Beautiful Switzerland !

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Bonn, Stuttgart, Dublin, Austria…. School. (HALF WAY THERE)

So many of you know that this year is basically a school and travel year for me.  The mid year seminar of my exchange program was in Bonn, Germany which is the former capital of West Germany.  It was SOO MUCH fun.  I was with Americans the whole time and we really had a blast.  It was nice speaking English again and we all can understand each other and what difficulties we have to face from day to day.

My Exchange year is half way over now and I have made it my goal to do more traveling during the second half.  I have already been to France, Italy, and many times to Switzerland, but this second half part will be even more traveling.  I already know that my host family and I are going to tour Ireland in June, my real family and I will be shortly in Austria, and I will be in Berlin for the end year meeting of my exchange year.  I am also meeting another American friend of mine in Stuttgart this weekend.  I just feel really blessed to be able to do so much at such a young age.

As Germany hits the month of February its starting to get insanely cold outside.  The past week or so its been 1 or 2 degrees F (-20 degrees C).  For that reason I signed myself up for public transportation (Bus).  That means no more bike riding through snow!  Of course my bus riding knowledge is at the absolute beginner level and I have to learn everything through mistakes.  Just trying to get to school Ive been all over the city.  Its really ok though.  I learn a lot through my day to day life!
I hope everyone stays warm! I know I will be bundling up for 0 degrees F!!

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Und Weiter Gehts

The title means “And on goes it” for those who do not speak any German at all.
Yes, this last week I was in Switzerland and Italy.  But I will start at the beginning of Christmas break.  This was my first Christmas with any people other than my family back home.  It was good, we put up a tree, and had a great time.  My host family gave me a book of history over Villingen-Schwenningen, the city where I live in Germany. It is in German, of course, so maybe I will read it one day 🙂

One exciting thing that my city “Villingen” does every year on Christmas is play “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht,” “Silent Night.”  My host brother, me, and my host mother went into town at midnight and a band played silent night at every corner of the town and then in the city center.  It was very nice and I got to try Glühwein which is a typical German wine sold around Christmas time.

Then a few days later we went to an area in southern Switzerland called “Zermatt” which is world famous and many consider it the best ski resort in the world.  Something that was rather exciting is that part of the ski resort was in Italy and when we were on one lift we were in Italy and on another lift we were in Switzerland.  It was interesting to hear how the language suddenly changed depending on what part of the ski resort we were in.  And for anyone who speaks German I strongly encourage you to listen to some Swiss German.  That is the craziest thing I have ever heard.  I never know if someone is trying to sing or talk normally.  If they dont speak High German I understand almost nothing and just get a song stuck in my head.

Now im back here in Germany and returning to school.  I have to start preparing soon to attend the mid-year meeting in Ahrweiler which is in the west of Germany and of course north from where I am.  Naturally, the mid-year meeting signifies the half-way point of my exchange year.  It makes me sad that 5 months have gone so fast, I feel like I landed here 3 hours ago, and that im looking at less than 5 months left in Germany.  It makes me a little happy too, because I miss everyone in Georgia.
On another note, my whole immediate family including my dear Aunt are coming to visit me in April for a week.  Im am extremely excited to see everyone again and show them this beautiful country.  I suppose we will go to Austria and then somewhere in Strasbourg.  Im not completely sure yet, but I will get to show them in any case Villingen which is small, but astounding.

And I have to now prepare for a 3 hour language class.  Which by the way, is not boring, I mean learning German for 3 hours straight is, but all the foreigners in my class are unbelievably interesting, especially since most of them come from East Europe.

Schöne Grüße an Alle und einen guten Rutsch!

Spencer

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Winter and Days until Christmas

Hello,

It has been over a month since I last posted anything and a lot has happened that I will try to tell here.

I have not been anywhere special since Nurembourg.  Except for school of course.  I try to do as much as I can in school and Im becoming gradually more integrated into the class as my German improves.  At some point I just started thinking in German and then it became quite a bit easier.

It has been snowing quite a bit lately.  Once Middle December hit, the flood gates opened up and we have been getting snow everyday now.  Its really nice to see all this snow on the ground, but there are disadvantages, unfortunately.

1.  It is compulsory to keep the sidewalk clear from snow for pedestrians. Because of that, whenever it snows, my host brother and I have to shovel snow before we go to school. And its been snowing everyday recently.  It makes my mornings a big hurry.  Then, when Im done with school Bernhard and I have to shovel snow again.

2.  Its really hard riding a bike through snow.  My tires dont have the normal amount of traction they usually do and I have to work harder to make the bike move.  That makes me  slower, which forces me to leave even earlier.
Of course, 80 million Germans go through the same thing everyday too.  So I wont forget that.

I play a lot of sport here too.  I just started joining groups left and right and before I knew it I had sport 7 days a week.

Christmas break is about to start. I only have two days left and then I will finally not have to get up really early anymore. For a week during the break Im going skiing with my host family in Switzerland and I just hope I still remember how to do it!
Liebe Grüße,

Spencer

 

 

 

 

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Nurembourg, Germany

So this post is mainly going to be written about my two day adventure in Nurembourg..

School is boring, I don’t understand much and life has gotten into a regular routine.  These foreign tones have become regular sounding to me and the different culture and different people have become much more regular to me now.  I remember a time when my brain was stretched to the very extent of exhaustion every day for almost 2 months.. Either my brain has toughened up or my German is just that much better.

In any case I write that as an explanation as to why the majority of the following words are about Nuremberg and not my “crazy life” which I no longer have. A blessing and curse is really what it is.

 

Ok, but seriously though, Nuremberg was really amazing.  When I say amazing it was really amazing.  I saw more history in those two days then I have in a long time.

First I took a guided tour of the city and saw the house of Richard Wagner who composed a lot of “tough” German songs.  Because of that, Hitler was a big fan of his and often stayed as a guest in the house.  I could hardly believe that I was walking on ground that such a man as Hitler walked on.  I was astounded at the time.  Then we took a tour of the massive building where the infamous “Nürnberg Prezee” “Nuremberg Trials” took place.  I saw a picture from 1946 from the exact place where I was standing and there were American soldiers and Tanks literally everywhere.  That was crazy to think about too.  Then we went into the courtroom and I could imagine all of the “big guys” of the NAZI regime standing in court facing a row of judges and the world.  It is really sad what Hitler put his nation through, but at the same time it was really cool to be in a place where so many of history’s famous people or “criminals” so to say, had been.  Until this time I could only read about the Nuremberg Trials or read about Richard Wagner and his house where Hitler often stayed or read about the city of Nuremberg that was a big NAZI headquarters. Just the history that fills that city is dumbfounding.

This really is a beautiful country and it is amazing to be able to live here.
Spencer

 

 

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Hello World

Hello world,

I was in France this whole last weekend and it was actually really awesome!  The only reason I knew I was in France was because I didn’t know what anyone was saying and the language didn’t sound like English or German!!  The area I was in was very close to the border of Germany and before World War II the land actually belonged to Germany so all the towns had German names and a lot of the people had German last names too.

My host father and brother speak a little French.  Both have broken French (their English is superb!), but it’s enough to get around.  Of course we found many people who could speak German.  I mean, we could see Germany from where we were.  The only time there was a big language barrier was when we went to dinner and our waitress was very young and I believe she only knew French because both English and German didn’t work when we tried to order food.  When we ate breakfast the next morning I felt like I was at a U.N. meeting because the table next to us was speaking French, we were speaking German, and I think there was a table speaking Dutch or something.   And of course we didn’t speak German the whole time because I can’t understand everything so there was English too!

The main thing we did for those two days in France was hike.  It was nice seeing more of the beautiful European landscape and of course it was fun as always.  🙂

Spencer

 

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Another day, Another month.

Usually when I write a post I have a plan as to what I’m going to write.  Unfortunately I have no plan this time.  I will simply write as I think of things to say.
Nothing major has happened in the last month, not like things used to happen anyways.  When everything was new something happened everyday that made me want to write on my  blog.  But all the things that used to be really curious to me and simply different aren’t so different anymore… normal now… The main reason I’m writing is because my mom told me too 🙂

I haven’t been anywhere ‘special’ since I was last in Switzerland.  And it looks like next week will be another ‘special’ vacation.  We are going to France to hike a little bit over the weekend and it will be amusing to be in yet another country where I don’t speak the language.  It actually is not amusing, but it will be nice to visit such a nice country.  Well… I don’t know if it’s nice, but from stories I’ve heard I’m sure it will be.

School is becoming a regular routine, get up at 6:30, get ready for school.. go to school.. understand nothing.. come home………

But seriously though, my German is quite a bit better than one month ago.  Teachers are generally really hard to understand.  I don’t know why, maybe they use complicated words because they think it’s funny.

They probably don’t think it’s funny, but use them anyways because they are ‘teachers’ and they just know so much.
If I had to give it a percent I would say I understand about 35% of what’s said.  It’s not so much, but everyday I get better.  I now have about 50 sheets of paper with nothing, but words.  Which I’m actually quite proud of.

We had our first snow day about a week ago and it was really beautiful until I went outside.  I was on my bike and it was so hard to see because every time I tried to look where I was going I got snow in my eyes.  At one point I closed my eyes to get the snow to go away and I got hit in the face with a branch… It had a lot of snow on it too.. Not to mention I was going about 10 mph’s.  My face was really red after that.  Not fun at the time..  I just need to be more careful, it’s actually funny when I think about it now 🙂

My host parents said that it probably won’t start ‘really’ snowing for another month or so. That probably means 3 to 4 feet of snow which might be really cool for a while.  But three months of straight snow might become hard to live with.  I don’t know though.  I am accustomed to Georgia weather which might have one day of snow a year.  Maybe it’s the best thing every, we’ll see.

Overall life is pretty good.  It’s far from perfect though.. It’s really tough living here, there is no specific reason, it just is.  I remember many people being jealous of me that

‘oh you’re gonna live in Germany!!!! how cool!!!’ and ‘You will be able to speak German and see such an amazing country which I can only dream of maybe visiting one day.’

I see why they think it’s cool.  I am 5000 miles away and really close to the north pole.   Yes, I get it.. But that doesn’t make life any better.  One of my favorite quotes is from the movie Rocky Balboa and he says

‘I don’t care how tough you are. Life will beat you to your knees and keep you there if you let it.  You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life.’

Overall, There are tough things here and there are better things here too.

Ok, I am done rambling thoughts.  I spend far to much time pondering life, but if you scroll to the top of the page you will see that I said I was going to write off the top of my head. This blog is for my adventures and mis-adventures in Germany.  And what I just finished writing is very much apart of my adventures.

Thank you, from Germany,

Spencer

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