Monday, August 26, 2013

Last week of camp, coming up!

So today we started the final week of camp.
I'm super sad because I have to leave the wonderful teachers, teamers, and kids but at the same time I'm really excited because I finally get to meet my host family on Saturday!

We started talking about what it's going to be like with the host families yesterday in the Plenum - fears and expectations and such. Today we talked about knowing personal boundaries and boundaries of convenience. We held an auction of values. We also talked some about communication and seeing the big picture in our small groups.

The biggest event of the day was announcing the new game. This time we only have on target at a time - we received a slip of paper with their name and have to find a way to give them something, where both hands are touching the object at the same time, so that they die by taking it. We've already had several casualties, including Sven, a teamer, who freaked out in the dining hall when he died. It was really funny! I've been offered bottles, apples, a chalkboard, several plants, have been blockaded in a room with a bed in the doorway, have almost been hunted down in my own room, and chased through the halls. At one point I just hid. Several people are terrorizing me and I have no clue who is out to get me. That being said I have already come up with several ways to kill my victim.

Oh what fun this week shall be.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Week 2 at Camp

I finally have some time to write a new post. I'll just go over what happened in Week 2 of camp...I can't believe I'm only 6 days away from meeting my host family! But I'll be really sad to leave everyone.

So the week started off with a game. The game has lasted all week. It reminds me of the Hunger Games, actually. Basically, if you are alone with a person (like, no one there to see it or anything), you can kill them by showing them your toothbrush, if both of you are still alive. If there is anyone else even in the area, even 50 feet down the hallway, it's not considered valid. So the whole week there have been a bunch of crazy Americans, teamers and teachers running around with toothbrushes, trying to get people alone (most travel in packs) to kill them. In the common area we have a whole list of "who was killed/when/where/by whom/last words." Also, the whole week we have randomly heard yelling, screaming, shouting, and a whole lot of profanity...along with some hilariously witty last words. I'll take a picture of the list so everyone can read it. It's been a very entertaining week. I got killed on the third day while trying to unlock my door to get into my room. The conversation went like this:
Alyson: "Hey Emily, are you dead yet?"
Me (thinking she was dead): "No"
Alyson: "You are now. Hahahahaha"
Me: *start yelling* UGH! I HATE YOU! *continue yelling*
*Followed by me storming down to write my name and all the info down while Alyson walked away giggling. Only after I wrote it down did I storm back to my room to finish unlocking the door and go inside.*


So the rest of the week was more school, seminars, and activities. Tuesday night for workshops I got to bake cheesecake, my favorite. It was absolutely delicious. We also ended up having a mini dance party while baking. It was great because Zoe and I were working on the same cake and I swear we were such "great bakers think alike" that we sent each other telepathic messages and would start doing the exact same thing at the same time. Later on Sven joined us upstairs in the kitchen. The next day for lunch we ate the cheesecake. Yummmm.

The first few days I was feeling a bit sick, but by Thursday it got a lot better. It happens. We watched another movie on Friday for class. Only a few of us could understand it, though, because the English subtitles weren't working properly. Oh well. I thought it was a great movie.

I also spent time editing and posting pictures on Facebook. There's a new album up now.

Friday night we went to the Altstadtfest in Bad Laasphe. It was pretty fun but we ended up going to the Wittgensteiner Hof to watch the Bremen vs. Dortmund game instead. Almost the entire group was there. Our table was constantly rotating people, although a few of us (Kevin, me, Sven, Linda) stayed pretty much the whole time. There was a creepy old Chilean man who kept serenading me and trying to buy me beer because I could speak Spanish. I ignored it because it was weird. At the end of the night the guy was so drunk he heiled Hitler. At that point we decided to leave. It was incredibly disrespectful. I couldn't believe that had just happened.

On Saturday we spent most of the day doing the Schnitzeljagd with our teams. It was alright but very tiring. After dinner, we went back down to Bad Laasphe. I bought some shampoo and chocolate at REWE and a few people bought some beer and a loaf of bread...ein bisschen komisch, nicht? We again went to the Wittgensteiner Hof, where we, of course, bumped into a bunch of our group. We sat down at a different table but when some of them left and Sven and Jonas came in, we joined that table. After a while we also left to go see the fireworks. Alyson, Caroline, and I huddled under Sven's umbrella because it started to rain pretty hard. The fireworks were nice, but nothing spectacular. After the fireworks were over we hailed a cab and went back to the Schloss. Then I took a shower and went to bed.

So that's been my week in a nutshell. It's had its ups and downs but overall it was really fun!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bad Laasphe/Schloss Witti

So I'm sorry I haven't updated this blog the last few days...It's been a crazy (almost) week.
We arrived in Washington DC on Thursday around 4 PM and I said goodbye to my family. I then went to the lobby to hang out with and meet other CIEEers in my group. A little while later the Germans arrived from the airport. This was the first time the CIEE and Experiment groups had been together at the Washington orientation, ever. We all had German roommates - mine was the sweetest girl named Claudia. Our rooming arrangement worked out well and by the end of the trip everyone was friends with each other. Sorry, I kind of skipped over the Washington part there: we visited the Dept. of State and listened to speakers, visited the Holocaust museum and Pentagon City (a mall), and did group activities.
On Saturday we said goodbye to the Germans and they headed off, and then later we left for the airport. Everything went well and we had a long wait (2.5 hours) before boarding the plane. Katy was able to switch seats so she could sit next to me - we were in the very back of the airplane, which I was fine with because I could lean my chair back pretty far. I watched Moulin Rouge, Romeo + Juliet, and part of The Hobbit. I only slept for about 30 minutes during Moulin Rouge, but the music eventually woke me back up. At 7 AM German time we finally landed, got on the bus and headed to Bad Laasphe on another 2 hour-long ride. I took a bunch of pictures from all of our traveling and will be posting them both on Facebook and here tomorrow. On the bus ride I took a 30 minute nap.
We got to the castle, Schloss Wittgenstein, and went to eat lunch. The food they had? MAULTASCHEN, my favorite food EVER!!!!!! I was so excited to hear that. We did a bunch of activities, including finding our way around Bad Laasphe. I also took pictures of the town. I found my favorite Engelblau Eis, which they don't have in the USA!!
On Monday we took a placement exam of 80 questions to figure out what level of German class we would be put into. We also had a short interview to assess our speaking. While we were waiting for everyone to do the interview, we played a bunch of games like German Taboo and Obstsalat. Then a few of us went on a Spaziergang, or walk, on one of the paths through the forest. I talked to one of the teamers most of the way and found out a little more about university in Germany and also a few other things. It was cool. Later on we found out our placements - I was put into the highest level, not to my surprise. I've found it's a lot easier to speak German here than in the USA because I'm almost completely surrounded by it, except with the other CIEEers who don't know German very well.

I really like it here. We're in the mountains, so the view is absolutely gorgeous, and we're surrounded by trees and nature and all that good stuff. The weather is actually pretty cold, with highs in the mid-60s. It has rained a lot the past few days, but I don't mind since it isn't humid at all here.

My roommate, Morgan, is really chill. She likes yoga and working out, like me, and is a really go-with-the-flow kind of person. There's no bad vibes between us, it's all just calm and chill. We get along really well and got 3rd place in the room-sign contest, behind a pop-out word sign and a German pin sign, so that was really cool for us! I've also been helping her with her German.

I also like the other CIEEers - they're all pretty cool to hang out with. I'm trying to get to know everyone.
The teachers and teamers are also really nice. I really like talking to them and being around them.

Yesterday, several peoples' things were stolen, so everyone was in a panic. We searched everywhere but found nothing, so the police were involved. They questioned the "victims" and they believe that it was probably an outsider, based on the times when things were stolen and all. There is still an investigation going on. The teamers got big boxes for us to put all of our valuables in, so they could keep them locked in their office until we got keys. Today we were finally given keys for our doors. This has never happened in all 30 years of CBYX/PPP, so everyone was just astonished that something like that would actually happen. So now we have keys and everything can be kept safe! I just hope they find the thief and the items that were stolen.

So that's pretty much it for the last few days. I'm going to get ready for bed now, because it is about 12:45 AM in Germany.
Good night, and I'll write more as the adventure continues!
Photos will be up tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Today in a few words.

So today was VERY eventful!

I uploaded my first ever voice-over video to my beauty channel.
I had lunch with a good friend to catch up and say goodbye before I leave.
I bought a gift for my host family. I really hope they like it!
My family had a family portrait photoshoot done, ironically right next door to where I had eaten lunch.
We came home and ate Abendbrot (a German type of dinner - bread with meats, cheeses, etc.).
Then my parents surprised me with a going away/early birthday/Christmas gift - the ever-coveted Canon EOS Rebel T3i camera!!!!!!!! It's an amazing dSLR :) I couldn't be more excited.
After that I taught my brother a card game I learned while in Mexico, and the whole family played the game. Some people call it Coleslaw, others call it Canadian Salad. IDK, but it's super fun! I'll try to teach my host family :)
After that I went upstairs, began to figure out my awesome new camera... and then continued to pack for a while. Tomorrow all that's left is some clothes that I still need to wash, and my makeup. And camera. And installing the camera software onto my laptop.
And then I checked my email and found an email containing a letter from Kathi, my host sister, and a letter from Anne, my host mom. They attached pictures of their backyard and it's sooooo adorable! They have a coy fish pond, several sitting areas, the cutest shed, etc., etc. I'm really excited to meet them and live there! It's a small town but it's actually really similar to the town I grew up in, before moving to Halle (Saale).

Tomorrow I'll post pics using my camera so everyone can see what I mean by freaking AMAZING.
Now, I'm going to try to get some sleep. Busy day tomorrow.

Good night!

Monday, August 5, 2013

3 days and Oxford

My brother, Lukas, was on a 6-week study abroad program in Oxford, England.
Today he finally came home, only to be so jet lagged that he was struggling to stay awake by 6 pm (our time).
He brought me a teddy bear with an Oxford University sweater on. It's so cute and I love it.

Today was my last day at the gym. It was really sad because I realized I wouldn't be stepping into my second home for a whole year.

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful...just packed a little and went out to dinner with the family.

We are currently 3 day (almost 2 since it's a little after 10pm) away from going to Washington, D.C. where I'll be saying goodbye to my family and hello to a new family of 49 other CIEEers. I really feel like, even though we haven't all met, we're already really great friends. Language camp in Bad Laasphe is going to be so much fun!

Friday, August 2, 2013

On Growing Up in Germany

As pretty much everyone who knows me knows, I grew up in Germany.
I moved there when I was just months old and lived there until I was nearly 10. I grew up going to German schools with German friends and doing gymnastics afterward, with German teammates and coaches.

This is actually not very typical, since most Americans who move to Germany usually go because one or both parents are stationed there in the military. Often they will go to international schools, where they study in English, and will therefore not learn German.

Not me. I learned German at the same time I was learning English. All my friends were German and couldn't really speak any English at all. Where I lived, our family used English as a Geheimsprache, or secret language.

That's why it always catches me off-guard when people ask me if I speak German. My usual answer is, "Yeah...I lived there for 10 years." And then I'll be reminded that most people are expecting military kids who usually don't speak it very much. Sure, some do, but a lot don't. The second thing people tell me that catches me off-guard is, "Whoa, that's so cool!" and things like that. I never really know how to respond to that question. Here's my reasons why:

        1. I grew up there. That was my life.
        2. I don't know what it's like to grow up as an American. I always considered myself more Euro-kid.
        3. I was completely surrounded by Germans so I don't notice anything "so cool" about it. They're just people, like you and me.
        4. Since I speak German, I don't think there's anything cool or strange about how it sounds. I don't know how it sounds to non-German speakers because I never didn't know German.
        5. To me, being a MCK (multi-cultural kid) is normal. I have no idea what it's like to just be from one country completely. To me, being in Germany was a normal childhood. I don't know what a "normal childhood" constitutes for non-MCKers.

I don't know if I'm explaining it exactly how I mean it, but I can't think of another way to put it. It's just, to me, being raised in Germany seems normal because that was my life. To others, being raised however they were raised seems normal to them because that was their life. You see what I mean?

There is no one standard for what's normal. So what might seem way-out-there-awesome to someone is completely normal to someone else, and vice-versa.

Just rambling...that was just something I observed that I wanted to share my feelings on.