Tuesday, January 21, 2014

days > 160 -- continuing

piece of advice for future exchange students #20:
sometimes your life will change.
a lot.
deal with it.

as you read in the last update, I recently changed host families. for various different reasons, it hasn't been a very easy switch... add that to the fact that school started two days after i moved and the fact that semester is ending AND the fact that i need to pay for trips and book my flight back and coordinate with my other host families, and you get one extremely stressed-out Hannah.
so the past couple days have been a lot of "Hannah pull yourself together and get on with your life" and part of that includes getting on with my overdue blogging. 
here goes...

things i've done in the past 10ish days:
  • finished my first two weeks with my new host family!
  • successfully lived vegetarian
  • (okay, i guess i should explain that last part.) for those of you who know me, you probably know that i like eating meat. and that i am not really a vegetarian type of person. BUT my new host mom is vegetarian and so I haven't eaten chicken or steak or ribs or any sort of meat besides lunch meat in the past one and a half weeks. yes, i know that's not super long. but it surprised me (in a good way).
  • celebrated one of my friend's (Faith's) birthdays. All of us went to her house and had a sleepover. It was fun.
  • said goodbye to the oldies. i miss them already. :(
  • didn't do any traveling for a first time in a while... this was really really weird for me, actually. Normally I spend at least one day a week traveling through Switzerland, but my new host mom isn't super happy about that so I guess I'll be keeping my travel to a minimum here. :/
  • met up with some exchange students and explored Basel. so that was fun.
  • went to a Rotary meeting and met some more people. Every time I go, everyone continues to praise my German and say I'm so talented... while this might not exactly be true, it's nice for my self esteem haha.
  • got our newbies!! ahhhh! we are now all oldie exchangers. 
  • watched Frozen with my little sister (from my first family).
  • actually, that was probably the best part of my entire 10 days.
  • also, i hung out with my old family. who i miss. a lot. <3

Thursday, January 16, 2014

days > 150 -- understanding

piece of advice for future exchange students #19:
open your eyes to the world around you,
the culture around you,
the people around you.

so lately i've been realizing just how much my worldview has expanded in the past 5 months.

you see, when i left i thought i had a pretty good window on the world. i challenged my own beliefs and i asked questions and i pushed myself to find out more. but what i didn't quite realize was just HOW small my world really was. 

being on my own here has caused me to rethink the things that i was taught about groups of people, and to realize that stereotypes do have a beginning, and lots of people fit them -- but stereotypes are not the same as labels. stereotypes are only supposed to be a base, a sort of "general idea" of what a person is like. but labels are like sorting individuals into a box and only picking the boxes you like.

the thing is,
people aren't boxes.

things i've done in the past 10ish days:

  • moved host families! now I live in Bottmingen.
  • i also managed to pack my entire life into several suitcases and fit them all into the back of my host family's car. i am very proud of myself, considering that i've accumulated an astonishing amount of stuff in the past 5 months. i am trying not to think about packing to go home...
  • i miss my old family.
  • the outbound candidates from my sponsoring district (5100) had their first orientation! while this doesn't count as "things i've done" exaactlyyy, i have to say that this brought back memories galore. i can't believe that only a year ago, my country choices were undecided and i didn't even know if i would get to go on exchange. how crazy is life?
  • started school. yay?
  • celebrated new year's in Europapark with my first host family!! it was wonderful.
  • also I discovered that my tolerance for highspeed, highscarelevel rides is a lot better than I expected. Which means that my next destination when I get home is Disneyland. anyone want to come? ;)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

new beginnings

"for last year's words 
belong to last year's language
and next year's words
await another voice"
-- ts eliot

“write it on your heart 
that every day 
is the best day in the year.”
 -- ralph waldo emerson

i've spent almost five months in switzerland today. 

the oldies are leaving in less than a week.

the newbies are arriving just after that.

it's crazy, unbelievably crazy, and it makes my head spin to think that so much can happen in just five months.

you can learn a language,
and adopt a family,
and adapt to a culture,
and learn to LIVE in a country that is not your own.

in just five months.

and every day i realize again just how much i have learned, just how much i have left to learn, and just how many days i have left to do it.

there are plenty of resolutions to improve upon... study german, read more, stop eating so much chocolate, send more letters home... and yes, those things are important. 
but to me, the new year isn't so much about improving as beginning anew.

so here is my resolution for the new year:
seize the moment.
seize the day.
seize every little amount of time that's been given to me, every opportunity that lies in my path, every blessing that comes into my life.
every new beginning.
because in the end, we don't have that much time.

so i want to make the most of it.