Sunday, December 23, 2012

Today it finally hit me, Christmas Eve is tomorrow. Well technically for Switzerland Christmas is tomorrow since they celebrate on Christmas Eve. And really I feel absolutely nothing. I don't feel the holiday spirit. Maybe because im not at home. Or maybe it's because they don't have far enough decorations as we do in America. This sucks, really. I feel like one of them old men who already had celebrated a thousand christmas' so could care less. Maybe it will feel like Christmas but who knows. But, for now it's just gonna be another day. BAH HUMBUG!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Today I decided I was going to be more of a listener and less of a talker. So I did just that, I listened a little more than usual to conversations and I payed attention to the atmosphere around me. It all brought me to a new perspective of thinking and why things are the way they are. Also, made me a little confused and although listening has answered some questions it has also created more. So, im going to share with you my wonderful yet sometimes un-answerable questions.

-Why can you hear an airplane before you can see it?
-Why do bad things happen to good people?
-Why does the cold weather make us feel a different emotion than when it's hot and sunny?
-Why does God allow suffering?
-Why does pink represent a girl and blue represent a boy?
-Why do alot of peolpe believe that the world is going to end on Dec. 21st?
-Why do swiss people talk swiss german to someone who cannot?
-What made me decide to actually go through with being an exchange student?
-Why is a picture worth a thousand words?
-Where is the next place in the world I am going to visit?
-Why is it so hard to learn german?
-Why are blonde hair and blue eyed people considered the superior race?
-Why do we learn things in school we will never use again in our lives?
-Why do we force children to believe in magic, such as santa claus and the tooth fairy?
-Why can't I speak french anymore?
-Why do beautiful people have ugly hearts?
-Why do people always want what the don't have?
-Why don't I take a second out of each day to do something good for someone else?
-Why does the time go slow when your not enjoying yourself but fast when your having the time of your life?
-Why do people believe in love at first sight?
-Why do I wear so much black?
-Will I ever learn how to speak swiss german?
-Why do people judge people with tattoos?
-Why isn't graffiti considered a work of art?
-How can a person hurt little children?
-Why is it easier to curse then pray?
-Why is a rose considered as a symbol for love?
-Why can't I find the 'right man' for me?
-Why do I love cars more than most girls?
-Does gum really stay in your tummy for years?
-What would I be doing right now if I was in America?
-Why is time everything?
-Why am I thinking too hard?

And, my conclusion to this day was; Sometimes, the things we can't change end up changing us.

Monday, December 17, 2012

So on Christmas Eve, I have been in Switzerland for 4 months. So now it's the perfect time to tell you about this amazing country im living in. I feel like Americans don't have the slighest clue about Switzerland othe than they have really good choclate and cheese. Some people don't even know this country exists becuase it's so tiny and you can barely find it on the map of Europe. When I told most of my friends I was leaving they always told me to have fun in Sweden. I still have no idea how they came up with that one. But, it was the funniest when my dad told me that. Since he clearly knew where I was going.
To start off ill tell you a little about the country and history and then go into some fun and interesting facts that im sure you would love to know. Well as I said before Switzerland is a very small country. It is located between Germany, Austria, France and Italy. Because of the bordering countries, they have 4 main languages spoken, German, French, Italian and Romanish. Switzerland has 26 cantons. Cantons are equal to states that we have in the US. In schools in the german speaking part they learn german from Germany but they speak swiss german. Every kanton speaks a different dialect of swiss german. Sometimes this means only some of the words are differnt but most of the times it's just the way it sounds when someone talks, like an accent. Also, equivalent to the US. Like in TX and CA, they sound a little differnt then PA. The most interesting part of this whole dialect thing for me is that sometimes the swiss people can't understand people from another canton. But I don't blame them becuase I sure as hell can't either. I just barely understand St.Gallen deutsch. Well enough with the stuff im sure you find boring, now off to the interseting stuff. Well Switzerland has a very good public transportation system with trains and busses that are always punctual. People are always on a time schedule. There is no such thing as a personal space bubble. People will squeeze in between you and your friend just to get by. Or run into you without ever saying sorry, just becuase they know they will never see you again. Most houses are very modern but the cities look old, the streets are paved with cobblestone and the buildings have paintings and art on them. Everything is extremely clean. The Swiss flag is everwhere. You will never loose track of time becuase there is a clock almost everywhere you go. Everything is extremely expencive. The swiss use any reason to party from getting a good grade in school to an anniversary of friendship. You have to be 18 to drive, 16 to drink beer and wine and 18 to drink liquor. The swiss are very open and friendly to talk anytime. Almost everyone can speak a little english. School is very demanding. It's normal to come home from school for lunch. Dinner is bread and meat and cheese, only on weekends a hot meal is prepared. Swiss people will go out of there way to help someone. If you are obsessed with VW R32 you deff. came to the right place, I see about 3 a day on average (; Boys are flirts but would never talk to a girl first. All the rumors you hear about swiss choclate being the best in the world is absolutely true. I've meet more americans this past week than my whole time here. Maybe americans like to come here for the holidays, no idea. Newspaper, Movies and school work, is all done in german. The only time people write in swiss german is to their friends in a text or facebook. To legally have a dog you have to go through an agility course. Dogs are allowed in trains and bussed but have to have a special ticket. It is extremly cold here in winter. The weather is like a pregnant person, one second it's raining and the next second it's snowing. The mountains are absolutely breath taking. Swiss cows are the most cared for in the world in my opinion. They always have fresh pastures to graze on, not cooped up in stalls, and are milked by hand. Family is the most important part of their hectic and stressful days. Everyone loves america and it's their dream to come here. Their always rocking shoes or scarfs with the american flag. It's normal for people to wear clothing for two days because swiss washing mashines are 'soo good'. Most of the music is in every language but german. Zurich, is the most epencive city in all of the world. Swiss people love to talk but they would never talk about their feelings. People smoke alot. Jobs are the only thing young people are focused on. People never say like, they say love. You most likely will never hear of a prison here. If you don't have a pencil case you are considered uncool. It's normal for you to get a list from your class of everyone's address and number. When you are introduced to someone they always ask where you live. Huge scarfs are 'in'. Girls dress to impress not based on the weather. Kebab is the best food in the world, im truely addicted. There are alot of immagrants here from Turkey. Switzerland is amazing. Come here and see for yourself (: I'm clearly in love!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My topic today is Expierence.
As of right now I am expierencing many new things. On monday I got to spend my 17th birthday in another country. Far away from my family and friends. This was quite different. I went to school, got greeted my everyone in my class by a hug and a happy birthday in english or german. Some of my friends gave me presents and I was beyond delighted. I didn't expect anything at all. I once herd this saying "when you expect the least from someone or something you get the most out of it." This was exactually true. Then I came home for lunch and my family sang happy birthday to me and I blew out the candle on my little green swiss desert. I am really looking forward to seeing if my wish comes true. Every year I wish for something but I always forget what I wished for. This year im keeping tabs on this wish. Because if it ever comes true it will surely be a miracle. After School it was just like a normal day, nothing special. Just running around the yard with no shoes on in the snow with my host brother and sister like normal swiss people. Even though my day was nothing special, I was absolutely okay with this. Maybe a little let down from seeing how other exchange students are clebrating their birthdays here. But maybe we will celebrate on the weekend.
So back to the subject, I guess you can say by now im having the expierence of my life. Some times I think if I was still in the US right now what I would be doing? Would I be driving to school or would I be hanging out with my best friend? I even sometimes this about when I go back. I think about how damn punctiual I will be for everything. Since being late doesn't fly with swiss people. Or maybe I will be calm and cool with whatever happens.
Right now im expierencing so many new things, new cultures, new family, new school, new friends from all over the world, new languages and new ways of thinking. But right now I couldn't be happier with all of these new things. Lately I've been thinking who am I becoming? When I was a child I was so shy, I wouldnt go anywhere without my mommy or daddy. My sister would always talk for me and now im forced to talk for myslef, in another language at that. Some people ask me why I wanted to go so far away from my family and friends? They ask me how am I so brave? I dont really know, I guess right now I just living life as it comes at me. And, honestly it suites me very well. Lately, I feel so spontanious, I never know what will happen next in my life. This is kind of the opposite of the swiss lifestyle, they are so strickt and to the point. Friends here will ask you a month ahead of time what you are doing in this weekend, the teachers will tell you, you have a test next month. But me, of course im always on time but Im living life as it comes to me. One weekend im in a different kanton and the next im in another country, or doing something I would never imagine myself doing. Like being okay with living with a new family. Life is so new and exciting, and right now im loving every second of it. This is my Swiss Expierence.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Today I actually have some time to write down a couple thoughts and not have to say about what i've been doing for the past three weeks or so. These are all of my thought and things i've been feeling in the past few days.
Stressed, Confused, Dazed, Happy, Sad, Emotional, Excited, Anxious, Alone, Let down. And the list goes on and on...
All of these feelings in only a few days. Plus the headaches, the tears and lack of commuication with the most important person to discuss my feelings about, myself. I know this is repetion to my last post but, everyone said the first few months of being an exchange student will be hard. This was true. But the best advice I have ever gotten was this, the first two months you will be busy, new school, new language, new country. This was true. In the third and fourth month everything will start to slow down, you will become homesick, cry for now reason and wonder why you went so far away. This was also true. Then this person told me about the next few months I will be expecting, month five to eight I will be able to understand a hell of a lot more, follow along in class, and forget about all of the sadness and and be amazed at what I am capable of doing when I put my mind to it. From month nine to end it will fly by like they neve even existed. Well so far this person was exactually correct, let see if it is the way it will go.
I dont really know If I have ever felt so alone in my life before. I mean I know I felt alone but realizing that everyone you can tell everything to is about an ocean away. I know im not really alone though. I have many friends here that are going through all of the same problems because they are exchange students too. They miss their family also, forget their train tickets and miss the bus alot, all similar situations. I have found some of the most amazing friends, they listen when I talk, relate to everything and most importantly give you a shoulder to cry on. Yes I said cry, sometimes I dont know why or what I am crying about, It just happens. The other day I was on the bus with my friends on my way home from school for lunch and I went silent. Out of no where, cold hard silence. Staring out of the window with a blank stare. My friend eventually noticed and asked what was wrong. I couldnt talk, maybe I couldnt find the words in my head in german or maybe I didnt know what was wrong with me. But at that moment I just started to cry. On the bus, In front of people I dont know, might of just been the most embarassing moment of my life. Then when I got off of the bus, I missed my other bus to go to my house. So I had to walk, up hill for 15 minutes. I came home, at lunch and procceded back to school. On the way back to school my friend brought me a gift, a special rock. She said it will help take away the headaches i've been having caused from all of this stress. Im not a person who believes in special powers in objects but theres just something special about this rock. Ever since i've recieved it all of the headaches are gone. Not stress but headaches. Not to meantion how supprised I was to see that someone cared about me enough to give me a present to help me.
For right now, I have hope. I know I could never and would never give up this oppertunity. I could never think about letting something just slip away that I have worked so hard for.
Maybe I just need to stop thinking for once and just let my life lay out in front of me. But, we all know that is very hard to do.
If you have any advice let me know. Right now I could use some.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Well today is Saturday, November 24. This means I have been in Switzerland for exactually 3 months now. It really is unbelievable how fast the time is going. I still cannot believe that I am actually here. Like I never had this "culture shock" feeling everyone told me I was bound to have. Maybe this will only happen at the end of my stay. No idea. As for now, When I came here I was not sure sure why I have chosen to come here. But I think it was just meant to be. When I first came here I could speak very very little german. I think the only thing I could say was im hungry, Im sick or im tired. Now, I can have a full conversation like about politics or anything. Also, when I first came here I had absolutely no background of swiss german. So of course I was completely confused all the time when some spoke to me in swiss german. But now I can understand a good aount of conversations or at least the main idea of what their talking about. My friends are telling me that I am making great progress. Lets hope their right lol.
So last week I went to Larissa's house. She is another american exchange student here in Switzerland. We went to Luzern to meet with Haley, she is also an exchange student from america. This was an amazing day, we got to see alot of touristic things. Like the lion statue and the famous bridge. We also did a little chirstmas shopping. This was a great day, just to spend time together because we can all relate to each others current situations.
Okay so so far im really happy that I had even the oppertunity to come here. But, lately it's getting a bit hard to be away from my family. I mean I know the first few months are the hardest. When things slow down and you have time to think then all the thoughts of how much you miss your family come to mind. On thursday it was Thanksgiving. The first holdiay I have ever been away from my family. Can you imagine how hard that was? And of course there is no such thing as thanksgiving in switzerland so not being able to celbrate a holiday I have celebrated for all 16 years of my life. It was a hard day, a few tears, and not being able to concentrate in school. But hey I made it through the day. And I know I am strong enough celebrate the next few holidays without my family. I know that they are here in spirit and that it will have next year to be with them for the holidays. Because it was thanksgiving, I have to say what I am thankful for. I am so so so thankful that I have an amazing family that is supporting me through my journey this year, a sister who is my best friend, amazing friends, host family, and the oppertunity to come here and let my dreams come true. And most importantly im so thankful for my Lord helping me and guiding me wherever and whatever I do in my life.
Now, I have to go becuase I have to get ready for an AFS event tonight. All of the exchange students in the kanton St.Gallen are going to the city to watch a movie and eat pizza.
Love, Hannah

Friday, October 19, 2012

So today is friday, this means only 2 more days of vacation. I went to Basel, another canton in Switzerland for the holiday. I loved the family in Basel. They had one daughter that was 11 and their other daughter was in Japan, being an exchange student. They took me alot of places. I went to the french speaking part of Switzerland, Germany to Europa park, two different castles, a watch making factory, a cave, to the Alps, Lake Geneva, Lake Neuchatel, and many more places. I also got to meet with some friends from america in Zurich one day, this was a very fun day. Even though I really didn't want to go to another family or go on the two hour train ride there, I really enjoyed it. I really love that family and hope to keep in touch with them. Now I am back in St.Gallen and have only a few more days and then have school for months until vacation for christmas.
In one week it marks 2 months since I have been here. I cannot believe i have been here this long already, time is flying by so quickly. I also cannot believe how happy I am here. I absolutely love it, even though everthing is different and I have to be very independent, I love it. I know soon though I will be home sick and what not, but for now I am enjoying my time here.
As of right now I have a new addiction, I am so addicted to coffee. Sometimes I drink 3-5 cups a day. I guess it's normal for swiss people to drink this much but not for me. But, the coffee here is so good. It's also a good pick me up when im tired like always. I am also absolutely in love with chocolate, sometimes I eat one chocolate bar a day, I am going to be so fat by the time I come back. Gosh!
As far as learning goes, Im doing pretty good. I am learning both "high german" and "swiss german." For right now though im focusing on learning high german just beacuse it's more inportant for school and for my future studies. Also, once I learn high german, swiss german will come naturally, at least this is what everyone keeps telling me. I am at least able to have a small conversation right now which is good, I am slowly making process. I am hoping by the time I go back to the states that I will be able to have a convesation in swiss german, hoping, only hoping lol.