Monday, March 21, 2011

A Very German Weekend

      I had the opportunity this past weekend to go and stay with a family in Nordkirchen, Germany.  Their daughter Pia had came to study for a year in Monticello in 2008-2009.  Even though I was not in high school at the time, she is good friends with my sister so was over at our house a lot.  Then in the summer of 2010, Pia came back to visit and brought her sister Vanessa for five weeks.
      I left Arnhem Thursday night around 5:00 and headed to Deventer where I had to switch trains.  My next train to Rhiene was delayed 15 minutes which caused me to miss my connecting train in Rhiene to Munster.  Luckily there was another training leaving for Munster that left in a half hour.  I was a little nervous about traveling by myself because I still learning the train system, but even with the delay I was able to do everything ok.  Once I arrived in Munster Pia and Vanessa and their parents were there to pick me up.  We went to their house and had dinner of curry soup and bread.
One of the classrooms
      The next day, Friday, I went to school with Pia.  We had to ride bikes to the bus stop which was an interesting experience.  I haven't rode a bike in awhile and never in town so at first I was really bad.  I was really bad at stopping and then starting again quickly. Their bikes are more like the old fashion bikes that you see with the curved handle bars and narrow tires.   Bikes are a popular means of transportation all through out Europe because of how close everything is.  Then we got on the bus which took us to her school.  I attended her English,German and history classes. Their school was a little different than ours.  I was really surprised at the lack of technology in the room.  The rooms were simple with tables and chairs, a teachers desk and a portable overhead projector.  There high school is more like our college than high school.  The teachers did not have their own classroom, instead they moved around.  Also, they do not have each class everyday.  They usually start school around 8 and are done around 1 or 2.  Also, they do not have substitute teachers like we did in high school, so when a teacher is sick the class is canceled.  In one class I was very shocked at the openness of the teacher. They were talking about President Clinton and Monica.  The teacher said something to the affect that instead of the Oval Office it should be called the "oral office." There was a line graph shown on the projector with two high points.  One student asked what events were going on during the two climax points and the teacher said "that one climax was probably Bill and Monica." I couldn't believe that a teacher would say that in a high school classroom.
      Friday night we went to her Aunt's house in Munster for dinner.  I really enjoyed the dinner as it had a very friendly,lively and interactive atmosphere.  The center of the table was this thing that was a grill on top and a warmer on the bottom. Each person got a small triangle shaped pan where you could put whatever vegetables you wanted in it.  They had so many vegetables to choose from including corn, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, pineapple, zucchini, potatoes, mushrooms, peppers and a few more.  Then once you choose your vegetable you cover them with cheese and put it under the warmer to warm and melt the cheese.  On the top you can grill small pieces of meat or vegetables.  It was really good and was a fun dinner even though they mostly talked German. After dinner we went to a local club which was fun but very crowded.
Ready for Karneval
     The next day Pia and I walked around the center of Munster.  There were many shops and a farmers market, and we toured a Cathedral and church.  We went back to Pia's house had a lunch of meat, mashed potatoes, friend onions and sauerkraut.  After that we went to the stables where Pia has a horse that she had to let out and we played with the puppies.  Next we were able to go visit her friends farm.  They have a thing that burns corn husks for energy.  They milk about 100 cows in a fish bone parlor that holds 16 cows at a time. They said it takes them about an one and a half hours to milk and they milk twice a day.  That night was the Karneval program.  Everyone dresses up for Karneval; Pia and I dressed as cowgirls.  The program was in reception hall and it had a stage and tables and chairs for people to sit at.  There were many skits including singing, dancing, and story telling (though it was all in German).  It was a really fun and lively atmosphere.
Me in front of the castle
      On Sunday afternoon we went and toured a castle that was about ten minutes from her house.  The whole tour was in German, but Pia was able to translate enough for me.  It was a really pretty castle but the weather was rainy and a kind of cold.  For lunch her mom made beef with dumplings and peas and carrots.  One thing that was a little weird is that they drink a lot of carbonated water and will mix their apple juice with the carbonated water. 
       It was a really good weekend and it was nice to see her again.  I think I learned more about Germany in one weekend than I have after a month in Arnhem.  It was really nice to be able to stay with a family who could explain things to me, ate some traditional German food and learned a few words.  I really wish that before the semester started, we could have stayed with a Dutch family for about 2 weeks just to learn our way around and learn about the Dutch culture.  I think its actually been difficult to learn about the Dutch being on our own. For supper we just make food that we are used too; I do not know any typical Dutch dishes.  Also, I only know about one Dutch work which is "alstublieft" which is please/thank you. 

No comments:

Post a Comment