Saturday, July 28, 2007

A breath of fresh air

Today was my first truly glorious day in Germany. I hate to say it, but I think part of that is because the family left for Hannover for the day before I woke up. They had invited me to go along but I decided that a day to myself to reflect and explore Oldenburg was more important. Don't get me wrong: my family is very sweet, but I think anyone in their right mind would prefer a quiet day alone to one spent tending another person's children off and on. And it was really refreshing. I did all of the menial tasks that had previously seemed so tedious to the sound of Over the Rhine's new cd (you can hear it on their website and it is spectacular) and even went shopping with the current au pair (current for another three days, that is), Anja. I did laundry, and made myself some scrambled eggs, which I don't believe they really do in Europe, vacuumed my room, updated my mailing address, even made a few phone calls and bought three shirts for under fifteen bucks. So to all of you who have worried and prayed for me over the last week and a half thank you. Today reminds me that yes, I will be okay. I am expecting a difficult year but that is primarily because I see the need for a lot of growth in myself and as I am reading in The Road Less Traveled, to avoid pain is to avoid growth.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Caution: Long blog from my third day in Germany

If you have ever been in the Denver airport you know that although it is huge, it has nothing particularly spectacular to boast of. Sure, it has three different terminals and more ritzy stores than Oakway mall, but still it seems nothing out of the ordinary for an international airport. What made Denver airport amazing was it’s ability to make the most mundane, cliché and even annoying things sentimental to me. McDonald’s, where I haven’t eaten more than a dozen times in the last few years, found a tiny little soft spot where I could look at the glaring yellow arches and smile at American consumerism and inability to eat well. Then there was this poster with some East Asian monk on it which said something about having peace or making peace or something about peace, and I nearly burst into tears looking at it. To anyone who knows me well it is unthinkable that I would cry in a public place and far less a busy public place. I’m not entirely sure why these things seemed so representative of America to me, but knowing than my next plane ride would terminate in a foreign country made everything near to me dear to me.
At this point I have been in Germany for two entire days, and I am still attempting to get over jetlag. Trying to go to sleep during what used to be the middle of the day is very difficult to put it mildly. When I arrived on Wednesday I was exhausted from a long trip and had heard so much concentrated German that after a couple of hours of trying to speak to my host mother I was forced to tell her that I could understand no more German that night. Fortunately she speaks English wonderfully and was very gracious about how fast my head was spinning. I had never realized how isolating it is to not be around people who speak your native tongue. However, I do have several sources of comfort. For instance, when Sabine and I went to the grocery store today the radio was playing Phil Colins and I think perhaps James Blunt. I was also shocked to see Fructise shampoo by Garnier on the shelves as well as Head and Shoulders. I should have assumed that dandruff is universal, but frankly, it had never before occurred to me. And then there was Molly. Not in person, but for my birthday she told me that she would send my gift to Germany. I opened it yesterday, and there on my lap sat Mal, and Kaylee, and Inara, and Zoe, that is, the entire Firefly series. I haven’t opened it yet, but looking at it this evening it made me want to cry again. Good old laser-gun-shooting-cowboys-in-a-universe-that-doesn’t-yet-exist.
Don’t be misled: although I am clearly and naturally homesick, I am as optimistic as a pessimist like myself can be. My comprehension of German is improving by leaps and bounds and any misgivings I had previously about how much language I would pick up have been laid to rest. As the four year old that I will be taking care of told me earlier this evening: “you know only a little German, and I know only a little English; you will learn from me and I will learn from you.” Of course, I will also learn from the teacher that I will be giving my money to and I will also learn from the people on the street who don’t speak English, but it was a very cute sentiment. Yes, a year is a long time, and yes, things will be difficult for a while, but once I “get the hanger of things” (as my German teacher once said) and find a routine, things will be much better. Thank you all for you thoughts, encouragement, and prayers. It is almost one in the afternoon in Oregon so I must say goodnight! Guten Nacht.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

...and the coundown is getting down there.

I leave my country of origin in less than a week and, to be perfectly candid, the prospect is overwhelming. There is a dry-erase board attached to the door of my room, and one of my kindly hall-mates has started a countdown to when "my adventure" begins. I was really excited when the number in the little box was eleven, but now that it is under seven I realize more and more how many little things there are yet to be done. Things like figuring out which of my many coats I should bring with me. Do I bring my lovely wool coat? My adorable but rather chilly raincoat? What about my no longer water-proof nor fashionable ski coat? How many hoodies should I bring? Do I really own and wear this much black? Do I possess any t-shirts that don't have English plastered all over them? And then there are the teeny tiny little issues like: do I remember any of the German I have learned? or do I have the addresses of all the people that I need to contact as soon as I get there? and how many people have I mortally offended by not personally going out with them to say goodbye?
Even beyond and through all of the ponderings and erranding I catch those glimmers of excitement as I recall the fact that I am really hurtling toward my very own adventure (at something of a breakneck rate). Thank you to everyone who has helped me to get myself in this far. To those that I don't see again before I leave, know that I will miss you and would love to hear from you. I have an early breakfast in the morning, so a goodnight and a sleep tight and all the rest for now.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Welcome friends

Hello and welcome to An Occasional Day. This will by my adventure update for the next year addressed to all of you who are curious about my goings on in Germany. I will post at least once a month, so if you check in on it every six months you should have a nice bit to peruse. Thanks for reading and since you are one who reads this, I assume that you also merit my thanks for your interest and involvement in my life. Thank you.