This is my documentation for my family and friends so that we can keep in touch while I spend a year half way around the world. I will do my best to document the good times, the bad times, the happy, the sad. Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

In the Spirit of Thanksgiving...

First off I am thankful to have my parents, my mom for always supporting me and the choices that I make, and for allowing me to hop on a plane and go half a world away for an entire year. I am also really grateful to have my dad, for always being honest and pushing me to make my dreams a reality. If it weren't for them I wouldn't be the same person that I am today, and most of all I wouldn't be living one of my biggest dreams if they hadn't let me come to Germany. Naturally, I can't forget my sister, yes we have our moments like all siblings do but you have always been there for me; even when you are ranting on about your stories of you when you were younger, I am still thankful to have you in my life. Second, would have to be my host family, they opened up their house for me before they even knew me, they have taken the time to show me what Germany is all about. I couldn't ask for a more perfect host family and I am utterly grateful that they have allowed me to be a part of their lives. Third all the people that supported me back home, friends, teachers and just friends of the family. From the bottom of my heart thank you for good memories and most of all for the encouragement. Fourthly, I am thankful for my new life here in Germany and all the friends that I have made, because you guys are what have, and will make this year unforgettable. Lastly, the internet. What would I do without you? Being able to keep in contact with people back home and well yea thats all. I wish everybody a Happy Thanksgiving! Eat up :)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rules and Top Ten Reasons for Studying Abroad

Rule #1: It's not a good idea to speak English in public, and if you decide to do so be prepared to encounter some odd situations.
Last Saturday I went to a soccer game in München with some Americans that are studying abroad here and well they couldn't speak German and it's nice to be able to speak your mother tongue every once in a while so naturally we spoke English. I never knew that doing a simple thing such as speaking English was seen as an invitation for strangers to come up to you and just start asking you random, off the wall questions. Not saying that this will always happen but it is a good possibility that it will happen especially when in a bigger city.
Rule #2: Expectations aren't exactly your friend... don't be fooled
If there is one thing that being here as taught me I would have to say that being flexible it one of them. It's always really easy to just expect people to react a certain way but at the end of the day it is and will always be better to just go with the flow. Expect anything expect the unexpected. The people, culture and custom are often times different and you can't really understand 'why?' but just go with it because that is just how it is.
Top Ten Reasons for Studying Abroad:
1. Learn a language in the country that it is spoken.
Studying abroad is the perfect way for you to becoming fluent in a language. Immersion is the only way to become fluent in a language and not to mention you don't have to memorize vocabulary list :)
2. Learn about yourself and gain independence.
Many people spend a lifetime trying to learn about themselves and fail to realize that sometimes in order to see yourself in a different light you need to change your surroundings and take a journey to a place that is different from what they are used to.
3. Traveling/Studying abroad is a life-altering experience!
Experiencing life abroad is truly an eye opening experience. You are able to think different due to the fact that you have seen the world through different eyes; which is far better than any movie, and magazing could ever portray.
4. Gain perspective on your own country and culture.
When the average American thinks about Halloween, the first thing that comes to mind is trick-or-treat. Do you know why Halloween is a holiday? Most don't, so it's ok but going abroad can aid you in learning so much about your own culture, things that you haven't even thought about before.
5. See the world (or at least a part of it).

There is so much to see in the world and yea you could take a week or two vacation to another country but when it comes to the differences in cultures you won't really be able to see that. Well, lets be honest here most tourist are trying to see as many sites as possible you aren't able to see just the every day to day life.

6. Make connections that can last a lifetime.
Everybody knows the saying "It's not what you got, it's who you know" and well the connections that are formed while on an exchange between your host family or even the friends that you make are connections that you have never been made had you not traveled to another country.
7. Resume builder.
In today's competitive work force it is always helpful to have a little something extra under your belt. Global unification is becoming increasingly important and companies seek people that are able to provide a positive working environment with people from other cultural backgrounds. Studying abroad shows that you have these qualities that they are looking for.
8. Experience hands-on learning.
The amount that is learned from from you actually being there and doing it yourself is so much more worthwhile than reading a book or watching a film; Instead of hearing about somebody else's experiences you get to form your own.
9. Programs work with any academic program.
There is a program that is perfect for you. Can't afford to miss a year of school? Then you can always do a summer program.
10. International travel and study are fun and exciting.
I think this one is pretty self explanatory.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Oktoberfest und Orchester

So on the 2nd of Oktober I went with my host family to Oktoberfest because that was the last weekend that it would be going for this year. We drove to Munchen which is actually only like an hour away to my surprise and I got to see tons and tons of fields where they make beer. Pretty much it was like a HUGE carnival like yea beer was a part of it but I mean there was a lot more too it than that. Not everybody wears Ledershosen und Dirndls although a good amount of people do. I am glad that I was able to experience it, oh and the Bier tents aren't impossible to get into assuming that you are willing to wait a long time in line, and the line isn't even a line its more like a big bundle of people that are crowded together... I must say they are very dedicated because I know it had to be really sweaty standing there. There were tons of rides too but they are really, really expensive and there is no such thing as buying a day pass... it's kind of like the way that there are no refills (which sucks by the way).

The day after that I went to the Junior Classic Orchester (Orchestra) that plays here where I live and it was really nice, I enjoyed it alot and since I didn't have a violin yet the teacher let me use his.

On Sunday, Oktober 3, I went out with my host siblings. We went bowling and well I suck at bowling but it was fun.

Dienstag, Oktober 5, my host mother and I went to the Geigenbauer and I got a violin!

And now it has been a little bit over a month since I have been with my host family and well I think my German is getting better, I know that I can understand a lot more than I could before. Some days you feel awesome because you understand most things and then there are days when you feel like you haven't learned anything so it's pretty up and down.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Second Sunday in Bayern

Today was a good Sunday :) this morning I went in the city (well I live in the city but like in the center, I guess I should say) with a girl from my class. We walked part of the Donau which is the river than runs through my city and it was awesome and very pretty. For lunch I had some of the best pizza EVER. Eventually when I returned home me and my host parents went cycling and got some Italian Eis (ice cream) and es schmeckt gut :P and then we went sight seeing because there is tons to see where I leave. I saw a lot of old churches and I learned a lot. When we returned home I ate and I don't know what it's called but it was out of this world and then my host dad helped me with homework... which consisted of me reading outloud, saying what I thought it meant and then him telling me what it actually meant... it took over 30 minutes to read 2 pages :( but I learned the material and I guess that is all that matters. Anyways it is kind of late and I have school in the morning so Bis spaeter :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Schultüte und Schule

Yesterday my host family gave me a Schultüte or some call it a Zuckertüte either way I got one because well yesterday was my first day of German school :). I haven't opened it yet because it looks too pretty to open but all of the candy (that I can see anyways) are delicious because well lets just say that I have had way more than my fair share of candy while I was in Hedersleben.

So today was my first real day of school and well it was ok, school will always be school and it was just school in a different language basically. They speak so ridiculously fast like some of them I can understand but when they mumble there is just no hope. Today was more like rules for every class and what you should bring but in Geographie und Physik we actually talked about something. Oh and then in Sport we did play Fußball so that was fun. The locker rooms are really different because it is just one room and you just change no lockers or anything. Sport is only on Wednesday so you just bring your Sport clothes with you on Wednesdays it's not that bad. I could actually understand that teacher. I am kind of considering getting out of some of my classes because it seems that I am one of the only that have 15 classes here where are some others have like 10 or 7 or something but then I kind of want to experience all of school and it's not too much because they don't like expect me to write essays or anything so I think I will be fine but it is a thought. Daniela (my oldest host sister) will be going back from Egypt tomorrow and depending when I get out of school I might be able to go with my host dad to go pick her up in Munich, we shall see.

Oh and I almost forgot to mention, this morning I totally took the wrong bus to school, I totally figured it all out though but still it was a crazy morning and I got to school like 2 minutes before the bell rang. At least I know now, so hopefully that doesn't happen again any time soon. Servus

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Host Family

So I didn't really write about my host family last time but in a word they are amazing and I think they are the perfect match for me. I was greeted by Elke, Richard and Nicole at the trainstation in Regensburg and to my surprise it wasn't awkward at all (thank goodness). They are constantly speaking German to me which is a good thing and most of the time when I don't understand they just say it in another way but in German of course. Normally in the evening I walk the dog with my host dad but the evenings are normally free which is nice. Uh actually they have a Handy for me so YAY!

Well I don't know what else would be interesting but since today was my first day at school I think that I will talk a little bit about that ok so. We I have never felt as lost as I did today at the beginning when I had to go ask the secretary in broken German what my schedule was and other random need to know questions. In language camp there was always somebody there that could speak English if you get stuck when speaking German but here NO you pretty much just have to go with it because if not well nothing gets accomplished and there is nobody to ask questions for you. Anyways though there is a girl that sits beside me in class her name is Maria and she helped me the ENTIRE time because only understood probably 10% of what was going on so she would explain to me what was going on in German but I could understand. The teacher talked so fast it is insane like by the time I realize that I knew a word she said she is already in a whole different sentence. Not to mention the students talking I just sit there, and anybody that knows me knows that I love to talk well that has changed I still talk which I know what is going on but I don't think I have ever been so quiet in my life. Anyways even though the language was a no go the day was good. I got tons of books for all my classes, all fifteen, yes I said 15 and its whatever... for now. Oh I was hoaxed into introducing myself to the class and our Klass Lehrerin is also my English teacher so she said that I could speak in English also. So it was more like German sentence, Englisch sentence and so on but apparently I speak English too fast so they couldn't understand and I got blank stares... which is actually how I feel everyday here. My school is really nice it is modern and just like WOW. I shall post pictures later. I like the fact that people are willing to help and are really patient with me because well it's difficult not understanding what is going on but I know it will get better in time so I am not too worried about it. I will try and write more often about whatever and post pictures later too. Bis dann.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Another long update

I arrived at my host family's yesterday but I will make another post for that. I am just going to talk about my last weeks at language camp. In short language camp was a blast and went by quicker than I imagined. I made some friends and got a good foundation that I can build on this year.

27.8.10 Today we went to the Feuerwehr (fire station), who ever imagined that a fire station could be so fun. First they told us about what they do and all the jazz but later we went to two other cities and visited their Feuerwehr. The last one had some type of childrens program so there were tons of kids and this one in particular gave us a tour and attempted to practice his English. Before we returned to the Kloster the Feuerwehr treated us to Würstchen which were really good. Grammar is such a pain and it seems to be never ending, not to mention complicated. Just so happens that you need it in order to not sound like you are stupid anyways though it's going to take some time.

31.9.10 We went to a German BBQ and it was indoors and just very different from the BBQ's I have been to. After the game we watched a game of soccer it was the Americans vs. Germans. We won one of the games and the other we lost (by a point!)

2.9.10 Went to Halberstadt we went by train, which was a first for me made my stomach hurt but it was still awesome. I bought a new dictionary because I lost my other one. We got a tour of this old church can't remember the name of it but the tour was in all german and I understood most of it. I fried one of the fuses in my convertor. Opps. kind of random but its ok because there was an extra fuse.

4.9.10 A guy named Max came to talk to us from P.I. so we didn't have morning class (YAY) but we got homework (BOO). We have had alot of people from PI come to talk to us they all kind of say the same thing though haha. I am starting to become scared of going to school here like I probably won't be able to understand anything.

7.9.10 So there are only 3 days left here in Hedersleben and only one day of class left and tomorrow we have finals. I am currently sick and I didn't go to class today but Juli bought me some medicine and tea so that was nice. I did go to evening class although I was coughing the entire time and blowing my nose. I am pretty sure my nose is raw. It is weird knowing that I have almost being here for a month and it seems like just last week I was getting off a plane in Frankfurt.

8.9.10 The finals went well and I am very proud of my ability to make up stuff on the spot and I figure this will be a very useful ability throughout the year.

9.9.10 Madgeburg day we went to see one of Hundertwasser buildings and he is a very famous architect and the building looked like candy land or something. We got a tour of this big Dom called the Madeburger Dom and it was a big cathedral. After that we got to watch the Sachsen-Anhalt Government in action and well it was just very different that any government. Some people were eating, some were walking around, people were constantly going in and out of the room and this one guy was on his phone. Shortly after watching them we were able to wonder around and by that time it was almost 14:00 so the first place we went was to eat and I had a Döner and it was so amazingly good OMG!

10.9.10 Today was pretty much a free day in the morning we cleaned up our class and Juli said goodbyes she told every individual person something. She also handed out T-Shirts from PI, candy and a card that included three pictures and a certificate. I really enjoyed that class and now it's over but I definantely have some good memories. For dinner we have a medical dinner and it was out of this world. I am really nervous now about my german skills or lack there of but it's a little to late to get cold feet. There was a talent show at 20:00 but I wanted to run to the store so India and Jenny went with me. When we came back all the doors were locked and everybody was already in the AULA (the room that the talent show was held in) so we were stuck outside for like 20 minutes until this guy from the Feuerwehr who came to see the talent show came and he called somebody that was inside to open the door. But the talent show was still epic even though I was 20 minutes late to see it.

11.9.10 Had breakfast and then took a bus to Madgeburg and said goodbye to everybody which was weird because well I have been around them 24/7 for the last month. But I will get to see them again in Januar. Anyways I am kind of in love with the trains and I am wondering why there aren't more and better ones in America. I got to have a 6 hour train ride on the ICE :D

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sorry for not updating but I am here ;)

Sorry for not updating this more but I really haven’t had the time to write about everything. Not to mention that there is no internet here at the Kloster (monastery) so I have to go to the next town over to use this café so anyways. This is how my experience in Germany has been so far. 15.8.10 Today has been quite an experience. For starters I procrastinated like crazy and didn’t start packing until two days ago and I was still packing as I was walking out the door… (go figure) Yesterday I spent the majority of my time with my family and I bought host family gifts. Have I mentioned how hard it is to buy gifts for people that you don’t know… well yea it is hard. While on the subject of host families it might be worth it to mention that it really sucks not having one like everybody is talking about where they are going and then when they get to me all I can say is “I don’t have a host family”… As I mentioned before my flight flew out of KCI really early but luckily there was somebody at the airport when I got there so me and Jennifer spent most of the day wondering around Dulles International Airport (IAD). Thankfully the time went by really quick so it was ok. It was fun and something that caught me COMPLETELY off-guard was that EVERY single worker there had a foreign accent… it was cool to say the least but still very unexpected. Since me and Jennifer were the first ones at the airport about an hour before it was time for us to meet at out terminal we went and sat and more and more people just started coming. Everybody was sharing random information that I am pretty sure nobody will remember tomorrow but the people are really great. Oh and ok this is random too but anyways, did I mention that I am the only black person here? Not, that is bothers me because it really doesn’t matter but I just expected more… I don’t know. Moving on… When the plane from DC to Frankfurt was starting up all the announcements were in English and German and even though I couldn’t understand it, knowing that in ten months I will understand all of it is beyond exciting. I am a bit nervous about the language, I just really don’t know what to expect. One last thing thought, I couldn’t be happier that I pushed myself to do this because for one it is a great honor and it’s just like all the packet I filled out weren’t in vain. PS. The only countdown left is the one to the end of camp. :P 16.8.10 After falling asleep I woke up to find out that we were going to be landing in 30 minutes to Frankfurt. So while I am talking about flying let’s talk about airplane food… um well it’s not really good but it’s not disgusting either I mean I don’t know it’s alright I guess. I had the honor (hence the sarcasm) of sitting next to this old man and he slept the ENTIRE ride and he had the window seat which I really wanted; talk about such a waste of the perfect seat. Moving on the awesomest (yes I know it’s not a word but don’t ruin my fun) part we got to walk down the stairs when we got off the plane feel free to take a moment and be jealous or just think um ok she is weird either way I thought it was the sweetest moment. That was my celebrity moment minus the heavy backpack and carryon. Then we got to ride the shuttle and I had to stand and was basically sliding everywhere not to mention it was hot and people were just packed together similar to sardines in a can. I had coffee in Frankfurt and it was called Wiener something can’t really remember but it was GROSS! Then I had a cappuccino which made it all better. One of the first differences that I noticed here is that there is a lot of greenery but minus that the people here (at least at the airport) are really direct and it is like almost rude but then again that might just be my American perspective I don’t really know. For example, there was this lady that was at the checkout desk which we had to go through before we could board the plane to Leipzig but you scan your own ticket she just makes sure like nobody jumps the gate or something silly like that and she completely flipped out because somebody didn’t know how to use the ticket scanner. The flight with the Lufthansa was hot and they gave me some of the nastiest, harshest water I have ever tasted (no it was not Sprudel Wasser). Anyways it made my stomach hurt. Actually all the flight caused my allergies to flare up really badly and I am still blowing my nose as I write this. This brings me to the subject of the toilet paper. In a sentence the toilet paper is not hard, well at least not like cut you or anything but it is NOTHING like Charmin (I miss Charmin). Any-who the Leipzig airport was really modern and it was mainly made of glass. Waiting for luggage was tedious and not to mention when you have to pull two large bags, wear a backpack, have a purse and carry a carry on; every muscle in your body including the ones that you didn’t know existed start to ache. We got bused to Hedersleben on two Mercedes-Benz buses they were nice and I should have taken pictures but at the time I was too concerned about just resting my bones. We might have traveled the Autobahn but I am not entirely sure to be completely honest. Being surrounded by German is definitely something that I will need to get used to I mean it’s not 24/7 seeing as I am with 47 other American kids and we speak English with one another but still not understanding leaves you with a weird feelings. I guess it is whatever and it will get better as the time goes by. We have TVs in our rooms and the main thing on are American movies that are all dubbed it is really odd seeing their mouths move on way and the sound not matching it. Speaking of sound there are more English songs on the radio than anything, we listened to Lady Gaga’s song on the way to Hedersleben. Hedersleben is really rustic looking and it smelly dusty. There are a lot of spiders here too but they don’t even bother you. They have probably been here so long only god knows. There is a group of guys that sit outside the monastery and just chill but they say really random stuff to you and it is best to just ignore them. For dinner we had Schnitzel which was delicious like it was seriously out of this world. We also had Pommes Frites and they were also very good, we are supposed to eat them with a fork… The soda and all the drinks for that matter aren’t really chilled. I drank a Fanta (orange) even though it looked more like Lemonade but it doesn’t really taste like American Fanta. I don’t even know how to describe it but it’s just different it is really good though. After dinner we had a meeting and got placed in out classes (there is one advanced class, one intermediate class and two beginners classes). I am not sure what my teachers name is but she is rather young and probably close to our age. Anyways Gerd, the old guy here talked about the rules here and he also said that we haven’t got any internet and that we can’t even call home to say we made it because of whatever reason. This was a bit disappointing because well I mean they DID tell us that we would be able to call home upon arrival and that every week we could use the internet. I explored the town with my roommate, Sara. We went to some type of youth place it is kind of like the YMCA and there were some old guys inside playing soccer. After that we went to this really small grocery store and I got a Kinder Egg. It was some of the best chocolate that I have ever tasted. I am going to go back tomorrow and get some more. Walking around here is so calming the air here is different like breathing is so much easier. Oh and did I mention that the roads in this village are cobblestone minus a couple parts. It was hard pulling luggage across it but it gives this place a nice feel. 17.8.10 So have I mentioned that Broetchen is some of the best bread ever? Well, it is. My teacher is seriously amazing. We don’t speak ANY English in my class (I am in the intermediate class by the way). Turns out the Jeanne is leaving AYUSA on Friday and is going to go back to school to get her degree to become a high school counselor. We watch the news called “Huete” everyday at 7 (on the dot) and I hardly understood anything. We found a “Computer Cabinet” at the Hedersleben HOF which is like a YMCA but it is also a town hall haha. The ladies there were kind of standoff- ish though so yea… 19.8.10 We got to use the internet today and that was pretty much it. Sorry it’s not anything more interesting. I feel kind of bad about not missing America but right now everything is just like really great. It doesn’t really feel like I am an ocean away from home but yea. Oh and we showed my teacher some American games in class like: duck, duck, goose; red light, green light; and charades. (sp?) I thought I would miss internet more than I do but it feels great knowing that I can live without it without going crazy. So I am rambling and I think I should stop.
21.8.10 I watched some movie this morning instead of going to morning class… well ok I didn’t watch it because I feel asleep but shh don’t tell. I seriously sleep through the whole thing but I really couldn’t help it like I had no control over my eyes and I didn’t get caught so it was completely ok. About 18 of us (American kids) went to Quedlinburg which is much bigger than Hedersleben. We went to a small café that just so happened to have internet and I ordered an Eiskaffeeschokolade and it was delicious like you just have to have one you won’t regret it. It was kind of expensive though but whatever it was worth it. Today was actually hot it was like 29 degrees C and which is really rare because it is always like semi cold. Oh and when we went to Quedlinburg we took a bus/taxi thingy like I am not even going to try and explain it haha but like we got to go by ourselves meaning no teachers. I love the amount of freedom we get but it is really safe here so it’s ok. Oh and I left my purse on the bus so Gerd (the top dog here) had to call the company and yea… 22.8.10 Today right after breakfast I walked to the bus station to get my purse and luckily everything was right where I had left it. So since today is Sunday I decided to go to church and there are only two churches here one is Catholic and the other the Protestant. So I ended up going to the Protestant one because I had to go to the bus station this morning and I would have been late for the Catholic one. Church here (at least in Hedersleben) is really short like I wasn’t there for even an hour. I think next Sunday I will go to the Catholic Church because I have never been to a catholic church before. I met 4 German girls and I have been talking to them for the last couple of days anyways though they are really nice and they help us Americans a lot without German. Apparently we live here on the 11th of September and not the 15th. 25.8.10 This morning we did some community service and painted random object here around Hedersleben maybe that sounds lame but it was really fun :] my group painted a crate that will be used for “Laub” I know what it means but I can’t really translate it to English sorry. We painted ours with an ocean theme and it was seriously awesome. In the evening we went to the town hall we played a game at the Kegelbahn, ate and line danced. Oh and Kegeln was fun like it is basically like bowling only the balls don’t have holes and the pins are held with string. ABOUT TODAY WHICH WAS THE BEST DAY EVER!! Ok just guess.. I will wait anyways. I GOT A HOST FAMILY!!!! So this evening our class went to watch this German movie called “Das Leben der Anderen” and I was passing Gerd and he had a hand full of Host family placements and I was thinking ‘oh great I have to listen to everybody rant about their families while I on the other hand am homeless’ and then Gerd goes “Jenaé” in the best German accent. I then saw the paper with my name on it and screamed like the world was coming to an end. So about my host family I have a mom, dad, and two sisters, a dog (beagle) and a hamster. I am going to be staying with the Gottswinter family and they live in Regensburg, Bavaria. I am going to be living in BAYERN which is where I wanted to go so like it’s just perfect. It’s a city that has 150,000 so it is going to be way different from where I am from. My host mom is Elke and she is a dental assistant part time and she likes to swim, go cycling and garden. My host dad is Richard and he is a business economist and worlds for a big company. The oldest sister is 21 and her name is Daniela and she is an industrial clerk. And then there is Nicole and she is only 8 days older than me she just finished school in July and now is doing an apprenticeship to be an office clerk. She likes to play soccer and is just really athletic. The dogs name is Othello and he is 11 years old and the hamster is 5 months old. I am going to have my own room and I am only a 10 minutes bike ride of bus ride from the center of town. I am not that far from Munich and I am also close to Nuremburg. So that is all, I am EXCITED. I will write more later but I have to go call my parents and host family.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Last Outbound Post!!

So I leave my house in about 4 hours and figured that a blog was a big overdue. I would love to be able to go into detail about how I got a host family and how amazing they are BUT in reality I don't have a host family. Currently I am still optimistic about the whole thing and just trusting that everything will work out. I am really just excited and anxious about leaving right now and a host family is something that I don't need to be worried about. I am sure that they will be great when I get them and that is all that matters. However, I must admit that it is a bit uncomfortable to leave not knowing where exactly you are going but, hey it is what it is.

Being the PRO procrastinator I am I didn't start packing until last night... I'm still not done but I am pretty much I say in an hour I will be done. It's whatever I will finish in time and that is all that matters right?!

It's hard to believe that the day that I have been counting down to and dreaming of is finally here and it's hard to try and explain how I feel. This experience is just about to start and I am beyond ready. I will try and update as soon as possible about my travels to Germany and how Germany is.

Bis später America und hallo Deutschland :)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

In a month...

In exactly 4 weeks I will be boarding a plane to a place that I have only seen in pictures and beginning a journey that doesn't have a clear ending. I will be saying goodbye to friends that I have known since grade school and hugging my parents for the last time until 10 months. I am still unsure of what exactly I am about to embark on but I am sure it will be something that I won't regret.

It's hard trying to comprehend what exactly I am getting myself into. As the days are winding down it is sinking in but, somethings you just can't fully understand until you are actually experiencing it yourself. Honestly, I don't think it matters how many articles, blogs, websites, pamplets, or books that I read that are about Germany and what to expect. Not saying that it isn't nice to be prepared for some of the possibilities but I am sure it still doesn't compare to the real thing.

This past week I recieved the Student Handbook and it talked about so much that I wouldn't know where to start, to be honest. Without a doubt it was helpful and has led to me being overly excited.

Oh and guess what I was so lucky to be able to do? Fill out ANOTHER packet. Or actually I should probably call it a survey and luckily it wasn't very long.

Third pre-departure is on Tuesday and then I only have one more left.... holy cow. The time is flying it is CRAZY! I am so excited.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Airplane Ticket and Slow Moments

I purchased my airplane ticket to DC today :)...well technically my dad did but yea same thing. Yesterday we had another pre-departure orientation, this one seemed kind of short... we talked about packing, host family gifts, etc.
You are probably wondering what the 'slow moments' in the title of the post means so here it goes. Well just about everybody I know that is going to Germany with AYUSA has gotten accepted by Partnership International... but I never got an e-mail saying I was accepted. So after the orientation I called Jeanne only to find out I have been accepted MONTHS ago haha. Yea, so jokes on me. Anyways that is pretty much all for now.
Bis später, Jenaé

Monday, June 14, 2010

Orientations etc.

So I had orientations 12 days ago it went well. It lasted for about an hour, we talked vaguely about what to expect and what is going to be going on once we arrive in Germany.
Here is a list of what we talked about:
  • Travel to Germany
  • Arrival in Germany
  • Language Camp
  • Mandatory Seminars
  • End of Program

We recieved more details about our flight to Germany. Language camp is held in a former monastery/cloister. English is strongly discouraged from Day 1. NO English is a frightening idea but oh well its all part of the program. We got to see what our daily schedule would look like one word to describe it. Busy. Basically composed of classes and eating. I am totally ok with the second part, I mean who doesn't love food? We talked about some of the 'fun stuff' we would be doing which consided of a Talent Show, Dance lessons, Excursions (can I hear a woot woot for traveling?) We found out when Language camp ends :( but on a bright note we travel by train to our host family... Maybe it's just me but I have never traveled anywhere by train and the idea seems really exciting. Ok moving on... we have mandatory seminars the first one is in Januar (January) and will be held in Köln then at the end of the year in June we have one in Berlin and we get to visit the Bundestag (aka German parliament). On a not so exciting note we found out when we leave.

Well anyways, having this orientation has got me really exciting and actually I have another one tomorrow. I can't believe there are only 62 days left until I start this mind blowing adventure. It seems so far away yet so close but there is so much that I want to do before I leave. First things first I need to get an airplane ticket, hopefully within the next week. It's impossible to express how excited I am right now but at the same time it still seems surreal like when we had the orientation you just get so excited and then after it seems like everything goes back to 'normal'.

Hopefully this blog gets more interesting. Until then.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Pre-Departure is starting soon!! My first orientation is on June 2nd, I am really excited. I should also find out whether or not I got accepted by the German couterpart (Partnership International) within a week.
Well that is all I have as for information. There is something else I want to say though, there is a look I get from people when I say I am going to be an exchange student. Some people seem shocked, others are excited and occasionally I get a look like I am completely crazy. Everybody says it is such a big deal and honestly up until now I was just excited and never really thought about what going on an exchange year really means. School is coming to an end which means all I will have left is the summer and that's it. I frequently get asked if I am scared or nervous, occasionally I say yes but mostly no. As the countdown starts I have come to terms with how I really feel and honestly I am frightened. Not because I think that it will be horrible but it's such a drastic change. The first thing I say is how happy I am to get out of school early, but that isn't completely true. I love (some of) my teachers and I will miss my friends like crazy. Everybody is always so quick to be ready to leave (esp in this state) but this is still home. And I am leaving my home to make a home somewhere else. I tried explain this to my mom and the first thing she said was "You don't have to go" but that's not it, I want to go. I am going. This has been my dream for a couple of years now and regardless of the ups and downs that I come encounter with I am going to do this. I am going to give 110% to this experience that few get the opportunity have.
Right now feelings are just mixed. I can only imagine that they will become more confusing as the time to leave approaches quickly. Well, I am really excited and I can't believe I have been so fortunate to be given this opportunity.
I have started studying German grammar. I am actually currently reading a book that has German poems in it and has a translation on the next page. Shockingly, I can understand most of it when I first read it, I think the hardest part are the idioms because even though you know what it means technically it can be hard to connect the dots. Eventually I plan on starting a German blog just so I can see how my German has progressed. Not right now though because it is horrible just take my word on that. It will get better though. Hopefully.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Today I recieved a lovely e-mail (ok ok I am exaggerating) but I did find out when I am leaving (officially) from what airport and at what time. :) Yes I am beyond happy. Airport: Dulles International Time: 9:59 pm ... I kid you not on that one. I must say it was rather clever the way they said 9:59. Oh and beware if you are a stalker reading this... there are 60 of us and one should not mess with exchange students with luggage :). (Friendly warning!) So that is all. Until next time, Jenaé

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Life isn't Fair

Everything that is good for one person can very well be a nightmare for somebody else. I found out that a fellow AYUSAer was declined the scholarship after being told they would be going to Germany, you may wonder why I feel the need to post this well it's simple really. A lot of people read travel blogs and it always talks about how everythings are so perfect and some of the things that aren't perfect seem to get ignored. Not trying to be a downer but it's the truth. Not everything is perfect, it's not going to be perfect. But when you are thinking about doing an exchange you need to know that you are willing to take the blows because with every good opportunity there is always something that can go horribly wrong. I feel horrible that things like this happen. For somebody to be granted their dream only for it to be taken away in a blink of an eye. Don't get me wrong I am not bashing my company or saying that you shouldn't go on exchange just know it's not always going to be easy.
On a side note no new news... pre-departure is coming up soon and some people from different organizations are finding out where they are going. I want to know where on earth I am going. Keep your fingers cross for me.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Leading a Life of Quiet Desperation...

Out of pure desperation to get more news, I urged myself to call Jeanne Iverson (the coordinator for AYUSA). So I did and I got tons oh news! Yes I am proud, very proud. So now you might be wondering what I found out well here it goes....
  • There are 60 people going to Germany with my group
  • Pre-departure orientations start in May and we will have 3-5 of those
  • The pre-departure orientations will be with 20 (yes 20) students via the they plan on making that work I really have no idea (it will be split up by time zones)
  • We will be finding out about host families anytime from May till the time we leave
  • On August the 15th we will meet up at the airport in Washington DC and we will board the plan together (everybody from AYUSA) and we will take a group flight to Germany!!!
  • We aren't having a formal orientation in DC like some other least that isn't in the plans right now
  • Language camp is in a small town called Hedersleben, where we will be residing there for a month

Random information Hedersleben is in Sachsen-Anhalt (Saxony-Anhalt). The capital of Sachsen-Anhalt is Magdeburg. Sooo yea that is all for now.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Application in Deutschland

Nothing very interesting has happened lately. Even though today I got an e-mail saying my secondary application was perfect and that it is now being sent off to the program in Germany called "Partnership International." So that is exciting, I am just really happy to be done with all these papers (maybe I shouldn't speak so soon). Ohh... and I had to go and get a Polio shot on Monday, because apparently you have to get one 9 years or less before leaving. I really don't like shots (but then again who does?) anyways that is pretty much all. Oh and today I went and bought some converters/adaptors and a pocket travel dictionary. I already have a German/English Dictionary and then I have a book called 501 German verbs which is a really good book. I suggest that anybody going should buy it. Yup so that is all for today. Short(at least shorter than the other ones) and to the point. Best Wishes,
PS. What do you think about my new signature? Should I keep it or no?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

While eating Pancakes...

"Remember, the greatest gift is not found in a store, not under a tree, but in the hearts of true friends"

Cindy Lew

This past Friday I was at IHOP with my friends and we were joking around having a good time taking pictures and stuff (mostly for the secondary application and also for my scrap book that I am going to make for going away). I couldn't help but think how much I am going to miss everybody (well ok not everybody but my really close friends). No this isn't a blog about how I don't want to go or anything but it's just like, this is real you know. This year coming up will be exciting, nerve-racking, fun, sad, scary and ultimately well worth it. I am sure that I will experience so many mixed emotions. I know before I knew that I was going I would sit looking at my computer reading blogs about people that are already in Germany or any other country and wishing that was me. Pretty soon it will be me, it kind of already is me. Sorry to rant. I talk to other exchangers with CBYX and it is exciting knowing that in about 5 months or so I will be flying out with them to Germany. I have heard people say that an exchange is a 3 year thing; one to prepare to depart, one on the exchange, and another after you get back.

On another subject now, I don't want to say I can't wait to find out were exactly I am going but it would be nice to know because everytime I tell somebody that I found out I am going for sure they always reply with "Where in Germany are you going?" and all that I can say it "Well... I am not really sure yet." That is a conversation that I have had a million times already. Oh and random but apparently a student from my school hasn't went on an exchange in 124346543 years but this other girl from my school is also going on an exchange 2010-2011 but she is going with Rotary to Romania. So ironic. huh?

I am finally done with my secondary application after about a million years no just kidding more like 6 days. But I must tell you it has been a stressful 6 days because I was worried about getting all this stuff done such as:

  • getting a copy of a valid passport
  • TB Test (Oh and the lady at the health department gave me the TB shot...only to find out I needed the test...hooray for an extra shot)
  • an official transcript
  • another teacher recommendation (By the way thanks Frau Sislo for answering the question on such short notice)
  • parent letter to future host family (the paper didn't even say what to write about...go figure)
  • a doctor sheet (talking about if I am allergic to anything all that fun stuff...)
  • a copy of Immunization records
  • 5 passport pictures
  • photos of important people in my life (they said of family and myself so the host family gets an idea about I put 5 photos they asked for 4-8...with a brief description with them)

So that was fun to do oh AND I had to sent that to the AYUSA office before the 22nd of March (they have to recieve it by then, it can't just be postmarked before then). Thank goodness that I had a passport or else I would be screwed. Majorly. Anyways so yea I am excited, not trying to dwell to much on Germany because I have so much more to worry about right now with school and fitting in online classes after school. The things one will do for what they want.

Stay Classy, Jenaé

PS That signature isn't completely original but I thought it was so clever I had to steal it. xP

Monday, March 8, 2010


Ok so even though my coordinator told me I wouldn't find out about whether or not I made it until March 15 but turns out that today as I was walking out of school and checking my phone for texts; I recieved an e-mail for CBYX titled "Application to Congree Bundestag Youth Exchange Program 2010-2011" the first thought that came to my mind was or great I didn't make it and they are going to tell me that I messed up on one of the forms or something. So I click it trying to block all that out and the first thing I see is: Dear Jenae, On behalf of the AYUSA International CBYX selection committee, it is my pleasure to announce that you have been selected as a finalist for the CBYX program. This program attracts extraordinarily qualified and gifted applicants; the selection process is rigorous and highly competitive. Your selection is recognition of both your academic and extracurricular accomplishments and your potential for success in the program Oh and by the way I didn't bold that they did it haha. Anyways though I completely hyperventilated I couldn't believe my eyes. I actually cried, which was really not expected. Oh my gosh so this is a relief like I don't know it hasn't completely sunk in yet but now I have all these papers to fill out. Like not even joking they sent me to e-mails one saying I made it and the other with an attachment that I need to fill out. A lot of it was just background information, school information, health forms, a letter to the host family that I have to write and then a letter to the host family that one of my parents have to write. Oh and all of this has to be recieved by the CBYX before the 22 of MARCH!!! So I have to hurry up and schedule a TB shot because it has to be taken without 6 months of departure and also I have to get 5 passport photos taken. Whoa so much to do so little time but I WILL make this happen. Alles Liebe, Jenaé

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Schüler Kongress

I know, I said that I would make a post until I found out but this isn't exactly about the exchange year so it doesn't count.
Well anyways to the point today was my German Competition and it was awesome as always. We did really good, I got 3 medals and I got first on the Culture quiz and then I got a medal in Prosa (story) und Lyrik (poem). It was basically an all day event we left around 6:30am and didn't get back till around 6:00pm but it was completely worth it. Schüler Kongress is kind of one of those things that are a bit hard to explain if you haven't been there before. But basically there is hardly any English spoken you can talk to an Exchange student from Germany and earn fact German money then you can go to the Tante Emma Laden to buy things with your fake money (hopefully that makes sense haha.)
In short it was great like always, I would post pictures but sadly I left my camera on my bed. Maybe next time (or maybe there won't be a next time if I end up going to Germany.)
I know I said that I wouldn't mention my exchange but I just thought you might care to know that I have nine days until I find out.
Alles Liebe,

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Interview went...

GREAT!! It really wasn't that bad at all although some of the questions were a bit...weird, especially some of the situational ones. Jeanne Iverson (the person that interviewed me) said that I will find out I will make it on the 15th so thats exactly two weeks. So now I get to hold my breath. :) Isn't that just ideal (sarcasm) but I will build a bridge and get over it. I feel like I answered all the questions to the best of my ability so I can only hope for the best. *fingers crossed*
The best advice that I can give somebody is just be yourself and take a deep breath and try and come up with legit reasons to why you are answering things a certain way.
I am going to really try to not blog again until I found out. No promises though. :]
Alles Liebe, Jenaé PS If you want a sample of the questions just ask.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pre-Interview Gitters

Ok it is official. I am completely freaking out about tomorrow it is about 11:20 ish right now and I can't help but think about my interview tomorrow. What if I am misunderstood? After all it's not like they can see my body language, facial expressions nothing. What if I completely trip up over my words. Not trying to profess my downfalls tomorrow in advance or anything but I already know that I won't be able to focus during school. Who is even thinking about school? Tomorrow is the day. My day to prove to CBYX that I have what it takes. Maybe I am being a bit dramatic. Perhaps I should catch some zzz's but that's not very important I have so much to think about.
Oh and on top of that I have an Anatomy quiz, German quiz and God knows what else to do tomorrow.
On a good note and a bit off topic. German competition is this Saturday. I am happy for it to come but kind of happy for it to go too. The Schüler Congress it's basically a state competition for all students in German class to get together once a year and you can win medals. My school dominates :) not trying to sound stuck up but it is one of those matter-of-fact things. Like last year we took up 52 medals and the next school runner up had 16. That is all possible because of great German teacher.
Anyways I am sure you didn't bother reading this blog to find out about what is happening with my schooling so I will stop and save you the trouble.
I will try and refrain from blogging again before I actually have the interview but if I can't resist just bare with me. This is a bit nerve racking. Enough said.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Today I found out that I will be having my interview in 4 days, March 1st. I am excited and at the same time nervious. I have a pretty good idea of what to expect but it's over the phone so that makes is a little bit more complicated; not being able to see the other person's body language and such. People from have given me a really good idea of some of the questions that will be asked (btw you should really check out that website, it is very informative about anything related to being an exchange student!!!). Not really sure what else I should say at the moment but I will be sure to inform you of anything new that happens.
Alles Liebe, Jenaé

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Patience is a Virtue

"He that have patience, can have what he will"
Benjamin Franklin
Since my first post I haven't really received any OFFICIAL news. It's just been like "Oh, we recieved your application." and then I had to wait and wait just to get an e-mail to say go wait some more. BUT yesterday while sitting in a beauty salon getting my hair done, I got an e-mail. THIS is what I had been waiting for...I got through to the next round!!! Also in the e-mail it said that I should be either getting a phone call or an e-mail on Monday, February 22 about scheduling my appointment :D. Excitement just doesn't describe it... Oh and then they said things that I should expect to be asked...but who has time to pay attention to such things, when you are so excited. My interview will be on the phone, not sure if that is a good or bad thing; I think it might just be my region (AYUSA) or maybe just because of where I live at, not really sure though. Well I will keep you posted on anything new that arises.
Alles Liebe,