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My Last Month and Berlin

November 10, 2009 - Tessa Makepeace
Tomorrow is a very, very important day in German history. It’s the 20th anniversary of the wall coming down in Germany that stood for decades dividing East and West Germany along with East and West Berlin. Where I live is almost exactly on the border from East and West Germany so tomorrow night just a few kilometers from my house there is an event that I am going to with my host family. It should be extremely interesting. It’s already interesting to hear about the experiences of my host parents and of other people who experienced a divided Germany as well as a reunited country. I will write more about that in my next blog.

So, okay, what have I been up to for the past month? I have to think back. I went to Berlin on the 16th of October for the day. The student information session that was the reason we made the trip there was a lot different than we had expected. It ended up being a lot of older people who looked like they had already gone to university and were there trying to break into the music business. We didn’t stay very long, which I was actually glad about because then we had time to take a look around Berlin. We went to the Brandenburger Tor and also saw the Fernseher Turm. After that we went shopping a little bit on Alexander Platz in a big mall called Alexa. We also walked by a famous wax museum called Madame Tussands.

On the Sunday after I was in Berlin I ran the Magdeburg half marathon starting in a park in Magdeburg. The atmosphere was so incredible. Over five thousand people lined up in a huge mass of people waiting for the marathon to begin. People could either run or walk 4, 13, 21 (half marathon), or 42 (full marathon) kilometers. There were signs with times on them at the start so people could line up next to their estimated time per kilometer. The fastest people were in the front so they could get out of the start more quickly. We each had a chip on our shoe and when we crossed the start line the time started. When we all started at the same time it took a little while before I actually got over the line because there were probably a couple thousand people in front of me. This is the sixth year they’ve held the marathon and this year the most people ever took part in it. My school, Dom Gymnasium, had the most participants out of any group running. My time for the half marathon was two hours and twelve minutes. I am satisfied with that. I felt way better during the half than I had expected, probably mostly because there were so many people running I didn’t even realize how far we had to run. Along the sidelines there were hundreds cheering for the first few kilometers and at the end there were people cheering us along to the finish line. Each person got a medal for participating and a certificate of participation. It was such an incredible feeling to have accomplished it, although my muscles were definitely sore afterwards.

The second to last weekend in November I stayed at a friend’s house on Friday and then went out for coffee with a friend the next day before coming home on the train. Lately school has been basically uneventful except for talk about swine flu. A couple of kids in my school have it and one class in the eighth grade was sent home for Thursday and Friday. A few schools in my state, Sachsen-Anhalt, have been closed because of it including one about an hour from here. They are just trying to stop the chain of infection so we’ll see what happens.

Last week I joined the volleyball club at my school. It’s once a week for only an hour on Mondays and then every now and then we are going to have games. Sports are not at all a big thing at my school. In fact, we don’t even have school sports teams. I just kind of went to volleyball for a day to try it out and I really liked it so I am going to go every week from now on. We did some drills and then scrimmaged last week.

Last weekend was Halloween, which is a lot less of a big deal here than in the U.S. Many kids dress up for it but they usually only dress up as something scary, such as a witch, vampire, or monster. On the Friday of last weekend I went to a community theater type production of Sleeping Beauty with my host mom. On Halloween I went to a club with a few friends but we didn’t really dress up, which was unfortunate. We danced and it was fun anyway though.

This weekend I went to a birthday party on Friday for five of the people in my school, which was a lot of fun. Last night I went with my host family to a neighboring village where a Fasching celebration was going on. For Fasching, people dress up kind of crazy and have some fun. I went with my host parents and my host sister Maria. We each dressed up and watched the program some people had prepared for the night. I went as a pirate, my sister as a ladybug, my host mom as a sort of Hawaiian person, and my host dad just wore a weird shirt and hat. The program was a series of sketches or skits that turned out to be really funny. Some younger kids were a part of the group of people that did it all the way up to adults. A couple of the skits were choreographed dances, which were all pretty good. The whole night was really entertaining. After the couple hours of the program there was a DJ and we hung out and danced. The whole thing was a fun German tradition that I’m glad I got to see. In February there’s a much bigger event called Karneval that’s similar but on a larger scale.


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