Hallo Liebe Familie und Freunden

I’m terribly sorry for making you wait for so long for another blog post, but I have been extremely busy since classes began. On Monday we took our placement test to determine what class we will be in during German “boot camp,” and I scored rather well despite having taken only one semester of German, so I have a ton of catching up to do. In the meantime, I have been taking lots of photos and attempting to remember the things I’d like to post about when I finally get around to it. I appreciate your patience.

Sundays here are days of rest, as Sundays should be everywhere, so almost everything is closed. Das Schwimmbad, however, is not, so Jasmina, Nick, and I spent the day swimming at a nearby pool and enjoying the beauty that the day had to offer. Around 13:00, the three of us fell asleep in the warm sun for about an hour and a half. Jasmina had appropriately prepared for such an event with sunblock, but Nick and I had neglected to cover more than our shoulders and faces, and we were quite red when our host mother, Antje, picked us up later that afternoon.

After dinner that evening, meine Gastschwester Jasmina and I went on a walk around the countryside surrounding Ahldorf, the satellite village in which we live. It is beautiful here, and I just love looking around and thinking about the similarities and differences between the plants and animals found here and those found in California. Many things are the same, but the fauna is much more lush and verdant than back home, which I suspect is due to the large amount of rain with which Europe is blessed. The sky is also a bit different, and it stays light until almost 22:00 at this time of year.

After the placement test on Monday, all the students split into groups and set off on a scavenger hunt intended to help us get to know Horb. We walked up and down the streets, finding hidden gems such as an adorable playground, a serene canal, and some hilariously vulgar statues. It was around lunchtime when the clues led us near Kaufland and Aldi, two huge Supermarkets, and we decided to take a break to eat some lunch. Eight chicken nuggets and some Kartoffelsalat later, we headed back to the Kolleg, where we introduced ourselves to fellow international students, most of whom are from Brazil. We made plans to meet at the Biergarten, and dispersed when our instructors gave us the go-ahead.

I headed up the hill with some other Californians, and quickly found out that I was not at all prepared for what turned out to be a 1.7km hike in almost 40°C weather (in pants, nonetheless). The chairs – I mean, beer – were much appreciated once we finally reached the top. My group was one of the first to arrive, so we enjoyed our beverages and the amazing view while we waited for the rest. By the time our rambunctious flock of 60 or so international students had assembled, it was time for me to leave so that I could catch my bus back home.

The next day, we received our classroom assignments. Our class of ten students is located in a building about half a kilometer from the Kolleg, and wir sprechen nur Deutsch. It is very challenging, but I have already learned so much in the past four days and I am eager to see how much my ability improves over the next month and a half. My classmates are all friendly and helpful, and Nick and I have homework parties almost every night with our neighbors, Yesenia and Savannah. I am feeling very optimistic about the next five weeks.

On Tuesday evening, we were out on die Terrasse when Yesenia and Savannah’s host father brought out his bow and began to shoot some arrows. Our host father, Jochen, came out soon after with his crossbow, which enticed us out of our seats and into the yard. We practiced our aim, and I was fairly decent with the crossbow, but not before successfully losing a bolt somewhere in the neighbor’s yard. We played around for about half an hour, and then returned to our studies and later went to bed.

After school on Wednesday, we had an impromptu excursion to the Barfuß Park in Dornstetten, about 15 minutes outside of Horb. I will have a separate post with a photojournal of my experience there, because I took a lot of photos. The park was an absolutely amazing experience for me.

If you have known me for the past five or so years, then you know about my issues with my feet, and you know how much I appreciate them now. The Barfuß Park provides an opportunity for people who might normally wear shoes for most of the day, if not all day, to remove their shoes and remember what it’s like to feel all sorts of sensations on a largely unappreciated part of the body. We waded through freezing cold water, jumped across an incredibly springy trampoline, sloshed through mud, and stepped on all kinds of materials, from pinecones to nails, from rocks to glass, and all while admiring the glorious splendor of the forest that encompasses the park. There were some ropes courses where hands were definitely required, but the focus was on the feet. This park brings awareness to our feet, which carry us through all days, good and bad. Our feet are capable of incredible things, and they allow us to engage in wonderful activities, and the Barfuß Park allows us to remember to appreciate how truly lucky we are to have functional, beautiful feet. I almost didn’t attend this excursion because of the amount of studying I need to do, and I am truly thankful that I was compelled to go at the last moment. I highly recommend, if not insist, that everyone who is given the opportunity should experience such a place.

Thursday passed by rather quickly, and I spent almost the entire evening studying. The Brazilians had a party, but Nick and I didn’t go. There will be many parties over the next month, so we decided we should spend the time expanding our German vocabularies.

Today was a short day that ended with a 90-minute tutorial, and we Ahldorfers returned home after a trip to Kaufland to get some drinks to celebrate a successful and productive first week in Horb. I bought some Pale Ales that I will try out tonight, and I will provide a review in my next post.

I will soon write another post in which I discuss various aspects of German life, but for now, I have been on the computer long enough. Tschüss!

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