Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Week off update!

Helllllllooooooo out there!
    Last week we both worked at different camps and neither of us got to go to Frankfurt to watch the US women’s world cup game.  I put on all of my red white and blue and painted my face with another counselor who I worked with and went to a local bar to watch the game.  Josh also watched the game, but at the house of the people he stayed with. It was a bummer that we didn’t get to watch it together, but it was still cool being able to show our American pride in an foreign country. 
    Josh was in a small town called Waffensen last week for camp and I was in Wolfsburg again.  We both had a some what difficult week as far as the kids that we had.  The language barrier is more of an issue in the smaller towns outside of Berlin.  I had a group of kids who really didn’t want to participate in any camp activities and who refused to speak English with me.  They also figured out that I really didn’t speak any German, so they could say whatever they wanted to about me and I wouldn’t know what they were saying.  They thought that, that was really funny, but I reminded them that there were other counselors there who spoke German and they told me everything :).
    While we were in Wolfsburg we went to two different water shows at the Autostadt, the grounds of the Volkswagon facility.  The show runs all summer and changes each week.  The first show was incredible, but the second show was amazing.  The Bellagio does not even compare to how incredible it was.  There was fire and water and lasers.  They projected parts of movies and images on walls of water and had everything synched to amazing music.  Each show was probably 30 minutes long and at the end we always wanted it to keep going!  We all met in Berlin again this weekend and went out on Friday night.  We went to this great little bar that we call the 24 hour bar.  It is a little hole in the wall that has such a diverse range of people that go there.  There were old men who had been going to the bar for 27 years, Turks, British people, old women and men, young people, and of course us.  We once again stayed out until the sun came up and then decided to leave.  On our way home from the bar I realized that my wallet was no longer in my purse.  I’m not sure where I lost it, whether it was at the bar or on the train somewhere, but it was gone and all of my stuff was gone.  We weren’t sure if we were going to be able to go to prague still, but my boss was gracious enough to give me an advance on my next week’s pay and we were able to make the trip with what she gave me!
     We’re stayed in an old school house that was turned into a huge hostel and it was packed full of people around our age.  Our first day we went down to old town Prague which is full of really old buildings that are so incredible to look at.  It is such a fairytale kind of place that I kept expecting people in huge dresses riding horses to come around the corner.  We visited the Charles Bridge and the old Castle and Church.  Everything was so picturesque and incredible that we were in awe the whole time.
    On our second day we went down to the old Jewish Quarters of the town and walked around the areas where we had been the day before.  Just walking around through all of the streets we saw such beautiful buildings.   A lot of the buildings have extremely old architecture and some have gold coating or intricate drawings/paintings on the sides.  After we walked around for a little bit, we went back to the hostel and relaxed a little bit and then we went back out on the town.  As most of you know, Absinthe is illegal in most of the States and there are a lot of rumors about how strong it actually is.  Well, Absinthe is not illegal here and the Czech Republic is notorious for having the best Absinthe in all of Europe, so we thought we better get some.  All over town we’d seen Absintheries where they sell and make drinks containing the alcohol.  Josh wanted to buy some to bring back with him and we both wanted to see if all of the rumors were true.  We went into one of the shops and ordered an Absinthe Lemonade and an Absinthe Energy (Absinthe with Red Bull) and sat down to drink them.  They didn’t taste that strong or different from other types of alcohol, but after we finished the drink we both felt a little funny.  It didn’t seem as strong as we all of the rumors made it sound, but it was definitely strong and didn’t have the same effects of straight alcohol.
    We got back to Berlin yesterday after a 5 hour bus ride and we were so happy to have the flat to ourselves that we stayed in and watched CNN all night because it was the only English station we could get.  I feel so informed on world and American news that I don’t even know what to do with myself.  We got up this morning and went to some friend’s house in another part of the city and had coffee and tea and they made lunch for us.  Berlin is starting to feel sort of like home and our comfort zone in all of this.  People were even asking us for directions yesterday and we were actually able to help them out a little bit.  It’s funny that only a couple weeks ago we were the ones that were completely lost in this big city.
    Josh is at the Real Madrid and Hertha BCS game tonight. I couldn’t go with him because I didn’t have the money to get a ticket, but he went and scalped a ticket for a pretty good price!  He was like a little kid in a candy shop all morning because he was so excited to go watch Real Madrid live! Tomorrow we’re going to rent bikes and go see some of the sites around Berlin and then Sunday it’s off to the next camp, which we work together!
    Hope all is well with everyone state-side!! Miss you all and see you soon :)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Weekly Update 2

Hellllllooooo from Wolfburg, home of Volkswagon, and our home for this week!

We both had our first week of camp last week and it went really well! Josh was at an overnight camp at a lake with two other counselors and I worked at a day camp close to our flat with three others.  Josh said that it was the most fun he had ever had with kids.  While the language barrier was hard at first they figured it out and were able to connect with all of their kids and everyone had a great time! They swam at the lake, played games, sang songs, rock climbed, and Josh led lessons in all sorts of different sports. While I think we needed a break from being around each other every waking second, it was weird being away from each other for the week and not being able to talk at all!  My first week was at a day camp and I had a group of kids that were anywhere from 10 to 12.  We did most of the same things that the overnight camp did, but I didn’t have to take care of the kids overnight! I don’t know how they did it, because I was exhausted by the end of each night.  Keeping kids busy and entertained is a lot harder than it sounds!
    After all of the counselors returned to the flat from their camps that they’d been at all week, we all went to a Lebanese restaurant for dinner and to smoke some Shesha (hookah).  The food was incredible and it was good to have everyone back together and to share stories from the week.  We really are like one big family because we were all so excited to be back in the same place and to spend time together! After dinner we went over to a local Berliner’s, a girl who works with us, house and met some of her friends that we later went out with.  We have heard that Berlin’s night life is the best in the world and we found out that it definitely is.  We got to this local club on the east side around one in the morning and danced the entire night.  When we walked out of the club, the sun was up and people on the train were going to work.  My body hurt so bad from dancing the next day that I had a hard time moving!
    Saturday a couple people went sight seeing and a couple of us stayed around the flat and went to lunch at a Korean restaurant.  I got to Skype my sisters and my mom for the first time since I’ve left and it was so good to finally be able to talk to them without having to type! We were going to go out again that night, but all of us were so tired that we stayed in and we watched soccer games and just hung out because we all had to be at our next camps by Sunday.
    Josh and I worked together this week in Wolfsburg and it’s been a lot of fun! We have never worked in a situation like this before together so it’s interesting to see how the other works.  We’ve been staying at a house that is more like a cabin in the woods and it isn’t the nicest conditions, but who are we to complain?! We went out on Wednesday night to a local bar where we watched the US Women’s team play France in the World Cup semifinals.  We were those loud Americans that every European stereotypes. We were screaming and yelling and jumping up and down, but when the US won all of the locals in the bar started clapping for us and cheering also!  Sooooo that brings us to this weekend.  The US is playing in Frankfurt for the World Cup and we have been trying to figure out how to get there since we watched the game.  It’s not looking promising for both of us to go together because of the work schedules.  I may be able to go with another group of people, but Frankfurt is 3 hours from where we are at and we have to work Monday morning.  It would be incredible being there in person, but even just being in the same country and going to one of the many public viewings would be so fun!  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we figure out a way to make it happen.
    Stay posted for updates!! Talk to all of you later :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Last week's update!

 Hello all!!

This is my blog from last week that I meant to post, but didn't get a chance to because we didn't have wi-fi!
It’s been very busy here on our side of the world. We were training all week long last week learning songs, games, activities, and prepping for the first week of camps! It’s been a little intense at some points, but we’ve also had a lot of fun. There are 11 counselors and we all get along so well.  We’ve decided our situation is a little like a season of the Real World.  We’re a bunch of strangers living, working and partying together.  Every day after we trained we would do something fun as a group together.  One night we went to see Transformers 3 at the Sony Center in Berlin. The next night we went back into town and found a couple local bars that we hung out at until we decided to go back home. However, the trains were not operating like we thought they were and it took us two and a half hours to get back to the house where we were staying. On our last night of training our boss and her family threw a German style barbeque for us. After eating the amazing food they cooked for us all week I didn’t think that they could top themselves, but I was wrong.  They brought out pork, sausages, cheese steaks (literally seasoned cheese formed into a steak like shape), cheese and herb wraps, breads, and potato salads.  I don’t know if I’ve ever eaten so much in my entire life.  I was literally in pain I had eaten so much, but it was so worth it because everything was so delicious!  The group stayed up and drank and sat around the fire early into the morning, some of them even got to see the sun start to come up!
    Last Saturday we moved into the flat in Berlin.  We’re in a part of Berlin called Charlottenberg, so we’re about 10 or 15 minutes on the Metro from the heart of the city.  The flat is amazing, It has two huge rooms with tall ceilings and windows.  The kitchen is big too and we have a big bathroom for everyone to share also.  When all of the counselors are here the sleeping quarters are a little sparse and some of the boys have to sleep on air mattresses.  All of the girls have beds though so I can’t complain too much :) The weather around here has been terrible though. I had to go buy some warmer clothes because, silly me, I prepared for Summer weather.  Who would have thought it was going to be 50 and rainy all weekend and most of the week?!
    Josh started camp Sunday.  He’s working an overnight camp this week, so I’m sure he’s going to be exhausted by the end of the week.  We talked to one of our bosses who helped to open their camp on Sunday and he said that the language barrier was proving to be a difficult thing at the camp.  Apparently none of the kids really wanted to do anything because it was the first day and the weather was not very great. I’m sure as soon as the kids loosen up and they get more comfortable with being away from home they will be fine.  Josh is amazing with kids and has a special talent for making people feel comfortable so, so I’m sure he’ll have those kids wrapped around his finger by the end of the week!
    I am staying at the flat in Berlin this week and working at a day camp in Zahlendorf, about 25 minutes away.  We had our first day of camp on Monday and it was a little more difficult than I expected.  I have 9  11 to 13 year olds and almost all of them speak a pretty good amount of English which helps a lot! We had a lesson on the 4th of July as the first day of camp was our country’s independence day and I had to acknowledge it somehow.  This is the first time a lot of the counselors who are here, including myself, haven’t celebrated the 4th somehow.  While it is a little weird I don’t really mind missing out on the fireworks!
    I’d like to send a big shout out to the amazing people of Berlin!!  Every single person we’ve met here has been so incredibly friendly and helpful and I know that we could not thank them enough.  From the Bartels who housed and fed 11 of us for the week to all of the random strangers who have helped us with directions or which trains to take to the man who helped a group of us figure out the trains and even paid for half of our cab fare.  All the people have been willing to help, even if we can’t figure out how to communicate verbally, they find a way to help us.  If we look lost at all someone will notice and help us out in the drop of a hat.  Being in such a friendly city has helped make Berlin feel a little like a home away from home in our long adventure.  So, thank you Berlin for being so kind and welcoming!

Until next time. Love and Hugs, Mackenzie and Josh