formulate a response. Why can’t people acknowledge that this makes “social contact” a bit difficult and just give it a couple of years?

Anyway. We were at the part where he was humiliating me in front of the whole class and they were staring in utter quiet. Yes.

He just continued talking about being more social and talking to people for an absurd amount of time until he finally moved on to the topic of my not being in Gym yesterday. I blanked on the words, and couldn’t explain to him that I didn’t know there was another gym and I couldn’t find them, so I just had to sit there and nod dumbly as he lectured me on being responsible and thinking about my grades (most of which are all failing to begin with) and how he “simply can’t understand how I would be there.”

All of this taking place in front of the entire class.

Pardon me while I research relocation programs in the area.

I just can’t believe I’m going back to this personal kind of hell next year.

The only reason I’m going is because I want to learn German, so all I have to say is that I had better freaking learn this German business next year, or else I’ll probably just go into hibernation for a couple of decades.

Actually, at this point, I will hopefully be going into hibernation no matter the outcome of next year.

So that happened. I was actually about to lose it and start screaming English crap about how people are stupid and why doesn’t everyone just speak one single flipping language and why why why why. But I didn’t. Guess why!

Because, of course, I had a presentation.

Thankfully, it was in English, or else I really probably would have started screaming. Probably also crying, although I have a deep and passionate hatred for crying in class. It always lands me into trouble.

No, it was in English, the language of the free and the brave. I would say it went pretty well. It was on America, but more specifically where I’m from and my life.

Most of them seemed to get the general idea, but one of the girls asked if my American best friend goes to our school. I feel like if that were the case she would have found out about if before now.

Also, one of the boys came away from the whole thing thinking that New York City is located in Pennsylvania.

So overall, a success.

Those were the only two major confusions that I found out about, but who knows what else people think about America now.

One thing that did shock them (even the teacher) is that homeschooling is perfectly legal in America and the person who teaches you doesn’t even have to be certified.

This is pretty mind-boggling to the German person, since homeschooling is completely illegal here and they’re very fond of their systems over here.

After the class was over, the teacher came over and had yet another long talk with me about being social and how I should go on the field trip and “there’s really nothing to be afraid of!” and other such fully untrue things. Yet again, the entire class was present and listening. A few of them even offered their own opinions on the situation.

Tomorrow, thankfully, is a much easier day for me, since I only have two periods of German class and it’s a pretty simple class.

The problem that I’m facing now is the field trip. After being cornered in front of everyone multiple times, I feel like it would be awkward to still not go. At the same time, as my beloved mother puts it, I do so many things I don’t want to do as it is, that if I really don’t want to I should probably take this as my only chance to get out of something, since pretty much everything else is mandatory.

I edited my mom’s quote there a bit, but that was the essence of it. I probably have until Friday to decide, which is the next time I will see my homeroom teacher.

I feel like on the one hand, I fully give up my sanity. On the other hand I lose at least part of the very little progress I’ve made with my social life since we’ve been here.

I wish it was over.