Saturday, October 1, 2011

Austausch: Die erste vier wochen

Wow has it really been almost 2 months since I posted something...? So alot happens in a MONTH as an exchange student, I will just start from the beginning....

The week before I left I had a going away party, to…well say goodbye…to family and my friends. That was really great, but I’ve never seen so many people at my house at one time! Saying the goodbyes was hard; But leaving my friends & family to spend my junior year abroad [as a Rotary Exchange Student] in Cologne (Köln), Germany has been an adventure. In the security line at the airport, I was finally forced to say one last goodbye before I left, to my parents, my two younger sisters, Monica & Jill, our exchange student we are hosting, Sarah, and my best friend, Sabina. Lots of tears. Lots of hugs. Sooo many mixed feelings.

My parents, sisters, BFF & I right before leaving for Logan Airport ;)
(ps photo credit goes to my awesome host-sister, Sarah)

As I stepped on that plane, all alone, I was oblivious to the fact that I had just changed my life... I cried a good portion of the flight, and did manage to get a little sleep.The plane landed in Paris at 8am (2am, NH time). Knowing no French was great when asking for help, but i got to the waiting area for my next flight fine. I had nothing to do for the next 5 hours of my layover, and being bored while wanted to do nothing but sleep is not a fun combination.... Somehow I made it through awake, but I am pretty sure that I fell asleep on the plane going to Cologne before we even left the ground. At 3:30pm (9:30am for NH) I arrived at the Köln-Bonn Airport. I found my luggage and made my way out of security, where I met my host family for the first time, holding an American Flag and signs with my name on them! Hugs, and we left the airport…by train!

My host family & I in the back yard, right after I arrived
(photo credit goes to my -other- host sister, Leonie, who is currently on exchange in Argentina)

The 2nd day in Köln, my host parents and I went into the Stadt (aka city) & visited the Kölner Dom.

Kölner Dom

Me with the Kölner Dom & Rhein River in the background

On the Monday after I arrived, I started at a Sprachen Schule, for a 4-week course, with other Exchange Students living in the area.  I just finished the course on Friday.. and real school starts on Tuesday for me!
There was an Inbound Weekend in a small town, about 3 hour train ride from Cologne, 2 weeks ago. That was lots of fun, and i got to know alot of the other Exchange students really well. Its amazing how much in common you can have with someone whom you have never met before. That is one of the up sides of Exchange, especially Inbound-Inbound, speaking: you will always have something to talk about!

Inbound Weekend

The inbound weekend made me realize how difficult eating right is, especially when being allergic to alot of common foods, plus being vegetarian. That weekend I pretty much lived off of just Brotchen (bread or a roll). Brot in general is a staple food for the Germans. Breakfast, lunch & dinner it is served. Dinner in my family consists of mainly bread, and various toppings ex) cheese or marmalade. Its good, but I'm still not adjusted to eating so much bread. Also, the warm meal is served at lunch (typically between 1 or 2 in the afternoon). That has also gotten some getting used to. And after a long search, we were able to find gluten-free bread for me, and vegetarian alternatives:) Life is good.

Overall, Exchange so far is amazing. I have met so many nice people and learned alot about the culture, and about myself. Its hard to put the experience into words, but I'll do my best & keep posting (maybe more often than 1x a month), to give you a little taste of my new life here in Köln :)

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