Monday, November 9, 2015

My new German family!

Hey guys!  I'm sorry or "Tut mir leid" its been quite a while since my last post, but I've been so much busier than I would've ever thought.  I've been making new friends, going out, spending time with my host family taking small trips around Schleswig-Holstein, Jacqueline visited me for a month and I just spent the last week in Straßurg, France, but more about that in the upcoming posts. I'm looking to catch up on theses past 2 months so stay tuned because I want to start posting much more often!  Let's begin where I last left off and that was first meeting my host it feels so weird reading this post from a month or so ago, by now I'm so familiar with my family its crazy that this already feels like my home away from home!

My anticipation grew as I watched fellow exchange students get off at their train stops to meet their host families who were enthusiastically waving American flags and holding posters, welcoming their new family members.  Watching these encounters filled me with such joy that I could barley wait another 40 minutes for that to be me.  I must’ve stared at the picture AFS gave me of my host family for 10 minutes before arriving just to make sure I don’t walk right past them at the train station.  When we finally arrived in Kiel my host parents were nowhere to be seen.  I became a little worried that they had not come or perhaps did not know that I was going to be arriving at the time I did because my train did have a delay out of Frankfurt.  A lady approached me, and thinking it was my host mother I went and gave her a big hug before she could say a word.  She seemed surprised and told me that she was just an AFS volunteer and not my host mom..oops. She’d been sent to pick me up because my family had planned an event prior to agreeing to host me and could not make it to the train station.  I did not take it to heart however, but saw this as an opportunity to meet this new lady named Caitlyn who later invited me to her apartment in the center of the city and later took me on a tour of Kiel showing me the shipyard, university, sailboat docks and city hall.  Later than night I was dropped off at my host family’s house and by now I was beyond ready to FINALY meet my permanent host family! 

After our first dinner and day together, I immediately knew that they were a perfect fit for me!  My host father, Jörn, speaks the best English out of the family and was very excited to finally have a boy in the house since he has 3 daughters.  He loves to discuss politics, current events and tells me all he knows about different aspects of German culture.   For example, I never knew that in Germany it is normal for students to take a “social year” before they attend a university in which they choose to either travel or work a year in some kind of social work in which they earn little money, but gain much experience and life knowledge through areas such as childcare, elderly care, environmental awareness programs, servicing the poor and homeless, etc.  I think that’s an great idea because it helps give back to your community and also helps you kind of find yourself with plenty of time to decide what you truly want to pursue in college or simply giving you a unique life experience where you can discover more about the world than just what is taught in books and classrooms.  In other words my host dad and I have really been hitting it off and in Jacqueline’s words, it seems I was the son he never had haha.  I also found out that he is very fond of sports, such as running, bicycling and crossfit.   So after hearing about that we instantly became best friends and since I’ve arrived we have gone on a 5km run, 30km bicycle ride through the country and attended a local crossfit gym, Crossfit Kiel, along with my host sister Merle who also likes to workout!  

Me, Jörn, Merle & Barbara 

Merle is the same age as me and she is in her final year at her Gymnasium, which focuses on arts and theatre.  So far we get along really well and I’m so happy that I have a sibling my same age so I have someone in the house I can more closely relate to at times.  I have tow other host sisters, Lara (16), which is currently being hosted in Arizona so that means I won't get to see her until the summer :( and another older sister, Jana (27) who lives in Hamburg and is studying to become a Pediatrician. My host mother, Barbara, is very fun loving and humorous. I’ve spent a good deal of time with her the past couple days, walking around the city and going out for lunch.  I have been getting along great with my new host family!!

Now for any of you planning to live with a host family here in Germany there’s a couple tips you should be familiar with that’ll help ease the awkwardness you might have in the beginning.

·      Disregard any stereotypes that German people don’t like to hug.  If you’re a hugger then DO NOT hesitate to give your family a big ol’ hug as soon as you see them!  It really shows how excited you are to finally meet them rather than a boring hand shake, save that for meeting strangers, but these are the people that are willing to host and take care of you for a full year so let em know how happy you are to have them!  You might encounter the awkward moment when they put their hand out for a shake and you go in for the hug, which is what happened to me and the surprised look on my host family’s face was priceless, but completely worth it.

·      I don’t care if you’ve only slept 5 hours the past few days or had a 17-hour flight over, when you first meet your family turn that frown upside-down and think of things you want to talk or questions you’d like to ask the beforehand (and don’t start off by asking the family rules) Nothing will make your first encounter more awkward than silence and just smiling at one another back and forth.  Don’t be afraid to make jokes either regardless of how corny they might be!

·      German people will often look you directly in the eyes when talking to you, for the whole conversation, so be ready for some intense eye contact. The best thing to do is to take another step out of your comfort zone and begin to do the same.  It might be awkward at first, but trust me the more you do it the more natural it will become!  Also, if you’re really uncomfortable staring into someone’s soul you can try a little trick I’ve learned.  When they are looking you in the eyes, stare at the top of their nose and it looks as if you are looking them right in the eye!  You’re welcome lol

I hope these tips help make your first encounter with your host family a great one!  Thanks for reading and stay posted for my next post about daily life and Gymnasium (high school) in Germany!  Bis später :)

P.S Here are some pictures of my host family's house and pretty garden!

No comments:

Post a Comment