Thursday, May 19, 2011


I can't make time go any slower now than I could make it go faster back in December. I have a little over a month left in my exchange and I have to say, I don't know if I'm ready to go home. Of course, I wasn't sure I was ready to go on exchange either and that seemed to work out just dandy. Now I get it. It takes a turning point; mine was my month-long travel experience of Germany and England. Those were times that I got so close to my friends, both exchange students and the German kids in my class. I was naive to think that I wouldn't get to this point where I was hesitant about going back to real life. My time is limited, yet here I am trying to enjoy the things that I should have appreciated 7 months ago. Then again, I think I might have needed the lack of time to fully appreciate it all. I am human, after all; we need to be without something or else we tend to take it for granted. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited to go home. I can't wait to hug my parents and to talk to my friends face to face. I'm excited to see my house and my pets, who've probably forgotten who I am at this point. This is all exciting, but I'm nervous, too. I've been living a different for the past 10 months. That's a lot of time to not be a direct part of someone's life, especially if my parents decide they like having the house to themselves more than me being in it, which would be sad... I haven't picked up a school book in about a year and- this coming from a girl who likes school and is used to doing well- I am terrified of being so lost in my lessons. I have so much to do next year: school, work, driver's training, college applications, sleep, etc... This is all starting to whirl through my brain as I enter the final chapter of my exchange, not to mention all of the plans I still have in Germany. A day in Dachau with the Rotex, my last family change, a trip to Prague, changing schools from the Realschule to Gymnasium for June, Pfingsten holiday (2 weeks off school), Farewell weekend, and my flight home on July 3rd. It's unbelievable. My time is compressed into 39 days and I'm trying to stretch myself to be able to do as much as possible. This exchange has impressed me and I've impressed myself. I've gotten to the point where I feel like I'm where I should be- with my fellow exchange students, just carrying on. This exchange has transformed me from a dreamer to a do-er.--sjinternational

Monday, May 9, 2011

a healthy dose of happiness

I wish that everyone on this planet could experience all that I have in the past four weeks. Instead of work, war, boredom, and toil, everyone should take a trip around a country, any country, with people that make them laugh. Then make the time for a trip to a place they've always dreamed of going. It could be Disney World or Antarctica. Anywhere. Mine happened to be England. Four weeks can change a lot, but four weeks traveling can change a life. It all started on April 9th, 2011 at about 9:15. Every exchange student gathered at Augsburg main station for three weeks on the road. 19 days, 20 cities, 30 teenagers, 3 chaperones, 1 bus. I'm just going to put it out there: I had so much fun. Sure, three weeks with the same people cramped in a bus and hostels night after night can be tough. Emotions fluxuated, I was pretty much permanently sick, and there truly is no way to control how your friends' suitcases explode in your hostel room every night. Despite all this, I had the time of my life. I've seen more of Germany than my host families and friends. Up to the East Sea, over into France and back down to the Alps that I love; this was the trip of a lifetime. I'll give you a layout of our days on the road. Every day we were on the road, exluding the extra days we spent in cities like Hamburg, Cologne, and Dresden. Usually we would check into our hostel and then take the afternoon to explore the city. Sometimes the Rotex, our chaperones, would sometimes give us guided tours of the cities, but mostly we had free reign to wander and explore on our own. In the evenings we would have dinner at the hostel and then sometimes we would go out to a club or a bar all together. The best thing about this trip was being with the people. Usually we just split into our little language groups and stay that way, but in these three weeks together we had the time to break out a bit and hang out with the others. I loved becoming really good friends with the Latinas and the Brasilians. I'm really grateful to this trip for making this group of teenagers like a family. It's something all of us need on a year away from home. Upon the end of D-Tour on April 28th, after the tears, I had less than 24 hours to unpack, do laundry, and re-pack for my school trip to England on the 29th. I went as fast as I could, taking time to watch the Royal Wedding, but there really is no rushing washing clothes in a family who hang dries everything. Then, at 11 p.m. on April 29th, I and 43 of my classmates boarded yet another coach bus for the 15 hour drive to Broadstairs, England. When we finally arrived, I was in heavan. We got to our host families and parted ways on the 30th. My family, the Edwards, was very shocked that they had gotten an American girl. I got on with the whole family really well, playing with the 4 year old host sister, cuddling with their labradoodle, and having great conversations with my host mom. I was seriously happy to go home every night. The next day: London. A little background on me: I have had a little bit of an obsession with London my entire life. It was always one of those places that seemed magical to me. And now I've made it there. I was a wide-eyed child all day. The Parliament Building, the London Eye, , Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, St. James Park, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, Tower of London, and Picadilly Circus. I saw it all. I was actually there! The whole day was a dream. I definately need more time there to see it all: a week, a month, maybe even a whole other exchange year! Now to the main part of the trip: The Kent School of English. Were were in class every morning, split into level groups 1-5, 5 being the highest. I was in 5 thankfully. My teachers all askes me if I had learned English in the USA and I always explained to situation. I got to know the teachers and staff pretty well and they were a lot of fun. Every afternoon, we took a trip somewhere: Sandwich, Leed's Castle, and Canterbury were all on the schedule. All of them were amazing and beautiful. Then every evening we had a program through the school. They all sounded really lame to me: karaoke, folk songs, barn dance, disco and movie. I was always shocked at how much fun I had at each activity. On 6 a.m. on May 7th it all came to an end and we drove back to Bavaria. 18 hours in a bus and we arrived at midnight back in Friedberg. All of my friends were happy to be home. I was happy to be off that bus, but I was so not ready to leave England. My first host family picked me up and I am once again with another family. Now back to real life. I only have two months left. After four weeks of complete happiness, that piece of information is a downer. I don't know if I'm ready to go home now. I am excited to see my family and friends and home again, but I feel like this is my home now, too, with my exchange student family and school friends. It's a weird place to be, stuck here in the middle. After learning so much this year, all I know is that time is against me. That four week trip was a healthy dose of happiness and my wake-up call to how little exchange I have left.--sjinternational