Q: Where have you been?

A: Bickenbach!

Sorry I disappeared for awhile. I settled into a nice little life in Bickenbach, a small town outside Darmstadt (which is right next to Frankfurt if you’ve ever been to the airport!).

This is the face of a girl who is supposed to be on a plane!

DLand-Christian, Gaby, Christian, Ammi 061

This was me on Sept, 27th at about 8AM. At this moment, I should have been on a plane heading from Munich to Amsterdam. Instead, I got to spend two weeks staying with my friend Ammi, taking German classes, eating delicious food, and running! (More on all that later.)

Before I decided to stay, I visited some other friends. I feel like when I am abroad, I take more time to visit and appreciate my friends, while when I am in the United States, I take it for granted that they are there or I feel uncomfortable “imposing” with a visit. Well, no more. If you’re my friend, I’m visiting you, and you’re going to like it.

After visiting my AuPair Family, I went to see my friend Christian in Muhleim, a small town on the Ruehr River. Christian and I met at church in Hannover, and though we only hung out a couple of times in Hannover, we became good email buddies, and I visited him in Bayreuth, his university town, while I was studying at Heidelberg. I didn’t take tons of pics of us cause I always get awkward, but I had a great time catching up with him (he has a real grown up job now!), going running in the woods, and going on long walks with his girlfriend.

They were great hosts! I did manage to capture a picture of Christian making me a drink. That’s the nice thing about visiting people—you’re royalty for awhile.

DLand-Christian, Gaby, Christian, Ammi 001

After visiting Christian and Josie, I headed to Schallodenbach, a supersmall town near Kaiserslautern, to visit Gaby, a former coworker of my mom’s from back when I was about 7 years old! I remember Gaby as “the woman with the funny accent” but since she and her husband (who works for a contractor for the American military) have moved back to Germany (where she is from though she is now an American citizen) I have gotten to hang with them a bit. They came to Heidelberg twice while I was there and we met up, and this time I visited their town. Before I got there, I stopped in Duesseldorf for an afternoon.

I stored my stuff in a locker at the train station and headed out.

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It’s beautiful here!

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I stopped in front of a Gymnasium (high school) and looked at some of the tiles the different graduating classes have made. In Germany, to graduate high school, you earn your “Abitur,” so all of the tiles incorporate “Abi” into them. The German schooling system is changing now to a more standardized EU system, so what used to be 13 years of school is being condensed to twelve and students will earn BAs and MAs in college rather than certificates. It’s a confusing and probably stressful time for many people, especially the students who will experience the “double year.” There will be one class graduating after 13 years at the same time the class below them graduates within the new 12-year system. This means twice as many students applying to college and twice as many university graduates eventually flooding the job market. Yikes. But, these kids had some creative ideas for their Abi tiles nonetheless.

DLand-Christian, Gaby, Christian, Ammi 006 DLand-Christian, Gaby, Christian, Ammi 005

After a nice walk, I picked up my luggage. I only had to pay 3Euros, but it looks like someone else is going to owe a little bit more…

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Then it was off to Schallodenbach. I tried to capture a few pics of small-town life in Germany!

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Every town needs its sports club!

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What a beautiful day!

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The Tante Emer Laden. My spelling might be off. It’s a teeny store that sells everything open for a few hours in the morning. These stores exist in many small towns and though they only carry the staples, they do get deliveries of fresh bread very morning!

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We went on a drive and even (illegally!) cut through some fields—once for the adventure and the other time to cut off some cars that were driving suuuuper slowly.

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We stopped for Kaffee und Kuchen at a beautiful restaurant in the hills.

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It was a great visit, and Gaby and I had lots of discussions about life and choices and desires. She helped me to think about what I want for my future, which led me to my Plan B…. more on that later.

And, since arriving to Bickenbach, my life has been this in the mornings.

DLand-Christian, Gaby, Christian, Ammi 063

I study German for 3 hours each morning at the LernAkademie. Again, it’s been hugely beneficial for me as a teacher to see how other people teach. My years as a teacher have helped me be a better student as well; I try to give others space and time to answer and to learn rather than worry about being the first one finished. This class was pretty good; I appreciated the time every day to really speak German (especially as I was staying with an American friend). However, my classmates weren’t always satisfied, so there was some drama while I was there.

And every evening, my life looked like this:

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Ammi is a vegan, so she cooks delicious vegan food, and she’s been teaching me how! German in the morning, cooking in the afternoon, time with friends, good wine. I think it was a good choice to stick around!

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About Heather

I'm a literature-loving adventurer.
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