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September 14, 2009 - Tessa Makepeace
Two weekends ago, I spent the weekend in Hannover along with probably 70 other exchange students/former exchange students. There were people there from Germany who already spent a year abroad, exchange students who have been here for six or seven months, and exchange students like me who got here about a month ago. We went on a tour of the Rathaus, or city hall and were given a presentation on Hannover. We also went to a soccer game in this huge outdoor stadium where there were some 36,000 fans at a game Hannover against a team from Bayern. Unfortunately, Hannover lost but it was still cool. There are a lot of fun exchange students. The Mexicans were especially rowdy at the game and always are, making it funJ We had discos, or dances both Friday and Saturday night and it was pretty fun. We all slept in sleeping bags in a big gym in the school where we were for the weekend. Each exchange student brought something to eat and on the first night we had a buffet of food. There was way more than enough for everyone to eat.

This weekend I had another weekend with almost the same people. This time it was just the exchange students that have been here for a month or so and it was organized by Rotary. There were thirty or forty of us and this time we stayed in host families in either Soltau or Walsrode. I was in Soltau and stayed with one other girl from the U.S. from Texas. When we got there on Friday, our host family picked us up right away. They were really nice and both spoke very good English. They had two twelve year old twin daughters too.The dad in the family knew Italian too because he studied for seven years in Italy! We spoke English the entire weekend, which was nice. I met more people and got to know a lot of the exchange students better. We played some games and learned a weird dance that we performed for everyone on Sunday. Sunday was my 18th birthday too so I am now a year older! My actual host mom told my host family for the weekend that it was my birthday and when I woke up on Sunday they sang happy birthday and gave me flowers, cake, and charm bracelet! The two twin daughters had baked a chocolate cake and I brought part of it with me on the train ride back. We had a quick lunch in the morning with all the other exchange students and since the program knew it was my birthday they sang me five different versions of happy birthday! They sang two different German versions, English, and two Spanish versions. It was ridiculous but completely cool. It was fun this weekend getting to know the other exchange students and I had a wonderful birthday.

When I finally got back on Sunday from the long weekend, my host family had a whole bunch of stuff ready too. They made me two kinds of cake, one a plum cake and one the birthday cake they said they have been making for everyone who has a birthday for over fifteen years. Both were really, really good. My host brother Hannes was there too along with my host sister Maria and her boyfriend. Then my friend Desiree spontaneously showed up with her friend Anika. Then her parents were there too and all of the sudden it was a big thing. We ate the delicious cake, talked, and they even gave me presents! They gave me a nice card, a towel with my name sewn into it, a thing for an iPod that I can wear on my arm when I run, a framed picture of us at the airport when I first got here, some bath stuff, chocolate, and a book from my host sister. It was greatJ Then we ate a warm dinner that my host mom had cooked.

Here it’s a big thing to bring something like cake or cookies to someone who has a birthday. Yesterday at school I was amazed at how many of my friends brought me something. Annie brought me lemony chocolate cookie type things that she made, Hanna chocolate muffins, Ming Phuong a doughnut with a candle in it, Sophie a nut cake, and Desiree jam and chocolate. I ate an incredibly ridiculous amount of cake and I am still full from it. Another one of my friends, Ming Chiau, turned sixteen yesterday so people brought here cake too. Overall, there was just a really insane amount of cake eating going on at school. In my classes,I am actually understanding a lot more in school and it is going really well. I can tell my German is getting better too! Those are the main things that have been happening anyway...I am having a great time!

Tomorrow we are going water skiing all day as a class of about 30 students and I am excited! This weekend I am going to be here and so I will have more time to hang out with friends from school, which is good!


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