What is Foreign Exchange to Me?

"A year of of my life. My life in a year."

Google Translate (Google Übersetzer)

Saturday, December 31, 2011


-Conversation 1-

Me: –sigh- My grammar is crap.

German Friend: No, it’s not.

Me: You’re just saying that because you’re a good friend.

German Friend: No, it’s not good, but it’s not crap!

-Conversation 2-

Me: "Next year I will make you cookies in California and send them you you because we have different type…”

Host-Brother: *interrupts* What’s with your German?

Me: What about it?

Host-Brother: It’s not crap!

PC280006German may be a seemingly impossible language at times, but I’m finally starting to get the hang of it. INSTANT IMMERSION REALLY WORKS! I think all the exchange students should get together and we should make an infomercial for “Instant Immersion,” because it is truly that successful. I remember sitting on the plane coming to Germany and looking up how to say “please” in my dictionary, and then not believing my dictionary because the word was to close to “bitter” (bitte by the way, is please in German); but now I’m almost fluent.

Christmas time is supposed to be one ofimage the times where exchange students are the most homesick, but here it does not feel like Christmas simply because everything is celebrated so differently. We open our gifts and say “Frohe Weihnachten” on the 24th, not the 25th. The “Christkind” (or baby Jesus) brings our gifts and the Christmas tree, not Santa; and the day is not filled with imagenearly as much chaos as an “American Christmas.” On December 25th, we didn’t even stay home, instead we went to an ice arena and a snow park where I went sledding and it surprised me how many people were out skiing despite it being Christmas, then I remembered "Christmas is celebrated here the day before.

With my host family, it feels like we hadPC290886 three Christmases because I had one with my host-parents, one with my host-sister and her boyfriend the following day, and than another with my host-brother and his girlfriend three days after that because for Christmas my host-siblings were at their boyfriend/girlfriend’s house, but for New Years, everyone is here. I have no idea how we have been managing for all seven us with only one shower, but so far it hasn’t been too difficult.

I’d have to say one of my favoriteSnapshot_20111231 Christmas presents this year was from my host-brother. Despite being 18-years-old, I absolutely love Elmo (from Sesame Street) and I always have, so for Christmas he got me an Elmo necklace and it’s amazing.

PC280009We have spent a majority of the past week with my host-parents friends, whether it be for dinner, lunch, or simply to stop by, but thankfully all my host-parents friends are actually quite interesting.

As part of my host-brothers Christmas gift, I made him “American Cookies” (they don’t exist here! Surprised smile ) and I put M and Ms in the dough because I could not find chocolate chips in the store. My host-sister (who is 19 mind you) went around telling everyone she could, “Angie is making really weird dough with M and Ms!”

I’m from the other side of the world where we make our cookies differently, what are you going to do? Red heart

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The “Awful German Language” or "Deutsche Sprache – schwere Sprache"

“Deutsche Sprache schwere sprache” (German language – hard language) is probably the most common saying exchange students in Germany hear. People always talk about Chinese and Finish being difficult, and don’t get me wrong, they both are, but I don’t think German gets enough credit.

With four cases (nominative,dative, genitive, and accusative), four extra letters (ä, ö, ü, ß), 16 ways to say “the,” and words so long they take up more than one line, German can be really difficult. And that’s just the beginning. German also has 12 different categories for plurals, plus exceptions (as compared to English’s "add s”) and every noun has a gender. People say, “English and German are from the same language family, so that means it must not be difficult to learn German when English is your first language.” Wrong. Not only do the English and German letters have different sounds (for example, “e” and “i" are switched making it difficult to spell without being confused), but as my Sweedish friend once said, “Speaking German with Sweedish as your first language is hard enough, but when English is your first language it’s downright impossible.”

Because German and English both have Germanic roots, the two languages have a lot of similar words… that being said, the words don’t have a lot of similar meanings.

German Word

Sounds/Looks like (in English)…

Meaning (in English)


Sounds/looks like “pony”



Sounds/looks like “will”

To want


Sounds like schmuck



Sounds like “mention”



Looks like “war”

I/He/She was


Sounds/looks like “hell”



Looks like “damit”

With it/With that


Sounds like “eye”



Sounds like “ice”

Ice cream


Sounds/looks like “foul”



Looks like “tag”



Sounds like “in fact”



Sounds like “where”



Sounds like “House arrest”



Sounds/looks like “college block”

Writing Pad


Sounds/looks like “Chef”




Sounds like “pot money”

Sounds/looks like "dick"



German also has ‘unique’ names. For example John is “Johannes.” Last week I was talking to a friend and we were trying to remember the last pope’s name, after a moment at the same time I excitedly said, “John Paul” while he said (what sounded like) “Johannes Paule!”

All that being said, German words are almost always spelled just like they sound (assuming you know the German alphabet) and no student of German has ever had to learn “i before e except afer c and in words that rhyme with…’

But I’m not really allowed to talk, English has 1,100 different ways to spell its 44 separate sounds, more than any other language.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Where Does the Time Go?

My German friends are always telling me 387228_2926754690301_1303923884_33386668_1097490960_nwhen I came from California, I brought the sun with me because we have had relatively little snow here in Hameln. Now I am sure they are right seeing as last weekend when I went out of town it snowed and when I came back it stopped.

Last weekend all the exchange students went to Uelzen for a Rotex weekend. I missed the last Rotex weekend due to interfering plans with my host-family, and I was surprised how many people noticed, it feels like all 73 inbounds asked me where I was last time. It was great to see all my friends again, I seem to be one of the fePC162186w Rotary exchange students here in Lower Saxony without another Rotary student in my town, so it’s always a lot of fun to see everyone. It’s amazing how different we all are, and how we we’re all raised in completely different cultures, yet we’re all good friends. I don’t even remember how many times I laughed to the point of crying, we simply 405461_10150476080227567_519102566_8658186_964786458_nhad that much fun. Throughout the course of the weekend, we toured one of Germany’s largest sugar factories (a lot more interesting than it sounds), went to a Christmas Market (typical German, every town has one), had a gift exchange and sung Christmas carols in 18 different languages, had two massive dance parties375394_2926789651175_1303923884_33386714_357061925_n, and had a country fair with all the outbound students (the students leaving Germany to go to a different country next year). Seeing all the different cultures and languages together is indescribable.

During school, I was talking with one of my German friends, and of course he started making fun of my accent and trying to teach me the German ‘ch.’ Similar to how Germans cannot generally say ‘th,’ PB252042Americans (and other nations) have trouble saying the German ‘ch.’ After awhile, I gave up and told my friend he sounded like a dying cat because the ‘ch’ noise alone sounds similar to hissing. He responded with “No, this is a dying cat *strange noise*” which of course sounded nothing like a dying cat, but rather a dying goat.

Yesterday (Thursday) was the last day of school before Ferien, (or the two-week school break we now have). Schiller Gymnasium’s (my German school) last week PB051809of school is nothing like Maria Carrillo’s (my American school). Carrillo’s last week is ‘Finals week’ where everyday the students take 2 big tests in different tests. Schiller’s last week, we watched movies, more classes than normal were canceled (one teacher even decided we would not have the lesson and simply go to the Christmas Market as a class instead), and on the very last day all the students crowed into the gym and different groups did small performances and we watched a video made by the students. I thought it was funny how all the songs people performed were depressing English songs about break-ups (such as Christina Perri’s Jar of Hearts), as compared to happy, upbeat German Christmas songs.

Ever since our Thanksgiving feast, Leo has been telling me I need to learn to peel potatoes. It’s now on our list of “ThiPB241957ngs That Need to Happen Before Angie’s Goes Back” because I cut two fingers open trying to peel them again this week.

After the last day of school I dragged Leo and Johannes Christmas shopping with me which was rather unsuccessful, and met up with my Rotary councilor so that he could give me a Christmas gift from my Rotary Club (Vielen dank Rotary Club Hameln. Smile ).

Last night my host-brother and I went to Hannover, alongside 20 other exchange students, for a going-away party for our Australian friend Anton. He plays the PC222252ukulele so we all sang and seeing as there we’re only three of with with English as our first language, I ended up speaking a lot of Spanish, German and even some Portuguese. Who knew I could speak ANY Portuguese, because I sure didn’t!

Christmas in Germany is absolutely beautiful, I love the Christmas Markets, the (occasional!) snow, the advent celebrations, EVERYTHING, but it’s almost sad that it is already Christmas because that means my exchange is that much closer to being over. Where does the time go? Clockimage

Thursday, December 15, 2011

“Yesterday” I Boarded a Plane for Germany… Today I have been here 126 Days…

I have become so used to simply not understanding what’s going on in the past months that now it’s actually strange to know what’s going on again. I understand at least the main idea of topics in school, and always know what my friends are saying now, though sometimes I mishear things which always leads to interesting conversations, but to be fair I’m the same when speaking English.

Friday night, Johannes and I went to Leo’s house to watch movies. We have had this movie night planned since Septemberimage but it simply kept getting pushed back due to random things coming up. The movie of the evening was Napoleon Dynamite. Back in September when Leo and I were rock climbing, we somehow started talking about it and decided to watch it though I have no idea why. The movie is absolutely ridiculous, that being said we had a good time.

Last week I asked my friend Johannes how to say the world ‘flavor’ because a girl and I were eating chips before Religion but they had a very odd… wait for it… flavor! It’s ‘Geschmack.’ But I heard “schmuck,” and honestly, the world is pronounced just like schmPB282048uck, only with ‘ge’ at the beginning, so now when we are mad at someone or we want to insult them, we shout “geschmack” at them, which is entertaining because everyone here knows we’re saying ‘flavor’ and to them, it' doesn’t sound like an insult so they become very confused.

Saturday my Canadian exchange student PC102133friend, Jackson, came over and stayed the night. We made cookies, watched movies with my host-brother, and stayed up until around 6 a.m. Sunday morning talking about absolutely nothing of importance, but we had a great time nonetheless. Jackson and I walked around Hameln so he could see the town, and evenPB282049 though I have lived here for over four months now, I never realized how many rat themed things we have around the town because of the Pied Piper Fairy Tale. If nothing else, living in a ‘tourist town’ allows me to constantly meet new, interesting people.

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Tuesday was Leo’s 17th birthday, so after school I went to his house (because I am missing his birthday party this weekend due to a Rotary weekend) and I brought him his favorite ice cream and a new PC132151pencil pouch (his old one looked as if it had gone to hell and back, and it did not seem to enjoy being zipped up), as well as a homemade card and we ate dinner/cake, made cookies and watched the Matrix 3. We didn't have any candles though, so Leo had to pretend to blow them out after we sung to him. It was a very nice Tuesday, and Leo has the two cutest two year old twin sisters I have ever seen in my life, which is actually saying something because in California I work with kids.


As a final note, the U.S. formally ended the war on Iraq today. It’s strange to think that a war that has been going on with my home country since I was in the 3rd grade ended today, and I’m not even in my home country to see people’s reactions.

Days in Germany