24.3.11 (read as March 24th ,2011) Update:

Hello everyone! “Vielen Dank” to all of those who have been reading this blog! I am sorry it is not very consistent, but I guess that is expected when you throw 14 or so people into a different country for a week. Wow, we have really learned a lot on this trip so far—history is everywhere, and it seems as if we have been learning all of it. We have had an information overload, as well as a language overload—but both great things. As Dr. Lhotzky told me, it is inevitable that the language comprehension and use will go for a ride on a roller coaster, never staying on a consistent incline, but riding many waves and taking curves.

The weather here in Potsdam and its surrounding cities has…been…B.E.A.UTIFUL! We have heard from the locals that the weather here is usually rainy, cold, and snowy at this time. But literally every day we have been here the sky has been blue and, albeit sometimes windy, the temperature has been warm. I am even contemplating wearing flip flops today…we shall see. But yes, the weather has been special—eSPECIALly for us! Or maybe we brought our warm smiles and personalities to Potsdam as a gift to the locals?… Regardless, we have truly lucked out.

So, I have a great deal of bloggage catching up to do, since I have not been able to blog these past few days—our days have been brim-full! The following blogs will give you insight into what we have been up to ever since Sunday night…

Sunday night was our “homestay” night. The group was split up between a few different families around Potsdam. Some of us went alone to eat with a family while others were in pairs or groups of three. Each family came and picked us up at our Jugend herberge (youth hostel), and took us to their homes, which essentially felt like a kidnap. It really was a funny situation—riding in a car with complete strangers (from a different country/who speak a different mother language) and going to their homes to converse and eat their home-cooked meals. However comical the situation, though, it was a GREAT experience! I, for example, was whisked away by a married couple in their late thirties. They lived in an apartment and had a 13-year-old girl (Stella) and a 3-year-old girl (Matti—Mattilda). The family was so congenial, and they made me feel right at home. For dinner we had tomato soup (with basil and parmesan cheese), mashed potatoes, sauerkraut, and two different types of meat—one being pig knuckles, which was actually really delicious, just not something I would buy/eat on my own. For drinks we had water, Berliner Kindl Weiß Bier, schnapps, and red wine. ‘Twas a true German meal! We talked in German until my German started to fail later in the evening—understanding German is quite easy, but speaking it, especially for extended periods of time, becomes quite difficult. My family showed me some family photo albums of their summer trips to Ireland and Norway, they asked some questions about myself, and then they told me about their experience as children in the GDR (DDR). You will have to ask your respective son/daughter/friend and so on about their individual homestay, since we all had different experiences. It is safe to say, however, that they were eye-opening, rare, and special experiences!

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