The high school I attended had a German Exchange Program for kids, who had studied German and were in Grade 11 in our city. I remember talking about my interest in it with my dad while we were driving around one day when I was in Grade 9. I realized, if I got to do this, I would be spending my birthday in Germany. And Dad went into this whole German conversation about what people would say to me on my birthday in German. At the time, it felt like a really big deal.
Me, Laura, Ang and Kayla in my backyard in Germany.
These are my host parents, a friend, my exchange partner beside me, and me in the awesome blue-framed glasses and looking A LOT younger. Yerps :()
Me standing beside a soldier in East Berlin.
Can you tell I was a little nervous?!?!
Germany was the first place I'd ever lived where milk wasn't kept in the fridge, my host grandma ironed my jeans AND my underwear and I lived across from a Catholic church with bells which rang All. The. Time. And one time, when I didn't get any mail for seventeen days (remember, this was before e-mail), my host grandma would greet me at the door with my favourite bakery pretzel as a consolation prize. Also there is no drinking age in Germany so I got my first experience of "cola bier" which made the beer part tolerable!
My second lengthy overseas experience was when I joined a work-exchange program to The Netherlands. It was run through my denomination and allowed young people to spend a year in Europe. I did this right after I graduated university from August 1994-August 1995.
My first placement was living with a family in De Rijp, The Netherlands and working in the kitchen of a nursing home 10 kilometres away, mostly washing dishes. It was super-boring. And hard, because my form of transportation to work was biking. Yep, 20 kilometres a day. I was in awesome shape by the end of it. Thankfully this placement was only about 20 minutes outside of Amsterdam so I had lots of opportunities to explore! My second placement was working in a conference centre in Elspeet, The Netherlands, doing housekeeping. I also got to help out in the bar sometimes which was really fun! I lived at the conference centre so my commute was a thirty second walk downstairs. It was great! I also worked with another "trainee," as we were called. You can see us below in our awesome housekeeping uniforms. Ha ha ha! Elspeet was about two hours east of Amsterdam.
I got to do a lot of traveling the year I lived in The Netherlands. I got to spend Christmas skiing in Switzerland, I got to go hiking in Spain with a couple of other trainees, I got to visit one of my best friends who was doing a semester in England, I went to Scandinavia for a few weeks and I got to visit my great-aunts and grandparents in Germany. My parents came to visit me for a couple of weeks as did a few other good friends.
And now that I have written all this, I have decided that my third experience of living overseas is going to be pretty long to explain so that will come in another post, likely next week sometime, since tomorrow I want to tell you all about the fun I will be having today!
And if you have any questions about anything don't hesitate to ask them in the comments.