6/3/2019
 


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5/29/19
So this whole blog is going to be just about my eurotour because it my days were just so full. I’m also just writing about some of the bigger group things that we did to keep it shorter. But just as context, we would drive to a city and stay there for 1-3 nights and we always had a city tour on one day and also more group sightseeing or doing one of the things that ill write about.

On the 5th of April we were in Vienna and went to UNO (United Nations Organization). When going on the train to UNO I really had no idea what we were doing since I had never heard of this office of the UN and we weren’t told anything beforehand. We got there and eventually in the security line I realized it was the UN, I then started to panic because some people had their passports and I didn’t know if we were supposed to have them with us, but I was fine with just my German ID card. I was placed in the German speaking group and actually understood most of what our guide said. We got just a pretty normal tour and saw a large conference room, an exhibit on human trafficking and another exhibit on space that had a moon rock. He also talked about what the UN does and went over UN`s 17 sustainable development goals, I made sure to ask plenty of questions whenever I could as I find international relations and and what he talked about absolutely fascinating.

Then for our shortest stop somewhere, we stopped in Pisa for 30 minutes. After getting lost with a friend we got to the tower and of course got some very cliché photos, and after that we were basically out of time. But it was still a nice place to say that I’ve been to.

The same that we went to Pisa we continued onto Rome. And the day after we went to the Vatican, and with maybe the worst weather we sat at a service trying to not get wet. After actually wringing out my clothes and going back to our hotel and the craziest of the exchange students went back out in what was weather now that would rain for 20 minutes and then be the most beautiful warm weather. Later that night we had a night tour of the city and we got to see many monuments that was then also covered in our city tour later.

After Rome we drove to Innsbruck, we didn’t do much there but while staying there we went to Neuschwanstein Castle. It is probably one of the most iconic castles in the world especially considering the Disney castle was based of it. We got a tour and of course its hard to wrap your head around the size of it and how they built it back in 1870. We also went to Linderhof Palace which is another beautiful castle but it is on the other side of the size spectrum of castles. This was also very beautiful and I almost liked it more as I found it quite quaint.
 
Then in our last city, Berlin as a kinda of big hoorah we went to Vivid Grand show. Its a hard show to explain as there didn’t seem to be much of a plot between acts but the acts were amazing and the acrobatics and sheer mental and physical fortitude they had was crazy

Thats the end of my crazy eurotour, I will probably write 1 more blog as I only have a month left in Germany. It’ll probably be soon before I leave or soon after I get back to wrap up my last 3 (crazy) months.

Thanks,
Aidan

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2/23/2019

Well lets just say its been a little bit of time since I’ve last written, quite a bit has changed in the 3 months since I’ve last written. On the first of December I moved to my second host family, my host mom is an English teacher so I’ve tried to help her when she asks but I’ve been finding it harder and harder to cohesively speak English and even harder when someone asks me to correct their English and it sounds wrong but I don’t know what the correct thing to say is. My host brother was also on Exchange not only in the US last year but actually Washington, White Salmon specifically we are able to share

Also in my first weekend with my host family, I had a little rotary trip to Oranienburg and more specifically Sachsenhausen which was a concentration camp. One of the barracks was still standing and there could be 100 prisoners in a 10 meter by 8-meter room. There was also only about 10 toilets and 2 large baths for everyone to bathe in for a 30 minute period in the morning. 

 

The next day we went ice skating and I definitely don’t consider myself the best of skaters but I at least know the motion. But it was quite amusing to. 

Germany also has a thing called St. Nicolas day on the 6th of December where St. Nicolas comes and puts small gifts in shoes. My school also had a fundraiser called Nicolaslauf (run). I just decided to enter and to be fair L was paired with a very good runner but we ran 6.8 km (4.2 mi) in 30 minutes and we won the whole thing with also one of the best distances ever.

School then kinda flew by and we then had Christmas break, one of my brothers host brothers came over. Christmas in Germany is also quite different than in the US, the bigger celebration is on Christmas Eve, we had raclette which is where there is a grill to cook yourself small pieces of meat and then there are small containers where you can put meat, vegetables, and cheese and then cook it by a flame. “Santa” then comes over and he hands over gifts to the kids. Then on the 25th, we ate goose along with some other classic German foods. 

Then in the most recent break, I went with my family and some of their friends to South Tyrol in Italy for a ski trip. The skiing in Europe is quite different than Stevens Pass, there are many gondolas, the area is quite a bit bigger, and there are a few more lodges. It is also very frowned upon to ski off the groomers area as there have been many avalanches recently that have killed people, as I learned the hard way (but no I wasn’t in an avalanche). 

I've also joined an orchestra and we had quite a few shows around Christmas time. The week before break was “project week” and with the orchestra we are playing Mary Poppins which has been really fun to work on, and being in a musical is quite a bit of work, we have queue words but of course they are all in German so that can be quite hard and we play “a spoonful of sugar” about six times per show and we will have 2-3 shows per day so I get to know the song pretty well but also quite sick of it. Next weekend I have a band trip where we will perform but also a national band will be there which is definitely the highest class band I've ever seen and it should be really interesting to see.



HERE'S THE LATEST: 11/17/2018
Here is a report from our outbound Aidan Ringal!
 

From first 3 months in Germany:
So its been 2 months since I last wrote and a lot at high school happened since then. We had our first orientation in Strausberg which is just a little east of Berlin and that was also my first time I was on a real train (in Berlin).  School is definitely still really hard but I’ve been able to understand the teachers more and be able to say more but important things still have to be said in English so I completely understand it. I've also started German lessons with a teacher on Mondays and Fridays and then I have lessons with students on Thursdays, this will definitely help because so far my only super helpful learning has been from talking to people and looking words up, so I have an ok vocabulary but I barely know anything about German grammar. The last thing about school;  we had this thing called Praktikum where you work a normal job for a week. So I worked at a Rotarian's company where they make automated systems. And that was a really cool experience even if I couldn’t communicate with the people working there was the best. 

We then had Holidays for 2 weeks, in Germany, they have more holidays during the school year and a shorter summer. And for the second week, we went to my host dads, parents house and they live in Baden-Württemberg which is the state next to Bavaria. And that was a good experience to speak mostly German. We went to Ulm which is where the tallest church in the world is at 530 ft. and Einstein also grew up there. We then went to Augsburg and the Fuggerei which is the oldest social living in the world and rent there is € 0.88 a year.  And there is the oldest stained glass in a church that we went there. 

We finally went to Nuremberg and the Reichsparteitag which is a whole facility that Hitler built and held the Nuremberg rallies there, but they’ve built a big exhibit showing Hitler's rise to power and his whole reign and then about the actual Nuremberg trails that happened.  See below for editor's notes

From the few days I spent in Bavaria I think Leavenworth is doing ok but its hard to put all that meaningful history into our small town, and there is plenty of German food that I haven’t seen in Leavenworth yet, things like schweinshaxn which is pig leg, and Spätzle which is a type of noodle but there are many more. (Editor's note...Aiden we do have both)


I then had 2 days of school before I went to Paris and we went with District 1950 which is south-east of us. It was an 18-hour bus ride overnight and then we went straight to the Louvre on Thursday. On Friday we went to Versailles, the Eiffel Tower and went on a boat around Paris. On Saturday we were going to go up the Eiffel tower but someone (not with Rotary) had a knife so we went to the Paris city hall and Notre Dame and then we went to a café for our last meal in Paris before we got on the bus for another 19 hours back to Berlin.

It's now 3 months today here and although there are things and people I miss in the US its been really awesome here and can't wait for more.

-Aidan
 

Editor's Notes:

Fuggerei - https://theculturetrip.com/europe/germany/articles/fuggerei-heres-why-rent-has-never-gone-up-in-this-magical-german-town/


Oldest Stained Glass Windows:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augsburg_Cathedral

Reichsparteitag -
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_party_rally_grounds

 


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9/25/2018
My first month in Germany has been really good. I flew into Berlin Tegal airport and right after that my host family took me on a small tour of Berlin which was really cool to see all the things you see in pictures, now in person. We then drove to Neuruppin which is 60 km north-west of Berlin. My house is right on the lake so I've gone swimming a few times now. I'm also swimming and playing soccer with the local club and that has been really good for getting to know people.

The school has been a little weird for me because the classes are only the same between weeks and not the same every day. The students and teachers both move in between every class. It is really difficult to do much in class because I can only understand a word here or there but can't really figure out context. The only classes that I can do much are English where I can  act as a second teacher and sport where I am doing swimming and volleyball and you don't need much instruction. My language has gotten so much better since I got here because my family has been really good at speaking slowly and I generally know what they're talking about so I can fill in the holes, I'm just not super good at speaking so I have to respond in basic German, English or a mix of the two. I have my orientation next week and I'm really excited to meet the other students.
I'll probably write another update in a month
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