Hi! I'm Leanna and I'm going on a Rotary Exchange to Marl, Germany for one year.
Here I will be posting about my experiences in Deutschland over the year :)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Die Schule

I have been here in Marl for one month now :)

Today I had my second day of school. My school is actually only a 10-15 minute bike from home, and I have been biking with a few of my classmates who live nearby. My school days vary slightly in starting time, each day starts between 7:45 and 7:55, and Monday to Thursday end between 1:15 and 1:30. Fridays end at 2:20. I like being home so early so that I have the entire afternoon to do other things besides school. For example, after school today I had a German lesson and later tonight I am going to a Rotary function.

The classes I am taking are:
Kunst (Art)
Sport (Which, from what I could understand of what the teacher was saying, is gymnastics for half the year and badminton for half the year)
Franzosisch (French)
Deutsch (With the Grade 5's)

I wanted to take English, but it didn't work with my timetable. My Grade 12 class has 250 students in it. The school is from Grade 5 up until Grade 13. I am in Grade 12, and many people in my grade are 18 as well, so I am not too old for my class. The school is rather large, with four buildings, but most of my classes are in building D. I am meeting a lot of people, and even though many of the students can speak a fair amount of English, I try very hard to use only German. Or at least, as much as I possibly can. So far, I have not been on any of the teacher's attendance lists. So when the teachers do roll call, at the end, I put up my hand and say, "Ich bin Leanna. Ich komme aus Kanada, und mein Deutsch ist nicht sehr gut". Then I am added to their lists.

I have learnt a lot more Deutsch, and when people are speaking slowly to me, and using simple words, I can, for the most part, carry on a simple conversation. However, when my teachers are speaking, their language is too fast and too complex for me to comprehend any of it. Today at school, I had French, Religion, and Art. In French, I understood everything that the teacher said in French. However, when it came to writing a translation, I could not translate it into German, but I could translate it into English. So, I knew exactly what was going on, but I could not do the assignment. In Religion and Art, I really did not know what the teachers were lecturing about.

When I first arrived here, I went to Die Insel, where they have language courses. I wanted to register for a level 1 Deutsch lesson beginning in September, but I was informed there was only level 2, on Mondays and Wednesdays. So for the past month I have been self-teaching from the textbook, as well as taking private lessons with the teacher who teaches at Die Insel. So on Monday, I will begin my level 2 Deutsch lessons. :)

Here in Marl, it rains a lot. It doesn't rain all day long, but it rains for at least a portion of each day. Mostly for short amounts of time, like 30 minutes. It is also quite a bit colder than Kelowna. I brought so many pairs of shorts, but I have only worn them three times, and I have been here all of August. I realized that bringing only one pair of closed-toed shoes was a mistake, as well as choosing to not bring my winter jacket. I was happy to hear that here in Marl, there will be snow, so maybe my hope for a Schneemann is not too far-fetched.

I am having a great time with my host family. They are so helpful and they are always taking me places, such as shopping or sightseeing, and introducing me to people. My host parents are Ursula and Herbert, and my host sister is Linda, 14. She is the same age as my sister. We also have a rabbit, Emily, who is allowed to run around the backyard during the day, and a guinea pig, named Krummel. My host family's other daughter, Lydia, has gone on exchange to Chicago, so I have moved into her room.

Well, that's all I have time for now.
Send me an e-mail or skype!
Bis bald

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Here In Deutschland

I arrived here in Marl on August 4. I was picked up at the Dusseldorf airport by my awesome host family. They labelled the whole house in German so that I can learn what everything is called. They have been teaching me so much German, but I still can't carry a conversation. :)

We have done a lot of sightseeing; Frankfurt, Essen, Ludinghausen, and other small towns around Marl. In Frankfurt I saw many old structures important to German's government history. Very culturally rich city. In Essen we went to an old coal factory, as well as a museum showing history dating back to prehistoric times, with artifacts and fossils from Germany. In Ludinghausen we went to a castle (my first German castle!) with a moat, and I really enjoyed that.

School starts at the end of this month, but I still don't know what classes or even what grade I will be in. I will bike to school, I do know that! It is about a 25 minute bike ride. Here in Marl, EVERYONE bikes. You see people of all ages (and I mean ALL - many 70 year olds on their way to the market) biking.

It is harder to drive here because the roads are so narrow and only one car can drive down it at once. So the other driver must pull over to allow the other to pass. Also, you must park on the sidewalk so that other cars can drive past on a residential street.

So far, this exchange has been awesome! Keep checking back for updates!

-Leanna Gruendel