What is Foreign Exchange to Me?

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

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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.

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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.
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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

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Exchange Students: Opening Doors

P1010548Having the same first name as the German chancellor while living in Germany and BEING American at the same time sometimes makes me feel like I’m trying to commit social suicide. Luckily enough, I go by my nickname and pronounce it the English way (in German, it would be pronounced Onn-Gaay, so ‘Angela’ is pronounced like On-Gaay-Lah) and have lost my American accent enough when speaking German to where people don’t even assume I’m from the states anymore, but rather England, and after saying certain words, some people even think I’m German. Being associated with Angela Merkel, especially at the beginning of the year, has gotten me into some interesting political conversations that I couldn’t really respond to because I didn’t speak German. To give you an idea of the opinion of the German chancellor, the title of this week’s Time Magazine is “Why Everybody Loves to Hate Angela Merkel: And Why They’re Wrong.”

This past weekend I had my formal going awP7070506ay party/my host-brother’s coming back party/ a ‘lets-get-everyone-we-know-together’ party called ‘Bratwurst und Bier.’ All my extended host-family relatives, three of my host families, my friends, and the Rotarians from my club where there (not to mention some other people as well) and we got to enjoy some of the only sun we’ve seen this summer while eating delicious German food and playing ping-pong. Trust me, it was a lot more fun than it sounds. P7070508

Angie: Blegh. I speak German like a teenage boy.

Leo: Well, if I come to California, I’ll speak English like a teenage girl.

My best friend Leo always knows how to make me feel better. Due to the fact that most of my friends are teenage boys, I speak German like one, but at least if Leo ever comes to California and learns English from me, he’ll speak like a teenage girl.

Being an exchange student opens so many P7080518doors. From Sunday to Wednesday a friend of mine from Belgium who was an exchange student in my home town in California two years ago came and visited me and stayed with my host-family here in Germany. He doesn’t speak any German, and switching from German to P7090527English and then back to German again made me beyond exhausted, I took a two hour nap everyday he was here, but it was still fantastic to see him and to catch up. It’s cool having friends on just about every continent. I always have a place to sleep!

Angie: “Hey Mom! What’s up?”

(Biological) Mom: “Oh hey Deanna, give me a sec, I’m putting some things in Angie’s room.”

Angie: “Mom… it’s not Deanna.”

Mom: “Well then who is it??”

Angie: “Well lets think. Who else calls you Mom?”

I decided to be a ‘good daughter’ and call my mom this week because I have only called her once since coming to Germany (though we have skyped on occasion) and I couldn’t remember the last time I had actually talked to her, but not only did she confuse my voice with her best friend’s, but she couldn’t even guess who it was at first! Maybe I have a sister I didn’t know about…P1060542

Tuesday my friend came over and we backed American cookies with my hosP7100535t-family. I somehow got five boys to all cook in peace and harmony together, and to actually look like they were enjoying themselves at the same time. I would give you my secret, but even I don’t know what it is. Even one of them openly admitted that “Men love to cook.” We even got it on video.

P7100534Wednesday my host-mom and I took a trip to IKEA. I don’t really know why, but going to IKEAP7110543 in Europe always seems to be a big deal to people, they wander through the store and afterwards eat the ‘American-style hotdogs.’ There was a special, you could buy one hot dog for €2, or you could get a coke, ice cream and a hot dog for €2. Don’t ask me how that worked out, but nevertheless it was a good deal.

Not only is Germany behind on their music scene, but the music that actually makes it here is generally speaking… quite terribly. A perfect example of this song is the new Carly Rae Jepsen song “Call Me Maybe.”

Call Me Maybe–Carly Rae Jepsen

Now, my friends and I always fight about whose better, Elmo or the Cookie Monster from Sesame Street. I have and always will be an Elmo lover, but this next video gave me a soft spot for the cookie monster as well.

Share It Maybe–Cookie Monster

I should probably go back upstairs and help my friends, they really have no idea how to prepare and cook a turkey, but until then, have a great week, and everyone who was somehow a part of me becoming an exchange student, thank you very much. Red heart

Friday, July 6, 2012

Germany Stole My Heart

I don’t feel like I’m from anotherP6290414 country anymore… let alone the other side of the world. I mean really, think about it, “the other side of the world” just sounds so far away! Sometimes when I think about California, it feels like I dreamt everything up and it never actually happened, it was all just one very long realistic dream. I was just magically born with the ability to speak fluent English despite growing up in Germany… that must have been it! I don’t even remember not being able to speak/understand fluent German, and that only started about six months ago… My P7040480friends and families in Germany have become lifelong friends and blood family, I don’t remember it being any other way. Even when I speak about my “mom” my friends always have to clarify, host mom one, two, three, four, one of my ‘neighborly-mother-figures’ or my biological mom, I can’t even say my “real” mom anymore, because all these wonderful women are like mothers to me in different ways. I guess that’s what having a ‘worldly family’ means.

 
Germany’s ‘summer’ is very confused. Last week, it started raining harder than I’ve ever seen it rain in my life (and after living in Germany foP6290415r a year, that’s actually saying something) so of course, being the ‘big-kids’ my best friend and  I are, we decided to go outside and play in the rain. It’s one of the many Germany memories that, not only will I never forget, but will always be one of my favorites.
 
Germany lost last week against Italy in the Europe Cup, and while it was depressing, I think every one was glad to see Spain CRUSH Italy in the final. Apparently Germany is notorious for making it to the half-final and then losing. I feel like the entire country went into a depression for a couple days after the loss, strangers smiled at each other even less than usual (which even I didn’t think was possible) and Germany went back to it’s unpatriotic self. Nevertheless, I still smile whenever I see a Germany flag flying high and proud.

 
Friday night my friends and I got P6300461together… not really for any purpose other than the fact that we’re friends. We planned some things for my going away party, and laughed until we cried while simply babbling on about anything imaginable into the wee hours of the morning. My friends here never cease to make me smile, whetP6300452her it’s because they actually say something funny, or I simply don’t have a clue about what their talking about… it doesn’t matter, I can’t remember a single unhappy memory with them. Everyone needs a group of friends like the German boys who ‘adopted’ me.P6290442

 
A few blog posts ago, I went on a nice little rant about how impossible it is to find normal underwear in Germany, and while I FINALLY found some on Wednesday when my friends and I went shopping to ‘celebrate’ the fourth of July, it didn’t matter because on the third of July I received a lovely small package from my (biological) mother who sSnapshot_20120706ent me underwear after having read ‘said’ blog post. My host-mom thought it was really sweet that my mom sent me something for the fourth of July… and then saw I only got a package of underwear, she probably thinks I’m weird now. But that’s alright, she wouldn’t be wrong in thinking so.

 
And speaking of the fourth of July:
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(Jeeze this week was packed!) WednesdayP7040474 was also the “abistreik,” which basically means the graduating class ‘went on strike’ so instead of having class, everyone was outside and we played strange beach related games because the graduation motto this year is ‘Abikini.’ (Abitur is the ‘German P7040476graduation from high school, so the motto also somehow fits into something ‘Abi’ related.) When I got to school and saw the entire place before the school was COVERED in sand, all I could think was, “I feel bad for whoever has to clean this up.”
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And finally yesterday was the Abiumzug… there are no words in any language to describe how epic an Abiumzug is, so enjoy this video from yesterday’s amazingness.
Hameln, Germany Abiumzug 2012

 
Of course there we’re lots of other interesting things that happened this week, but not only was this post already long enough, but I’m about to head out to my second-host dad’s/Grandpa’s birthday party… so have a good week, und Alles Gute zum Geburstag Opa und Achim! Red heart
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P.S. Angie’s Odyssey has officially reached it’s goal of having over 10,000 views, thanks everyone for supporting the blog!

Days in Germany