Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Im Harz

[ In the Harz ]

Like almost everything that has happened this past year, events and dates just creep up on you. Once my Praktikums ended, and my planned trip to Finland came to a close, I knew that I had a few days to wrap everything up and spend the last days with family and friends. Well, naturally even those days blurred faster than I thought.


Andreas always had Wednesdays off from working at der Laden, the shop, and the day was always reserved as a day for him to catch up on some of the logistical aspects of running a small business, but it was also a day in the middle of the week to have quality family time together. During the Winter months, maybe that meant seeing a movie, in the spring Andreas and I went on a trip together to Weimar, in the spring and summer, when the weather warmed up, no moment went wasted to eat outside in der Garten.

This particular Wednesday, my last in fact, also had a nice family outing planned, and the event was once again into another area into der Harz von Deutschland, The highest moutain range of northern Germany. The area is sprawling with hills and rolling farmlands, but amongst this country-like scene, history abounds, being the epicenter for so much unification in a land that has such a vivid past.

The trip for the day was to travel to the top of Brocken mountain, the highest peak in the range. Starting at the base, we hiked a bit through the woods and ended up at the train station that had huge steam engines from the war-times that roared up the mountain creating a very exciting atmosphere.

The views from above were spectacular. The best part about the day, however, was having such a nice opportunity to share with my host parents. Studying abroad for so long has challenged me and taught me so many new things. There are so many things I am indebted to my German family, The Sebodes. A host family is not a required component of the CBYX program, but to me, it may have been one of the most profound, even on top of studying and working in German environments.

Towards the end of the year, I have to actually remind myself what I had actually experienced. I lived as a member of a German family - I underestimate the fact of how much they have seen me grow this past year. The first night that I met my host parents, I was still stuttering out German and tripping up on my verb forms. As the year progressed, we would talk about anything, and as we came to this closing trip, many funny stories would come up.

I never really realized it, but I became quite infamous with the family in the beginning, because I would constantly say "aha" as a form of acknowledgment, and my host parents quickly caught on to its meaning of ... "ja, I had no idea what you just said, but I am going to be polite and just nod and say 'aha' ". Almost as a grievance to this goofy expression, Inge did note that as my German improved, away went the "aha's".

Things were never really sad towards the end. We talked too much about things we could do together in the future to have any sense of end to my stay with them. I still cannot grasp the magnitude of just how long I was there. How comfortable I became and how normalized daily life became for me. It even comforts me to know that I would get my host parents angry if I got them nervous or did something wrong - and I would feel just as ashamed with my mistakes and just as proud with my successes when I was able to share them with my host family. I think it will be these memories that will grow along with me and show just how much I really gained from this experience as time goes on.

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