Auf diesem Blog könnt ihr mein Auslandsjahr in England verfolgen.

23. Dezember 2015

My Ever After (idk), Recap, Advice

Hello, dear people who read this!
I am quite aware that I haven’t updated this site ever since I came back from England and I thought it would stay that way after I kind of forgot to do so during the summer holidays. What changed my mind was that I saw that I still got views on my blog even after it must have been long clear that there wouldn’t be anything new…
So I figured that this audience that was having a look at this now would be a completely different one to the one from last year and that those new people, who are probably the “new generation of exchange students”, might be people who would benefit from a recap, a bit of advice and how I see things half a year later.
So here we go:

What I have done since last summer
I started school again (duh)! I “skipped” the year that I missed so I continued together with my old friends. I basically did year 10 in England and now I entered the Qualification Phase (Q1). I take Biology and English at a higher level (Leistungskurs).
Which brings me to the next part:

Should I “re-do” the year that I missed?
This is a question that everybody has to answer from themselves. Generally, you can’t skip anything in the Q-Phase and opinions differ for the E-Phase (introduction phase, the year before the Q-Phase).
I didn’t feel like I needed to, because I took the subjects where the learning matter builds on to itself (i.e. Maths, Physics, Biology) in England. Whereas with for example Geography, you have got a topic here and a topic there and it doesn’t matter if you miss out on something in between, if that makes sense.
Additionally, I talked to my director of studies before I left and he said that I could try and “skip” if I thought that I could handle it and if I thought I couldn’t than I could go “back” any time during the year.

Did my English get better?
To be honest, during my exchange year I didn’t actually feel at all as if it would get better. I did notice a difference though, when I was back at home and attended an English lesson for the first time.
In fact, a girl that is now in my advanced English course asked whether the correct phrasing for what she wanted to say was either “the teacher has” or “the teacher have”. That was when I noticed a difference. I notice it when the guy who sits next to me in English class asks me to translate something for him and I can help him. I notice it when I sometimes can’t find a German word that I am looking for but have got the English equivalent in my head.
I am nowhere close to speaking a perfect English, I am still not perfectly happy with how I express myself sometimes or how I sound but I definitely did get better.

What do I miss?
Once I am at it: the language. There are so many things that the German language doesn’t seem to have the right words for.

The people. That isn’t a huge surprise, is it? I miss hanging out with my Hostfamily, playing with the kids and constantly hearing “hang me upside down like a monkey” right after dinner. I miss the other people that I had a lot to do with, but – more surprisingly – people that I didn’t do much with as well. Sometimes I would spot somebody and think “isn’t that…oh no, he/she is on the Isle of Wight, that is not going to be him/her”.

The Island. The beach. The view. The bus ride to school. School itself. The food. Habits. Inside jokes. A lot of things that I didn’t put down here.

And that strange kind of freedom.

My worst decision
I regret staying in my second host family for so long, even though I knew that I couldn’t stay there. I should have really done that earlier.

I should have also talked to more people. I was to concentrated onto the small group of people that I was with in the beginning that I kind of missed the time where it is acceptable to just walk up to anybody and talk to them before that kind of behaviour becomes somewhat weird.

My best decision
My best decision was definitely to move out of that second host family. It just wasn’t a good match. I wasn’t happy there, they weren’t happy with me being there. It just really was better for everyone involved.

I would like to add my second best decision as well and that would be talking the principal into letting me take Sociology. She tried to convince me to just simply drop my subject and not exchange it but I am really glad that I didn’t listen to her (the moral of this is not “don’t listen to authorities” though!) because the class was really fun, I “learned something for life” and it truly was something new. I would recommend each and every one of you to take at least one subject that you couldn’t take in your home country.

What is better – England or Germany?
I am going to be very diplomatic here and just state the motto that my organisation warmly recommended to us:
“It’s not better, it’s not worse, it’s just different!”

Are there any negative aspects as well?
A year abroad isn’t the right thing to do for everybody. It is normal to miss your people at home sometimes but if you miss them constantly then you will not do yourself a favour.

It is hard not to compare if you know how different it is elsewhere. This includes synchronisations of films being horrible, struggling to re-adjust to the school system or maybe just generally the different way of life.

I am also strangely aware of my English speaking abilities.

Would you do it again?
Obviously ;)

31. Juli 2015

Going back to Germany

And suddenly everything was over. I mean I still did some stuff especially in the one week break in between the exams which I forgot to tell you about but then suddenly it was the last week and everything came to an end.
I came to England with an overweight suitcase, brought more stuff with me after Christmas and have bought some more in England so I packed a parcel that I sent to my parents. And even though DHL was on a strike at the time it got to my parents right away.
And of course there were all those last times: seeing that Exchange Student for the last time, attending a lesson for the last time, being in the park for the last time, going to the beach for the last time, seeing the school for the last time, paying with pounds for the last time, being on the bus for the last time and so on.
On my last day I went to visit my first Hostfamily in the afternoon to say good bye to them too. I had planned to spend the evening with the remaining exchange students but then everything came differently and I spent to evening with my first Hostfamily too. We went to have fish and chips on the cliff were we always used to eat them before it became too cold and it was actually the perfect ending, like coming full circle.
The next morning we got up early (like 5am) sang Happy Birthday for Morgondy as she had just turned two years old that day. Then I had to say Good Bye to the father, and the two older girls and off we went. We picked up another girl and then we came to the ferry station were we met the other exchange students. There our ways parted from the ones of our Hostfamilies and when we got on our coach to Heathrow I said Good Bye to my coordinator Kathy too. Arriving after a short trip our group split again for the different terminals. When we got there pretty much all of us had some sort of problem, ranging from Check-in machine doesn’t work (me) to suitcase and carry-on luggage overweight until flight cancelled. Afterwards we still had a few hours together in our split groups before I had to leave as one of the first. Fortunately I had a seat next to the window, which allowed me to reflect on my year, try to realise what was happening and have a mental breakdown without being disturbed until the plane landed in Frankfurt and I was with my parents again.

15. Juni 2015


Yeay, it is that time of the year. As you may or may not know, I haven’t had any exams until May. There were Mock Exams in January but they were more or less just “preparation” and “dry runs”, they didn’t have an impact onto my grades.
Consequently, everybody’s exams were cramped into May and June and over the period of a month I wrote all of my exams, covering everything that I learned in 4 subjects over the course of 9 months.
To complicate matters, there was a week of holidays right in the middle, followed by a week of “study leave” where you only had to come into school for exams. The number of exams you have to write varies with the subjects you take, it was 9 for me. And whereas the last two are spaced out nicely, I wrote the first seven within 10 days. It was stressful, to say the least.

What Stela and I thought is that as a method to cope with the stress better we could get stress balls. Our Hostmother liked the idea, said that she had made them herself before out of balloons and flour and that we could all make our own ones together. And that is what we did.
I wasn’t sure if I would be allowed to take the ball into the exam room but that turned out not to be a problem. So pretty early into my first exam (Geography) I squeezed the stress ball in my lap and…it popped. It just exploded in a floury mess on my legs.  In the middle of an exam! Needless to say that it didn’t fulfil its purpose that well in that moment. It didn’t help that from then on my brain spent a lot of time producing thoughts such as “What if someone in here has got a flour allergy? Some people have got that. What if they breath it in and then they die or something because my frickin’ balloon exploded???”
Not mine, out of obvious reasons -.-
It went off to a bad start, but afterwards nothing traumatizing happened anymore apart from the moment in my second Geography exam when one of the women who observed us to make sure that we can’t cheat walked up to me to ask me if I had brought another stress ball. I must have left a lasting memory.

11. Juni 2015

Walk The Wight

“Walk The Wight” is an annual charity event that takes place on our island where – guess what – people walk the Wight. The money raised goes to a hospice on the island, if you register you pay 20£ but you can participate just for fun too. This year there have been more than 10,000 people registered and that are people from everywhere, not just the island or England.
This year it happened to be the 25th anniversary and me and my whole Hostfamily took part. There are different walks that vary in length, there are 4, 8, 12, 14 and 26 miles tracks. We did the 8 miles one (13km!) and it was really nice, the weather was perfect and the track was nice too (okay, I challenge you to find a way that is ugly, everything on this island is scenic),
we even got a medal at the end.
Us waiting for the bus to take us back to the car (trying to pose for a picture with the medals).
#spon ;)

There are even footsteps on the back.

16. Mai 2015


One week after I arrived at my new family we got two weeks of Easter holidays and because I kinda came on short notice they parked me at Kathy’s (my contact person).
I was a bit alone so I went to the revision sessions that my school offered (smug!) for the first week until I got picked up again.

Stela was gone for most of the time but we decided that we would make a trip to London on the Friday before we would have to go to school again. It could only be one day because the rules of my organisation don’t allow us to stay somewhere overnight unless we have got someone with us that is at least 25 years old which is a shame but we went for it anyway.
We found a deal online which would allow us to take the train to London and back and use all busses and subway in London itself for less than 30£ which is extremely cheap and gives you quite a lot of freedom.

The next morning we woke up at 6:45 (earlier than for school) took the bus to the Hovertravel and then took that to the mainland. There it turned out that the train station wasn’t as close by as we thought it would be and asking the woman in the Hover station made us discover that we just missed the shuttle bus to take us there. But there would be another one in a few minutes. There was but when it came there were only a few minutes left until our train was going to leave too. When we arrived we only had like 4 minutes left and still had to print of our tickets, find out our platform number and get there in time. Frankly we ran to the station and got a bit stressed when the man at the ticket machine in front of us had technical issues. When we finally had our tickets we broke into a run again, thankfully found our platform immediately, hopped onto the first waggon and had just about enough time to catch our breath before the train left the station.

When we arrived in London I was positively surprised how uncomplicated the Subway system is and by how often the Subways come! (Both on the island and at home in Germany I live very rural, don’t judge me.) We made our way to Madame Tussauds but there were too many people already so they told us a time when we should come back. We decided to use the waiting time and made our way to the Hyde Park where we had lunch. Afterwards we took the bus to the Buckingham Palace, we couldn’t see the changing of the guards, we came too late for that, but there were two guards standing in front of the palace and then three others came and…had a chat with them separately? Don’t ask me.
Sherlock Holmes Statue
Hyde Park
Buckingham Palace
Victorial Memorial in front of the Palace
Two guards having a private conversation so the company of the
one guy had to stay out of earshot? I don't know what is going on.
You can't say they didn't warn you.

Afterwards we went back to Madame Tussauds and it was amazing. The figurines looked so real! The lighting in there was not ideal so the pictures are not as good as the real life experience.

Me and my new best friend Tom Cruise (yes, I am one of those peasants)
They had set up an area where the staff would take a picture of you with (the old) One Direction.
Katnis, with the four note whistle playing on repeat.
A part of the royal family.
Careful, this one is actually alive!!!

There was a little behind the scenes area as well.

When we left the building again we still had some time so we took the Subway to the London Bridge but it wasn’t until we had left the station that I realized that what I was looking for was the Tower Bridge and that they were two completely different bridges. So we went straight back down and tried again. This time we took the right exit and found the right bridge. We then walked over the Tower Bridge and crossed the Themes before it was time to get back to the train station to go back home after a great day in London.

The Fortress of London. This is where the Crown Jewels are kept.
Tower Bridge
Stela and me