By ROXANNE LOW PAU-LING
Greetings from Deutschland (that’s Germany)!
It has been about a month since I first arrived at the small town of Itzehoe in Germany and I have settled in quite well with my host family – the Baasch – although I do miss home.
When I got to the Baasch’s home, it suddenly dawned on me that I was actually going to be away from home for almost a whole year (11 months to be precise). The thought of that did overwhelm me for a while but I just pushed those fears out of my mind, and focused on more positive things.
However, during my first Skype session with my parents, I did shed some tears because I missed them so much. They assured me that missing home is only natural and as time goes by, I will be fine.
In the first few weeks of my being in Itzehoe, I joined my host sister Alicia, 15, in most of her daily activities like cycling, playing hockey and volleyball, swimming and painting. I kept myself busy so I did not have much time to think about how much I missed everyone back home, especially since I also had to deal with jetlag.
At the moment, I am loving the new “healthy” lifestyle that I have adopted here, thanks to my host family. Every day I cycle to school with Alicia, and I walk around a lot, too, even when it is dark out. I love that I actually get to exercise and have super healthy meals! Don’t get me wrong, I have complaints about my life (or the food) in Malaysia, I just think that it is nice to experience a change in lifestyle every now and then.
Having lived with the Baasch family for more than a month now, I must say that Alicia and I are quite similar in character. We’re both determined, active, ambitious and very particular about certain things. Sometimes, she reminds me of how I was when I was 15.
Also, when I was younger, I had always wanted to have a younger brother but after spending time with Alicia, I actually do not mind having a sister instead. I really enjoy the time that we get to spend together.
In sports, Alicia is my number one motivator. At the moment, I have trouble keeping up with her in all the sports activities that we do but I hope to at least be on par with her by the end of my stay here. I also hope to be fitter and healthier by then. Alicia is like a “sports machine” – there’s not a day that passes where she doesn’t do any sports activity.
Being the only daughter in the family (just like me!), I understand how Alicia gets all the attention from her “papa” and “mama”. She often has the freedom to make her own decisions and be independent. Come to think of it, I, too, was brought up the same way!
When I listen to my “sister” tell stories to Mama Cornelia about school, her friends and anything at all, it reminds me of how I used to do the same with my mother back home. Both mothers just so willingly lend their ears to listen to their daughters blabber away and share an opinion or two with them.
I think both my “dads” are quite similar too. They are always cool and calm in most situations. They somehow have the skills to comfort people around them and ensure that everything would be alright. My host father, Papa Horst, loves carpentry. I hope that I can learn to build things from him, but first, I have to learn how to speak Deutsch because we both have yet to share a common language when it comes to communicating.
Deutsch seemed quite easy to me at first but since I am learning the language by myself, I find that it is quite a difficult language to master. In Deutsch, a single word may mean several things, depending on the context of the sentence. It is a very complicated language system and pretty challenging for a beginner like me.
I believe that with more practise, I would be able to speak in Deutsch fairly fluently soon enough!
Alicia and I attend the Auguste Viktoria Schule, which is located about 5km away from where we live. Each morning, it takes us almost half an hour to cycle to school.
Initially, it was quite hard for me to mingle with my classmates due to the language barrier, but now, they are starting to open up a little more, though I think it will take a while before they are willing to accept me into their circle of friends. However, I am glad that it is slowly getting better each day and will definitely put more effort into making friends.
My classmates are only 16 (we’re in the “10th form”), but they are a lot fun to be with!
Since most of the lessons are conducted in Deutsch, I can’t participate much yet. Luckily, there are also lessons that I can enjoy like English, Geography, Sports and Music. Currently, my favourite subject is Geography because it is conducted in English and we have been learning about European nations, which I find very interesting.
When I first arrived in Germany, it was the tail end of winter so the weather was freezing cold for me. However, not long after that I started noticing beautiful flowers blooming by the road side; that means spring is finally here! Yay!
Besides that, many people are starting to spend more time outdoors since the weather is starting to warm up a little. The ducks have also started to come out to the lake more often to enjoy the sun.
Spring sure does bring more smiles to peoples’ faces!
Easter holiday is here too. Many people in Itzehoe have started decorating their gardens with beautiful Easter-themed knick-knacks. Mama Cornelia has bought many Easter bunnies for us to decorate the house with and I can’t wait to start the project. Alicia and I are also working on making little gifts for the Easter egg hunt.
Time sure flies when you’re having fun. Till the next month, tschüss (goodbye)!
q Head over to Roxanne’s blog (http://rox-xanne.blogspot.com/) to see how she and the Baasch celebrate Easter this weekend. The writer blogs regularly about her experiences in Itzehoe, Germany. Roxanne, who is a member of The Star’s Young Journalist programme (BRATs), will also be sharing her stories and pictures with R.AGE each month.