What is Foreign Exchange to Me?

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

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Amusement Parks, Climbing,Vorabiparties, Oh My!

Snapshot_20111020_3First and foremost; a Vorabiparty (pre-graduation party) would be my high school principle’s worst nightmare. At a vorabiparty, all the upperclassmen go to a club, and dance the night away. Everyone dresses up and it’s a pretty big deal, it’s vaguely similar to an American ‘homecoming dance…’ the only difference being everyone drinks. The club serves alcohol and because 16 is the legal drinking age for beer, you have to be at least 16 to be allowed in (which is why it’s an ‘upperclassmen party’). I had a fun evening with my school friends, but all I could think about was how this would NEVER be acceptable at my high school in California. Even if my principle had heard about the party, he would go and put a stop to it because the flyer advertising the party has the prices for drink specials. Not to mention even though it’s a ‘high school dance’ people of all ages from anywhere can come. As long as you stay with a group of friends it’s a safe environment and the ‘security guards’ do a really through job… that being said, this would never be acceptable where I’m from. It’s hard for me to watch teenagers go to a grocery store to buy a case of beer without trying to hide it, just because that is so unacceptable in California. 

PA231622We’re on holiday for one more week here in Germany so I have been doing different things everyday. Last Sunday, I went to the Heide-Park Resort with my Rotary Youth ExchangePA231611 Officer’s family (Vielen Dank Familie  Vogeley!)where we watched pirate shows, rode roller coasters and had a lovely day overall. I am really lucky because several years ago, my Youth Exchange OfficPA231601er went on exchange to America so not only does he speak fluent American English, but he understands American culture a lot better than most Germans because he has lived in it.

Monday, I went rock climbing with my counselor here. Usually Monday evenings we go climbing with my school friends in the climbing hall, but because we’re on holiday and it was a nice day, we went climbing outdoors at Ith (pronounced like “Eat”). While walking to the rocks, we noticed there were lots of nuts on the ground and my counselor said when were are lots of nuts, it means we will be in for a harsh winter. Afterword we had a lovely German bratwurst in a discrete shop. I have no idea how the place stays in business because it’s in the middle of NOWHERE, but the food was really good. Smile

PA241635 PA241627

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

You Know You’re in Germany When…

  • NOBODY has heard of Dr. Seuss. Sad smile
  • everyone around you is speaking German.
  • trucks are not allowed to drive on the freeway on Sunday mornings.
  • all the cars are abnormally small.
  • meeting someone who does not drink is shocking.
  • public transportation actually functions.
  • bread rolls are a common meal for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and for a snack.
  • vending machines carry things other than food.


  • wearing leggings under your jeans is very necessary in October.
  • you take your shoes off before going into anyone's house, no matter how long you will be staying.
  • no house has a front yard, but everyone’s backyard is huge.
  • it’s normal for a house to be three stories.
  • it’s normal to “live in a village.”P8161054 
  • it’s seemingly impossible to find wifi in public.
  • 65 degrees Fahrenheit is ‘too hot’ for a lot of people.
  • everyone dresses like they are going to be in a fashion show.
  • it takes longer to put on your raingear in the morning then it does to do your makeup.
  • Starbucks virtually does not exist.

    Angie: Do you know where the Starbucks in Hannover is?

    Erik (from Sweden): What’s a Starbucks?

  • everyone swears in English, whether or not they actually speak it.
  • classes are cancelled when a teacher is sick or has a meeting.
  • school usually gets out around 1.
  • there are several types of “special parking places.”


  • it’s normal for teenagers to get home from a night out by “taking the first bus back” at 6 a.m.
  • teenagers go clubbing.
  • DVD cases don’t have the movie rating on the back.
  • everyone wears a watch.
  • asking “how are you?” as a greeting is a foreign concept.
  • bakeries fill the streets.
  • there are bars in the train stations.
  • scarves are not only a fashion statement.
  • amusement park rides are based on height and age.


  • grocery stores are part of the malls.
  • all the cashiers sit in big comfy chairs behind the checkout counter.
  • chocolate and beer are really cheap.
  • it’s normal to see a group of 16-year olds walk out of a grocery store with a case of beer.
  • bus drivers stop in the middle of their route for a ‘smoke break.’
  • you have to pay FOR EVERYTHING (even things like shopping carts and going to the bathroom in public).P8161052
  • Fabia and Felix are extremely common names.
  • cutting potatoes with a knife and eating with one hand under the table are improper dining etiquettes.
  • Nordsee is EVERYWHERE.
  • it’s perfectly acceptable for dogs to be on the bus/train, on school campuses, and in the mall.
  • it’s considered impolite for guys to stand while peeing in people’s houses.


  • McDonalds is a huge deal, and sometimes even a ‘sit-down service’ restaurant.

You Know Your From California When…

  • Everything on the Germany list is a foreign concept to you.


(Friends in California)

Saturday, October 22, 2011


PA181588Woohoo! It’s the holidays! No school for two weeks, but because both of my host-parents still have to work and most of my friends have part-time jobs for the next two weeks, I have been meeting up with other exchange students from the general vicinity. I have probably walked overPA181578 25 miles in the past week just because every day we meet in Hannover, or the central area of Hameln, where we then walk, and walk, and walk. All day. We all come from completely different cultures, so we ALWAYS have something to talk about.

PA181595On our adventures we have discovered 3 things about Germany:

1)Hannover is gorgeous.

2) Chocolate is extremely cheap. And extremely delicious. I will definitely miss all the varieties when I go back to California next year.

3) It’s hard to find a store/shopping area that DOES NOT sell beer/cigarettes/condoms. And even if the store doesn’t, there PA181586are vending machines for them everywhere.

I like meeting at the mall and just walking around(my friends here do this seemingly everyday after school)because it’s how I would spend days with my Californian friends. It’s nice to find small similarities between all the differences.

(The guys I would go to the mall with)P7310720

Also, yesterday, it randomly started hailing harder and faster than I have ever seen before, and hours after it stopped, ice chunks were still on the ground. I’m going to be in for a rude awakening this winter.

Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile

P.S. I stand by my previous statement that (in my mind) Germany is infamous for really creepy statues.)



Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Oh,German.Must You Be So Difficult?


PA101566Yes! I have progressed from “Good job, I understood you,” to, “Angie!! You said a grammatically correct sentence in German! :D “For those of you who don’t speak German and don’t know anything about it, German grammar is insane. It has der, die, and das as forms of ‘the’ and there are no rhythms or rhymes as to why words are masculine (der), feminine (die) or neutral (das). They just are. And that’s just the beginning. German has four cases (Nominative, Dative, Genitive, and Accusative), and is nothing like English grammar in the sense that if you have two verbs, the second goes at the end of a sentence. If I were to directly translate a simple German sentence to English, it would be “I want today to the park to go,” which makes German particularly difficult for me, because when speaking a long sentence, I have to remember to put the verbs at the end, and sometimes by the time I get to the end of a sentence, I forget what verb was supposed to be to begin with. On top of all this, German has four letters that English does not have („ä“„ö“ „ü“ „ß“) and it is seemingly impossible for me to make the sounds because I have never had too before.

All that being said, I no longer feel like I am three years old… maybe five or six now. It’s nice; I have been here just over two months and can understand a lot of German, especially considering I have never taken a German language course. And even if I don’t understand the meanings of the words, sentences no longer sound like “ichsidfuljwdbruieybgv” but rather “frkv ujkvb evfeu ivtur” so I can separate the words from one another most of the time.

On Monday evening I went climbing with my friends Leo and Konnie, as well as my Rotary councilor (as we do every Monday now) and I met a man from Italy who lived in California for 12 years. It was nice speaking with someone who knows “California Slang” and understands all the culture differences. Not to mention, he also spoke Spanish so we had a lovely conversation in Spanish as well.

All in all, it’s been a good week. But my English is getting worse and worse every day, which would make me happy…if only it weren’t time for college applications.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Shöne :)

First and foremost, I have no idea how I have not gained over 20 pounds (or rather kilos) in the past two months because Germans eat a crazy amount of bread. Sometimes I think I have eaten more bread in the past 2 months than I have my entire life, seeing as I rarely-to-never ate bread back in California, while here I eat it at least three times a day.

It has a been a rather fantastic week. I spent the weekend with what will be my second host family in the next couple of months where we visited parks and museums and it was great to have a brother again. I miss having my brother(s) around from time to time, even though I did not spend a lot of time when them when I was in California.

Monday was a holiday here in Germany to recognize the union of the states here, so we did not have school and I went to Heidi with one of the Rotarians (and his wife) from my club to watch a 'hunt.' There were over 50 horses (we followed by horse drawn carriage which was better for me seeing as horses are my biggest fear) and 20 dogs running throughout the wilderness. It was beautiful.

Days in Germany