Weihnachten in der Schweiz

Since I wasn’t able to fly back to the States to spend Christmas with my family, I decided to spend Christmas in Switzerland with my “family”. For me, i feel as though my friends and host families there are actual family. They mean so much to me and have played an important role in my life. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to spend another Christmas in Switzerland.

In attempt to save money, I decided to use a car sharing website that a friend told me about. It’s like a formal way of hitchhiking. You create an account and you can look up if someone is driving to or near the city of your choice. At first, I was a bit hesitant to try it. But then I thought…when in Europe…why not!? I ended up finding someone that was driving from Frankfurt directly to Burgdorf, which is exactly where I wanted to go. Not only that, buy it only cost 25€ for the whole journey which it would have cost twice as much with the train. All in all, it was a great experience. The driver and his wife were really nice plus they drove a fancy BMW which made for a comfortable car ride. I never felt afraid or anything. I didn’t have to worry about anything, so I was just able to read and sleep. It was rather pleasant. I think it was a great experience and plan to do it again for future trips!

When I arrived, it was snowing and quite magical. I stayed with my friend Debi and her family, who showed me such wonderful hospitality. They are amazing people and I’m glad I’ve gotten to know them. Even though I never lived with them or anything, they’re always willing to host me. While I was at Debi’s, I ate lots of delicious food and enjoyed some good fellowship. I made chocolate chip cookies as gifts for my families as well as Debi’s family. They were a huge success. On my last night at Debi’s, she surprised me by having a Tex Mex dinner! It was so wonderful!!

On the 23rd, I went to stay with my first host family. They celebrate Christmas on the 24th  with a delicious meal, singing and presents. I really like the way they do presents. You only buy a present for someone if you find the perfect gift for them. My host mom had a present for me but I wasn’t allowed to open it until the next day when my host siblings girlfriend and husband were there too. The whole evening was wonderful and I even went to the midnight church service in the town church.

On Christmas Day, we went to my host mom’s sister house. For lunch, we had raclette which is one of my favorite meals. It’s so much and delicious. After lunch, I was finally allowed to open my present. My step mom had made me pajama pants with cute little frogs on them! I really liked them. My siblings and their partners received matching pjs with hearts on the butts. They were adorable. I’m thankful that I was able to spend time with my wonderful host family for Christmas.

On the 27th, I rode the train to see my third host family, who moved to Neuchatel 3 years ago. I had yet to visit this family, so I was excited to see them. After a few mishaps, I finally made it to their new home, which has one of the best views of Lake Neuchatel. Anyways, I spent a couple of days with this family. It was almost as if nothing had changed. There was so much going with so many different people coming and going. It reminded me of my time with them. I really enjoyed spending time with them, especially my little host sister, Aurelie.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take very many pictures from Switzerland, but here are a few from my time there:

Meeting up with an old friend and making a new friend!

Meeting up with an old friend and making a new friend!

Playing Eile mit Weile with my host mom!

Playing Eile mit Weile with my host mom!

My host mom makes the best Christmas cookies! She usually makes around 12 different kinds!

My host mom makes the best Christmas cookies! She usually makes around 12 different kinds!

The amazing view at my third host family's house.

The amazing view at my third host family’s house.

The amazing sunset on the way back to Germany.

The amazing sunset on the way back to Germany.

My Blog in 2012

Word Press created this for me and I thought it was cool. Thought I would share it too!!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,000 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

December in Deutschland

December was filled with lots of Christmas markets, joy, numb fingers and toes. I am truly blessed to have had the opportunity to spend Christmas time in Germany. It was quite a magical time. If you have ever visited a real German Christmas market, you know what I’m talking about. It’s almost indescribable.

Almost every city and town has their own Christmas market. Each one is unique in its own way. Some are compact and on one square of the town. Others are more spread out along the streets. Some are small and some are quite large. Some have their own unique name. Overall,  I visited about 6 or 8 different Christmas markets. Visiting christmas markets usually involve Glühwein, shopping/browsing and sometimes Currywurst or Bratwurst. I collected mugs from the different Christmas markets I visited because they were all unique. I think it will be a good keepsake for me to have when I am back in the states. If you ever get an opportunity to travel to Germany during Christmas time, you should definelty take the opportunity!

Koblenz was one of my favorites, but I think it had to do with the fact that it had snowed. The snow added a whole new depth to the atmosphere of the Christmas market. In fact, snow makes the cold so much more bearable for me. Everything is just so magical when its covered in a white blanket. According to my roommate, Mainz experienced quite a bit of snow for December. I wasn’t complaining though! I felt like a little kid each time it was snowed. It was weird seeing the same snow the next day, because that never happens when it snows in Texas. I’m aslo getting used to the numb feeling due to the cold weather. I don’t even think about it anymore.

All of the Mainzer ETAs did a secret santa gift exchange to celebrate the holidays. Its nice to have such a great network of other ETAs in the area. We all gathered on a sunday afternoon to exchange the gifts before everyone left for the holidays. We had hot chocolate, coffee, tea and lots of yummy treats!  It was lovely to have everyone together in one place. In my opinion, everyone received the perfect gift. I think everyone was happy. I am truly blessed to have such a great support system in Germany.

Here are few pictures of December in Deutschland:

Mainzer Weihnachtsmarkt Glühwein Stand

Mainzer Weihnachtsmarkt Glühwein Stand

At least I got a good picture of the Mainz mug!

At least I got a good picture of the Mainz mug!

Mainzer Weihnachtsmarkt is much pretty at night because of all the lights!

Mainzer Weihnachtsmarkt is much pretty at night because of all the lights!

One of the teachers gave me an Advent Calendar as well as an Advent Wreath. It was very nice of her!

One of the teachers gave me an Advent Calendar as well as an Advent Wreath. It was very nice of her!

First day of snow!!!!

First day of snow!!!!

Making American Chocolate Chip Cookies for my students/teachers!

Making American Chocolate Chip Cookies for my students/teachers!

The Nativity at the Mainz Christmas Market

The Nativity at the Mainz Christmas Market

Another view of the Mainz Christmas Market

Another view of the Mainz Christmas Market

Koblenz Christmas Market with Katherine and Austin

Koblenz Christmas Market with Katherine and Austin

Merry Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas!!!

Such a fun picture!!

Such a fun picture!!

We had snowball fight in the  middle of the Christmas market! Such a blast!

We had snowball fight in the middle of the Christmas market! Such a blast!

Walking along the Rhein at night!

Walking along the Rhein at night!

One last picture from Koblenz Christmas Market with Austin and Katherine

One last picture from Koblenz Christmas Market with Austin and Katherine

Berlin Hall Reunion! I was able to meet up with 4 of my old residents in Koblenz (got to go twice!)

Berlin Hall Reunion! I was able to meet up with 4 of my old residents in Koblenz (got to go twice!)

Adventure to Limburg with Austin

Adventure to Limburg with Austin

Limburg Cathedral

Limburg Cathedral

Stuttgart Christmas Market had a really cool nutcracker!!

Stuttgart Christmas Market had a really cool nutcracker!!

Stuttgart Christmas Market with city hall at night

Stuttgart Christmas Market with city hall at night

Mainzer ETA Christmas Party

Mainzer ETA Christmas Party

Our little Christmas Tree

Our little Christmas Tree

Mainzer ETA Thanksgiving

With all the bustle of the holidays, I was horrible with updating this thing. Anyways, I’ve decided to at least talk about my second Thanksgiving celebration and then I will sum up my December in some way.

Enough of that, so I was lucky enough to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving TWICE! I got to celebrate with my Mainzer Fulbright Family plus some Germans. It was truly a wonderful experience! It was a potluck, so every American was required to provide something. Maelia, one of the ETAs, was nice enough to host the event for us. Her apartment was the perfect place for our celebration! The evening was filled with lots of laughter, good food, wine and good times! I’m really thankful for the “family” I have here in the Mainz area. Also, everyone made sure I chewed my food well and didn’t have a repeat event!

Here are some pictures of the event:

Preparations for the Dinner!

Preparations for the Dinner!

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Making bread stuffing for the first time!!

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Our lovely dinner table!! so many yummy treats!!

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Heidi and Me!

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Playing charades!!

Thanksgiving Celebration #1

First, I would like to apologize about maintaining this blog. I thought I would be much better at this. Frankly, I don’t really have any excuses either. I have plenty of time to write, but sometimes I just can’t seem to find the words. Anyways, I’m attempting to catch up on everything that happened post-hospital stay, but it will be several posts!

When I first arrived in Germany, I didn’t think I would have the opporutnity to celebrate Thanksgiving. However, I was able to celebrate twice with wonderful people! Several weeks ago, I received an email asking me if I would be interested in speaking at the Soropotmist Club Thanksgiving Event in Bad Sobernheim. I thought this would be a great opportunity to share American culture with some Germans, plus it would give me something to do and not focus on not being with my family in Texas because it would be on actual Thanksgiving. Ilse, who had previously worked with Fulbright, found me through the German Fulbright Commission and they thought I would be a good fit since I studied Communication. I was so glad that Ilse contacted me about the event.  The speech would be in German, but didn’t need to be longer than 10 minutes. I was a bit nervous about giving a speech in German.

I also emailed with another club member, Aleta, who is an American that has been living in Germany for 30 years, picked me up from the train station. About 10 years ago, she started the Thanksgiving event because the club met on the 4th Thursday of every month anyways. She thought it would be a great event to raise money and share the American culture. She was an amazing woman because she actually did a similar program as me, fell in love and then just stayed here.  Aleta works hard to get the meal to be just right by giving recipes to the hotel restaurant. She even manages to get real Butterball Turkeys from the American base nearby.

On Thursday, I traveled to Bad Sobernheim with the train. Aleta picked me up from the train station. It was a bit odd because we spoke in English at first, but switched to German We drove to the venue, the BollAnt’s im Park Hotel, and it was gorgeous. Even though it was already dark, I could still see the beauty of the place. Actually, three sisters owned the hotel and were actually members of the club. The event hall was gorgeous as well. Everything was just perfect.The hotel restaurant has really high rankings, so I was excited about the meal.  Everyone was very welcoming and excited to hear from me about my Thanksgiving traditions.

After some mingling and champagne, we sat down for the official welcome from the Club President. She previewed the evening and introduced all the special guests. There was still some extra time, so my speech got moved forward, which I was glad it did. I managed to give the speech in German about my impressions of Germany so far and what Thanksgiving means to me. I didn’t think it was a very eloquent speech, but everyone seemed to enjoy it. I was relieved that it was done and I could enjoy the rest of the evening.

For the appetizer, we had a delicious spinach dip, cornbread and a yummy pumpkin soup. It was all very delicious, but the cornbread didn’t quite live up to my dad’s cornbread. The main meal was a very typical Thanksgiving meal: turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green beans, stuffing, cranberries and corn casserole. It was all very yummy and surprisingly quite authentic! I was so thankful for the opportunity to be part of the event and able to enjoy such a delicious meal with some amazing people.

After the meal, there was a live auction to raise money for their selected charity. It was a type of auction that I had never seen before, but it was lots of fun. There was an auctioneer and then two ladies with buckets. When the auctioneer would say start, any one could put 5 euros into the bucket. There would be someone else that is timing the whole thing for an unknown amount of time. The last person to place 5 euros in the bucket would be the winner of the prize. The prizes for the evening included: 1950s American style Christmas ornaments, a sculpture, and a gift card to the hotel spa. It was lots of fun to watch. After the auction, there was magician who provided some entertainment.

Overall, the evening was enjoyable and went late into the night. I am so happy I was able to be part of such a cool event. I met some amazing women and hope to meet them again in the future. Several of them invited me to their homes, so I hope I can take them up on that!  I couldn’t have imagined spending Thanksgiving in Germany any other way! Enjoy some pictures from the evening:

The reception hall the event took place!

The reception hall the event took place!

The table decorations

The table decorations

The un-carved turkey!!

The un-carved turkey!!

My delicious plate!

My delicious plate!

The Auctioneer!

The Auctioneer!

The buckets being filled with 5 Euros!

The buckets being filled with 5 Euros!

 

The magician!

The magician!

Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of me during the speech or with any of the women I met!

 

Experience with the German Healthcare System

First things first, I am okay! No need to worry about anything! I was well taken care of at the hospital! So here’s the story:

On Friday November 16th, some friends and I cooked dinner together. However, I wasn’t able to actually enjoy the dinner because something got stuck in my esophagus. It didn’t effect my breathing only my ability to swallow. Now, this had happened to me before and it only took a matter of hours before the piece of stuck meat would go away. So, I just went home and relaxed all day on Saturday. However, by saturday night it still wasn’t gone and I was starting to be concerned. I didn’t want to go the doctor. For some reason, it really scared me to deal with it all in German. My mom suddenly wanted to Skype with me and I told her what was going on and then of course I was more concerned and she made me promise to go to the doctor. So through my mentor teacher and my roommate, I figured out the place to go on Sunday morning. I also did some homework on how to say certain things. I even wrote some of them down for reference.

One of the other ETAs in Mainz, Katherine, came with me to the hospital. I was relieved to have someone with me. At this point, it was really uncomfortable and I was rather dehydrated. After finally finding the right building, we had to wait a little under 2 hours till we saw a doctor. Finally, I was able to see the doctor and I managed to describe all my symptoms in German. Actually, it surprised me that the whole appointment was completed in German, not once did the staff switch to English. Anyways, I ended up having to show the doctor what happened when I swallowed water and then he understood. He tried looking through this thing that went through my nose and down my throat but it wasn’t long enough. So, he hooked me up to an IV and then talked about the options. He said it looked like I need to have surgery to get it removed.

With my IV and all, we walked upstairs to a hospital room. They gave me some  medicine to try help relax my muscles. Then, another doctor came and said he wanted to try using this other method that wouldn’t require surgery. So we tried it, but it required sticking a thick tube up my nose and down my throat. My gag reflex kicked in and they weren’t able to do it. Within 15 mins, I was being wheeled into surgery. It was a bit crazy how fast it all happened. The last thing I remember thinking: “I can’t wait for a big glass of water!”

The first thing I saw when I woke up was a sign that said: “JA! Ich lebe noch!” (in English: “Yes! I am alive!”). It was a bit funny to read that right when you wake up from surgery. In the recovery area, I was pretty much by myself for about 30 mins while they made sure everything went well. I drifted between sleep and consciousness for a while. The nurse showed me a little container with the pieces of chicken they took out.  Finally, the nurses came to get me and wheeled me back to my room. Katherine and another ETA, Austin were there waiting for me. It was so great to see their smiling faces!

The doctors kept me overnight to make sure nothing went wrong with the surgery. Katherine was amazing and she went to my apartment to get me pajamas, toiletries and other necessities. She even attempted to contact my mom to update her on the situation. I was able to drink some hot tea and water, but they wanted to wait for a while till I ate anything. However, I finally was able to eat some vanilla pudding! It felt so great to be able to drink and eat without any problem! The doctors came to check on me and said that the chicken was far down my esophagus, almost to my stomach. Other than that, he said everything went really well!

Finally, I was able to eat dinner which consisted of yogurt and bread. It was probably best to eat soft things. After dinner, we watched “She’s the Man”, one of my favorite movies!! Austin had never seen it, so we forced him to watch it! haha Around 10 pm, Katherine and Austin left. I watched a little bit of TV and then fell asleep. Surprisingly, I wasn’t disturbed too much during the night.

In the morning, the doctor came to visit to release me. Since everything went well, he said I was able to go home. I just had to take care of some paperwork things and then I was able to go home. After being super confused for a while, I finally figured out where to go. Luckily, the lady was able to speak English and she told me everything I needed to do. I didn’t have to pay anything up front and the insurance should cover all of it. Once I was done with all the admin stuff, Katherine arrived to go home with me. We went back to my place and just relaxed all day…Austin joined us later too.

The whole experience taught me a couple of things:

  • Eat slower and chew my food carefully
  • My German isn’t as bad as I think
  • I have some amazing friends and support here
  • I’m lucky to be in a place with excellent health care

All in all, I was thankful for this experience. It was a bit tough not having my family by my side, but I still was surrounded by love and support. I’m forever grateful for Austin and Katherine. They’re my little angels in Mainz! 🙂

Its been a week and I’m feeling much better! Everything has gone well and I’m now the slowest eater! Please just keep me in your prayers that this doesn’t happen again!

Here are a few pictures from the experience:

My lovely hospital room!
Photo Credit: Austin

The chicken pieces that were in esophagus

 

My view in the morning!

 

In Loving Memory of Urs Schneider

In Loving Memory of Urs Schneider

I distinctly remember the December day I got a phone call from my host family about the death of my host father, Urs. I was already at home from college for the Christmas Break. It was such a weird phone call to get because it was quite unexpected. He had died of heart attack while skiing in the Swiss Alps. The news saddened me greatly, but I don’t think it ever really materialized for me. In my head, I knew that he was dead, but somehow it wasn’t quite real for me. Urs played such a big role in my success in Switzerland. From the very beginning, he was very helpful and understanding. He was such a lovable guy and had contagious zest for life.

As I was in the train to Switzerland, I couldn’t help but think about him and everything he taught me. I knew this trip would be hard for me because his death would become real for me. However, it was much easier than I expected and quite relieving. On Saturday, Erika and I were able to have some good conversations about Urs and his death. She said that she knew he was gone while they were on the mountain. She knew he already died and she was somewhat at peace with it because he had died while doing what he loves, skiing. Plus, he didn’t have to suffer for a long time. I couldn’t agree with Erika more. Somehow it seemed to fit that he died in the Alps because he loved being in the mountains whether he was skiing or hiking. At first, I was weary to bring up Urs, but Erika was more than willing to talk about him. She said she lives with his absence everyday and its nice to be able to talk about it with someone. That makes her sound depressing and I don’t think she is at all. She seems to be doing really well and it lifted my spirits to see her happy. Her and Urs had such a loving relationship. They were like two peas in a pod, perfect for each other. I hope to have such a long lasting and successful relationship like theirs.

Erika and Urs at my presentation for Rotary

I would like to share this little note that I’ve written Urs:

Dearest Urs, 

Thank you so much for all you’ve taught. You’re zest for life was contagious and I couldn’t help catching it while I was living with y’all. You showed me the importance of life: to love no matter what. I will always cherish the moments we were able to spend together. I will never forget your amazing talent on the piano. I always loved hearing your music throughout the house. Whenever I see a grand clock, I will always be reminded of you. I will also never forget the moment I helped you bring a baby calf into this world. All in all, thank you so much for being an amazing host dad! I hope you’re up in the sky enjoying the best view of the mountains! 

Much love! 

Amarette 

On top of a mountain on one of my first hikes

Reflection from a Wonderful Weekend in Switzerland

So…I originally wrote this part of the series while I was on the train, but then decided the reflection part should come after the what happened part. So here’s a reflection of my weekend:

Familiar sounds, smells, tastes, sights and faces=all things I didn’t realize I needed. As I am writing this, I am sitting on a Swiss train on my way back to Germany. I am overwhelmed by a feeling of nostalgia because I talked to 3 current Rotary exchange students in the train station in Bern. One of them was wearing the infamous jacket (click here and here if you have no idea what i am talking about) so i went up to them and talked with them for a few mins. They had to leave abruptly to catch their train, but it seemed to fit that I ran into them before leaving Switzerland. It’s weird to think they are just barely starting a life changing year and here I am five years after the beginning of my life changing year. It’s crazy to think where life has taken me, however I know it’s where I am supposed to be in my life. It’s nice to have this feeling. I hope to maintain this feeling for the rest of my life. It also makes me grateful for all the experiences Rotary provided for me during my exchange year. I wouldn’t be where I am right now if it wasn’t for the Rotary Youth Exchange Program. It’s amazing how much that year affects my life, even to this to day.

My trip to Switzerland was filled with so many emotions, but overall it was amazing to be back in such a familiar place. It’s hard to put all my emotions into words. The last time I was in Switzerland and heard true Swiss German was over four years ago. So much has happened in those four years, but yet nothing seemed to change much in the four years. There hasn’t been a day that has gone by that I haven’t thought about Switzerland in some way. People liked to tease me because it seemed like I always talked about it, but my year spent in Switzerland was life changing and it will always hold a special place in my heart. I was surprised by how much Berndeutsch I could still understand because I hadn’t heard it in over four years. I am trying really hard to put down all my emotions and thoughts, but its just so overwhelming. The feelings are mostly good mixed with just a little bit of sadness because of my host dad. However, I feel much better about that whole situation (more on it in the last blog of the series).

Something huge happened this weekend: I found out the date of my best friend Debi’s wedding, which is August 1t7th 2013. I must be at her wedding. Before I left Switzerland, we had promised each other that we would be at each others weddings. We figured this would be a guaranteed way for us to see each other again. She means the world to me because of everything she did for me while I was living in Burgdorf. I am so happy that she has found someone to make her happy. It’s pretty crazy because we are still quite close despite the distance and time that has passed. Debi and Marius, her fiancee, are perfect together. Granted I only met him for an hourish, the two just seemed to make sense. As I am starting to make my future plans, I want to work around their wedding. I want to be there for that special day.  To me, it’s a gift from God that I have the opportunity to be at her wedding. The timing has just seemed to work out perfectly. This has brought me some peace about the future. It gives me something to work towards and gives me a time frame. For those of you that are curious, I still have no idea what my future plans are…flight attendant? Maybe! Internship with Fulbright for 3 months? Maybe! Second year in Germany? Maybe! Right now, I’m just trying to live in the moment as much as possible and just deal with what God brings to me in my life.

The Swiss Alps again…so breathtaking

Schönes Wochenende in der Schweiz

A wonderful weekend in Switzerland!

Since it was such a great weekend filled with many emotions, I want to put my posts into several posts: what actually happened, a reflection, and a memorial for my host dad Urs. (if you have no idea why Switzerland is so important to me, check out my not-so-great blog from my exchange year) This is the first of the series:

As the train was coming into Bern, I waited at my seat to see my favorite view of Bern…the city with the mountains in the background. I knew I had a good chance of seeing the mountains because it was a gorgeous clear day. However, it was a huge fail because another train crossed paths with our train right at the moment of the beautiful view. Once I arrived in Bern, I decided to walk around the city for a little bit to see some familiar sights. I grabbed my favorite iced coffee drink and headed to the Bundeshaus (the federal government building). When I was there in 07/08, I’m pretty sure the terrace side of the building was being worked on so I never went to that side. However, now it was open and the terrace has one of the best views of the mountains. Luckily, the weather was gorgeous and it was clear. You could see all the mountains. This view was breathtaking and I just soaked it in for 45 minutes.

The Swiss Alps ♥

After doing some more walking around the city, I hopped on the train to Burgdorf, my home city while I was living in Switzerland. I hadn’t made exact plans with my host mom, Erika. She said to stop by the practice because she would be working. Turns out she wasn’t working that afternoon when I stopped by. I didn’t recognize the person who was working. I think she was confused by my luggage and lack of Berndeutsch (the Bern dialect). Anyways, I figured Erika would be home so I headed that direction. She was working in the garden as I walked up. She didn’t see me at first and then we gave each other big hugs. We spent the rest of the afternoon chatting and drinking coffee. It was wonderful to see her, but still something or rather someone was missing: Urs, my host dad. He died in December 2008 after I left. While I knew he was gone, it became real for me this weekend which is why I’m dedicating a whole post to him.

On a much brighter note, Erika sent a text to all the kids, Kathrin, Theres and Stefan, saying I was in town and that there would be raclette for dinner. Surprisingly, all of them came were able to come to dinner. It was an amazing dinner with such great company. It was almost as if nothing had changed. The dynamics were exactly the same, same sibling bickering. It was wonderful and brought back so many memories. After dinner, us “kids” went to Bern to see the light show on the Bundeshaus also known as the Rendez-vous Bundesplatz. It was an amazing show. You could barely tell that the building was there on some parts, plus it was like 3D. They did the show last year as part of a celebration for the Bundehaus. Since it was so well received, they decided to do it again this year. Here you can wach a video from last year to see what I mean.

A glimpse of the light show. It was truly amazing!

Afterwards, I met up with one of my host brothers from the third host family, Nicolas. When I was in Switzerland, he was completing his military service which is part of the reason I was able to live with his family. We went out for drinks and just caught up on the family and happenings. His family doesn’t live in Burgdorf anymore so I didn’t get a chance to see them this time.  We eventually met up with his roomie and her friend. It was a pleasant evening, despite the ugly rain.

On Saturday morning, I had brunch with Erika and Regina, my second host mom.  Erika made some whole wheat bread that was amazing!  After brunch, Erika and Regina wanted to buy fabric, so we went to the fabric store. I decided to go along because I didn’t have plans till much later. We also visited the old neighbor, Hanni, in the assisted living home. She had no idea who I was, but it was nice to see her again too.

Afterwards, we went back home. While I was waiting to hear from my friend, the new neighbors that I had never met came over for coffee. They have two little kids who were adorable and tried so hard to speak high German with me. It was funny because they had a little difficulty understanding my accent.

Finally, it was time to see my best Swiss friend, Debi. The minute I opened the door, it felt as though this was a normal thing and that not time had passed between us at all. I think this makes true, life-long friends. Over the past four years, we have kept in contact, but it hasn’t been often. We just picked right back up where we left off in July 2008. We just went to her house for a little bit before the class reunion. The weather was rainy and gross, so it limited what we could do. However, it was wonderful to just sit and talk. I couldn’t imagine spending my time any other way.

Debi and Me

Then, the time came for the reunion party to start! I was super excited to see everyone and what they were up to in their lives. One of the girls in the class, Simone, hosted the event at her apartment, which was gorgeous and huge! Some were really surprised to see me there and had no idea I was going to be there!. We drank, ate fajitas (not exactly the same as home, but nonetheless delicious), enjoyed each others company and enjoyed delicious desserts! It was funny because everyone was almost the same, but just a little more grown up. It was really cool to see where everyone was going in their lives. Overall, I was really glad that I was able to attend the reunion.

Group Picture!

Simone outdid herself with the decorations!

On sunday, we slept in because we had been out so late on Saturday. Debi’s mom made a delicious meal of bacon wrapped chicken with rice and a delicious sauce. Debi’s brother and his wife, Sue, came over for lunch as well. I had met Sue when I was here and she was so nice to me as well. We ended up playing Uno after lunch and I did well the first couple of rounds, but ended up not doing so well after that. Anyways, the company was enjoyable. Debi’s family is so wonderful and welcoming! They offered me a place to stay anytime I wanted or needed it.

The time finally came for me to leave and I really didn’t want to go back to Germany. The weekend reminded me of all the love and joy that surrounded my time in Switzerland. It was wonderful to see all of my friends and family that I missed so much. I know this won’t be my last time in Switzerland over the next year.

Something German grocery stores don’t have….a large selection of chocolate

Mainzer Oktoberfest

Once the other ETAs in Mainz learned that there would be an Oktoberfest in Mainz, we all decided that we would have to take part in the festivities. Mainz isn’t known for the greatest or biggest Oktoberfest in all of Germany, however we still thought it would be fun to check it out! Overall, it was a blast! Not nearly as big or crowded as the Oktoberfest in Munich. It still had some of its own charm! I danced a lot more at this one and sang a lot more too! There was only one tent for the whole event! I think the most surprising part was the dancing of the YMCA….so entertaining to watch Germans dance to the YMCA! Anyways, this will be a rather short post because I think pictures can tell a better story:

First beer of the day!

The Whole Tent at Oktoberfest

Myself, Austin and Katherine

Germans dancing to the YMCA

Mainzer Bier!

Dancing the night away!

 

Carrying so many beers!