Settling in

Well, it’s been a few days, and I am starting to feel more settled in. My apartment is starting to both look and feel more homey, and I’ve met a couple more people. As I stated in my last blog, Wednesday we went to Cologne. Pia, another Wuppertal-Bethel exchange student currently at Bethel, has a sister here named Marie, so she was kind enough to take us. It was both me and Chris’ second time there (we stopped there on choir tour in January, and Chris went there on a trip over Interterm last January). We mostly just walked around – the weather was wonderful, so it was nice to spend time outside. Across the Rhein River there was a carnival going on, so we went to check it out. It was pretty much exactly like any American carnival – I guess carnies look the same no matter what country you’re in! Thursday mainly consisted of bureaucratic stuff – filling out registration papers, getting health insurance, setting up a bank account, etc. Luckily Anne, a former Bethel-Wuppertal exchange student, was there to help us out, both in showing us where to go and translating when necessary.I must say I have been impressed with how willing people have been to talk to us in German. That may sound strange, but as some of you know, this was a concern of mine, because when we were in Germany for choir tour in January, almost every time I spoke German to someone, they would automatically switch to English as soon as they figured out that I was an American (which, of course, didn’t take long! :)).But so far everyone we have talked to has spoken in German to us, even though I know most of them speak good English. I think they understand that we are here to learn German and that the only way for us to learn is to be forced to speak it and understand it. Even in just the few days we have been here I feel like my German has improved, if only a little bit. I can’t understand everything, but it’s starting to sound a little bit less like white noise. I can’t always say exactly what I want to say, but I’m learning to figure out how to explain it using the vocabulary I have. But I must admit I’ve never been more motivated to study on my own! My method has been to think about any words I wanted to use that day but didn’t know, look them up, and make a flash card for each one – it actually seems to work! It’s interesting, though – I find some people easier to understand than others. I’m not sure why – maybe some enunciate better than others, or maybe it’s just the mood I happen to be in at the time – no idea!Today Martina took Chris and I on a grocery shopping trip – I learned a lot about the food here, not to mention some new food words! It feels weird to be cooking for myself, but I like it. I’m even having to learn how to make non-microwaveable items since my apartment doesn’t have a microwave! Housewives in the 50′s survived, so I guess I will too…:)That’s about it for now…I hope I haven’t rambled too much. Tomorrow we are going to the zoo. I guess that means it’s time to look up some animal words! :)