If you read my Christmas post, you know that I described the grandfather of the family to be really full of life when we visited him in Poland. It is sad to say, that the day after I wrote that post, he passed away. It was a shock to me - I was not expecting it at all - as I also know it was for my host family. They suddenly also had to replan things so that they could go to Poland for the funeral, and I ended up staying at our home here in Hamburg, house-sitting and dog-sitting for the weekend. Which I did not mind at all, it went well and easily. To be honest though, at some points I felt really lonely. I did my best to keep myself busy by cleaning the house as deeply as I could (I wanted to prove to my host family that they were right in trusting me with their house and dog - which is actually extremely cool and trusting of them to do, because we did not know that each other existed until the end of last June) and I also walked the dog a lot.
I have been looking on YouTube and online for blogs, about other exchange students in Germany. Not to compare our experiences, but to see how they are achieving what they say they are, and it is really interesting. But as I go through these blogs and YouTube Channels, I have come to realize – I think that I am not doing my blog entirely right. I should be doing more "Weekly Updates" style posts, even if I don't do them every single week. Otherwise, how is this going to be an entirely accurate way of keeping track of my time so far here in Germany? I have been writing posts about my time in Germany (obviously - this blog is filled with them) but a lot of them are focusing only when major events are happening.
So that, I guess, is what I want to do with the remainder of this post - a weekly update to show what it is like.
This week I haven't been up to all that much.
Last weekend when I was home alone, I went out on the Saturday with a classmate to shop for a sweater or two for me. We headed into the main city center in Hamburg (that I know of...) by the Hauptbahnhof (main/biggest/central train station - from what I know of, every train line stops there at some point).
I don't know why, but I have just realized this one thing: I do not generally enjoy shopping for clothing for myself. At all. I enjoy shopping, and I enjoy clothing shopping, and I enjoy doing the both of those things with other people, but when it specifically comes to clothing shopping I really don't like shopping for clothes for myself with others. I always feel rushed, not because the other person is trying to make me feel that way, but because when I shop for clothing I generally spend a lot of time thinking about each and every thing I am looking at. I won't buy something without carefully considering every aspect about it and looking at it for a long time and asking myself "Do I really like this? Do I really like it on me? Is it really the exact thing I came shopping for?" And anyways, this is a long process for me, and I never like to drag other people through this with me. I almost never buy clothes for myself when I am with other people - and that, I cannot explain. Just a curiosity about me, I guess?
Anyways, I had a good time with this friend (despite in the end not buying any clothes... the intent of the excursion). After looking for clothing, we went to a nearby Starbucks, each of us telling the cashier names other than our own for the cups. My classmate's parents are from Vietnam, and she has a Vietnamese name that is actually fairly easy, but is still unusual for Germany (and Canada, to be fair). I never thought that my name - Jason - was all that complicated, but in Germany it seems to be a not very common name. Most people have no or little trouble with it (especially younger people), but there is still the occasion that comes up fairly often in which people can't understand what my name is, or end up saying it in a Germanized way (Jayzin – which I will be honest, I have been letting go, since a large majority of people I know here say it like that, and it is only a small difference). I didn't want to have to go over it at the cash out, so I went with my middle name (Paul) which is actually fairly common in Germany, saying it the German way (which is not said similar to 'ball', but like the word 'cowl', but Powl), and things went smoothly. (Not sure why I included this.... I just find it interesting)
After Starbucks we went for a walk by the inner part of the river Alster (the main river in Hamburg) as the sun set over the water and the city on the other side. It was beautiful, and we had a nice time. (The photo at the beginning of this post was taken there) It was somewhat late, and my friend had to go home for Abendessen (dinner), but I stayed out and went to a bookstore only to window shop. Trust me - I may want more books but I definitely do not need them. I have no clue how I am going to get all the ones I already have back home. I suck at buying souvenirs when I travel to places, but I almost always buy a book when I am leaving to go there or during my time there - resulting in my books being my souvenirs. For example, Wild, by Cheryl Strayed , is my Berlin souvenir from our week long class trip back in October, and The Martian, by Andy Weir, is my Amsterdam souvenir (alongside a sweater and a Hard Rock Cafe shirt I got there).
The rest of my weekend was uneventful and unnotig (unnecessary or unimportant - but the German word feels much more accurate than the English one) to write. I did a lot of cleaning (I was bored and wanted to impress my host family when they returned) and dog walking, and at the end of each day I watched a TV show or movie on Netflix before going to bed.
On Sunday evening most of my host family returned, and we hung out a bit, talking about our weekends and watching films.
Monday was not too interesting, I went around my daily routine, which was a lot like what I explained earlier, just some different classes. In the evening, I went with my host sister and a friend of hers to a Taekwondo class, like we do every Monday. I love Tae Kwon Do (even though I am clueless as to how to spell it). I enjoy Martial Arts in general, I think. When I was in my school in Canada, I took a Judo class - which was one of my favourite classes there. I love Martial Arts because it is exercise (and exercise is almost always fun - it is nice to burn off some energy), and because you learn some pretty cool moves. And I just love the actual process of doing Judo and Taekwondo. I have never done a tournament or an official match with either of those (nor do I really think I have the wish to do so), but I love going to the classes and doing Taekwondo (or back at school in Canada, Judo) there.
The main thing that really sticks out to me on Tuesday is that in my German learning class, the more advanced German learners (which includes me, since I am at B1 - the most advanced group in our class at the moment) got to work with some of those who aren't quite so good in German yet. We were paired off so we could work one on one, and we read a series of articles. Anyways, there was a lot to that, but it was actually pretty fun. I love teaching others and learning with others, and that is what this was. Unfortunately the girl I was paired with speaks Arabic and she is now learning German – and she speaks no English. And so when she was asking me "What does this word mean?" it was usually really difficult to explain - because I know the meaning of the word, or I know the English translation, but I was having trouble explaining it to her. It did not help that she was asking about words, like 'anyways', which aren't all that complicated but are extremely difficult to explain nonetheless.
Something else that was really amazing about Tuesday is that my German learning teacher said to the whole class that I was the best B1 student in the class at the moment - which came as a surprise to me, but I am extremely happy about! It has made my day/week, simply because it is making me look at my German learning progress, and I am realizing just how far I have come and am going in comparison to where I started.
Wednesday and Thursday were fairly uneventful (aside from being my favourite school days). Thursday afternoon, after classes were over, I got to talk with my regular class teacher about my time in Germany so far, how it has been going, what we think I could improve for the next half of my time here in Germany, and how I could go about doing so. That was really nice. It will be difficult, and will really require me pushing myself and letting go of some of my Canadian tendencies, but if I succeed I am certain it will be worth it. Even if I don't, at least I have tried (not that I haven't already been trying, but at least then I can say that I never stopped trying).
Friday was a very good day. At school I went mostly to my normal classes, which all went well. Also, the school day was cut short for me, and all of the other students in French class, which I was quite happy about. My grade has lunch break at 12:15, and then after that, on Fridays, we have only one more class - language learning, for which you can either learn Spanish or French. I am in French class because although I can't really remember any French, I once knew it, which is more than I can say for Spanish. In my Gymnasium, substitute teachers are not really a thing. At all. If the teacher is sick or unable to go to class for some reason, if there are no other teachers in the building that day to teach the class for them, then the class is cancelled. And that happened with my French class. And since it was the class after lunch, instead of going home at 12:45 (when French begins) we got to go home another half hour earlier - which was amazing, since I had a lot to do.
When my host family was in Poland, my left hearing aid's tubing broke, twisting into two pieces by the mold (that description probably makes no sense but it made it so that I could not wear my hearing aid anymore). I had no opportunity to get it fixed and wasn't entirely sure where to get it fixed anyways. But a few days ago my host mom gave me some suggestions as to some places that I could go to in order see if it could be fixed there, and Friday I had the time to go there. It was a combination of a glasses retailer and hearing aid retailer, and we figured that even if they don't fix hearing aids there, they would at the least be able tell me where I could go.
He came back with the fixed hearing aid, and cut the tubing to fit my ear, and then gave it to me, free of charge, which was extremely generous of him. I am very grateful - I had to go a week without hearing in my left ear, aside from when I listened to music with my headphones, and so it is definitely great to have it back again. To be honest though, it is definitely strange to hear in my left ear again. As well, the hearing aid tubing here in Germany is bigger than Canada's, so that changes the sound a bit (which I will get used to), and the mold had to be altered a bit, so it feels a little strange (which, once again, I will get used to).
Anyways, it is really nice to hear again, although strange. The world in general is an odd sounding thing.
Afterwards, I tried shopping for some sweaters again since I was near an H&M - and there was a sale on most of the things in H&M. I was able to buy enough sweaters and pullovers and the like to ensure that I am not cold again (because I outgrew almost all of my sweaters, and could not wear them), but I bought them all for the price of one of them at normal price. An extremely good deal - so I am glad I didn't get any sweaters last weekend, because I got a lot more for the same price I would have spent.
Yesterday was Saturday, and I just wrote this post and my previous post, as well as beginning to look into the possibility of making video blogs (which is possible, so I might make one soon… maybe not, but it is a guarantee that I will be trying it out for size, regardless of whether or not it gets posted.)
Now it is Sunday, and as far as I am aware, I have no real plans.
Anyways, I should probably end this post here, because as it is, it's ridiculously long.
I've said this a million times (like I think most exchange blogs end up doing, come to think of it), and although I will have trouble doing it, I still mean it just as much: I want to write more posts. It was actually really nice to write about my week, for example. I normally don't do it, because they feel uneventful, but to future me and past me (and hopefully to you guys) it is important, and I have discovered it is nice to write about the week. So maybe (hopefully) I will more often.
Hopefully all is well with you, and I will see you soon!
P.S: I mentioned this in one of my first posts to this blog, but I want to reiterate in case you haven't read it, or have forgotten. Please feel free to ask me any questions you have in the comments, or suggest ideas for writing blog posts. I may not reply to comments (which I am sorry about, it's difficult to get around to right now) too often at the moment, but I would definitely mention things in upcoming posts, or even write whole posts about any questions or thoughts you may have.