Friday, December 23, 2011
Friday, December 9, 2011
It finally clicked in my head that I'm in a foreign country, a country with people who think a lot different from me. I can't expec them to change their behaviour or way of thinking because of me. I'm in their country.
My German has gotten a lot better in the last 3 months. I've started reading a lot in German. I can understand almost everything that people say. I've read a lot of full books in German. I've started reading, which is something I only do for school in the US. I've read Harry Potter 1, The Alchemist, and I'm almost finished the Golden Compass in German.
I like school in general, but I like it here since I get to do everything I do at Prep in Philly, in German. These last 2 Weeks we've been taking our end of term exams since winter break is coming. It's fun to take them in German. I do all of the questions just like my classmates. I do get to use a German-English dictionary for the tests though :)
Everything is looking up here and I can only see it getting better. I'm glad to spend the next 6 1/2 months here.
Friday, November 25, 2011
On a normal school day I have to wake up around 6:30. I usually sleep in a bit later then I'm forced to put my clothes on at lightening speed, grab the lunch my host mom packed me and run out the door to the bus stop. It's a nice wake up. After taking the bus to Osnabrück Altstadt, where my school is its about 7:40 and I'm just there for class that starts at 7:50.
School here is different from American school in so many ways. Instead o 40 minute classes, they have an hour and a half straight of class followed by a 20 minute break. They don't get a lot of homework like we do at Saint Joe's Prep.
Before I came here I never was a very patriotic, and I didn't have an overwhelming love for my country, but the longer I stay here, the more I begin to appreciate my country, and the way American people behave. Americans are kind and welcoming. We're warm and we are welcoming. We're pretty friendly. I miss that. Germans are very reserved and they aren't friendly until you know them, in a lot of ways. Americans are friendly to people even if we don't know them.
One of the things I've noticed about German people is the stare. When I'm in a bus, or the train or in public I notice people staring at me. Once you notice people staring at you and look back, they keep right on staring. They don't smile or look away, they just dead stare you back. In the US I was always taught that staring is rude. I can't just death stare someone and keep a straight face, but apparantly Germans can.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Theres a lot of immediatley noticable differences between Germany and France. As soon as we landed in Charles de Gaulle airport it hit me that it wasnt as clean as Düsseldorf airport.
Germany is cleaner and more orderly. I sort of felt like I was leaving Germany and coming back to Philly, it was that dirty lol. Paris is pretty and crowded. Its sort of like San Francisco but dirtier and more full.
After a 2 hour taxi ride from Charles de Gaulle we arrived at our hotel, the hotel st merry in the Marais. It was actually an old monastery that was refurbished into a hotel. It was a bit small for 21st century people. I had to do a lot of ducking and bending over. Howver, I wasnt gonna let a small hotel room ruin our Urlab in PARIS! We hopped on the paris Metro and spent rest of the night at my host dad's nephews place who's married to a French girl and lives in Paris.
We woke up around 9 and ate a light lunch of croissant and cafe au lait and then took a cab to Versailles. Alojg the way Westward we passed along the boulevards of Paris and even went through the tunnel where Princess Diana died, as or cab driver pointed out. Once we got to Versailles we waited in a 2 hour line till we could also see the Palace that receives millions of visitors from around the world. It was an amazing place and to think it was built over 3oo years ago, older than the United States of America. We finished up around 5 and headed out to Versailles train station and took the train back to Paris.
We woke up around 9 and relaxedly made our way to the Louvre. The Louvre is one of the most famous musuems in the world and a main tourist destination in Paris. It was packed. The whole musuem used to be a palace and was constructed under Napoleon and as a result, it is, as my host sister described it 'the most illogical museum in the world'. We had spent about an hour trying to find the mona lisa. You have to go down a set of stairs, walk a long a few corridors, go up a flight of stairs, walk down another corridor etc...Once we found the Mona Lisa, it was flocked with tourists eagerly taking pictures to prove they were there. We looked at the different collections in the Louvre until 5 o'clock and then walked around the Tuileries gardens and the Seine waterfront and finished the day off with lunch at a French restaurant near our hotel.
we woke up early and got onto the Metro and took it to the Champ de Mars where the Eiffel Tower is. We had a 9:00 am appointment to ascend the tower. It really is huge. It's huge. We got to the base of the tower around 8:45 and already the line of tourist was already a decent size. We climbed the top and could see all of Paris. Its a huge city and extends as far as the eye can see in every direction. After an hour or so at the eiffel tower we descended and ate lunch near it. Then we took the metro the the Champs D'elysees which is like the 5th Avenue of Paris. My host mom wanted to look at the shops there. It was lots of luxury good stores. Like we walked by the original Louis Vuitton store. It had a line of people waiting to get in. Its a neat stretch of shops and when you look up the stretch of shops you can see the Arc de Triomphe menacing in the distance along the boulevard.
We had a 6pm flight out of Paris and we didn't have a full day in Paris. We walked around the Marais and made our way to Notre Dame and the Latin district, one of the oldest parts of Paris where the Seine passes through and you can look along the banks. After spending a good half hour in Notre Dame we picked up our luggage from our hotel and took the train back to airport and we were back home in Osnabrück around 8.
If I could go back a year from now I never wouldn't have believed all the places I've been in the last 5 months or so. I've been to Japan, (Tokyo and Okinawa) Frankfurt, Bremen and Osnabrück and Paris. Japan, Germany and France in less than 5 months. I never would have believed it and it's still pretty amazing to me.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
In both American and German high school, there are required classes. Germans are particularly skilled in foreign language. From 6th grade on they usually start taking English, and then in 8th grade they are required to take another foreign language, usually French or Spanish.
They then take both foreign languages till 12th grade. Leaving most Germans with at least basic knowledge in 3 languages.
Class is run a lot differently here also. While in America the teacher gives a lecture for the full class time, I've never had that happen in my 4 weeks here. German class contains a lot more interaction between the teacher and the students.
In my school in the US, we usually have a test every week or close to that. In Germany, we usually only get one test per month for each subject. There's never multiple choice or true false in German schools. All tests are always essay or short response.
German school is in general more relaxed than American school.
It would be extremely hard for me to say which system I like better. I am used to the American system and I still miss it. It's more regimented and strict and I sometimes miss that orderliness.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
I'm really glad that I've learned German prior to coming here. I've been studying it intensely since 7th grade and taking private lessons since 8th grade and I can speak it really well. I'd be totally lost without that previous study.
It's really fun to speak German here. Sometimes I can trick people into thinking I'm German. Someone in my math class thought I was a transfer student from Germany. It's really unusual for Americans here to speak German let alone fluently. I can' wait till I'm really fluent.
My classmates and teachers have been really nice to me. They've explained words I don't understand, given extra help, let me look on their text books, lent me things and included me in group work. It's been a great first week in Germany!
Monday, September 12, 2011
I sat next to Claire on my left and Kati on my right across the aisle. We talked a lot and I spent most of the ride awake and only slept an hour. When we arrived in Frankfurt I was freaking out and totally excited. We arrived in Germany at 7:20am so basically we all had to stay awake for a day with no sleep. All the AFS students were brought into the same room where we waited as more AFS students from all over the world arrived. There were Bolivians, Danes, Brzilians, Italians, Ecuadorians, Vietnamese, Belgians and most excitingly, Japanese people! I was so happy to get to speak Japanese. I even got to interpet between the Americans and the Japanese. Most of the exchange students didn't know English or very much German. I look forward to the time at the end of the year when we meet again all can speak German and communicate with each other. Once all the exchange students arrived we were divided into groups and put on trains with the other students heading in our general area. We left around 3. I was on the train bound for Bremen and there were about 10 other AFS students. Once we arrived at Osnabrück 3 of us disembarked. An Italian girl, an American girl from Connecticut and myself. I didn't know how I was getting picked up. It was dark. I was in across the world in a city where I knew nobody. I'm surprised I wasn't scared but I suppose I was so jetlagged that I wasn't. My host family met me on the platform and it wasn't so awkward. We walked out to the car outside the train station and drove to my new home. My host family showed me around the house. I unpacked my things and passed out. I woke up the next day around 10. My host mom told me I slept 11 hours. I guess I needed it. I was still titred the next day.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
This was my last day full day in America. It's insane. I've been waiting for this day for almost a year. It doesn't seem real. I can't believe this really is happening. Good night and goodbye America! I'll see you in a year. Next blog post will be from Germany.
We left the Department of State around 12:30 and boarded the bus again to Union Station where we hung out and ate lunch. We would have done a walking tour of the National Mall however, due to the rain we were forced to remain in Union Station.
At 5 we took the bus to the German American Heritage Museum. The curator, a real German spoke to us about German Americans and their influence on the US. Then we had a woman from the German embassy come and speak to us at the museum. She worked for the German embassy here in DC. She was an American and actually a n alumna of the same program we're doing now. She went to a town not to far from where I'm going either!
At 7 we loaded the buses and went to Café Mozart, an authentic German restaurant in DC. I got Chicken Schnitzl with potatoe salad which was really good! Maybe even better in Germany. We got home around 10 and I collapsed and fell asleep nearly on the spot.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
After the party Soya and Suguru stayed overnight so they could come to the airport to with me off. We ended up playing around and talking till 2am. I stayed up till 2:30 or so and cried and couldn't sleep. I felt bad. My stomach didnt feel well. Okāsan woke me up around 7:30 so I could shower. I made my bed, packed up my belongings. Luckily I was so tired that I didn't cry. Katsuumi and Katsurou helped me with my bags. Norihito's mom was out to take Soya and Suguru to the airport since we all couldnt fit in just one car and she was wishing me off. I didn't cry during the car ride. Once we got to Naha airport we met up with other YFU people and waited to everyone arrived so we could check in as a group. It took a while and I kept my mind of leaving talking to the other Okinawa YFU people and my host family. After we checked our bags and got our tickets to Tokyo we went downstairs to the security area at the entrance to our gate.
Suguru, Soya, and my family was there and then Shiori, Serika, Rino & Ayame came. I took some pictures with everyone and was fine. I started tearing up as we waited and hung out at the security gate. I gradually became more and more tearful. The speaker announced that the plane was boarding. Then a guy from YFU waved us and compelled us to go to security and get to the plane. The YFUer's started crying then. I started bursting into tears and hugged my host mom who was also crying. Then I went over to my the girls and gave them each a hug and I think a couple of them were crying a little bit. I shook Soya and Suguru’s hands and then I shook Katsuumi then Katsurou’s hands and walked to the conveyer belt security thing. We hurried to security and boarded the plane just in time. I stumbled unto the plane and received looks from people (I'd probably give a weird look to a crying kid on the plane. Brie sat next to me and tried to get me to stop but I couldn’t. I opened up the one piece tissue box ichi kumi, my classmates gave me and it end up being an amazing gift. In an almost fit for a movie event it came in handy right when I needed it. When I got it I wondered how I would ever use it and now it all makes sense now. What a crazy work of fate.
Once we arrived at Narita airport we went through immigration and proceeded to the United Check-in. We saw some other YFU students from JPDO. (e.g. Taylor, Zahrah, Kiven) and we got in line at the United counter to get our tickets. We received our tickets to San Fran, and I got my ticket to Philadelphia. We went through security, and proceeded to the international gates. We had a 4 hour layover and spent most of the time reunited with or friends and chatting it up. I was on the same flight to SFO as Taylor, Dimitri, Brie, Alana, Alex, Sim, Spencer, Kima, Sasha and Katherine. I sat next to Sim. I tried to sleep on the planen ride but only managed to sleep for about an hour. It's too uncomfortable! I listened to the airplane radio a lot and then Sim, Brie and I went to Taylor's seats and talked until the flight attendant made us move back to our seats because we were being to loud. Sim depressed me by pointing out that we will never see some of the YFU people ever again. The flight back was sad. It wasn't exciting like the flight to Japan. Life isn't fair to have us make such relationships, friendships and then separate us from those people we bonded with. Once we landed at in SF we went through customs and immigration and headed to baggage claim. (trills Back in America!) We had to claim our bags then recheck them for domestic flights. At baggage claim I bid goodbye to Sasha, and later Sim, who both live in the bay area. (no tears though, just feeling sad) I hugged them both. Then we proceeded through security (for the 3rd time that day) and checked in with the YFU volounteers. Everyone had different flights all over and all leaving at different times. Again it was sad to think that Ill never see some of these people ever again. I had one of the latest flights (3:10), or so it seemed.
I still really miss my host family and my friends from Japan. Luckily they have Skype! ;). I'm forever grateful to my host family who took me , taught me so much, and loved me. We'll meet again!
Sunday, July 31, 2011
This has been the most memorable summer of my life. I cant think of a better way I could have spent my summer. I'm indebted to my host family for taking me in and I'm so grateful for the kindness the Japanese people showed me.
Saturday, July 30, 2011
I have a long journey back to Philadelphia
Depart Naha 10:40
Arrive Tokyo @12:40
Depart Tokyo (Narita) 5:25
Arrive SFO @11:00am CA time
(4hr layover in SFO)
Depart SFO 3:20pm
Arrive PHL 11:30
I spend over 24hrs flying and in airports. :/
Thursday, July 28, 2011
In the morning around 8:00 okāsan woke me up. I got ready to go snorkeling! I packed a change of clothes and a towel into a bag, ate a quick breakfast and headed out to the car. Okāsan, Katsuumi and myself went. Katsuro had to go school. From home we drove to Onna, a 40 minute drive North on the West Coast of Okinawa. In the ocean front parking lot we met up with Takuma(a friend of Katsuumi) and our snorkeling tour guide. The tour guide had a difficult time finding flippers??? that fit my feet. We were outfitted with life jackets, and snorkeling gear and hot dogs. From the parking lot we headed down steep stairs to the ocean. There was no beach, no sand, just rock walls and coral reefs. The stairs were cut right from the rock. We carefully climbed into the water. The flippers were really hard to use! difficult to manuever in! I feel over a couple times and had to balance my self on the tour guide when we were getting in the water. The tourguide lead us out further into the water and along the rocky shore till we reached a cave, grotto worn into the rocky wall of the shore. It was really deep, 20meters and very cold! The tourguide brought one of those underwater cameras and we could see schools of fishunderneath us. After we left the grotto we swam out to the reefs and feed the fishes with the hot dogs. The fishes would come up swim right near you. You could here them swimming. There was a rainbow spectrum of colors! Fishes of every color.
At 4 I met up with Shiori and Ayame in Chatan and went to the beach! Lots of time by the ocean Wednesday. We spent about 2 hrs swimming at Sunset Beach, Chatan's take on Waikiki beach. Then we ate McDonalds in the mall food court. We looked around the shops in the mall, took Purikura and around 9 my host mom picked us up dropped Shiori and Ayame off.
Thursday: I woke up around 10. My host mom planned for Katsuumi, herself and me to meet Ayako-san, Chiemi-san and Hayato to meet up at the bowling alley. In Kitanaka the bowling alley and the karaoke bar are connected and you usually do karaoke and bowl together. We played 3 games and then headed over to the karaoke bar. You (as a group) are given a room equipped with a karaoke machine. It's no rinky-dink machine either. Theres a wireless touch pad where you choose the song you want to sing and then the lyrics come up on the screen on the wall. It was fun! We Ayako knows a lot of American music, well old music and we ended up singing lots of Beatle's songs, Journey, ABBA, and Michael Jackson along with some Japanese artists but they were thoughtful and tried to pick stuff I knew. At the end of every song the machine tells you how many calories you burnt! I thought that was really amusing. I burned a whole 7 calories singing We Are the World! Haha. We finished up around 7 and went home.
Monday, July 11, 2011
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Sunday, June 19, 2011
The time has finally come. All this waiting is over. I only have about 18 hours left in America. At 4 today I checked into Berkeley for my Japan Pre Departure Orientation. I checked into JPDO (Japan pre-departure orientation) like a conference. I was greeted by my energetic group leader Justine and she took me to get my room key and a meal card. We are divided into kumis (group). We eat meals and do most of our activities with our kumi. We have a Japanese language class and some different cultural activities. We signed up for different activies we wanted to do. I choose ice cream making, haiku and watercolor. In ice cream makin class we made different flavors of ice cream, all Japanese! Have you ever had wasabi ice cream? -neither have I! Haha. We had red bean ice cream, green tea not so bad and ginger. We were told were going to be eating some weird foods in Japan. I am already! Haiku class was-interesting. With my basic Japanese I wrote a haiku, here we go!
くるま いい です。
はやく と たのしい。
くるま いつも 好き。
The car is good
It's fast and fun.
I'll always like it.
Pretty awful. Hahaha. I did a little water color painting also, about as awful as the haiku. We also did cultural info sessions, e.g. Japanese manners, what not to do, how to behave. Also we had a session on living with our host families.
I'm excited, nervous, scared, worried, all those things at once. I can't believe that I'm actually going to Japan it still hasn't hit me. I can't believe this is happening. I don't know how this experience will change me. Orientation isu fun but I want to just get there! I'm too excited to pay attention. My flight takes off at 11:33 San Fran time. I'll write with an update about getting to JAPAN once I'm there. Japan here I come!
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Monday, May 30, 2011
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Sunday, May 1, 2011
On Friday in the mail I received a large FedEx package. I opened it up and found I t-shirt from YFU. I was already excited! I read the front page of the papers that came along with the shirt and found that I had won the Okinawa peace scholarship from YFU! I won a scholarship to go to Japan! It includes an orientation in San Francisco at UC Berkeley and another orientation in Tokyo. That means I get to go to San Fran, Tokyo and then Okinawa! I’m going to Japan and then I’m going to Germany! I must be the luckiest person in the world. I have nothing to complain about! Here’s a picture of me in the t-shirt. I leave around June 20th and return around August 1st. I’m already starting to learn Japanese. I’m excited to learn this fun and interesting language but I’m also a bit overwhelmed by how much I want to learn before I go. Japanese grammar is...complicated to say the least and I haven’t learnt much yet but Im pouring my heart into it :) さようなら (sayonara)!
Monday, April 18, 2011
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Monday, March 21, 2011
It can be reallllllly hard to convince your parents to let you go abroad and spend a whole year away from them. I had to do a lot of convincing. I put a powerpoint together to get my family on board and here are its basic contents:
Financing a Year Abroad: You can afford a foreign exchange!
If you go to private school, consider the price of the tuition you pay, if you go to public school, see if your district will pay part of the tuition. Then consider the price you pay in food and electricity,gas and water for a year. +Many exchange organizations offer financial aide and/or scholarships which can range from full ride scholarships to $3000 to a few hundred dollars.
How will studying abroad affect my college admissions?
I spoke with Yale and Harvard admissions officers. Both said that studying abroad would not at all look negatively on an application. Instead they, internationally known ivy league schools, said that many applicants to these schools are from abroad, or have studied abroad. They said that studying abroad could demonstrate commitment to interests and a sense of leadership.
They also said it provides excellent college essay topics
They said that they would only would not look at grades from study abroad, but would like to see classes I took and teacher statements. They recognize that while studying abroad the language of instruction is not in a student’s first language.
They said that the time away from home students who studied abroad already had experience being away from home and would have an easier adjustment to life away from home.
They said studying abroad demonstrated one’s desire to challenge oneself and “overcome obstacles” e.g. language barrier, culture shock.
Studying abroad is one of the best ways to understand the social, political, and economic issues that profoundly affect the world.
Stand out on college admissions
Stand out on job applications
Becoming fluent in another language
Learn about a new culture
Stronger sense of leadership
Growth in maturity
You'll be away from your family and home and everything you know and are familiar with for a whole year. You''ll spend your holidays and your birthday away from your natural family.