Saturday, April 17, 2010

Die Nord See

Ok, well I got slack again these past few days so I am going to attach the report letter that I wrote for Rio Tinto who are so kindly paying for my stay here. Vielen Dank Rio Tinto :)

It pretty much summarizes my time in the North Sea and in Germany thus far.


To Whom it may concern,

Guten Tag!
I have been in Germany for just over six weeks and I am so far loving the experience. After arriving on the 27th of February I was tired but ready to start an adventure that I will never forget. In my six short weeks I have already visited the cities and towns of Düsseldorf, Kaiserwerth, Ratingen, Greetsiel, Pilsum, Norden, Bremen, Bad Honnef and Pewsum. Today I just got back from a week away at the North Sea which was as the Germans say ´schön´ which is beautiful. The fresh air is very good for your health and therefore many older people retire and live there. However there are also many visiting tourists with young families who visit in order to see the seaside (which isn’t as common as it is in Australia) and relax. There is also plenty of time to have an ice cream as you walk along the harbour or even try some of the local herring which isn’t to everybody’s taste! The surrounding towns are very old with the church dating back to over three hundred years old. However they have been restored so that the present generation and generations to come can still bask in the history of the area and reflect upon the past. About an hour and a half from where I stayed with my host family in the North Sea is the city of Bremen. Bremen was first founded under the name of Fabiranum or Phabiranum around 150AD with the first stone city walls being built in 1302. From that point on Bremen has grown and developed to become one of the most populous cities in Germany. However while Bremen´s wealth once lay in shipping, merchants and trade this is no longer the case because of the cost of the ships. The city’s past wealth is reflected through the intricate details on the buildings and furniture outside and within places such as the city hall. However much of the history of the city was destroyed during the Second World War with only some streets and buildings surviving. The older city however was breathtaking and proves the importance of the old within the new. I thoroughly enjoyed my tour of the city and would love to return there one day.

Me in the town of Greetsiel which is at the North Sea

Tomorrow I return back to school in my town of Ratingen. I attend the high school Carl-Friedrich von Weizsäcker- Gymnasium where I am in the twelfth grade with my host sister Pia. While I can’t understand most of the classes except for English, my German is slowly improving with the help of some of the friends I have made there as well as my Deutsch books. The subjects that I am taking are English, German, Art, Biology, Sport, History, Math’s and Religion. Each lesson lasts forty five minutes and the number of lessons that I have a day ranges from four to eight. This means that most days I am home for lunch which is the main meal of the day in Germany. It is usually warm and can be anything from pasta to vegetables and veal. For dinner we normally just have bread, rolls, cheese and sliced meat. As you would know this is the reverse of how it is at home with dinner in Australia being the main meal. In my free afternoons I do any homework that I can complete, practice my German, go to the gym and spend time with my host sister and friends from school. I often spend time in the inner city of Ratingen. Ratingen is in the district of Mettman, in North Rhine-Westphalia and is about twelve kilometres north east of Düsseldorf. It was settled before 849 but only received city rights in 1276. At the end of the Middle Ages it experienced a boom and at the beginning of the Industrial Age the first manufacturing plant opened (1783). As there was relatively very little damage during the war many of the older buildings have survived and can still be seen today, such as the local church within Ratingen Mitte and the Catholic and Anglican Church in my suburb, Homberg. Ratingen further developed during the 1960s and 70s with the population increasing from that point on. Now approximately 92,000 people live in the town which hosts shops, cafes, restaurants, bars, churches and even a small disco. Below you can see one of the local churches.

On the weekends I go to meet people at café bars, cocktail bars and clubs, at their houses, in the city or even at soccer games. I have played ´kicker´ (table soccer) in a friend’s basement as well as seen an actual soccer game in Düsseldorf where I cheered on Düsseldorf Fortuna. However at the soccer game that I saw the score was null all- very disappointing. It was still however a good experience because of the atmosphere of the fans cheering on their team.

The weather differs greatly, whilst in Perth it is mostly sunny except for the colder months in winter (which really aren’t that cold) it is often rainy and it even snows! I saw snow for the first time in years here and got over excited and picked some up in my bare hand which I tell you is not a good idea! The snow made everything seem peaceful and covered the fields behind my house. However as the weather is warming up (it is currently spring) the snow melted quickly. However I am looking forward to summer as it allows the opportunity to travel and explore more of Europe. I hope during my time here I will get to see much of not only Germany but all of Europe so that I can see the diversification of the cultures as well as collect some tacky souvenirs. I am entirely grateful to Rio Tinto for allowing me this opportunity to live in another country and be immersed in it’s culture. It is amazing that I can see buildings older than any in Australia, customs that date back years and learn another language. My time here is flying by and before I know it I will be back in Australia. However I am sure that I will never forget my time here with the amazing support of my host family, friends, the AFS exchange program and Rio Tinto.

Vielen Dank for this chance to see the world and grow as a person.

Yours sincerely,

Lauren- Marie Wiszniewski

and there it is. Hope you enjoyed it :)

ok still can´t insert images, sorry. check my facebook instead :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

AFS Camp

Ok time for a new post. Kay told me after my first post that I needed to post again so here I go:
Sorry I´m so lazy :( but time seems to fly by so fast and before I know it the day is over.
Since last time I posted I´ve done alot so I think I will do different posts for certain things.

Lets begin with the AFS orientation camp.

That happened in Bad Honnef. To get there I had to catch an assortment of trains to get there. At one point the girl that I was travelling with and I were scared that we had hopped on the wrong train but we hadn´t and we got there safe and sound.

However after the three legged race that night I wasn´t so safe. As most of my friends know I have an appalling sense of rhythm (who else claps out of time on Presentation night?- why they always put me right next to a microphone I´ll never know why). But anyway, may I continue? The point is that my lack of rhythm means that I am a very bad partner to have for a three legged race and Chris I am sincerely sorry that you were with me. Basically I fell alot which when combined with the masking tape around our ankles resulted in chafted skin and even a bruise around my ankle. Chocolate however did make it better :)

On the Saturday all of us amazing exchange students were spilt into groups with each group being given an egg and an apple as well as balloons with cards saying what we were thankful for. Somehow we needed to cook the egg and also trade the apple for bigger and better things. The balloons we just needed to handout and explain what we were doing.

My group went into a bakery where our egg was magically made into six different cakes. It truely is amazing how fast things cook ;)

Then we traded our apple for a children´s polony sausage at the butcher. The polony sausage we then traded for a book. We also traded one of our cakes for a can of coke and then the coke for a bowl. We tried to trade the bowl for pizza but they just gave us a bannana instead. Items that other groups collected and traded included wine, coffee, breathmints, snake skin, E10, nutella, a cat figurine, bird figurine, model phone and even a lamp. For their eggs the other groups just got them fried. It was a pretty fun experience and it was amazing to see how generous the people of Bad Honnef were.

That night Stephanie and I bonded over our love of gossip girl, the spanish speaking group sung songs in their native language and more chocolate was consumed.

Soon time came that we had to go back to our host families and we all said goodbye. I´m looking forward to the next camp.
BTW- I tried to add pictures but it wouldn´t work :( Tur mir Leid

Monday, March 15, 2010


Hey everyone, I´m finally posting on my blog.
As I´m sure most of you are aware my flight didn´t crash like a firey ball into the ocean however it was long and extremely boring. I made do with the inflight entertainment while staying clear of the movie ´New Moon´- sparkly vampires are just not my cup of tea. I also read some plane letters that friends had written me that made me feel better. The food was crap but still slightly eatible...:s
Anyway after my flight from Perth to Singapore which was about six hours or so I had another thirteen hour flight to Frankfurt before ariving in Frankfurt German time at 5.15am. Germany is seven hours behind Australia so that basically meant I travelled back in time (I felt like Dr Who) but also that I felt really tired as I had been travelling since 3.30pm australian time the day before. Then Justine (the other girl I travelled with from Perth) and I were greeted at Frankfurt by AFS volunteers and we waited in a special section for AFS students for other students to arrive as we were the first. Finally I left to take the train to my host family with other students at about 12.00pm. Upon arrival in Dusseldorf I was greeted with hugs by the AFS local chapter and my host family. Then I was taken to my home in Homberg, a suburb in Ratingen, before exporing the town. Coming from Perth where everything is pretty much made of concrete and new, the buildings seemed very old and beautiful.

On the Monday I had school where I got to choose my subjects which are maths, german, english, history, art, sport, biology and religion. Most of these subjects I share with my host sister Pia who is in the same grade as me (Yr 12). School is Germany is very different than school in Australia (it´s pretty much our version of university)- you only have to go to school when you have a class and you can leave the school grades at any time during the day. Also there are no assembelies and no school uniform (which makes deciding what to wear a difficult choice). Kids in Germany also get a million breaks, every period they get a five minute break and every second period a fifteen minute pause. Then at 1.15pm there is a 45 minute break for lunch. However most days you don´t need this as you´ve already finished school. Only on Mondays and every second Wednesday do I need to stay at school or in Ratingen for lunch as these are the days that I have sport. On Mondays I have eight periods but because my art teacher broke her back I have only six. Every other day I only have four or five (because my art teacher isnt there I have free periods-however I heard today that she might be coming back next week). As most days I´m finished by lunch, Pia and I catch the bus back home and have lunch with her sister and mother. Lunch is a warm meal while dinner is bread rolls, cold meat and cheese.

On my first weekend I went to Dusseldorf shopping with Pia and a friend before going around to a friend´s house to play kicker (table soccor) in his basement. The night before I went to a soccor game in Dusseldorf which was very dramatic but the score was null all. Last weekend I went to a gathering of some friends of my host sister. Then on the saturday night I and Pia went to Anja´s house and made dinner. Pasta, salad and then for desert rasperberries and ice cream :) We ended up sleeping over and caught the bus home the next day-running with a breadroll in our hands to the bus stop.

I´m trying to speak more German so I insert german words into sentences as I speak so hopefully I learn quickly! I´m doing my Deutsch books at school as I can´t understand any of the subjects except for english- which I´m a pro at :) I also watch some Deutsch TV- Germany´s next top model (an ace show) and try to follow what they´re saying.

Missing my friends and family although excited for the 10 monats that lay ahead
Till next post