The worldwide Augustana College experience

Weekend Catch Up

Location: Host family’s house

Status: Content

I know that I haven’t written in a while, but a lot has been happening. First of all, I went to Lübeck, Germany over the weekend. On Thursday a big group of us piled onto a train, and five trains and six hours later, we were in the beautiful city. A guy in our group, Conor, has a friend, Patrick, who lives there, so all eight of us crashed at his place. It was very cozy.

His house was really neat, though. There were four floors. The ground floor was the entrance, a couple bedrooms, and the shower. The first floor (in America, it’s the second floor) contained more rooms. The second floor was the living room, dining room, and Oma’s room. The third floor was Patrick’s room, but there were three rooms together, where we all slept.

On Friday, Patrick took us to the Ostsee, which was absolutely beautiful. The water was just as cold as the Pacific in March. Most everyone went swimming; I didn’t because I just enough swimming over the summer (camp counselor) and it would have been one more thing to add in my suitcase to Europe.

Anyway, I stood on a concrete observation deck, staring at the ships in the harbor (we got to see one ship from Russia come into Lübeck, which was pretty exciting) and the sea. There were rocks nearby, so I went exploring.

I tried to see if I could find any  sea life, like a crab or something in the little crevasses between the rocks. I really didn’t even see any, unless you count seaweed. The rocks were really cool until a tragedy struck: I, of course, tripped. And as I caught myself on a big rock, my sunglasses, which were actually my mom’s friend Nan’s, but she had forgotten them at our house years ago, so I got to keep them, fell out of my shirt, hit the rock in front of me and bounced into the water. I reached downwards, but a wave came and swept them underneath a rock!

Slightly bummed, I lingered a little longer on the rocks and then made my way back to the others. We proceeded to play volleyball and play at this awesome, wooden playground that was made to look like a ship wreck. A little girl asked Missie, “Was machst du hier?” What are you doing here? And Missie charmingly (she’ll laugh at this) said, “Nichts.” Nothing. Then the girl asked me, “Was machst du hier?” I answered sweetly, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, “Wir spielen nӓturlich!” We’re playing, of course!

For a late lunch, Patrick took us to this French fry joint. I got the fries with the cheese sauce, which was kind of like alfredo.

Saturday, we had to go home, so we could pack all of our belongings, since Sunday meant moving into our host families. After another six hours of train riding (this time we only had two layovers), we were back to spend our final night at the Colleg (our dorm) together. That just consisted of everyone packing and returning borrowed items.

The next morning we ate our breakfasts nervously. Just with whom were we living? What were they like? What were the family dynamics? How much English did they speak? What if they had three heads, seven eyeballs, and nails for breakfast?

We all went into the courtyard of the Colleg, where, one by one, we were whisked off to a residence in Wittenberg.

Right now I’m only a couple of blocks away from the Colleg, so my commute to my classes is about the same. My Gastfamilie is really nice. The dad: Dirk. The mom: Anke. The daughter: Jana. There are four other kids, but they are college age and beyond. Oh, I better not forget the cat: Tipsy (though, don’t tell my dog Hilde; she’s the jealous type). It’s been great living in their home! Let me tell you, it’s totally different than my small ranch house, big front lawn, huge backyard home I have in America.

In Wittenberg, I live in an apartment above a funeral home, which mostly deals with the selling of coffins and urns.

This apartment is very nice. In the gated driveway, there is a sitting area for the residents. Inside is nicely furnished, and one must hike up three flights of stairs to reach my German home. There are two floors in the apartment; my room is on the second. Anke gave me the keys to the apartment and the building with two key chains: an angel and devil, to remind me of my choices. I find that hysterical.

Anyway, my room is quaint and a really nice size. As I write this, I’m lying on my comfy bed, which makes it hard to get up in the mornings.

On Sunday, Anke and her son, who had come out for a visit, took me out for lunch, which was wonderful of them. It was a little hard to understand their German, but as the day went on, I could understand the regularly paced German better. Before her son left, he wished me sweet dreams, because the Germans have this superstition: when one spends the first night in a new place, then his/her dreams of that night will come true. I did have dreams, though I don’t know if I’m supposed to share them with you. One vivid dream was me trying to study German, which, funnily enough, is going to come true anyway.

Also, Sunday was 9/11. I wondered what it would be like to observe that day in a different country. As it turns out, my host family was really interested in an American’s perspective, even though I was only in fourth grade when it happened. Anke and I watched a documentary on 9/11 (and other horrific days throughout history). She said that historians have only calculated 200 peaceful days in the past two thousand years. That’s insane. Yet, growing up in the midst of war and rumors of war, I believe it. Germany was really shocked on 9/11. Anke remembers where she was when she heard about the attacks. It seems like the whole world stopped that day to watch because that was the only thing we could do, except the brave souls who battled the flames, heights, and dust.

Monday was a good day, too. I got through three hours of my Luther class (it was broken up, don’t worry). Then Missie and I decided to walk the streets for some fresh air. On our way back to the college, a salesperson stops us, since his coworker discovered we were American. Here’s what the conversation sounded like:

Him: Meine Damen! Von die USA!

Us: Hallo.

Him: Where do you come from?

Us: Chicago

Him: Chicago! Hey! Gangster, ja? Bang, bang!

Us: Uh, not really.

Him: Oh, so Washingon, D.C. is gangster?

Us: More like New York or L.A.

Wow. I told Anke about it, and she said that she associates Chicago with Al Capone. My high school German teacher told us that some Germans do that. Turns out it’s true. I find it rather amusing, because when I think of Chicago, I think of a green river and corrupt politicians. And the Bears, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here (One thing I miss about America is football, especially the Packers!).

Other than that, life is pretty busy. Lots of homework and German speaking, which is good for my minor and my second language.

Bis bald!

One Response to “Weekend Catch Up”

  1. How do young Germans even know about Al Capone?! Are they watching old-time gangster movies or what?

    When I was a student for a summer in Peru, everyone kept offering me chewing gum, which puzzled me. My exchange “sister” finally told me that “everyone knows Americans chew gum all the time!” I guess they were seeing a lot of American gum commercials.

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