I have never really mentioned this before, but it is big in the news for the last while, so I feel like I should mention it: refugees. Right now refugees are flooding into Europe by the masses, and Germany is getting a lot of them. When I first came to Germany it was big in the news about how many refugees there were, and I knew it was happening, but I didn't see it a lot. It was there, and I saw it often, but not to the amount that I am seeing the refugee situation now, or the Fluchtlingskrisis, as its said in German (translates as refugee crisis). I think Germany has a lot of space, and maybe we can fit more refugees, but especially coming from a lowly populated area of Canada, it feels like Germany is a sponge, and it is getting saturated. also like with a sponge, maybe Germany can take a whole lot more, space wise, I don't know, but I ask definitely noticing their presence a lot more everywhere I go. I live in Hamburg for this school year, if you didn't know, and now when I go to Hamburg Hauptbahnhof (Hamburgs main train station) when I step out it is like I'm swimming in refugees -there are just so many of them, waiting for food or taking shelter or waiting to be moved somewhere else. I live in a small subdivision/town on the edges of Hamburg, and to be honest I had never thought the refugees would start coming here to my town, but now they are. and maybe that is a sign of just where the "Refugee Crisis" is. My town has a main shopping centre that I can walk to from my house (which is pretty awesome). If I was walking there a few months ago, there is a small bridge I would have to walk over, and I would find myself in the shopping centre and I would not see anyone other than fellow shoppers.
Now, if I walk there, when I walk over the bridge, on the other side three out of four times there is a female refugee there (not always the same one), begging for money. I am a person who likes to help out people who are being by putting my spare change into their cups, whatever I can afford, when I walk past them. But I can't do out as much as I would like to - I would be broke in a less than a days worth of wandering, if I did that. Everywhere I go, there are people begging for money, most of whom are refugees. For example with the one by the bridge in my town, I can't give money anymore, and I think she is very understanding. I always smile at her, at whoever is there, and they are always friendly and smile back, even when it is obvious that they know I can't give them money. This seems to apply for most people that I see who are being in Hamburg.
These refugees aren't bad people, just people who got in a bad situation in their home country and got out of it.
I think most people, at least in my area, are completely fine with the influx of refugees, but there are also a lot of prejudices and bad feelings - a hatred, it seems - that a small portion of the population has against refugees that the majority is fighting against.
I think this is a big point in history, and I'm very lucky to be here for it.
Something that is not so lucky, though, is that I've been sick for the last week. I'm technically still sick, but I'm pretending I'm not because it is getting plain ridiculous now. I don't even know what it was - a bit of everything, I suppose. A migraine, a cold thing, a flu thing, a full body ache along with pains in both of my legs and my lower back were all part of and only the beginning of the list of symptoms of whatever it was. The first day I had it I came down hard, really feeling sick - and I went home an hour early, because the idea of staying for an extra hour was horrible. But through this sickness I've actually gotten to learn a lot about Germany (once again!) which is definitely a plus. My host mom wanted to take me to the local doctor right away, that first day, but I learned that most doctors practices aren't open past midday on Wednesdays, and it was just my luck that it was a Wednesday. I also learned that in Germany, as long as you are legally not an adult, you can go to a children's doctor (so as long as you are 18 or under... apparently all of my host siblings that are 18 and under go to a children's doctor, and it is not an unusual thing).
When we did get to the doctors the next day, I found out that there was nothing exceptionally wrong with me, so we went to the pharmacy next door and got a nose spray for the cold. But nonetheless it was an interesting experience, and waiting for the doctor for almost two hours was not as bad as it normally is, since there were a million super cute and amusing children running around, all of which were just as sick as, if not sicker than, me, so I didn't have to worry about making them ill. There was one child who was pretty cool and kept finding puzzle pieces and giving them to me. By the end of my time waiting, I had a lap full of puzzle pieces and Lego like pieces, and a child trying to give me more. That was plenty of fun. Each time he gave me something I would say something along the lines of "A gift? For me? Thank you very much!!" which he seemed to appreciate and like. our was cool.
One last thing before I get on to a serious deep down in the emotions topic: last month was November. You may have noticed that as usual I didn't post very much, but less so. That's because November is NaNoWriMo, our National Novel Writing Month, which is a month which challenges writers and aspiring writers alike to write a certain word goal in a month, and I decided for some reason that I had the time. Since I was in the young writers program, my goal was 30000 words (which I'm very proud I managed to do). Hopefully this explains my quieter than normal posting silence a little.
Okay, I lied, one last thing before the deep personal stuff: The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part Two came out a while ago and one of my host sisters and I went out to see it on its second day of release - in German!! - which was really cool! It was great movie, and I've read the book quite a few times which was definitely helpful in my understanding of the film - at times I was explaining things to my host sister, which is cool since she speaks German (the language of the film finds) and I'm still a learner.
Alright, time for that deep down personal stuff I've been talking about talking about:
Being on exchange is a great experience that I would never change for the life of me - I'm so glad I am here in Germany - but it is so far turning out to be far from the experience I had hoped for or expected, in certain aspects.
And I had always promised myself before I came to Germany that I would have this blog be a perfectly honest blog, showing right into my life so as to honestly depict what it is like and not be a "I went here and I did this and I did that and I like it" blog, but deep and personal. And that is hard to do, and I don't think I've quote been living up to that, but what I'm about to say is right along the lines of the sorts of things that I'd been hoping I'd reveal.
So here goes:
I don't feel like I have many or possibly any friends here in Germany, which I find to be extremely difficult. Up until a week ago, no one outside of my host family had ever invited me anywhere to do anything (last week I was invited to go with my class on an official class function to play soccer - so I don't know if it counts, since I was supposed to know about it anyways but didn't. But it was the first, and possibly the worst, day of my sickness which made it feel traffic because there was absolutely no way I could go in the condition I was in). I hand out with my German learning class in school mostly (which is largely composed of refugees and immigrants, which is cool), because I at least feel like they don't mind my being there, and I can occasionally talk with them. Whereas with my "normal" German class I don't feel any connections, and I always feel pushed aside in conversations once the "hello, how are you and how was your weekend?" portion of the conversation is over. I feel ignored in my regular class, and outside of it, too. Sometimes people say "hello" or they wave, but that is all. And ny German is not very good, which I find makes communication hard. I don't know what to talk about, and I don't know how to make small talk in German yet, and when I speak in English I either feel burdensome or like I'm doing a disservice to my German learning.
After school is done, I go directly home, and no one asks ne to do things with them - ever. I've been here in Germany at school for three and a half months, and no one has asked me to do anything after school. I say yes to hanging out with anyone - but no one has asked. It is very much lonesome.
And I know that maybe this is partially my fault - but I have no clue who to ask, since no one has seemed to give ne a serious clue thag they'd be willing to hang out, and I am not from here, so I have no idea of where to go to meet people or where to invite people to go with me.
So that is the main thing on my mind right now. And in result of the seclusion, I've been experiencing a lot of highs and lows in how I am dealing with it. Sometimes I feel fine with it, more often I feel horrible about it, or some large range of emotions in between.
I have the email of my local coordinator, and I am hoping to email her for suggestions as to socoal activities or volunteering in the area that I can take part in, but I am not going to do so right now, or four the next week, really, because it is going to be super busy and I don't have time to get started on anything this week.
I'm heading to Berlin on a day long class trip with the entire grade ten (all three of the grade 10 classes are going) tomorrow. Then the day after I am heading to Munich (!!) with my exchange agency and some other fellow exchange students to explore the city until Monday, which I'm super excited about. It will be so much fun to see Munich, and to meet some other exchange students. I've been talking with one of them on Facebook a little, and he seems really nice. I can't wait to meet everyone! And although those two things maybe don't seem like a lot - it is a lot.
Just to make sure things are clear after the "deep" part of the post: I love it here in Germany, I love Hamburg, and I'm so glad that I am here on exchange, and wouldn't want to be anywhere else in any other city or with any other host family (all of that is perfect and I would not want a single thing changed). But things are not 100 percent as expected with some things, and I just wanted to make sure that was perfectly obvious here on my blog. I will try to write more in future posts about other things add they come up or I think of them.
Anyways, it's getting later here and I need to get up early tomorrow to make sure I have everything I need for the day in Berlin. I am going to leave this post here - and I'm going to be honest, I don't have time to check over the past, so I hope everything is clear and understandable to at least a minor degree
I hope all is well with all of you guys, and I'll try and post again soon!