Sunday, January 18, 2009


Hey for those of you who don't know, if you click on the pictures it makes them bigger. You can see everything a lot better that way :)

Skiing part 2

So the second day of skiing went much better than the first. We went to Austria, and again I learned how to manage a new kind of lift I'd never seen. This time it was called "Teller lift". It consisted of a line coming down the lift with a small frisbee like thing attachd at the end, which you stick between your legs and "sit" on. It was also logical in that it had a small down slope at the top going away from the lift. No more sliding backwards :)
After an hour or two I took a private course with an instructor. It went very well and by the end of the day I was going up the small chairlift. All in all it turned out to be fun and am actually looking forward to going again at the end of February.
I finished my stay in Wangen with a winter "hike." I say "hike" because hike to me means that you climb something with a definitive summit. "Hike" here is often a walk through the woods with little change in elevation. It was nevertheless BEAUTIFUL!!! It was freezing!!!!!!! When we had sweat in our hair it froze, and made everyone's hair look gray. We saw lots of frozen waterfalls, which were all really cool. AND ski jumps, which reminded me of Lake Placid.
On the way back to Karlsruhe from wangen we stopped in (guess where parents)....
Back in Karlsruhe they also had gotten snow!

In fact it was sooooooooooooo cold that the lake behind the palace was, I would say a good ten inches deep frozen.
And I naturally found a playground....
After we returned to Karlsruhe one of my friends, who had moved to Stuttgart, came and stayed at the house for a couple of days. We went ice skating. Second thing I "relearned" in one week. Turned out to be much easier than skiing. Lots of fun. Many of us hadn't ice skated before. One of the girls couldn't stop and therefore ran into us to stop. That was interesting and resulted in one of the boys who actually could skate chasing her around the rink trying to make her fall. :)
It was funny.
The end of break also meant saying goodbye to my friend from Stuttgart, and to two of the exchange students who came in Feb. 2008. It was sad but we know we'll all keep in contact.
It's funny though the more you have to say goodbye to people the harder it gets.......
Good luck to the Ravens!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm so nervous!!!!!!!!!!!! Even from Germany!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Ok, sorry I haven't written in an extremely long time.
So the last month has been extremely busy, so much has happened, I'm almost positive I will forget something, but here it goes.
We had three full weeks of Christmas vacation in Baden-Württemberg, which I was naturally thrilled about.
I started off my vacation by taking a daytrip to Freiburg with some other exchange students, the majority of which I hadn't seen since my orientation camp. So that was really fun! Freiburg was amazing. For me it was what I think a lot of people think of when they talk about a typical European city.
Christmas in Germany was really cool!
I loved the "Christmas markets" and my AFS committee made several trips to Weihnachtsmarkts in the surrounding areas.
I went to church twice with my host family. Once on Christmas Eve and once on Christmas Day. For those who don't know Christmas is traditionally celebrated on the 24th of December in Germany. Then there are two days of Christmas the 25th and 26th of December.
In my host family we opened gifts on the 24th in the evening. We had a what I've heard is a "traditional" German Christmas tree, with real candles, that were lit on the 24th.
I made my host family something called "Buckeye Balls" or really that's what we call them in my family. It's something my family typically makes for Christmas. They consist of peanut butter, powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, and chocolate. That's the only way I can really describe them, without having you actually eat one. You are probably reacting like my host family or my friends here when I told them that was what I was making. Thinking that's disgusting and that I'm crazy. They were gone within a week and I had made about one hundred. My host family including me is five people..... I was amazed......
The 26th I got to go horseback riding on Icelandic horses. They are a special breed of horses that are what we call "gaited" meaning they have an extra gait (not the walk, trot, canter, gallop) that most horses don't. I had never ridden a gaited horse before, but it was a complete blast!
So after Christmas on the 30th specifically my parents from the U.S. came and visited. It was tons and tons of fun, actually much better than I had expected (no offense intended parents, but I was a little worried). Anyways we had so much fun, or at least I did. My host parents and I met them at the train station. Then we went to a small mountain and tower in Durlach, where you can see over the city of Karlsruhe. Then we went to the Palace, and climbed the tower, which coincidentally, you also have a great look over Karlsruhe. Then we went to a cafe(don't know how to use accents on this keyboard) that I go to often with friends. We met my liaison there, who was very happy to be able to speak english with people. We then went back to the house for dinner. The next day my host mother, my biological parents, and me went to Ettlingen. A small town not far from Karlsruhe. We took a walking tour.
Went and visited my school and my rowing club :) Then we went back to the house for lunch. My host father made his homemade Käse Spätzle. Basically the German form of macaroni and cheese. Then my host sister Tabea and I got to work on more buckeye balls and pumpkin roll for New Year's Eve dessert. Then I got the special treat of opening all my Christmas gifts and some of my birthday gifts from friends and family in the U.S. As well as my parents giving gifts to my host family. Then we had Raqulette (sp?), which I can't really explain very well, but it was good.

New Years is really something else in Germany. Almost every house had fireworks going off... it was surreal.
The next day we all went to a restaurant in the Black Forest and then for a short walk. Later that night my host mother, my biological parents, and me went to a New Years concert where my host father was playing. The next day both sets of parents and I went for a walk along the Rhein, which was very pretty. Went back to the house for lunch, and then after lunch was time to say goodbye to my biological parents. Thanks guys it was fun!!!

Later that day we went to Bad Kreuznach for my host grandfather's birthday.
We returned to Karlsruhe the next evening. Then the next afternoon we were on the road again to Wangen.
We spent four days in Wangen. There was all ready snow there, and with snow being a rarity in Karlsruhe we were all thrilled. I then spent the next two days learning how to ski. For those of you who don't know. Before this year I have skiied a grand total of twice in my life. Once when I was nine, ending quickly in a broken arm (even if I did fall in the lodge and not on the slopes). The second when I was ten, also not a great experience.
So my first day skiing was...... interesting. The first thing I noticed was the difference in lifts from where I've skiied on the east coast in the U.S. The only place I had skiied before had a tow rope and what I previously normal ski lifts, and by normal I mean what I had considered the only form of skilifts, chairlifts. Where we went skiing there was a tow rope, but the only other kind of lift was something called "Bügel (sp?) lift" in German, and I have no idea what it is in English. It looked like a tow rope, but with these little hook shaped things attached. You are supposed to grab them and then put them behind you back and let it pull you up. I tried once, looked at my host mother who was behind me, and said "I don't know how to do this". To which she replied "just grab it". Tried again, she looked at me and said "let's just try this part of the slope," meaning what we had to climb up to get to this lift. "Sure" I responded enthusiastically. Then she said "ok let's go over towards the tow rope (which was about half the size) and try some more things there". Again I nodded enthusiastically. The rest of the family went off for a round while my host mother worked with me climbing up the hill side and then going slowly down. Shortly the rest of the family was back and my host father suggested we try the tow rope. My host mother and I looked at each other and said "No".
"She needs to learn to turn first," my host mother said.
"Agreed," I responded.
"No, no she'll be fine," my host father said, pulling me towards the lift. At the top of the lift we quickly discovered another problem: there was no down slope away from the tow rope, and I could not get quickly away from tow rope without sliding backwards down the hill. Finally turned downhill I started down, turning but not knowing how. Suddenly I was turned towards the lift, not knowing how to turn, and desperatley trying to stop. My skis, as they were my host father's old skis, were too big, as he is a good five inches taller than me. That in addition to me being the most novice of skiiers, resulted in my skis overlapping-not giving me enough traction to stop. Inevitabley I ran into someone going up the tow rope. I was more than overly embarrassed, and apologizing like crazy. It was a teenage boy, I would guess 19 or so. A man came over to him and started asking him questions like "where are your parents? do you need the medics? ," all while glaring menacingly at me. My host mother came over to me and said "Martha get up". I was genuinely taken aback. When I fall in riding, the first thing my instructor tells me is "DON'T MOVE". I got up, the man still glaring menacingly, and he said to me "You need to exchange addresses, you might have wrecked his knee." I just stared at him in shock. I looked at my host mother for help, but she seemed to have no intention of helping.
"Come here," she said. So I did.
The rest of my host family soon joined us.
"If you know you're about to hit someone, just fall." said my host father. I looked at him like he was crazy.
"Let's practice falling," he said. I gave him a stare that I can only imagine was something like "you've got to be kidding me."
"No really," he said. So we practiced falling, just by leaning backwards. Only to discover what has turned out to be my biggest problem in skiing. I absolutely can not stand while both skis are attached to my feet (unless I have litterally 4 or 5 people to help me). My host family did not believe me, and insisted on me trying for about 10 minutes before finally realizing that I actually can not, and allowed me to take my skis off and stand back up.
I spent the majority of the rest of the day working my way back up to that "Bügel lift" that my host family had planned to start my day with. The first time I tried, the hook thing hit me in the back of my knees and I fell. The second time I grabbed it for a split second, but quickly fell again. The third time I finally managed to hold on, but couldn't manage to get it behind me, so I had to hold onto like a tow rope the whole way up (no easy task with two ski poles). Then in the process of trying to move quickly away from the ski lift fell. I was with my host mother and there was a relatively level area nearby. She allowed me to take off my skis, and readjust on the level area. We then started down. A little above half way down I fell. Since there was no level area any where near my host mother thought I should try standing with skis again. No luck. That's when my host father and the rest of my host family showed up. My host father conveniently also insisted that I stand with my skis still on my feet. Again no luck. I eventually was allowed to take one ski off. Back on my feet we started down again. Made it to the bottom! Went again, managed to get onto the lift on first try. Got to the top hurried to get away, started sliding backwards, grabbed for the rope. That rope turnedout to be the power cord for the lift.....yeah.....
So my host sister was behind me and I was screaming "Tabea, help, I can't reach the cord"
She was dieing laughing, and had to climb over a pile of snow to reach the cord. After an entire minute or so the lift was moving again. New problem. I couldn't move without slipping and the hook things attached to the lift kept hitting me in the back. Again "Tabea HELP"
"Ok ok just slide backwards." I started sliding
"Ok ok stop!" she grabbed my arm.
So we made it down, and ended on a good note.
Not finished but will continue tomorrow, but for now Good Night everyone!
And good luck to the Ravens tomorrow!