What is Foreign Exchange to Me?

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

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Best Reasons to Learn a Foreign Language

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Angie: “Mom, I want to be an exchange student.”
Mom: “Hah, okay tell me again in a week. Then I’ll know your serious.”
This conversation happened every single Wednesday night after I got home from meeting up with my sailing crewIMG_0957 for four months straight. Without fail. Even if the meeting was canceled, you can bet at 9:17 p.m. on Wednesday night, I was reminding my mother of how badly I wanted to travel.
People have told me both that I’m crazy, and that I am the most courageous person they have ever met. Apparently not every 17 year old wants to see the world, a concept I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand, but I wanted to fluently learn to speak another language, and I couldn’t think of a better way to do it.
Not only is learning a foreign language fun… but it enhances every aspect of traveling in matters such as safety and saving money, as well as the little things, like being able to order a meal all by yourself. It was always the little things that made me feel the best when I was learning German, like when a stranger on the street asked me what time it was… and I actually understood what they were asking me. I’ll never forget the time I almost ran over an old lady on my bike. She started angrily waving her cane at me at the cross walk where we both waited, and I couldn’t help but burst out laughing simply because I was so happy to understand what she was saying.
Languages enhance travel experiences in so many ways, the biggest being the language is based on the culture, so if you want to really understand the culture, you need to understand and speak the language. For example, a common German stereotype is that Germans are punctual… and the language reflects this. If I were to say “See you soon” in English, I could mean in five minuteP7140597s, tomorrow, next week, or even in a year. “Soon” does not have a definitive time frame where as in German one can say “Bis gleich” (until within the hour) “Bis später” (until sometime later today) “Bis Bald” (until sometime in the relatively near future but at the earliest tomorrow) and “Bis irgendwann” (until eventually), but in English, “See you soon” or “Until soon” is the equivalent of all those things! (Note how often in English speaking countries it’s normal to be ‘fashionably late’ whereas in Germany anything less than 15 minutes early is late!) When saying goodbye to my German friends I would often say “Bis gleich” when I wasn’t going to be seeing them for days, and they would look at me as if I were crazy!
Traveling and experiencing life from other perspectives can influence every aspect of someone's life. For me, bIMG_0295ecause Germany is very eco-friendly, I try to mimic that lifestyle back here in California. I always hang dry my clothes outside, bike to school, and unplug my electronics when they’re not being used to save electricity. I now have friends to visit on literally every continent in the world (aside from MAYBE Antarctica!), all because the German language united us! I know countless people who can’t speak a word of English, yet they are some of the people I feel closest too, all because I took the time and effort to learn PB061838their culture, and by default their language. My second host family is a perfect example of this. I love my host-dad more than almost anyone in the world, yet his English is about a good as my Hindi (and let it be noted I don’t even know how to say “hello” in Hindi).
Ever heard the expression “There’s always more fish in the sea?” Well for people who only speak one language, the expression should be modified too something like “There’s always more fish in the puddle.” Not only does traveling allow you to see the world, but the people who live in it as well. Imagine being from Whales and walking up to an English speaker and saying “Actually, the sun does shine from my ass." Not only will this cause a lot of confusion, but seeing as the pick-up line doesn’t translate, the person probably won’t even know they’re being hit on! My fourth host-parents met while traveling… my host-mom was from Quebec, and my host-dad from Germany… and now they speak English because it’s a ‘mutual’ language a.k.a. not either of their first languages.
Last but certainly not least ( There had to be cliché somewhere in this post!), my personal favorite reason to travel and learn new languages is all the mess ups while trying to learn. A couple of my personal favorites include:
Erik: “Hey Angie! What’s the English word for dick?”
-‘Dick’ means fat in German-
Felix: “We all have to puke on Angie! No, that’s the wrong word! We all have to sleep on Angie!”
*In German*
Angie: “Hey are your balls cold? No no! I meant are your ears cold?!”
No matter what language you’re trying to learn, embrace the mistakes! Not only will it make it more fun to learn, but if you’re not afraid to mess up, it will be a lot easier too! And maybe it’ll even help you remember things. I know I’ll never mix up testicles and ears in German again!
 Winking smile
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The Benefits of Learning Languages

Monday, October 8, 2012

Times Are A Changin

Before I was an exchange student, change was one of my biggest fears. But you know, after living with four families you don’t know from Adam, and moving to a country where the only things you can say in the language are ‘Bless you’ and ‘Sh*t…’ you learn to get over your fears real quick. That is why “Angie’s Odyssey” will be going through some formatting changes over the next *insert relatively long time span here.* But don’t worry, no matter how odd or different the background looks, it will be the same good old “Angie’s Odyssey” that we’ve all grown to (hopefully) love!
Speaking of loving, be sure to like “Angie’s Odyssey” on Facebook by clicking on the link on the top left hand corner of this page!
P.S. Rotary Clubs really are everywhere! I was at my little brother’s football game today and saw this sign on my way back to my car

Friday, October 5, 2012

It’s Been a While

I’m quite sad now. I finally got around to doing a long, updated post. And then, like every writer does at some point or another, I accidentally deleted it when I meant to save it. Simply awesome. So here we go again (though I have to work tomorrow so this will probably be much shorter!)

I feel like being a college student is an ever going cycle. Because I am in college I have no time IMG_1042to travel, but if I didn’t go to college, I wouldn’t be able to get a job; therefore, while I might have the time, I wouldn't have the money to travel! I know college will help me in the long run, but being stuck back in my home town while sick with the travel bug stinks!

I love the reaction I get whenever I tell people I fluently speak German. They ask me to say something in it and their response is always, “But you’re a sweet, innocent girl! How could something so scary sounding be coming from you!?” Maybe it’s because I’m a linguistics person, but German has never really sounded scary to me… though I will say I do sometimes think Germans decided how to spell words by randomly choosing 31 letters out of a hat. A perfect example would be words like


Believe it or not, this means ‘maximum speed limit,’ and I actually have used it in a normal conversation (and conveniently enough it has exactly 31 letters).

Random Person: What you speak German!? Say ‘Hello!’

Angie: …Hallo.

Never gets old. Winking smile

So let’s see, what’s new!? I have somehow managed to get straight A’s so far this semester (for all you Germans out there,that means I’ve gotten 13, 14, or 15 on all of my Prüfungen so far), and I’m also the German tutor. I absolutely love doing this because not only do I (apparently) get to help people improve their German grades (I’m quite altruistic at heart), but I get to teach people about strange German words and expressions such as ‘geil.’ While the Germans may be EXTREAMLY efficient in both their language and the way they run their country, they somehow made the mistake of making the word for ‘awesome’ and ‘horny’ be the same thing. After answering a difficult  question correctly, one of my German students said, “Ich bin so geil,” and while he IMG_1047intended to tell me “I am extremely awesome,” he actually informed me that he is, in fact, extremely horny. After correcting him, he thanked me for my ‘kindheartedness,’ rather than me allowing him to walk up to a group of Germans this summer during his internships and inform them of his ‘horny-ness.’

*Explaining a topic in math*

Angie: Ach ja! Das stimmt!

Ali: What does stimmt mean…?

Angie: It’s like… ‘agreed’ in German.

I’m also an active member of the Political Science Club at my college (this would be a great time for me to post photos, but my camera has still not been located Sad smile ), and I would encourage everyone (whether you are American or not) to keep updated on the presidential election happening this November!

Conveniently enough, one of my managers (at my second job) speaks some German. The only downside to this is if I’m ever upset around him, he can usually understand the (inappropriate) things I’m saying under my breath. And I should really get out of the habit of answering the phone in German while at work too…

Despite going to school for 19 hours a week ( a college student is considered to be a “full time student” at 12 hours a week) and working 25-30 hours a week, I still manage to have time for fun with my best friend… even if we are a little strange at times.


Hope you all have a nice week, und Deutschland, ich vermisse dich so unglaublich sehr!

Changing It Up a Bit

Seeing as I still write this blog, the previous subtitle, “A California Girl in Germany” now seems inappropriate… while I may always be a Californian girl…. I won’t always live in Germany, so the title has officially been modified from

“Angie’s Odyssey – A California Girl in Germany”german header new


“Angie’s Odyssey – A ‘Germanized’ Girl in California”New Banner

and let me assure you, I have most certainly been Germanized in multiple regards. Even now, after I have been in California for two and a half months, I still start conversations with people I don’t know in German and eat ‘the German way.’

Monday, September 24, 2012

Yes is Always the Answer

I promise I’ll write soon, I started a new job this week (on top of already tutoring German and going to school full time) and most of my friends have been leaving this week to go off to school, so I’ve been busy saying goodbye and with work, but I just had to share this with you all, I miss moments like this so much! Yaaay language barriers!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Phineas and Ferb

My younger brother has been sick the past few days, so in my free time (or rather, in time I could be doing productive things but choose not too) I have been watching television with him to keep him company and today while we were watching Phineas and Ferb, one of the characters randomly starting speaking German. Phineas and Ferb was already an epic show, but the random German simply made it the coolest Disney show ever.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Visitors Center

Today I spent a ridiculous amount of time (something like four hours) wandering aimless in downtown Santa Rosa looking for post cards to send my foreign friends. Santa Rosa is the capital of Sonoma County, and Charlie Brown is from, here, so we’re a relatively well-known city, but I couldn’t find the Visitors Center to save my life. Finally after asking a friend to look up the address, and after asking several shop owners I found the Visitors Center. I finally understand why when I asked my German friends to take me to the Visitors Center in Hameln, they had no idea where it was.

 People who receive these post cards, please feel extremely special because I put so much effort into finding them for you!




Thursday, September 6, 2012


Despite the fact that I have been back in California for over a month now, almost two months at that, I still speak German daily. More importantly, I speak German daily at the least helpful times imaginable, such as during my Spanish course, or in my Speech course. While certain German words try and sneak into my vocabulary, the phrase, “Ach! Achso!” has simply actually become English according to my brain.

Angie: “Ach! Achso!”

Daniel: “Angie, what does ‘Achso’ mean?”

Angie: “It’s like… ‘Oh, I understand’ for lack of better wording…”

Daniel: “Oh. It sounds like a**hole. “

School has really gotten into full force, hence the extreme lack of writing here on this blog, I’m taking 19 units this semester. For all of you who aren’t familiar with the American University System, that means I am in school for 19 hours every week (a ‘full time student’ is someone with 12 units) and the ratio is 1:2 so for every hour in class, I’m supposed to have two hours of homework. It takes up a lot of my time. Not to mention I’m a German tutor this semester and I have a second job at a retail sports store on the side. If only there were Germans coming in, though conveniently enough my manager (at both of my jobs actually) is in fact German.

(This is my best friend Rita and myself… if there is one nice thing about being back, it’s getting to see Rita again.)

I’m currently pursuing an International Relations degree (isn’t every ex-exchange student? Smile with tongue out) with a major/minor (I have yet to decide) in German and/or Spanish. I also joined the Political Science Club, the Honors Society, and the Rotaract club at my college today, so I’ll (hopefully!) be able to stay up to date on events around the world and I’ll be staying up to date with Rotary projects through Rotaract!

Summer could not come sooner… if everything goes as planned, I’ll be headed back to Germany!

Deutschland, ich liebe dich!

P.S. My camera has mysteriously disappeared… it’s quite sad.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Smooth Sailing

I’m leaving to catch up with my old sailing crew for Summer Cruise in about an hour, and I’m hoping it will help me get over my homesickness from Germany because I will gone from my ‘actual’ home for 10 days. Even though I have kept up a lot of my German habits such as ‘eating the German way,’ hanging up my clothes on a cloths line outside, and speaking German to everyone (whether or not it be intentional), it’s simply not the same. Merging into biculturalism is difficult, however on the bright side (quite literally!) I have yet to wear pants or tennis shoes sense coming back to California, it’s has been WAY to hot; it’s only been short and sandals for me!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Home… Sweet Home?

P7290688Californized… Germanized… I don’t know what I am anymore. Probably a mixture of both I would guess. But I really need to say, being back… is strange. I should be a ‘good exchange student’ and say it’s different, because nothing is better or worse, it’s all just different. But I don’t know if I can bring myself to saying that. I feel like I traveled back in time after learning valuable life lessons and how to take care of myself.

My three extremely long flights weren’t too bad, and I even made a new friend along the way (typical Angie, right?)…P7180647 though I did manage to leave my blazer on the second flight… normally I wouldn’t really care, but this blazer has pins, tickets and other memories of trinkets from hundreds of exchange students and memories. It’s disappointing how the only thing I left/lost/forgot is probably the most valuable. IMG_0912

IMG_0932German has magically integrated itself in my English (as have German customs into my actions)… which would be fine if 1) people here actually spoke German or 2) it actually made sense… but sadly neither of the two conditions fit my current situation. I often going around saying “no thing” instead of “no problem” as well as “think you?” instead of sarcastically saying “you think?”. Not to mention several other… inappropriate things that tend to slip out of my mouth.

Angie: Mom, can we please hurry if we stop at home so it doesn’t dauer?

Mom: …Sure

Angie: …Is dauer a word in English?

Mom: Not to my current knowledge.

Conversations like this happen quite often as well, seriously “dauern” should just be made an English word though, it’s so much faster than saying “to take a long time.” There’s also the frequent occurrence when I say, “achso!” or “stimmt” mixed in with English. “Genau” comes up quite a lot as well, simply commonly used German words. “Stimmt” almost got me in trouble with one of my more conservative friends though, he thought that was my way of not swearing and simply saying a bunch of consonants together, when really I was simply agreeing with him in German.

I have also brought a lot of the things I learned in Germany back to California with me, whether I meant to or not. For example, I have not used a dryer since coming back and rather made my dad set up a clothes line and have been hang-drying and ironing my clothes, just like in German. I find it silly how Germany has very little sun in comparison to California yet it’s rare to own a dryer in Germany, whereas in California it’s rare to hang dry our clothes.

People keep asking me if I’m happy to be back, and yeah it’s nice to gain some pigment in my skin and see my old friends and family again, but I guess I’ll always be a German-girl at heart.



Hah, talk about the fastest year of my life.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Auf Wiedersehen Doesn’t Mean Good Bye Forever

It’s hard to think. It’s hard to breath. IMG_3737It’s hard to fathom that this year, this experience, this lifetime has to come to an end. I was born August 9th, 2011. I couldn’t speak, I didn’t know what was or was not acceptable, but I grew up. I grew old, and will die tomorrow, July 19th 2012. However Germany will always be a part of my second life. I’ll use the hottest summer my hometown has had in years to my adIMG_3599vantage by hanging my washed clothes outside on a clothing line like I did all year in Germany despite the constant rain, rather than just using the dryer. I’ll ride my bike *assuming I still even have one* around town, and speak English with awkward German expressions that make no sense when literally translated. I have indeed, been Germanized.
The past week was a week full of way too many goodbyes. Goodbye to my wonderful host-families, goodbye to my exchange student pals, goodbye to my German friends, acquaintances, and teachers alike. Even my history teacher got teary-eyed when I told him I was leaving, and told me he will miss his walking dictionary. But don’t worry Germany, because you can bet, I’ll be back. P7170635
Saturday my friends through me a going-away party for me where we had yet anP7140549other scrumptious Thanksgiving feast. Unfortunately it is literally impossibly to find a full turkey in Hameln this time of year, so we managed with four legs and a turkey breast that we got at a market. Thankfully, it wasn't nearly as dry this year as it was last year. And afterwards, I couldn't really say wP7140568hat we did because the time flied, we joked around, wrestled, took silly group ‘photos, went to Burger King around midnight and got 10% off our meal because of my friends works there. It may not sound like the most exciting of events, but it was one of my favorite Germany memories, just because all my friends were together (even if they weren't all there for the group photo! :p ).Freunde
There are few German words that I will have no choice but to incorporate into my English vocabulary. (Those of you who personally know me in California, I apologize in advance.) Amongst others, these words/expressions include, ‘bescheuert,’ ‘tanzen auf der Nase,’ and ‘heyho.’ Now, please let me explain.
Bescheuert: The German word ‘bescheuert’ (pronounced like bee-schoy-ert') means something like silly or crazy, hence the phrase “Bist du bescheuert?!” (Are you crazy?) being a common phrase to hear on the street. Not only do I simply like this word, but if you look up the meaning on www.leo.org (the most popular online translation dictionary in Germany) the definition will not be something simple like ‘silly’ or ‘crazy’ but rather ‘one beer short of a six pack.’
Tanzen auf der Nase: I don’t know what it is with German, but it seems to have lots of wordplays involving noses. This one in particular translated to “they’re dancing on the nose” and is often used to describe someone whose being fussy or misbehaving.
Heyho: Heyho, one of the most common greetings amongst the youth of Germany is a TERRIBLE greeting for a person to use while speaking English. This will be extremely difficult for me not to use when greeting my California friends and family before I explain the word, so please, do not be offended if it seems like I’m walking up to you and greeting you with “Hey slut!” Really, that’s not at all my intention.
Rather than describing my last day of Germany with boring old words, I’m going to end this post with a series of pictures from my last afternoon where I visited friends and host-families for the last time this year, because after all, a picture is worth a 1,000 words.
It still hasn’t hit me that I’m flying back tomorrow, aside from all the “see you laters” (Note: Not ‘goodbyes,’ but see you laters) and the special things my friends and host families did for me, it felt like just another normal day in paradise. I’m not flying home, I’m just flying back. While California may be where I come from, and will always influence my behavior because I spent the first 17 years of my life there, home is where the heart is. And my heart, is in Germany. Red heart

Days in Germany