What is Foreign Exchange to Me?

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

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Friday, March 23, 2012


P3221470THERE HAS BEEN SUN THIS WEEK! Sun I want my blonde hair and my tan back! My German friends look through my old pictures and tell me I look funny because I was tan and blonde, and my California friends look through my new pictures and tell me I look funny because I’m white as a ghost and have brown hair. Yesterday it was so nice that after school my friends P3221471and I went and sat on the river bank and listened to random people playing music. It’s rather sad though, just one day of 56° weather and I’m already sunburnt. And to think 56° used to sound cold.

I used to think Germans drove fast… that P3161421was before I was in a police car. Now I think they drive at the speed of lightening. Last Friday and Wednesday I did (something like) a mini-internship with the Hameln Police. Originally it was only for Friday, but I had such a good time that they invited me back. To be fair, I have never been a ‘tag-along’ (so to speak) with the P3161424Santa Rosa Police Department, but the Police in Germany are incredibly different. One major difference is in Germany, when the police are around it generally means that something bad is happening, so when they are around people actuallyP3161447 tend to feel less safe, whereas in California, the police casually stroll around and are much more approachable. Also in Germany there are seemingly endless things someone can get a ticket for, (such as parking within 5 meters -about 16 feet- of a “Pedestrian Zone” or not having their P3161450personal I.D. on them at all times) but the tickets are basically pocket money, only 10-30 euros while in California people don’t get tickets as often, but when they do they are very expense. For example, in Germany, parking in a Handicapped parking place without a placard is only 35 Euros, while in California it’s a MINIMUM fine of 250 dollars.

Sunday was my host-mom’s birthday so we had (almost) all my siblings over (the one on exchange in Mexico wasn’t here) as well as a lot of our extendP3181454ed family and the neighbors and my host-mom’s friends… and pretty much anyone else imaginable. The term “full house” is a little bit of an understatement, but if nothing else we all had a great time!

It’s the week before Ferien (which means starting today I have 2 weeks off from sAussiechool!) and it’s also the last week that the students in the 12th grade will be at school. Starting in two weeks, they all have to do their “Abitur” which is basically a series of oral and written exams in certain core subjects. The “Abitur” i295232_3572407833499_1714677890_ns an entrance requirement to universities and can only be achieved from a Gymnasium (in Germany, there are three types of schooling, Hauptschule, Realschule, and Gymnasium) and if the student fails they do not get their “Abitur” and cannot go on to university. For American high school 374094_286290661440319_100001781615240_649872_1618911368_nstudents, the “Abitur” difficulty is often compared to Advanced Placement (AP) exams, or the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. It’s almost embarrassing to think that this is ‘the norm’ in Germany, yet parents in California complain about the “California High School Exit Exam” being too difficult.image Because this is the last week, it’s also “Spirit Week” but only for the “Abi klasse” (or the graduating class) and because this is the only week the German students have to dress up, the entire graduating class goes ALL out. Yesterday was my favorite (and also the most imagepolitically incorrect) theme. It was “Ausstoß Tag,” or the day where everyone dresses up like homeless people/social outcasts. I can’t help but think how my school in California would react to this, last year there was a petition to stop the spirit day called “Nerd Day” because it was offensive, let alone having a day to essentially make fun of all the homeless people.

Just goes to show you how the culture is different. 

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Days in Germany