November 17, 2020No Comments

Reminiscing on 11/7/2020

It started at 9am that Saturday with Cameron pounding on my bedroom door with the big announcement. Joe Biden was the 46th president of the United States. 

In the next moment, Abby walked through the door blasting “FDT” while Cameron promptly exited promising celebratory mimosas. The day-long dance party began as we made our way downstairs for breakfast and drinks. “FDT” played on repeat for a while before we changed to “Doses and Mimosas” and “Party in the USA.” After many FaceTime calls, long scrolls on social media, and cap locked text messages to friends and family we decided we needed to get out of the house. Everyone bundled up, put their coffee in to-go cups, and packed into Paula’s car with Cameron at the wheel. Naturally, the ride began with “FDT” playing again but then we settled into chill indie beats for the joyfully reflective hour-long drive to our designated hike. At every Trump sign we passed we rolled down our windows and screamed at the top of our lungs in celebration of our success. The biggest presidential letdown in our lifetime was no more. 

In an hour, we drove from Oregon fall into Oregon winter. The trees were dusted in snow and everything was peaceful except for my heartbeat as my day-long adrenaline rush held on. Our hike was snowy and cold but in the very best way. It was a day where you couldn’t help but have a smile plastered to your face. Did you see the celebratory videos in New York, DC, and Portland? There’s nothing like a solid win for democracy to make you appreciate nature amiright kids? We threw snowballs, took pictures, played categories, and saw two beautiful waterfalls. The tranquility of our landscape felt otherworldly. Was our country really headed for better things? Was the garbage finally being taken out at the White House? Nothing felt real. But I felt a sense of joy, hope, and peace as we escaped into nature for a few hours. 

On the way home we stopped for takeout burgers and pulled pork sandwiches before getting home for the Duck’s first football game of the season. The heat was blasted, pillows stacked, and blankets pulled tight as I settled in for the night thanking God for such a glorious day for Americans. 

September 22, 2016No Comments

A walk around the block

I took a little stroll through Willich (my city). It only took me 36 days to do so but you know, who's counting. Rather than write a lot about it I'm just going to share some photos.





The church is the center of every city


This is a historical house that by law may not be physically modified





community library




Now you know where I've been living:) To all my German viewers, I'm sorry if that was tremendously boring for you.

August 31, 2016No Comments


Hello fellow blog readers and welcome to another day in the life of me, your favorite 16 year old. So last night I went to a big annual celebration in Neuss, Germany called Schützenfest. The Schützenfest in Neuss is apparently the biggest in Germany which I thought was super cool.

At the festival there was a long strip of fair food, rides, and games that the exchange students and I spent awhile walking around in. The streets were crazy packed and it would've been easy to get lost.

Now for a little background on what Schützenfest actually is. The main festivity and reason for the honorary day is a shooting game for men. They line up and take turns shooting at a wooden bird nailed to a post. The man who knocks the bird from the post wins and becomes Schützenkönig (Schützen King) for the next year. If you become Schützenkönig you get medals and a parade dedicated to you. You also must arrange the Schützenfest for the next year which apparently costs around $100,000. High price to be a king.

After walking through the crazy streets for awhile we found some people from our rotary club who had set up some benches and sat down to watch the parade. The parade was of all the men participating in Schützenfest. They were dressed in matching green suits specifically for Schützenfest. Each group of men that passed in the parade had different things decorating their jackets to differentiate them from the group before. You have to find some way to stand apart when you're all wearing the same green getup. I saw one group wearing pool floaties, another decked out in glow sticks, one guy randomly carrying a wooden chair on his shoulder, and others with jackets just covered in pins and Schützenfest medals from past years. The parade also had a lot of bands which were fun. During one of the songs the group behind the band began singing the lyrics that apparently went along with the song and the only word I understood was alcohol repeated over and over again. Very German I would say.

Speaking of alcohol the ground was covered in it. Almost every group in the parade that passed had a box filled with tiny liquor bottles and were handing them out to their group and the crowd. I saw one guy with beer taps attached to his back and another with an apron over his Schützenfest jacket completely covered in small flavored liquor bottles. Every time the parade stopped the men would twist off the tops, tip the bottles back, then toss them on the ground. I guess you could say German holidays are the special occasion to get really drunk in public. I didn't partake in the drinking but everyone looked like they were having fun and no one got hurt. That's something different from the U.S. People always seem to be getting hurt when they drink irresponsibly in the states. Here it happens but it's always controlled. It's all fun.

later gater:)






August 28, 2016No Comments

North Rhine-Westphalia

My state, North Rhine-Westphalia is now 70 years old! To celebrate the anniversary I went to Dusseldorf the capital of North-Rhine Westphalia. My host mom had a concert at the big anniversary fair. She and about 100 other women are a part of a choir called Frauen Power (Women Power). The concert was an hour long and pretty awesome. They sang songs in German and English.

What was even cooler was that the concert was held in the Parliamentary hall where all the members of Parliament in Germany sit. The audience got to sit in their fancy chairs and take pictures at the main stand. I learned that when they're voting they all leave the room and walk in again through the three doors. Each door represents a vote.  Either yes, no, or no vote.

After the concert we got ice cream because it was 90 degrees, completely unusual for Germany and we were all melting. We walked along the Rhine river with our ice creams (we being Pia, Thomas, Pia's mom Dorothee, Juan, Raquel, Rafael, his host mom Birgit, and I). The walk was incredibly hot but very pretty. There were tons of booths for businesses and it was overall a very big event. It took up a long stretch of the waterfront on both sides of the Rhine.

We stopped for some water (sparkling of course) and a snack at a Brazilian restaurant that Rafael knew of and tried a traditional Brazilian snack that was really good. It was a fried dough ball made from potatoes with shredded chicken and seasoning inside. It was delicious and much needed for how much we were sweating. The whole walk I had been taking pictures and I did the same on the way back.

Dusseldorf is incredible. The buildings are all connected and very old. All the streets we walked on didn't allow cars so there were thousands of people walking around on them. We stopped at a famous beer hall and met up with the rest of our group before going home. Everyone ordered beers and I tried a sip of one. It was really bitter and pretty gross but it's all about the experience right?

Dusseldorf was a blast but I was happy to be home. I dropped my bag at the door, grabbed a glass of water and laid down on my bedroom floor for awhile trying to cool down. Later that evening Eva and Raquel (exchange students from Taiwan and Brazil) came over to stay the night. We played table tennis, a quick block building game, and Cluedo which is the German translation for Clue. It was all around a great day.

Happy Anniversary:)


Our "we're dying of heat stroke" selfie











August 24, 2016No Comments

More random Germany notes

I swear these are the only songs that play here, give 'em a try

  • Hotter than hell - Dua Lipa
  • If I were sorry - Frans
  • In deiner kleinen Welt - Philipp Dittberner

Things Germany doesn't have:

  • automatic cars
  • low exchange rates
  • ice
  • waffle cones
  • still water
  • local coffee
  • wifi at school:(((

Things Germany does have:

  • too much bread
  • American branded clothing
  • Döner (so frickin good)
  • Pokemon Go
  • skinny jeans that are so skinny they cut off your circulation
  • that typical soccer guy haircut (literally every teen guy has it) ((shaved on the sides, long and tall on top))
  • taxidermy cheetahs in school??? (true story)

August 24, 2016No Comments

I think I sold my soul to my physics teacher…


I woke up at 6:20am and got ready for school. I was a stresscase but I made it out the door with minimal casualties (@7:20am). My phone isn't set up yet so once I leave my wifi safe haven there is no way for anyone to contact me which is a bit stressful but you know I make it work.

I biked to school with Pia and Raquel. There were tons of bikes on the roads all headed to the same place, St. Bernhard-Gymnasium (1st-12th grade). When we got there we locked up our bikes and headed to the gym for some informational stuff. We had a short church service (it's a Catholic school) and then received our schedules. Juan, Raquel, and I had to introduce ourselves to our entire class which was probably about 50 kids.

By the time we got our schedules what would have been first period was over and we were off to 2nd. I had Physik. I found my class quite easily because we had been shown around the school campus before. It's quite big. There are five buildings where the classes are held, a church, a cafeteria, and three gyms. I toured college campuses with my dad this summer and it reminded me a bit of that but on a much smaller scale.

My physics class was about 17 kids. Everyone seemed nice. A few girls talked to me before we went into class and asked if I wanted to sit with them. Once in class someone announced there was an exchange student. Yay. The teacher then came up to me and asked in German if I spoke Deutsch I replied I spoke a bit (in German). Then class began, he took roll and passed out textbooks and some papers to sign.We signed about three different papers and I have literally no idea what I was signing for hence my title for this post, "I think I sold my soul to my physics teacher." Hopefully I'm wrong about the whole soul selling thing. The last thing he asked involving "first day of school etiquette" was who would be taking the final exam at the end of the year. The exams they take in the 11th and 12th grade are incredibly important. If you fail any you must retake them and I believe you only get one try. If you don't pass your college opportunities become much smaller. I wasn't sure what he was asking so someone had to translate for me which caused a few laughs but everyone was nice about it.

THEN, my teacher started talking about celsius and fahrenheit. He directed a question at me but I had no idea what he was asking. Turns out he wanted me to tell the class how hot in fahrenheit I thought it was outside because they use celsius in Europe. Why he did this I don't know. Always picking on the new kid. After I gave my answer class began.

I wrote down some notes like the rest of the class but I couldn't even begin to tell you what they mean or say. Let's just say physics in German isn't any easier than physics in the US. It'll be an interesting year I think. A lot of listening to the German rather than learning physics but that's okay. That's what I'm here for right?


This is my physics book and the notes I took German

August 18, 2016No Comments

Excitement Beats Exhaustion

Great news! I made it onto my flight to Dusseldorf no problem. What. A. Relief. The flight was long but not too bad. I was able to sleep a few hours which was good. I sat between a German man and another man who was either from Colombia or Italy, the details got confused in our long conversation that was a third German, English, and Spanish, and maybe a little Italian if I'm right about where he was from.

We were more than halfway through the flight when he turned to me and said "Como se llama?" Lucky for me I had taken a few years of Spanish so I was able to respond with little hesitation. We then had a rough conversation about where I was going and what I was doing in Germany (the blazer really does work miracles). I have to say I was pretty proud of myself for practicing my Spanish. It wasn't German but at least it was something. After we ran out of things to say the man who I learned was named Leon turned back to his movie and that was that.

I would now like to discuss the magic of airplane food. Truth is the only reason it's magical is because you magically don't die from eating it. I included a picture of what my meal looked like and as you can see it's far from appetizing. In that oily mess that bbq sauce, sweet potato puree, and corn/veggie bits? You bet it is and man was it delicious (I'm kidding). But food is food on a 9 hour flight so I downed the slop and fell asleep.

Getting off the plane and going through customs was a breeze. When I walked out the exit I was met with about 12 people all yelling my name at the same time and holding up a German flag with my name on it. My host family, counselor, YEO and his daughter, and two other exchange students were all there to greet me. It was so awesome to be met with that much excitement and all my exhaustion washed away for the moment.

When I got to my new home my host parents gave me a tour of the place and my host dad left for work. I unpacked, ate lunch, and then went on a bike ride with some other exchange students to see my new school. By that point my jet lag had caught up with me and I took a 30 minute power nap but just woke up feeling more tired than before. The solution to my tiredness was to leave the house and walk to get ice cream (Schokolade) with Susanne and Thomas, my host parents. Weirdly enough the solution worked because when I got home I stayed up another few hours. It's now 22:15 and I'm writing this post with eyes that feel like they have stones pressing against them. I guess that means it's finally time to get a full nights sleep.

Gute Nacht party people

Oh wait one more thing, my host mom made me a little letter for my towel hangar. Isn't that so cute. Can't wait to spend the next five months with this awesome family.

August 17, 2016No Comments

Rough Travel

It's 7:24am and I am writing this from the PDX airport. I should be in the air right now halfway to Atlanta but as I should know by now, when it comes to flying, things don't always go your way. My flight this morning was supposed to be at 6am so I woke up at 3 and we got to the airport by 4.

All went well, I said my goodbyes, got through security no problem, and sat down at my gate thirty minutes before boarding. Everything was on time and set to go.  The half hour passed and people started standing up for boarding. We were just finishing the pre-board when I heard my name called over the speaker requesting me at the table. I was terrified. I knew something must be wrong and I really didn't want to deal with it. Let me get to Dusseldorf in peace please.

Unfortunately things didn't go my way. After making me stand at the table with no acknowledgement whatsoever for 5 minutes the guy finally looked at me and asked for my passport. He saw that I was flying internationally and asked why I didn't have my visa. I calmly explained that I had the application but that I was getting my visa in Germany. He looked up his handy dandy Delta Airlines rulebook and stared at it for awhile (we were boarding zone 2 by then) and finally looked at me and said "Sorry you can't fly." SORRY WHAT? Yeah I wasn't happy with that but he didn't care. He calmly and I have to say rudely told me to go back to the ticket counter and get it worked out. Get it worked out?!?! Are you kidding me the plane was going to leave in 15 minutes.

I was forced to turn around and start all over again. I stood at that counter for half an hour trying to work it out and not burst into unstoppable tears and finally the nice lady made the right call and discovered that a student CAN in fact travel internationally without a visa. Thank you Delta airlines for taking me on that wild, pointless adventure. I then got the last seat on an 8:45am flight and here I am about to board. I have 40 minutes to board my plane to Dusseldorf once I get to Atlanta. Let's hope all goes well.

August 16, 2016No Comments

Is this real?!

Well it's Monday night and I have less than 48 hours until I get onto my first plane. I've counted my savings, packed my bags, and said my goodbyes. I feel oddly calm about the whole thing. I guess that means I'm ready. Germany, here I come.

Let's Link

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