October

Alright a couple things to start this off- I’m cold and it’s going to get colder but I only have 72 more days until I’ll be getting on my flight back to Australia and that feels like only a few weeks. I’ve been here now for over 280 days (9 months or so) and it’s gone so fast. This month I’ve been able to have a few days in Berlin and a few days also in Amsterdam and they were both absolutely beautiful. They were also a great opportunity to get more pins and things for my blazer.

 

Berlin: I went to Berlin for about four days this month. I went down on a Friday after school and spent time with some of the exchange students who live in Berlin and also saw a lot of the important sites and museums Berlin has to offer including Checkpoint Charlie, the Brandenburger Tor, and the East Side Gallery where 1.6km of the original Berlin wall still stands.

During a few of the nights I was there, Berlin had a light show on many of the old buildings much like Vivid in Sydney. I met up with some exchange students at the Brandenburger Tor and we watched that for a while. I think the theme must have been on freedom as there were many animations and quotes projected onto the structure such as “Freiheit ist, wenn ich Sonntags im Mauerpark alle Sprachen dieser Welt höre” (Freedom is when I hear all the languages of the world in the Mauerpark on Sundays) or “Freiheit ist, dass egal was ich brauche, ich es hier finde, denn Berlin hat für jeden was” (Freedom is that no matter what I need, I can find it here because Berlin has something for everyone).

During the time I was there, I realised just how much I love public transport. I’ve always appreciated busses and the occasional train, but Berlin is amazing with public transport and I think we should get a subway in Maitland. Just a little idea but also talk to your government representatives. Make it happen. They even have free wifi on all the subway stations- it’s magical.

The most interesting place for me was the Berlin Hohenschönhausen. It was used by the Stasi in former East Germany as a political prison which over 20,000 people passed through. The conditions were inhumane, and they used torture, disorientation, and psychological intimidation to interrogate people who attempted or planned to leave East Germany as well as political prisoners. Much of the time, the prisoners didn’t know why they were there or what they were being accused of, but they were always assumed guilty and were forced to stay up during the night being interrogated to find the extent of their actions. I took a two-hour guided tour through the cells and interrogation rooms- some of which were set up as they were back then and if you’re ever in Berlin, I would really recommend taking a tour.

Amsterdam: This month I had the opportunity to see Amsterdam for a few days with Lauren from the USA, her host mum, and her host cousin. It was so beautiful, and we got to see a lot in the few days we were there. We went on a few of those Hop on-Hop off bus and boat tours through the city and the canals, we had a look at the Van Gogh museum, and inside the permanent exhibition in Body Works where real bodies are used to show how the body functions. There was also a small fair which we went to after dinner both nights where we could see over most of the city. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get inside the Anne Frank House as the line was a few hours long and tickets sell out well in advance.

I loved that instead of not understanding German, I could have a go at not understanding Dutch for the weekend.

 

Paris: On the first of November, I’ll be going Paris for a few days with Rotary and the exchange students from 1880, 1940, and 1950 (the same districts as Eurotour so once again probably around one hundred exchange students). We’ll be going by bus overnight and seeing a lot during our three days in Paris. Unfortunately, most of the exchange students from our Eurotour have already gone home because of the different school year in the Northern Hemisphere but it’ll be good to see the others from Australia and New Zealand as well as the newbies who arrived only a few months ago.

I know from my oldies that it’s an exciting week away so I’m really looking forward to it and I guess I’ll explain a bit more about it next month.

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July

July, seventh month of the year. It’s been over 200 days but it feels like it’s been much less.

 

Right now, I’m on school holidays for six weeks. My host family and I aren’t doing any big holidays but so far we’ve been out and about a lot. We’ve still got three weeks left for the holidays and once I go back to school I’ll be in the 11th grade in a new class. I’ll also be switching from the Geography to the language profile.

 

Some of the things I’ve done or seen this month;

  • Went to see Travemünde Sailing Week in Lübeck. It’s a big yearly festival at Travemünde beach and the second biggest sailing event in the world (beaten by Keil Week also in Germany only two hours from me).
  • Got to see Hamburg both as a school trip with my class and when going to get my phone fixed.
  • Picked raspberries with my host parents at a local farm.
  • I made a pavlova for my host family. They weren’t the biggest fans because it was too sweet so I made them some more ANZAC biscuits.
  • Spent the day with twenty teens from all over the world who were participating in a Rotary summer trip. We had a tour of Mölln and learnt about Till Eulenspiegel, a trickster that travelled Europe and particularly Northern Germany in the 1300s. He died in Mölln and a gravestone was erected once the people of Mölln realised how important he was to everyone. We walked around the town and I found out there was a massive park just behind the main street that I had somehow never seen. The main part of the day was when we did the Drei Musekel Tour in Ratzeburg. First with a hand car on a train track, then on a six-person conference bike, and the last stretch was on a dragon boat that fit up to twenty people. It was a really good day.
  • I saw the Roncalli Circus in Lübeck with my Rotary host counsellor, Silke.
  • I spent the day with my host parents and Pauline my host sister in Hansa park. It’s a theme park near Lübeck and it’s really pretty with buildings and rides based off things and places like Lübeck and other Hansa cities.
  • Yesterday I was at the Seal Station in Friedrichskoog near the North Sea. They do a lot of work with pups abandoned by their mums.
  • Harry and I said goodbye to our oldies, Paloma and Brianna from Mexico and the USA. That was sad but we still talk a bit and we’ve got our newbie coming in around two weeks.

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June

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Copenhagen! We had our goodbye weekend for the oldies of the district this month in Rostock with a day trip to Copenhagen, Denmark. Not everyone from the district was able to come but it was nice to be with most of them again.

Saturday was an early start because we took our bus onto the ferry, spent four hours or so there, and then a few more hours drive to Copenhagen. After the long trek, we only had about four hours in Copenhagen until we had to go back but during that time we walked around the city and then had a some of free time to buy souvenirs.

On Sunday, after Kerstin, the head of YEP in D1940, and the Rotex left, we stayed outside the hostel for a few more hours signing flags, writing in books, swapping business cards, giving out pins, and recording voice messages for each other on their phones.

We spent a lot of time at Warnemünde beach in Rostock on Friday, and then again Saturday night and Sunday before Harry, Paloma, and I went back. (Although on Sunday we almost didn’t make it back because we misjudged how long it would take us to get from the beach to the train station and ran the whole way). It was a really good weekend with not many tears because we were going to see each other at the district conference.
In Berlin this month, District 1940 had our annual conference. All the exchange students from the district are expected to attend and help the Youth Exchange Program continue by showing we’re not a complete waste of time and money and giving the leaders of the district an idea of who we are. Some of us performed in small groups or alone doing songs, skits, poetry, or dances that are either from our countries or to do with being an exchange student in Germany. We also as a group sang “Wir Sind Alle Wie Eins” (We Are All Like One). It’s a song about people speaking different languages and being from different countries and coming together as one so it was pretty fitting for our group.

We didn’t have enough people performing for the time slot we had so I volunteered to play and sing Land Down Under on guitar. It was the first time I had properly played a guitar in almost 150 days so it was a bit challenging. Adding to that, I only knew I would be performing an hour or two beforehand and two other groups needed the guitar too. But, with a little advice from my friends such as, “You’ve gotta sound more bogan”- Peter from Melbourne, it sounded pretty good.

At the end of our section of the conference, we sang Wir Sind Alle Wie Eins and by the time we finished more than a few teary eyes could be found so it was time for group hugs and more crying. Then we realised we should probably get off the stage so they can finish the conference.
In the past couple weeks, the exchange students from the Northern Hemisphere where the school is different have started going home and that’s been really sad. Especially saying goodbye to people who live really far from Australia and aren’t as easy to visit- so basically everyone except for Kiwis.

Brianna (US) and Paloma (Mexico), the oldies from Harry and I’s town, will be going back soon and neither of us are looking forward to that, but last week I learnt that we’ll be having a newbie arrive at the end of August from the US called Lauren. I’ve already talked to her a couple times over the phone so that’s exciting.

May

!!!!!

Ok, so Eurotour was a thing this month! 19 days with 105 other exchange students spread out on only two busses. We left on the 30th of April and got back on the 19th of May after visiting six different countries, ten cities, and a lot of servos.

We started in Dresden, and visited Prague, Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna, Venice, Pisa, Rome, Innsbruck (Austria), Bamberg (Germany), and finished in Berlin. It was insane.

I’m writing a bit of a report on what I did each day but that’s not quite finished yet. But I do have a couple of days ready so I’ll put them at the end.

 

Last weekend I changed families for the first time and it’s been really cool. There are two daughters in my new family; Paulina and Friederike. Friederike was in Taiwan from 2014-2015 with Rotary as an exchange student.

The town I’m in now is Sterley. It has only a thousand people but has a shop open every day including Saturday and Sundays. In Germany, everything (other than restaurants) is closed on Sundays. This is the same in big cities like Berlin and my last host town which was much bigger.

In my town, there’s also a dairy farm where you can walk in whenever you want and say hi to all the cows and the calves. School finished early Wednesday so Friederike and I went to have a look at them and there were about five or so little calves that you can give a bit of a scratch as well as heaps of older ones. They also have one of those automatic milking things and that was cool. This morning I had their milk in my coffee.

I’m still going to my school in Mölln and Friederike is in the year above me. School is going well and recently I went out with one of my friends to get ice cream which was the first time I’ve been out with one of my German friends. That was really nice.

 

I’ve recently been going much better with my German. I’ve spoken basically only German with my new family except for a few times when we needed to make sure we were all on the same page. They say that usually you’re able to understand a lot by the four to sixth month mark and I’m half way through my fourth month and I know a lot more.

Can’t say the same for my English. In English class, we’re starting a new topic- South Africa. We all had to brainstorm things that come to mind when we think of South Africa. I wrote down a lot of things including giraffe and elephant and had a bit of a crisis when I forgot how to spell elephant- with an “f” or with a “ph”. So, I tried writing down both. The “f” looked most correct and I thought- wow Jess how could you have thought it was with a “ph”? I didn’t realise until I was typing this and the little red line showed up that, elephant is spelt like elephant. Not my finest moment. So sorry if there’s any spelling mistakes or anything else like that in report. My English is having some problems right now. Good luck trying to understand me in December.

 

What’s happening soon? Well, next weekend, there’s a Rotex weekend in Copenhagen to say goodbye to the oldies who are leaving soon. I’m really excited to see them all again but it’ll only be a bit over half of everyone from Eurotour (the other half are from the other districts who came with us). I’m not sure what we’ll be doing in Denmark but I’ll be able to put all that in my next report.

 

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April

 

100 DAYS!

I saw a post a few days ago by an exchange student from the U.S. in my district in Germany. It talked about how they’ve only got 100 days left until they return home. On May the first, I will have spent 100 days in Germany which is pretty crazy. Time is flying and it’s both so exciting and completely terrifying. It’s like the time between each of these reports just get shorter and shorter each month and it feels like it was such a short time ago that me another Australia to Germany exchange student were in Frankfurt airport trying to find our gates and order soup in a coffee cup.

We knew we had no idea what we were doing that day (especially when we walked into the bathrooms at the Frankfurt airport and spent an embarrassingly long time trying to figure out how to use the soap and the paper towel dispenser) and while I don’t think anyone’s actually figured out what’s happening or what they’re doing, that’s just part of the fun.

So much has changed in the past nearly 100 days that there’s really not that much that’s the same as it was in Germany. In Australia I never spoke German and I never had to figure out German bus timetables. Being at Bishop Tyrrell since Kindergarten, I’ve never had to learn to go to a new school or learn the names of the 25 people in my class. But now I’m doing all these things and more and I’ve had an amazing time doing it.

There’s been a lot of hard days when I thought that maybe I would like to sleep in my bed in Australia just once and maybe spend a couple hours with my parents but then I remember all the times where I just couldn’t stop laughing with my friends because of a mistake in my German or even the numerous mistakes that I make in English or like this morning when my neighbour was out for a walk and let me pat his two tiny dogs and then none of that other stuff matters as much anymore.
Like every month, April was packed with some really cool things. This month we had our two-week Easter holidays and my host family invited me to a pony farm where they teach you how to ride a horse. There were over 50 kids there ranging from total beginners (like me) to people who come every year and some who come twice a year. It was my host family’s seventh time at the pony farm as both Lilia and my host mum ride horses. It was six days with an hour in the morning and then another hour again in the afternoon. We also spent half an hour or so each time brushing the horse and getting it ready for riding.
I had never ridden a horse. I assume that learning to a ride horse is hard but I was also doing it mostly in German which caused a couple of misunderstandings but we got there in the end.

My horse was called Emily and was absolutely beautiful. By the last two days we could gallop and I understood a few more German words. You could tell that all the instructors really loved the animals and they were incredibly nice to both them and to us. It was a really good week.

It was ANZAC Day was last week and although I’m not in Australia, I still think it’s an important thing to remember and commemorate. There’s a WWI memorial site only a five-minute walk from my house and so on the 25th I went down and laid some flowers.

A few of you who have added me on snapchat may have seen my attempt at ANZAC biscuits the day before ANZAC Day. As always, it seemed as if my attempt at baking didn’t go quite as well as it could have. For example; I called over my host sister to help with rolling the biscuits and she asked me if I had put in the rolled oats yet because they’re a pretty important part of the biscuit. I had not. There was also the forgetting to put the golden syrup in with the butter until much later than I should have and also the coconut that fell all over the ground. Not my finest hour.

Luckily, they’re pretty hard to mess up and they taste heavenly. There are a couple of things that I think I’ll do differently next time and I have to do it again because there’s a few things I want to try differently and also because I now have a 500 gram bag of rolled oats (yeah, nearly a hundred days and I’m still terrified of German shopping centres).

My parents surprised me this month with a package from Australia. Some of the very exciting things were a few Cabury Easter bilbies for my host family, some chocolate eggs, and Kangaroo, Crocodile, and Emu Jerky. I also now have Vegemite coming out my ears (if anyone in Europe wants to stop by Germany and take some Vegemite, please do-I have so much). There were also some ANZAC biscuits and 1kg of Bundaberg Golden Syrup which I used in mine. Thanks so much Mum and Dad xx

Very exciting news is that Sunday, I’m going on my Eurotour!! It’s 19 days long with heaps of other exchange students. We will travel to six different countries in Europe. We’ll first go to the Czech Republic, then to Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Italy, and then back to Germany for a few days. I’m so excited because I’ve looked at the itinerary and from what German I could understand, it’s going to be great!

There’ll be over 100 exchange students with about half from districts other than my own. We’ll be on two busses with some nights spent in the bus and I’ll be sure to bring my Tim Tams and my Vegemite.

I’ll have my camera with me and I’ll make a post about it once I come back so expect lots of photos!

I’ve got to finish packing now but I’m really excited and there was so much work put in to this by the district organisers and so I know it’s going to be a great time.

March Report

There’s been a lot of things happening this month- I’ve joined a badminton team, I’ve been to a Rotary weekend, the sun’s come out, and there’s been a lot of ice cream with friends.

With the promise of a new packet of Tim-Tams, I thought it was about time to try the packet in my suitcase. My host family tried one and they really liked them but of course you can’t properly eat Tim-Tams without a cup of coffee. Luckily, I could make this experience truly Australian with some Blend 43 Nescafé Coffee (yes, I chose to bring instant coffee sachets in my suitcase instead of the important things and no, I don’t regret it). We each had a cup of coffee in one hand and a Tim-Tam in the other. It was time. I showed them which corners to bite and we all had very successful Tim-Tam Slams with no one dropping the Tim-Tams into their drink.

Something that I knew I wanted to make for them was a pavlova and last weekend I could. It was a lot harder to make it in Germany with trying to find the right white vinegar, getting the eggs, and translating things like cornflour. But we got there in end after three trips to the shops, a new electric beater, and sending frantic messages from the aisles of German Aldi to my Mum and Dad in Australia about what fruits should I put on top (we had kiwi fruit, passion fruit, and a berry mix with strawberries, raspberries, a few others).

Luckily, they loved it. They had never had a pavlova before and it was their first time eating passion fruit, but I was asked for the recipe by Silke so it must have gone well.

Recently the weather has had a very sunny change. While it’s still a bit too cold to go out without a jumper, there’s been lots of sun and last weekend I went with my host parents and their dog on a bike ride around one of the lakes near our house. Today I went with Lilia and her friend on a paddle boat on another of the lakes. It was hot enough that we didn’t really have to wear our jackets and while the sun was lovely, the water is still too cold for swimming.

Daylight savings have come and now I’m only 9 hours behind Australia because Spring is here! (edit: ok so I was told that actually you’ve moved an hour behind last night or a few nights ago and so it’s now 8 hrs difference) The flowers are all coming out- especially the Osterglocken (Easter bells) that are planted all around the garden. I’m excited because in the next couple of weeks, the trees are going to start getting their leaves again. Spring also means the ice cream cafés are opening again and there’s a lot of ice cream cafes in Germany with three in Ratzeburg alone. Also- because Germany is cold to begin with, ice cream weather is much cooler than in Australia. I can eat an ice cream without it melting everywhere!

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The First Rotary Weekend

My rotary district held an exchange student orientation weekend from the 3rd-5th of March in Strauβberg which is only 30kms east of Berlin. The orientation was the one of three with the other the sixty or so exchange students in my district (with one more Orientation in Strauβberg in a few months and the final one in Paris (!!!) towards the end of the year).

We were able to spend a few hours in Berlin before we went to the camp we would stay at and during those hours Harry, Paloma, and I met up with a few more exchange students from the district- some hosted in Berlin and some who travelled by train like us. During those few hours we saw the Reichstag building, the Brandenburg Gate, and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. We all chatted for a while while we ate lunch and then it was back to the train station to go to Strauβberg. We arrived at the camp at 6:00 that night and the newbies (3 of us- one New Zealander, one Aussie from Melbourne, and myself) got to talk to some more of the oldies (about 60 from all around the world who have already been in Germany for 6 months).

One part of the orientation was when we were to present our countries to the other exchange students and a few guests- including a few outbounds from that district who will be leaving soon. Some of the countries went alone such as Brazil who did a dance but most paired up with other countries like the USA with Canada who did a sketch on what American school is like in reality and in then movies. A few of the European countries stood up and fought over what country has the best food (of course that ended in the floor being littered in paper drawn to look like pizza and a few baugettes broken from being hit over the Italians’ heads- also I should tell you that all the Italians in this sketch had chefs hats made from a few pieces of paper stuck together with sticky tape). There was also a lot of food like chocolate from Norway or a Mexican lolly called Mazapan.

It all tasted so good but it felt like there was something missing. Something strong and salty but in just the right amounts. Vegemite. I’m sure everyone was estatic that I had brought some along with me from Australia. Most were a bit wary of it, but a few dug right in with their broken baguette pieces. In the end almost everyone tried some and I know of at least 5 out of the 60 people who said they liked it (it is irrelevant that three of those five are made up by two Australians and a New Zealander). Vegemite really is an internationally loved food.

This orientation was the last of the three for the oldies so the next time we’ll be all together like this again is for the Eurotour at the end of May when we will go with another rotary district around Europe for 20 days! (I’ll tell you more about that trip later).

It was a really awesome weekend and it was so good to be able to get to know more of the enchange students around me. I’ve already started planning to meet up with some of them and I can’t wait until we’re all together again for Eurotour. Less than 5o days to go!

February

I’ve spent almost 40 days in Germany but doesn’t feel that long. It’s been going terrifically- I have seen a bit more of Ratzeburg, Mölln, and Lübeck and I’ve been understanding more German.

Being only a 20-minute train ride away, it’s pretty easy to go to Lübeck so two weekends or so ago I went with Lilia- my host sister, Paloma, the exchange student from Mexico, and her host sister. We walked around a bit, went in some stores, and I accidentally paid a street performer almost $5 AUD for a few photos -pay attention to currency conversion rates.

The next day I went up to Lübeck again with my host family and some of their family friends from Berlin that they spend Christmas with. While they looked at some shops and had a look inside the Holsten Gate, their daughter, Lilia, and I went ice skating in an outdoor ice skating rink. After a while we went with everyone else on a walk through the city.

Friday nights are now the nights where we speak mainly German and Jess cooks so last Friday night I made rissoles for my host family and they were so shocked when I pulled out a few of those Australian tomato sauce packets you have with pies and sausage rolls that you squeeze. I didn’t realise that they were a mostly Australian thing but my host mother really liked them and thought they were both tasty and practical. They haven’t seen anything yet- wait until I bring out the vegemite.

Yesterday, Paloma, Harry, Brianna from the USA, and I met up all together for the first in a little café in Ratzeburg. I have Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday off from school this week so tomorrow Harry and I are going to go up to Lübeck have a walk around.

I have finished my German lessons with the New Zealand exchange student Harry in Razteburg but we’ve been talking with my Rotary club on other ways I can do a language course and now I’m doing language lessons one on one with someone. Each Friday my school has a class for German as a foreign language. There’s only a few people in the class and the teacher is nice so that’s also been helping.

School has been really good. I’m still hanging out with people in my class and I’ve been talking to some people outside of my class too including one girl who invited me over to her house to have pizza. One of my classes is politics and I have asked my politics teacher if she would like me to give a presentation on how the Australian government works and how legislation is made as I think they are looking at how the German government makes laws. So on Monday I’m going to present the PowerPoint I made for the one of the Rotary orientation weekends in Australia.

I went to another Rotary meeting a few days ago, where I spoke about my family, where I live, and my school in Australia which went well and I was able to introduce myself properly to the president of my club.
On Friday Harry, Paloma, and I have a Rotary orientation meeting in Strausberg with all the other Rotary exchange students in our district (about 65-70). Paloma has been in Germany for 6 months so she’s already been to two other meetings but for Harry and I it will be our first time with everyone else. It’s only 30kms away from Berlin so Paloma, Harry, and I will spend the morning looking around. It’ll be my first time in Berlin so I’m really excited!

January

The first weeks in Ratzeburg, Germany have been amazing! Once we were out of Hamburg the fields all had so much snow covering them- it was beautiful! They showed me around Ratzeburg which is where I will live for the next 3-4 months.

The first weeks in Ratzeburg, Germany have been amazing! On the first day, my host sister, Lilia, and my host dad, Jan, met me at the airport and took me home. Once we were out of Hamburg the fields all had so much snow covering them- it was beautiful! They showed me around Ratzeburg which is where I will live for the next 3-4 months.

Ratzeburg is a town in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. It is about 20km from Lübeck and there are 14.5 thousand people living in Razteburg. It is surrounded by four lakes and so has a very popular canoeing club. This club has been to the Olympics three times earning them two gold and a silver medal during the 60s’.

A few weekends ago I went to Lübeck with my host mum and sister. We looked inside a museum that’s located inside the Holsten Gate. The Holsten Gate is the last of the three that were built around the city in the 13th century. We also had a walk along the river and saw some of the architecture that’s a very important part of Lübeck.

I have been attending German lessons twice a week with the other exchange student from my host club. We have nearly finished the original 4 weeks but are considering extending for a few more lessons. I am also going to start attending a German as a foreign language class at my school.

I have been into town most days since I arrived. It’s quite close so it’s easy to ride over to do something. It is only about 10 minutes to ride there and it is across the lake so it’s a nice ride. Last weekend I met up with two other exchange students- one rotary exchange student from Mexico called Paloma and another from the USA named Briana who is with another program. We spent a few hours chatting and we got along quite well.

I had my first Rotary Club meeting a few weeks ago and it went well. Harry- the exchange student from New Zealand who is also being hosted by my club- and I introduced ourselves and next week we’re going to do a presentation to tell them a bit about us and our countries.

There is going to be an orientation weekend in March that all the exchange students from my district will go to. I’m really excited about it because I’ll be able to meet them and because Paloma, Harry, and I are planning on spending a few hours in Berlin to look around.

!!! SNOW !!! My first experience with snow! When I arrived there was only a few remaining piles from the days and weeks before but ! it started actually snowing! There hasn’t been a lot but twice there has been a couple of centimetres which is just enough to make everything look absolutely magical.

On 26th, I went to school for the first time. I spent the first week in Year 8 but moved up to year 10 to be with kids who are closer to my age.

There are still a few things that I am getting used to and that may take a while to set in (the toothpaste and my host dad’s shaving cream look very similar) but so far it’s been absolutely amazing! There’s so many things to be excited about and I’m having a great time.

Last hours in Australia

It is now less than 17 hours until take-off! I have been, with the help of my parents, packing, unpacking, and repacking my suitcase and am now almost ready to go (with the exception of the last minute Carmello Koalas I still have to shove into my suitcase somewhere). Tip for future packing: probably don’t weigh your suitcase every time you put something new in it.


^ Half way there!

So what did I pack? Nearly 300 badges to share with other Rotarian exchange students, of which about 120 I made myself from the sheepskin scraps I got from my old bosses at Mortels, Tony and Stephanie and the old name badges from my Dad’s travel company All Australian Journeys. It was a big job cutting them all out but hey, they are unique!  Of course there are the obligatory three jars of vegemite, gifts for my host families and friends I meet along the way, and of course the technology: one la top, an ipad, three cameras (down from the planned four), and of course my mobile (I had realised early on the only way I was going to get a mobile before I turned 16 was to go to another country).

packing-vegemite-jess-aitchison

Right now in my host town it is about 35 degrees colder than I have been experiencing for the past month here in Australia so it will be quite the change. I have been talking and getting to know my host family through emails, text, and skype and I am quite excited to be able to meet them in person very soon!

Actually, I’m a bit nervous about the language thing…apparently the four or five hours I have been taking to painstakingly translate my email responses has been a little too effective…my counsellor complimented me on my German yesterday – boy is he in for a shock when he tries to talk to me! Lucky my first host family speaks perfect English…!

So this is my last night with my family before I leave and while I’m going to miss them a lot, I am excited for what’s to come. 


^Before we left for Sydney

I am staying in Sydney tonight before my flight and it’s kind of like a dress rehearsal. I am relieved to find out that the only thing I have forgotten to pack so far is a bangle my mum gave me a few months ago- not my passport. It’s ok because we’ve discussed how it was going to be a pain to get through security while I was wearing it and I don’t want to lose it- it’ll be something to look forward to when coming home 🙂

Fingers crossed that’s the only thing I’ve forgotten. Wait! Where’s my wallet?! Oh yeah, it’s in my bag. Probably time to go to bed before the packing panic really sets in.

I best sign off for now…maybe a bit of German to set the tone…Auf Wiedersehen.