Sunday, June 20, 2010


So, I haven't updated in like a month =]. Coolio.

I filmed a video to post as an update, but I'm not interested in finishing it in Germany. I only have a few days left, and would much rather do something other than working that video... my boyfriend also came back from America recently. It's amazing with him ^^. I had a going away party, and well... I'm going to be back in Arizona soon.

But is Arizona ready for me? After all, I changed so much... but am I really ready for Arizona? After all, I changed so much, and will have to reconcile that with my earlier life. The wonderful thing about an exchange year, is that the host community doesn't know anything about you, so you get the freedom to be who you truly are, because they don't judge you on your past actions (because they don't know what your past actions are!). I'm a different person. But now this different person will go back to America, and be confronted again with people that can judge her based on her past actions, and who will expect her to be what she was, and not what she is.

What will happen?

At the recent Berlin Seminar for my exchange program, one of the language teachers told me that he always saw me walking around with my backpack, and always wondered why I always had that backpack on... he thought I was ready to bolt in the next few seconds. But now he can see I've changed. He said I've really become a personality. And he hopes I don't regress to who I was when I go back home.

That's really the beauty of a year in a foreign country. In the first half year you really change, but none of these changes are permanent. If you went back home at the end of that half year, then you would be the same person you always were after a while. But in the last half year these changes become the foundations of who you are. That is my experience at least. And if my foundations will change when I'm back in America? Of course they will. It would be sad if they never changed again, because you can't grow without change... but will I be growing, or will I be shriveling back into the person I was, and essentially undoing my growth?

What will I do?

I will tell you.

I will turn into a beautiful Caitlin flower.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Not Really an Update!

Ok, so this isn't really an update, but you should be expecting an update! I got a wonderful idea last night, and I'm going to try to make it work, but it will take a lot of work to make it work!

(Hint: expect to get a video/youtube update ;) )

Thursday, May 13, 2010



I went with my community representative to her university, and got to sit in on a lecture. It was interesting, and something unexpected happened. I heard something. It was an accent. An American was sitting not too far from me.

After the lecture I talked to him for a really long time about colleges... I had been wanting to sort of just apply to whichever school I know would accept me, and avoid having to stress out too much about going somewhere out of state, or somewhere expensive. He had a really good point though. Why not at least try?


I met up with the exchange student from Switzerland after school, and we rode our bikes to the Heilandskirche (a church) on the side of the Havel river. No one was allowed to go there during the Cold War, because it was a part of the wall. Literally. One of the walls of its bell tower was used as a piece of the Berlin Wall.

But, it is a beautiful church. And it's really on the water's edge, so you go down a small staircase and wade in the river, or walk along the church's outer wall, which juts out into the Havel.

Another fun thing about the trip, is that I didn't know 100% how to get that. What I like about navigating along a river, is that all you really need to know is in which direction something is. Then you follow the river until you get there. Berlin itself is turning more into a huge maze that navigate through without fear. I can just be somewhere, and I'll always figure out by myself how to get home. Whether it be by bike, bus, subway, tram, train, boat, or foot, I'm getting there. Ironically, that's something my mom was afraid of before I came here. She didn't want me to get lost in Berlin. But to me, that seems impossible to do.


I went to the Baltic Sea again with my host family, but my host brother stayed home this time. We went on huge bike rides through the forest, and I got rained on really badly, but I also managed to find souvenirs that don't cost a fortune! I also went to a city called Wandemünde, and it was really nice there. An interesting thing about the Baltic Sea, is that this one type of ancient tree grew there, and only there. Now, when we find the remnants of this tree, it's called amber. And guess what? You can only find it at the Baltic Sea.


I saw a beautiful movie with my host cousin. It was called "The Last Song", and you really shouldn't read what I'm about to say, unless you want a spoiler. So, do you really want to know what happens? Really? 100% sure? (This is your last chance to skip this paragraph!) Ok, here goes. The father dies from cancer. But there's sea turtles. Why is this important? Because the sea turtles are eggs. The daughter (who is visiting her father), protects the sea turtles for the first half of the film, and then they hatch. As she and the rest of the people (you know, the cast that I don't want to explain right now) watched the sea turtles go into the sea, her father collapses. Basically, the ideas of new life (the sea turtles) and death (the father and cancer) are always there. But they're not fighting for camera time, no, they're coexisting harmoniously. As if life was just a cycle. As if there will always be new life, and there will always be the ending of old lives, but it must be like that. A 'death' is just a new opening on this Earth for more life, and there wouldn't be any room for new life, if the old life didn't cease. It's a cycle. A circle. No beginning, no end.


I ran a marathon. And I didn't die! There's an annual Avon marathon in Berlin to fight against breast cancer, and everyone who participates gets a bag of makeup. It goes through the Tiergarten and ends and begins at the Siegelsäule. And the marathon I took part in was really only 5 kilometers, so it wasn't really that bad. But I ran it with some friends, and it was fun. I was happy that I wasn't the last person over the finish line, even though I walked a lot. And even though I walked a lot, at least I did it. That's a lot just by itself.


I went to see a theater with my host mom and host grandma. We saw it in Friedrich The Great's palace, in the room he saw it in (it was a newer take on an older piece), where only he and his noble guests went to enjoy amusements. I was really frustrated at first, because almost the whole thing was in Italian, and at first I didn't understand that the jesters were giving summaries about what was going to happen in the next scene before the people starting singing in Italian (did I mention it was half opera?). But it was entertaining.


I watched Germany's Next Top Model at a friend's house, and we made crêpes with Nutella. Then we watched another TV show, and I was a bit tired, but not too bad, so I didn't realize how late it was. No mom, I didn't get home at 11pm. I got home at midnight!

It's really interesting to think about all of the freedom I have here in comparison to how it was before in my life. My mom wouldn't have allowed me to stay out until midnight, and I wouldn't be able to do a lot of the stuff I do normally now. But I'm also not the same person I was before. It'll be hard to adjust to American culture again, and no, I don't mean the rules by that. I'll have to talk the whole time in another language too... I'm used to German. I speak different in German. I learned how to express what I want in German, and forgot how to do it in English. And the worst part? I can't translate German into English, and vice versa. I didn't know what my own German blog's title was in English.

This will probably not make any sense to you though.

But I'm on school break, and I'm sick, and I really hope my mom doesn't send me more cough drops after reading this, because I already have two bags, and I found tasty Wasabi beans. They really open up your nasal canal.

(Unrelated note: my exchange program is having a photo competition, and I entered three photos. I'm not really sure what I sent is what they wanted, but oh well. I like my photos, and at least I'm trying!)

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Ok. There's not an amazingly large surplus of days before I go back home, just 58. Although that is a long time, it's still dwarfed by the much larger amount of days in ten and a half months. What am I trying to say? I would rather be living those days out, instead of taking so much time to write my blog ^^. That is why it has taken about a month for me to update this.


I finally went to the big zoo in Berlin! Some time I will have to hit up the aquarium too though... but anyways, I totally forgot that I was supposed to be going to the zoo with my neighbors, so I ended up being a bit late, but I went to the zoo with them and their grandchildren, and it was fun. The little boy held my hand, and it was all just so cute :3.


I ate ice cream at the Florida Eiscafé, and arranged to go with her to a college class, to get the feel of what it's like to attend college in Germany.


Tara slept over my house, and we went shopping, and I had a lot of fun. I finally bought new jeans, and was happy to find some for just 9 Euros. I found some other cheap stuff too, and was very very happy with myself.


I went to a seminar for the parents of kids who're going abroad next year (so, parents of German exchange students), and they asked me a lot of questions about, well, basically what it's like to be an exchange student. It was a lot of fun.


I went to the smaller zoo in Berlin with my boyfriend's mother. It was weird, because this drunk dude decided to hit on me on the subway (even though it wasn't noon yet, he was still drunk...), and tried to sit between my boyfriend's mom and me, then he turned to me and started talking. I didn't understand what was happening at first. But, we walked away and so he left.

But at the zoo, my favorite part was with the stork thingies. They were free to just walk out of their pen, and the visitors could pet them. One didn't like ANYONE, and another was nice, but ended up hitting a little kidy in the face with his beak... the kid was ok though, and I got to take pictures with one of the birds. This one was a LOT calmer than the others.


So, this part is basically just a rambling summary of random things that have happened to me. I managed to get a few 'jobs' going, and have earned a total of €67 now :D. I help two people out with learning English, and another girl I just sort of watch until she gets her homework done, because otherwise she wouldn't be very productive.

My German blog found its way onto the website from my German high school. You can find it here.

Other than that, I'm really tired right now. It feels like life is picking up speed. So many things are happening.

I also signed up for a marathon. My host mom is worried, because it's 5 kilometers wrong, and she doesn't want me to collapse somewhere.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

I Like to Ride My Bike


You know what I did today? I rode my bike for an extremely long time, and went very far. I rode my bike along the Havel River, then across it, where I found a marathon in my way. So followed the marathon throughout Berlin, and suddenly found myself on the shopping street called Kurfürstendamm; basically I was pretty much in the middle of Berlin. Then I was going in circles around Potsdamer Platz, before going to Alexander Platz, after which I sort of just... went east. I almost left the city boundaries before a little voice in my head told me to go home. So I went north to go home (not sure why, to be honest), and well... I was all over the place. I also visited a Jewish cemetery. But, I planned on riding my bike the whole way home too (I was over 20 miles from home), but then my host mom called me, and told me to take the subway home. So I did. And I got all the way to the Olympic Stadium, where the Olympic Games were held during Hitler's reign. I liked how one of the streets around the stadium was named after Jesse Owens, a black person who had been a competitor in the Games, and won some shiny metals despite his "racial inferiority". But, back to the bike riding, I rode my bike over 30 miles through Berlin. Here is a map of an estimate of where I was (I know where I went, just not how I got there). The thin red line is my trip through Berlin, the blue is after I got on the subway to go home.

(Thanks Google Maps for the map.)

Afterwards, my host family and I ate out at a Mexican restaurant. It didn't taste as well as Buckeye...


Dude, I took a break from doing anything.


I cooked with the neighbors and ate leaks for the first time. It was actually a lot of fun. We made this meat thing with leaks, a pepper purée, a potato purée, and a weird thing. The weird thing was dessert, had caramel at the bottom, was in a small bowl, but the rest of it was like Jell-O-pudding. It all tasted pretty good. I was surprised by how much I like leeks, and also by how nasty it is to clean them. They actually have sand between their leaves. I am just so used to not expecting food from a store to have ANYTHING resembling dirt, much less actual dirt, in it. So, my host brother, the neighbors and I all enjoyed the meal, and then I helped them more with making bread dough. It's amazing what the Germans all make.


I visited my host mom's work. She happens to work in a library at an institute (Max Planck Institute) where English is the main language, because scientists from all over the world go there to exchange ideas, and basically work on finding out new things about the fundamentals of science. I ended up getting one talk about latex, and one tour of the place. It was actually pretty nice. And well... there was too much there to talk about. But it was really interesting that the scientists there were basically just working on any random thing they wanted. A lot of research was being done on teeth, and on natural structures (how your bones are structured, or bark, or ... anything you can think of).

That evening I watched a film about Scientology, called "bis nichts mehr bleibt" (Until Nothing Remains). It was... kind of creepy, what the Scientologists were doing... and then there was a debate after the film, about whether or not it was an accurate portrayal... it was kind of creepy.


I looked at the Scientology Church that's here in Berlin. From the other side of the street of course. I didn't want them to see me taking pictures and try to talk to me. But look. This looks more like a bunch of office buildings than a church, and the first floor looks like a storefront... it actually is, to be honest. They're trying to get people to come in and take a personality test, and also are trying to sell their books...

Also, the church is six stories tall, and the whole building belongs to the church...


I went with my host parents to Potsdam, a city close to Berlin, with our bikes. We also took a Water Taxi. Basically, a boat that works more like a bus than a taxi... it has its own route, and you pay to use it, but you don't say, "take me to that really pretty rock there", and well, you're using it with other people too. Then, we were in Potsdam. And what can I saw, Potsdam has an evil amount of hills. And guess what? We went to the top of the biggest one! We visited a castle that was basically just built so that the royal people could kick back, relax, and see around for miles.

After that my host mom and I went to this little Russian village within Potsdam, and then a Dutch part of Potsdam. Then she showed me a way through the forest to get home faster.


I rode my bike to this tiny little town called Fahrland. But before that, I went with my host family to church, and then I got presents. I got this little gadget for my bike, that calculates how fast I'm going, how far, how many calories I burn, the temperature... just about everything. In case you're wondering, I traveled 23 kilometers today, my max speed was 38 kilometers per hour, average speed was 15.9, my time was 1:27:20, it's 20.5 C° in my room right now, and I burned 372 calories. Beat that.

Thursday, March 25, 2010



I visited the neighbors for a little bit, and arranged a time when I will come over to cook with them, and also to babysit for them. Some flowers started to bloom as well. My host mom said that normally you can tell what month it is in Germany according to the flowers that are blooming... and normally the flowers don't bloom all at once, like they're doing this year. The winter was abnormally long and cold, so it's like the flowers are making up for lost time... they only last for about a week though, before they start to go away again, and the next ones come.


I was hanging out at Ikea with a friend during these two periods I have free from school, and my friend has a car, so he just drove us there. Also, Ikea is a swedish chain, did you know that?

But anyways, we were just hanging out, drinking the best hot chocolate I have ever had in the world, when my stomach attacked. It started to eat me, so my friend drove me home... and I'm really thankful of that favor.


I had rode my bike to school the day before, but didn't get a chance to get it back home... and when I got to it today, it was fine, but I somehow forgot that I left my helmet with my bike. And a dog ate it.


I watched "The Reader" with my host mom. In German, it's called "Der Vorleser", and is originally a German novel. The point of the story is basically how the Germans dealt with the past after the Nazi time. It was really interesting to watch it with my host mom, because I had read half the book already and didn't understand some things, but she was able to point out things that made me realize what was going on.

And I got to talk to my boyfriend before going to bed ^^. He spent spring break in the Caribbeans.


Well, in case you don't know, I LOVE RIDING MY BIKE! I rode my bike today to Spandau City Center again, then around in that area a little, then sort of in the direction of Potsdam, then a pretty forest road distracted me, and I found myself by a barn, and then I got onto this road, and got home. But on the way to Spandau, I rode along the edge of the river that runs by my house. There's this ferry that comes every hour, and is like a bus, but like on the water? (My point is, it's basically still a part of public transportation ;)) I also saw another kid from CBYX in Spandau. It was strange, because I had seen someone who looked like him about a week ago, and ran up to him, but then noticed that it wasn't him, and then... yeah. Funny looks and what not.

But the really interesting part of my day, was biology class. The kids were messing with the teacher the whole time. But before I explain the first part of the story, please note that my biology class is on the third floor, and that EVERY wall in the school is practically filled with windows (of course, only when the wall is on the exterior).

But anyways, my teacher was talking about heart rates and breath rates, and had us measure ours. This one kid's pulse was like, awful (the teacher asked himself why the kid wasn't dead), then had the kid run around the school once. Well, my whole class gathered by the window to watch him and cheer him on. And also to see him lose his shoe in the middle of the street. So, another kid went down to get his shoe for him, while a third kid was sitting in the window, telling the shoe-fetcher-kid to throw the shoe through the window. The third story window. Well, the runner-kid got back, was sitting in the window to catch his breath, when his shoe flew over his head. Somehow the shoe-fetcher-kid managed that without breaking something/someone. Later on, someone stole the clock off the wall when the teacher wasn't looking, and set it 10 minutes faster. Then a bunch of the guys tried to convince the teacher that class was over, but the bell just hadn't rang. Then they tried convincing him that it had rang, and he just hadn't heard it. Then they tried playing a cell-phone ringer that sounds like the bell... we didn't get out early.

Oh, and Buckeye isn't the only place with tractors driving down the middle of the road; Berlin has tractors on the streets sometimes too ;). I swear though, I had seen an ATV driving on the road today...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I suis müde.


The kids in art class stole my apple again.


My host mom bought me a used bike :D


I rode my bike to and from school today ^^.

I also gave my first presentation in German. It wasn't very interesting, and I was rather nervous, but at least I did it... and my host mom and I had corrected it, but then I forgot to save the corrected version on the stick that I used to bring the powerpoint part to school :\.

I found my apple in my backpack.

After school I rode around taking pictures. I took a few really pretty ones. And I found a farm.


I rode my bike the seven miles into town to go to my boyfriend's mom's house... one of her friends came over with her son, and I tutored him. I earned 15€ ^^. I got rained on on the way home.

I stuck my laptop in my wardrobe so that I wouldn't use it.


My host brother flew to America today to go to Florida with my other host brother.

I pulled my laptop out again to update my blog. I made five posts in total. One here, and four on the German blog ;).

The weather here has been warming up, the snow is finally gone, flowers are starting to grow, I think I have hay-fever, and the weather is giving my a headache... and my left eye has been twitching for like five days now.