What is Foreign Exchange to Me?

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

Google Translate (Google Übersetzer)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Germany, I Love You

OfP1030870 all the things I have to be thankful for, curly hair is definitely one of them. Friday evening, my host-brother’s girlfriend decided she would straighten my hair and braid my bangs back… –shivers- Just no. I met up with my friends afterword, the one who picked me up from the bus stop said he almost didn’t recognize me at first, and the one who answered the door yelled to the others in German, “Hey guys! Leo’s brought a girl with him, and it’s defiantly not our Angie!”

It’s been a rather chaotic week, I movedP1030913 to my third and final host-family Monday ( I was supposed to move Friday but to make a long story short, I did Monday). The thought of moving was a lot harder than the actual move simply because my second family became my real P2271351family. I’ll love the Körfers forever. Isa, Achim, and Julien became blood relatives to me. My new house, while very different, is also nice. My host-mom is the great type of different, and speaks really fast, so we get along very well. She frequently tells me I don’t eP2281362at enough, that I need new socks, and a haircut though. To be fair, those are all fair claims. Her personality also reminds me a lot of my Nana’s, so in that sense, I already feel at home.

Tuesday evening I played legitimate badminton for the first time in forever (Alison, be proud) and I cannot begin to describe how much fun I had. The man in charge noticed I had been trained because I “had proper footwork” and invited me to the trainings and matches. I played three mixed doubles matches (so nine games with one boy and one girl on each team) and won all three, and the best part is badminton is twice a week and only a 20 second walk from my house!

It’s getting ridiculous. It used to be when I spoke German, I became unbelievably thirsty because German requires the speaker to use his/her throat so much more than EngSnapshot_20120227lish. Now, on the increasingly rare occasion that I speak English, I feel like I’m drooling all over everything because I don’t have to use my throat for anything and therefore generate 10 times more saliva than necessary.

(Apparently) Sunday I was in the paper (The Press Democrat) in my home town. The imagearticle was the same one written for my school paper back in December, and over 15 different people have written me telling me about it. Apparently it’s a rather large article, and I have to admit, even though I’m not actually in the country, it’s exciting to be in my town’s paper! You can read the article online by clicking HERE!

While exchange is by far the best P2271361decision I have ever made, it’s difficult sometimes. There are kids at my school who come up to me saying, “America is sh*t and fat” and then walk away, and while it’s unpleasant to be on the receiving end of that, it’s why the world needs exchange students! If everyone in the world was an exchange student, I can say with complete certainty there would be no more war. I might be from CalifornP2261343ia, but I live in Germany, and Germany has become my second home. I feel like I’ve known my friends and host-families my entire life, and I care about Germany and Hameln just as much as I care about the United States and Santa Rosa. Exchange students change the world, they share and mix cultures, they make the world a better place.

This past week, I officially booked my return ticket(no I’m not going to post the date, if I did, every time I reread this post it would just make me sad), which was one of the harder parts of my exchange for me. It reminded me that I have to fly back eventually and that I can’t just live in this fantasy adventure forever. Red heart

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Karneval, Fußball, Austauschstudenten… It Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This

The ONE thing I knew I wanted to do in P2181266Germany before coming was go to a soccer game, and I got my wish Thursday night when some Rotarians called me late afternoon and invited me last minute (dankeschön!). Soccer games in Germany are like entering a new world, and even for people who hate soccer (which I don’t), the games are still a lot of fun because the crowd is so entertaining, it's almost distracting from the game even. I felt like I had to P2161119go through airport security just to enter the stadium. First, I was checked with a metal detector, then thoroughly patted down (by a women, they have separate lines depending on genders which I found interesting), and then the bag checkers even looked inside my camera case, despite it being about the size of my fist, as well as in my hat despite it being on my head. Hannover won 2-1 against Club Brugge, a Belgian team, and I lost track of how many yellow cards were given, as wP2161128ell as how many people were taken off the field on stretchers, needless to say it was not a clean game, but the atmosphere was indescribable and definitely not ‘typical cold’ German.

Jordan: “Four people yesterday asked me if I speak ‘Russish!’”

This weekend all the exchange students goP2171152t together in Hundisburg for a Rotex Weekend and to celebrate ‘Karneval’ (pronounced like Carnival). I had to travel with the train for four hours to east Germany, which is a lot more depressing than west Germany, which made me even more thankful to be placed in Hameln here in west Germany. For the first time since being in Germany, I saw ‘meadows’ of dead yellow grass and something about the atmosphere was simply colder. Two of my closer exchange student friends live P2181180in Wolfsburg, which is the first town on the division line of what was once western and eastern Germany, and the difference in the towns’ atmosphere is unbelievable. Only in Germany can you casually say “I slept in a castle this weekend,” and it’s unbelievable how many different cultures we had packed into one place.

Angie: “Weird, I’m not even cold.”

Leo: “Woah! You’re outside in Germany without a sweater in negative degree weather and your not cold!? You’re being German-ized!”

Sunday evening after getting home, we (being me, my host-brother, and his girlfriend) went outdoor ice skating in my town, whichP2191322 was awesome… I had never been ice skating outdoors before. My host-brother’s girlfriend is here for the week because she lives in Southern Germany and has the week off due to Karneval celebrations. Sadly, Lower Saxony doesn’t get the week off.

Tuesday evening, I saw Ziemlich Beste Freunde (Intouchables is the English title) in the theaters with my friends Leo and Johannes, as well imageas my host-brother and his girlfriend, and if anyone is ever looking for a good movie, I’d highly recommend it. I can’t guarantee the English version is any good seeing as I haven't seen it, but the German version was hilarious and my friends brought me chocolate to school today as a way of celebrating the fact that I actually understanding everything in the film, including the jokes.

Finally, I move to my third (and final) host-family Friday (so if you write me be sure to get my new address!), which is exciting, but I’m sad at the same time, the Körfers have become my real family, words and gestures combined cannot describe how much I love these guys. Red heart


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

And to Think It Has Only Been 27 Weeks

P2131096As my German gets better, it becomes more and more like my English… which isn’t necessarily a good thing. When speaking English, I tend to make up my own words and unintentionally make sexual references because so many English words have double meanings. On the bright side, my German friends say my German is cute (which I honestly didn’t know was possible) because I say things like, “Now my nose is sad.” when I’m really cold. Also as my German progresses, I learn more slang, which is good because that means I’m becoming more fluent, but it also means my German sounds even more like that of a teenage boy. Not to mention apparently now when I speak English, I have a German accent.

*Going over the new vocabulary list in English*

German Friend: Hey Angie, does engaged mean what I think it means? Like Tommy and Amy became ENGAGED last weekend?

I have the greatest host-mom in the Snapshot_20120214_7history of youth exchange. I love her (and the rest of my family)to death, she is hilarious. I move to my third and final family a week from this Friday, and while it will exciting, I can’t help but think I’ll miss this P1010482family. They have actually become my family, I argue with my parents, my brother and I fight… the whole deal, but at the end of the day we all (usually) love each other. Today while driving to school my host-dad was telling me how the house will be so boring and empty after I move next week, but I told him not to worry and we could Skype all the time so it would be like I’m still there.

P2101050Friday night, I went to my host-mom’s choir concert, which was about 1000 times better than I thought it was going to be. The pianist was amazing, as was the choir, and they had some really interesting props and songs such as “The girl with the three blue eyes.” The choir also sung a song called “America” where they had American P2101046flags as props and after singing the song, they folded the American flag as if it were a blanket, and as strange as it will sound, it was almost painful to watch. I’m not entirely sure what it is with us Americans, but we have so many ‘rules’ about to to treat our flag (i.e. it can’t touch the ground, it has to be folded a certain wayP2101076.) that watching it be folded like a blanket just felt wrong. After the concert I went to a friend’s house where we just hung out and watched movies, but I think it’s the simple evenings that I will miss from Germany the most after I fly back to California this summer. The evenings that make it seem like I’m not an exchange student doing something special, but rather a normal German student hanging out with friends. 

Me: You can also say ‘hella,’ like ‘heeeeellla legit.’

German Friend: ‘Heeeeeelllla legit?’ Is that Spanish?

Teaching my German friends CalifornianP2111085 slang is one of my favorite pastimes when we’re sitting around. It’s one thing to teach them English slang, but when the slang is native to California (such as the word ‘hella’), it’s just that much more special. The perfect opportunity came across Monday night when Leo, Johannes, Mathis, and I P2131088were planning on going climbing, but the gym was closed due to ‘poor weather conditions’ which I don’t really understand because climbing is inside… but because it was closed and the four of us were already together, we decided to go to Burger King. I still find it funny how we got together with the intention of working out, and ended up going to fast food instead.

Finally, thanks to everyone who voted in the bab.la competition! Out of the 239 entries, “Angie’s Odyssey” placed 14th, so I think we did pretty decent!

Happy Belated Valentines Day! Red heartP2141101

IX12 - Top 100 International Exchange and Experience Blogs 2012

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

“Walking in a Winter Wonder Land”

I feel like I live in a snow globe. Snapshot_20120206Yesterday, I was happy to wake up to a “winter wonderland” so to speak, until I looked at the thermostat and saw that it was -18°C (-1°F). It’ s one thing when it’s negative in Celsius, but when the temperature is negative in Fahrenheit, it’s a completely different P2071033story. I spent the entire morning siting in a chair with a blanket and just watching it snow, my host-dad even set a timer and said when it goes off, I should watch the television instead.

*host-brother walks in room*

Brother: “Hey, Angie is this your milk?”

Me: “Yeah.”

Brother: “Cool”*drinks milk, leaves room*

If nothing else, I’m not allowed to complain that my brother doesn’t treat me like family. I love Julien, Isa, and Achim (my host-parents) just as much as I love my biological family, they have become my real family. Which means,no matter how much Julien and I love each other, we argue. For example, just last week Julien and I were eating dinner when mid-conversation I stood up and yelled, “Julien, do I seriously need to explain why it is inappropriate to grab our crotches at the dinner table!?”

Monday I met my third host-family bimageecause I will be moving at the end of this month. I have three brothers and a sister, but to make a long explanation short, only one of my brothers will be living at home with us. So far so good though, I get along really well with my host-mom and after finding out I’m from the San Francisco area, she told me to tell my biological parents that she is going to pack herself into my suitcase and fly back with me this summer.

Last week, when we picked up my host-parents from the train stations after their two week cruise of the Caribbean, one of the first things my host-mom P1191003asked me was, “Did you get a haircut?” I told her I cut it myself and she said it looks really good. I thought it was funny how it was the first thing my host-mom said to me after being gone for two weeks, yet my host-brother didn’t notice it even though he lived with me the whole time, and was even home when I cut my hair.

My German has gotten to the point where I understand people better when they speak to me in German, compared to in English, and even in my English lessons, sometimes I don’t know how to explain something to the class in English, but I can do it without missing a beat in German. I love my English teacher though, whenever he makes a bad mistake or gets angry, he just stands there and uses every English swear word he knows under his breath and I think it’s hilarious. However, despite my German getting better and better, I still make mistakes. For example, today I accidentally asked my friend if his balls were cold, instead of his ears.

Finally, for anyone who hasn’t heard, THE GIANTS WON THE SUPER BOWL! I stayed up until 4:30 a.m. Monday morning to watch it (my dad will be so proud to hear that!) and it was definitely a game worth staying up for; however, it was a bit confusing. In German ‘nichts’ is one (of many) way to say ‘no’ orSnapshot_20120206_3 ‘nothing’ and one of the most prominent players on the Giants offense has the last name “Nicks” so every time he got a first down the announcer would say “NICKS mit dem FIRST DOWN” and I thought they didn’t make the first down. This is yet another time I’m glad my German has progressed so thoroughly because I actually understood all the commentary, and it was hilarious. At times the announcer would say, “Oh! That was an evil tackle!” or, “There was a ‘remember me’ tackle!” But I think my favorite was when he said, “Ouch! They hit their helmets together! Is that even allowed? Man, it must have hurt!”

Don’t forget to vote “Angie’s Odyssey” in bab.la’s blog competition! Voting ends February 12th Germany time!

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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Super Bowl Sunday, Here I Come!

To all my non-American readers, SUPER BOWL SUNDAY IS TOMORROW and I could not be more excited! P2041028

There are of course some set-backs to being in Germany on Super Bowl Sunday, such as the Super Bowl kick off is not until 12:30 a.m. Monday morning in German time, and does not end until 4:15 a.m. but of course, those minuscule details are irrelevant.

This year, I will be one of many “expatriate Americans” who gather with friends (even if it is over Skype)to watch the Super Bowl despite being abroad and despite it being in the middle of the night. My least favorite team is playing (the New England Patriots *shivers*), I simply cannot afford to miss this.

Ironically enough, leaving the U.S. for a year has taught me that despite popular opinion, America definitely has its own culture (which I will write more about later, but until then),but without further ado, here are some crazy facts I have found about the Super Bowl:

  • In the U.S., Super Bowl Sunday is the second largest day of food consumption, the first day being, of course, Thanksgiving.
  • Fans generally eat around 69.6 million pounds (or 31,297,873.5 kilos)of avocados during Super Bowl Sunday.
  • Approximately 325.5 million gallons (or 1.23215154 x 109 liters)of beer will be drunk by Americans during the Super Bowl.
  • Americans will eat a total of 1.25 billion pounds (or 566,990,562 kilos)of chicken wings on Super Bowl Sunday.
  • 9 of the top 10 most watched television programs in all of history are Super Bowls.
  • Today, a 30-second commercial spot costs $3.5 million (on average).
  • The NFL has a policy against holding Super Bowl games in stadiums that have a climate of less than 50° Fahrenheit (10° Celsius), unless it is an enclosed stadium.



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Thursday, February 2, 2012


Exchange Student: Most awesome person you will ever meet. Exchange students willing decide to get off their a**es, leave their home country, and go see the world. For that reason, they should be given a heck of a lot of credit. Usually, a foreign exchange student will have a funny accent and not speak your language very well. This is all the more reason to hang out with them, because everything will suddenly become that much more hilarious. Also, they are generally young people, and have a tendency to be extreamly good looking. In conclusion, props to all the exchange students out there. (Provided by urban dictionary)

German Winter: A time so cold, everyone’s nose is bright pink, whether or not they are sick.

Öhrworm: “Ear worm,” or the German way of saying “a song stuck in my head.”

“I Split Your Bagel”: A Portuguese song actually called “Ay Se Eu Te Pego” that is played three times in over two hours in German clubs, despite being in Portuguese.

Trilingual: Someone who speaks and understands three languages (I recommend it.)

*Sitting on the bus between Argentinean exchange students speaking Spanish and random Germans speaking German*

German 1: Listen to that! I wonder what language they’re speaking.

German 2: I don’t know, but I bet it’s Italian!

Just trying to change it up a bit this week! And remember, vote “Angie’s Odyssey” in bab.la’s “Top Exchange & International Blogs” competition!

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P.S. Can anyone tell me what’s wrong with these pictures!? *Note: The pictures we’re taking at the exact same time (1:54 p.m. German time, 4:54 a.m. California time) and are in Celsius)*

Days in Germany