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22 posts categorized "Anna Lane"

07/15/2014

5 Months Later

It has been five months since I returned from Germany and five months since my last blog post.  However, some pretty cool things have happened in the last five months that I think you prospectve exchange students should know about.

First: Once I returned home, it felt like I had never left...at first.  Quite frankly, this upset me.  I had been gone for a semester and had experienced some pretty important things, and it almost felt as if it had never happened.  But then, I slowly started to realize small things that showed an everlasting impact my exchange experience had left.  For example, I now eat with both a fork and a knife; I have Skype dates in another language; I have an abundance of stories to share with my friends; I will talk to myself in German for kicks and giggles; I am more willing to try different things; I can make friends easier; I have no problem asking a question or making a fool of myself; and I am more eager to learn about other cultures.  I then came to realize that everything had changed because I had gone to Germany, and I wouldn't change a thing.  

Second:  As soon as I got home, (actually, before I even left Germany if I'm being honest) I knew I had to go back and visit.  So that is exactly what I did.  I left in May and spent the first month traveling with my sister and one of our best friends through Europe.  While they flew home, I was enroute to my home away from home, LANGENFELD, GERMANY!  I never thought three hours on a train could last any longer.  As the train pulled in at the train station, I saw my host family waiting for me, and it felt exactly like before.  The next day I went to school, and everything fell  right back into place.  Even though my German needed a little tuning up, I immediately felt comfortable with my friends and loved catching up on our lives.  Going back showed me that I had made lifelong friends.

Third: My wonderful host sister, Lina, is currently sitting next to me in Wisconsin as I write this blog post.  That's right!  She is here visiting!  We flew back together after I visited, and she is visiting for the next five weeks.  I couldn't be more happy!  She had done so, so much for me in Germany from explaining words, showing me around town, introducing me to friends, watching junk T.V., going shopping, and being an all-around amazing sister, I am just so happy that I can finally return the favor and be her tour guide for once.  

Although I have been home for five months, I am still thankful everyday that I had such a wonderful opportunity and know I will carry my exchange semester with me for a lifetime.  

 

01/27/2014

Wow.

Well, I am back in the U.S.A., so I guess this will be my last blog post.  Let me just say, it has been a pleasure blogging, and I hope that this has convinced prospective exchange students to go on an exchange. 

Two weeks ago, my family met up with me in Germany.  They got the privilege to meet my wonderful host family and see Germany.  The first few days, we chilled in Langenfeld, and then after that, my two families parted our seperate ways.  It was sad to say goodbye to everyone, but I know that this is only the beginning of a life long friendship with everyone in Germany.  My family and I then traveled around Germany and France for the remaining week and a half.  It was wonderful for them to see me totally in my element speaking German and navigating our way through our trip. 

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These last 5 months have been unreal.  In these last 5 months, I have done so many incredible things. I ate some of the best food, improved my German skills immensely, traveled the world, met the best friends in the world, and got another amazing family.  Looking back on my semester, it seems hard to imagine that it was real life.  If you are still on the fence about being an exchange student, don't be!  I guarantee you will have the best time of your life.  At the beginning, you might ask yourself why you chose to leave home for so long, but at the end, you will be asking yourself why didn't choose to stay longer.  I guarantee it. 

Anyways, I hope my blog has been helpful. 

Maybe see you next time?  I hope so.

 

01/14/2014

Abschied :(

My time here in Germany is officially coming to a close.  My family will be here in an hour (or so they say), and then we will stay here in Langenfeld until Friday, and then travel together until the 25th.

My last couple of days here have been absolutely wonderful and sad at the same time!  On Friday night we had our "last" family dinner together.  Of course, I was able to decide what we ate, so I chose red cabbage, dumplings, and sauerbraten (translation to English?).  It's about as German as they come and about as delicous as they come!  

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Then on Saturday night I had an Abschied (going away) Party with all of my friends from school.  It was an absolutely blast, and it was really good to have everyone together for one last time before I leave.  At the end of the party, they all gave me a book with letters from them and pictures.  Yes, I cried.  It's weird though, at the beginning of your stay, you cry because you want to go home, and at the end of your stay, you cry because you don't want to leave home.  

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Sunday was a chill day, and then yesterday was my last day of school.  I never thought I'd say this, but I think I am going to miss not understanding everything in class.  In the break, all of my friends invited me out to our favorite pizza place, and then afterwards I went to class with them because I didin't have any class.  It was all wonderful and sad once again!  I never thought I would make such good friends here.

Well, I guess this means the next time I blog I will be back in America.

Aufwiedersehen!

 

01/02/2014

Weihnachten und Sylvester

I have currently been on winter break for a week and a half, and I still have another week to go!  It's safe to say I think the Wisconsin school system should take a hint.  Anyways, throughout this break, I have been nothing but busy.  

The break started right with Christmas! As I said early, the Germans don't take Christmas lightly.  The celebration started on Friday before break at school when we all exchanged gifts for Secret Santa.  I gave someone a new pair of gloves, and I received a really good mix CD and a journal.  That weekend a bunch of friends and I then got together to drink gluhwein (a German classic) and watch some Christmas movies.  The movie was bad, but the company was excellent!  Then, it was Christmas.  The Germans celebrate Christmas on the 24th, but the 25th and the 26th are also holidays.  So, on the 24th, we all got dressed up, went to church, and came back to my host grandpa's house where the tree was beautifully lit, presents were under the tree, and food was on the table.  It was a wonderful evening.  The 25th and the 26th were then just "chill with the family" days.  We ate more good food, played some more good games, and just hung out.  

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After Christmas, a friend from a America who is also an exchange student this year in Hannover with CIEE then came to visit.  Gabby and  I had a grand ol' time!  My host family is a wonderful host, so we ate more good food (I'm seeing a reoccurring theme?), went to the Haribo factory, hung out in Cologne and Dusseldorf, and celebrated Sylvester.  At first, I didn't know what Sylvester was either.  It is simply the German term for New Year's Eve.   We spent the evening at our neighbor's house eating food, playing Just Dance, and at 12, watching the fire works.  

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For the rest of the break, I plan to catch up on some sleep, hang out with friends, and check the last few things I have on my bucket list off before my family comes on the 14th.  

Ciao!

12/21/2013

It's gonna be a long drive...probably 2-3 hours!

One of the first things you will notice if you decide to study abroad in Germany or any European country for that matter is how close and small everything is and all the benefits that come with it.

The proximity starts right at home.  Yards and houses are smaller which means you are generally closer physically and personally with your neighbors; you are closer to the town center, so you can bike nearly everywhere; and all of your friends live close by, so there is no need to get a ride or hop in a car.  The city I am currently living has the same number of people living in it as my town in America, but it takes up about 1/5 the space.  It's quite impressive!  Pictured below: me biking to school! (As most all of my classmates do)

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All cities are also close together.  I am currently living between Cologne and Dusseldorf, two of Germany's nicest and biggest cities.  Originally, I had thought that meant maybe 45 minutes away from each.  But, low and behold, it means I am living only 20 minutes away from each cities town center!  In America, you would never have such big cities so close together.  My town in America with a size of 65,000 is the biggest city in the area for about an hour and a half.  It's absolutely wonderful to be able to have such amazing cities so close to where I am living.  It is definitely one thing I am going to miss the most.  But, this also means that for Germans, driving 2 hours to a city is a "long drive."  It also means you simply don't drive more than 5 hours, MAX, for vacation.  So, it's really quite convenient that everything here feels short for me.  

From: Cologne To: Dusseldorf

Germany is roughly the size of Montana, and it's one of the bigger countries in Europe.  Therefore, the opportunities to travel are endless!  I have been to Amsterdam for the day, Paris for a long weekend, and Zurich for a weekend.  Getting to all of these cities involved less than 6 hours of travel.  It's really something incredible that you are so close to some of the worlds most beautiful and interesting cities.  It's something everyone needs to experience.  

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Amsterdam

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My host sister and I on the top of the Eiffel Tower. Yes, my eyes are closed.

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In Zurich in front of an old family shop!

 

Anyways, that's all for now!  Merry Christmas!

12/09/2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

'Tis the season to be jolly and festive, and no one is more jolly and festive than the Germans.  Even though Christmas is still 16 days away (15 for the Germans, they celebrate on the 24th), you would think it were tomorrow!  Everywhere you look you see something to do with Christmas, so I thought I would break it down for you guys.

1) Everyone celebrates St. Nikolas Day on December 6th which also means no school.  You set out your shoes by the door, and as long as you were a good kid, St. Nikolas puts goodies in your shoes.  However, if you were a bad kid, you get a tree branch.  Luckily, none of us got tree branches!  

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2) Advent calenders  and advents is a big deal here.  Each Sunday before Christmas is a new advent, and each sunday, you light a new candle for it and set out a bunch of cookies.  I've asked what it actually means, and no one seems to really know which is fine by me as long as I get the cookies. ;)  Advent calenders are above and beyond anything I have ever seen in America.  Normally, the calenders have chocolate or small pictures behind each day in America, but here each day is a new surprise.  We have 24 bags hanging in the living room and Johannes, Lina, and I rotate everyday who gets to open it.  So far, I've gotten chocolate, chapstick, nail polish, and lottery tickets.  (Not too bad, huh?)  

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3) The best part of Christmas here: the Christmas Markets!  They are absolutely gorgeous!  Most every city has a Christmas market, and it's guaranteed to always be busy.  You can buy some of the best food you will ever have the privilige of eating; you get to people watch; and you get to "window" shop.  Nothing screams German tradition more than drinking gluhwein (think of it as a warm wine cider) and eating a bratwurst in a brotchen with mustard while at a Christmas market.  It's the ultimate German experience.  I reccommend it to everyone.

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4) They listen to just as much American Christmas music as we do! 

5) They celebrate Christmas on the 24th.  

6) You don't get to see the Christmas tree until the 24th.

7) Secret Santa at school is a big deal and really fun!

Basically, the Germans know how to do Christmas right!

*Side Note: As to my last post, I forgot to mention in specific how very thankful I am for my twin sister putting up with my parents without me, and my mom and dad for taking care of all college stuff such as sending transcripts without me.  You guys rock!

 

11/28/2013

A lot to be thankful for

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Unfortunately, they don't celebrate Thanksgiving here, and I won't be home today to cook for it.  Then, I remember the reason is because I'm going to Paris with my host sister for the weekend, so it really isn't all that sad.  However, I thought it would be very fitting to write a post about all I am thankful for.  I am thankful for...

1) the opportunity and privilege to be in Germany

2) having the best host family in the world

3) being able to improve my German skills

4) meeting life long friends in Germany

5) having the best CIEE exchange students to experience this with (special shout out to Gabby Peterka)

6) my family in America being able to meet my host family when the semester ends

7) both my family here and in America for making this possible

8) going to Paris with my host sister

9) being able to make apple pie with friends for Thanksgiving even though it was on Sunday

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10) For my hair cut I got here not being a total bust

11) and for all the things I forgot and don't have time to mention

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!  I'm off to Paris!

A lot to be thankful for

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Unfortunately, they don't celebrate Thanksgiving here, and I won't be home today to cook for it.  Then, I remember the reason is because I'm going to Paris with my host sister for the weekend, so it really isn't all that sad.  However, I thought it would be very fitting to write a post about all I am thankful for.  I am thankful for...

1) the opportunity and privilege to be in Germany

2) having the best host family in the world

3) being able to improve my German skills

4) meeting life long friends in Germany

5) having the best CIEE exchange students to experience this with (special shout out to Gabby Peterka)

6) my family in America being able to meet my host family when the semester ends

7) both my family here and in America for making this possible

8) going to Paris with my host sister

9) being able to make apple pie with friends for Thanksgiving even though it was on Sunday

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10) For my hair cut I got here not being a total bust

11) and for all the things I forgot and don't have time to mention

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!  I'm off to Paris!

11/21/2013

Freundschaft

It's just about the 3 month checkpoint here in Germany, and so far, I wouldn't have changed a thing. Within these three months, my German skills have improved immensely; I have been to some of the coolest cities in the world; and most importantly, I have met the coolest people in the world.  At school and at home, I have had the privilege of getting to know some really interesting people.  I would categorize these people into three groups.  

1) The other exchange students I have met from Experiment and CIEE.  Being able to have two seminars with other exchange students who are in the same situation is awesome.  Due to the fact that we are all foreigners in a foreign land, it brings us closer together quicker than these seminars normally would.  They are always there to support you when you have a bad day (which isn't really that often since you are living in Germany). The benefit of Germany is that things really aren't that far apart by American standards.  So, when you get upset that they aren't living in the same city as you, you can just remember that hey, that is really only 35 minutes away via train.  I know have made some life long friends.

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2) School Friends Now that my German skills have improved, I can actually start to carry along with the conversations being had.  Therefore, my friendship with these people has become quite closer in the last couple of weeks.  My German friends are awesome and are always up to something interesting on the weekend.  We have gone shopping (of course), gone to the movies (in a neighboring town, of course, because Langenfeld's just doesn't cut it), met up for "drinks" or coffee (getting "drinks" is a very German thing to do apparently),  had bonfires, played games, and this weekend we are baking.  For all future German exchange students: It takes a little time to get to know them and for them to warm up to you, but once they do, they are guaranteed wonderful friends and people.  

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3) Most importantly, my host family  As my mom would say, I have landed in the gravy.  My host family has been nothing perfect.  Each day, we grow closer and closer, and each day, I know that leaving them will be that much harder.  What makes it even better is that we have a lot in common.  For example: My host sister and I both can't listen to songs until the end.  The family and I both like Dr. Martens, Volcano Choir, Obama, and dessert.  And, I am finally learning how to play Mario Kart because of my host brother.  What more could I ask for?  Obviously, these are my closest friends...or I mean family....and I know we will have a life long friendship.     

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Until next time!

 

11/13/2013

Ass Fart? Ach, so! Ausfahrt!

Along with school, learning the language was one of my biggest concerns.  Since I've already blogged about school, I thought it was my turn to blog about German.  Just for background's sake, I came to Germany having just completed German 4.

Now, German surely isn't the most elegant of languages, but it sure does make for a good time when you are trying to pronounce the words with a gutteral "R." However, German is full of patterns.  As the days go by, you find yourself picking up the patterns, new terms, and what's "cool" to say and what's not.  But, in order to get there, you have to make sure you are doing a couple of things.     

1) Most importantly, don't be afraid to just talk.  No one is going to judge you, and this is the quickest way to improve your German skills.  Initially, I was embarassed that I couldn't pronounce the words right, or I was worried that I wouldn't make any sense.  Once I got over this fear, I started talking more, and immediately, I could see vast improvements in my German skills.  

2) Watch T.V. and movies in German!  It takes a little getting used to when the voices don't line up with the actors, but this helps a lot.  You then have the benefits of a visual to help you understand the text.  German subtitles are also very helpful!  

3) Read books in German!  Even if it is Junie B. Jones or Marvin Redpost, this helps your vocabulary a ton!

4) Do your homework!  Even though many of you won't be receiving grades for your time abroad, forcing yourself to do the homework has loads of advantages.  For starters, the teachers then like you more than the other exchange students who don't do their homework, and you learn new vocabulary left and right.  

5) Simply listening to people talk and not daydreaming in class (even though it's really hard not to) can help improve your German as well.

Despite the fears you may have, learning the language really isn't that difficult, and you catch on quicker than you may think!   

 

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