Friday, November 20, 2009
So I was totally and completely petrified to go to school. Not only did I have to drive by myself to Cologne(about 40 miles away) on the autobahn, park the car, and find the school/classroom, but i also speak NO German. I couldn't sleep at all the night before and ended up just sitting in the kitchen drinking coffee and reading. I finally decided to just leave the house(at 5:45am!, school doesn't start until 8am, haha) and drive to Cologne to make sure i find it okay and all. Since there isn't a speed limit on most of the Autobahn i got there at about 6 20am. Found some parking not to far away and walked around for an hour and a half. I found two different bakeries and got some food at both! Had to search far and wide for a bathroom(too much coffee). Finally 7:30 came around so I made my way back to the school, which was basically a community college(i think). I found the classroom and waited for the teacher to come and open it. After being let in and finding a seat that wasn't saved for someone the day got started!
It took the first teacher, Frau "Mean as Hell", half an hour to take role and get organized. In her 15 minutes left to teach she talked about horse semen and something else i couldn't understand. After that class she took me aside to get my boss's phone number and to ask me(in very broken English) why the heck i was at school if i didn't speak any German. I told her " ummmm i don't know, because my Chef told me to?!?!?" She then preceded to get angry at me for not understanding her and not participating and what not. I just smiled and said sorry and "Isch Sprecken keine deutsche"!
When she was done a very well dressed professor with came and talked to us about business, taxes, and politics...He was much nicer about the language barrier and said we would figure something out!
The day went on.... 3 more teachers. 2 nice, 1 not. Didn't really understand anything more than the subject of the lectures and what not. My last class had a test planned for that day. The teacher gave me the test and a textbook to see if i could get anything done on it. I could answer two of the questions(out of ten). And they were both right! But that's all i could get done. So i got to leave early!
All in all it wasn't to horrible. The other kids weren't very friendly(except for one very homosexual jumper rider), they all laughed at my non-German speaking. Pointed at me and whispered(why whisper?). Lets just say it was nice to come back to the barn and work with my "friends" here. I go on a different day next week so we"ll see if those kids are a little bit more hospitable...
O yea... That first teacher i had in the morning(the rude one) called my boss's wife who manages the barn and does the office work. She asked her why they sent me there and all. Told her i didn't speak any German(like she didn't know?!?), and that it was stupid of me to go. My boss's wife told her to bug off basically and that i was going to school to learn more German and get better at it. I didn't get to hear all the details of their convo but i think it was pretty hostile! sounds like fun!
well i think that's about it. I don't want this blog to make me sound like I'm miserable or anything.... It was just one hard day. I know it will get better. I wasn't expecting school to be easy and fun. I knew the language barrier would be a HUGE problem, but it will get better with time! I am very happy over here! I'm learning more than i ever could of imagined, seeing places i never dreamed of seeing, and meeting truly amazing people that I'm making life long friendships with. So all is good, just bumps in the winding road of living in a foreign country trying to live my dreams!!!!
(did that last paragraph make any sense, I'm not good at being all inspirational or eloquent, but i try anyway!!)
All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Monday, November 16, 2009
Most of the workers from the barn, one of the boarders and her boyfriend, and this really nice german couple that were someone's friends all met up this really cool gigantic indoor soccer/tennis/bowling complex. It cost 5euros a person since we had 10 people there. We played an hour of intense non-stop indoor soccer.
I played goalie to start out with because I was the newbie to the sport. I deflected 6 shots and was on fire. They moved me out of the box to try and score some. I made two goals in 3 minutes. We then took a little bit of a breather. In indoor soccer the field is only like 1/8 the size of a normal soccer field and has a wall surrounding the whole field. This means that there are no outs. The ball is constantly in play until a goal is scored or a foul is made. We could only play about 5 minutes at a time with no breaks. So we took water breaks and breathing breaks constantly. I scored 2 more goals before our hour was up! And also played goalie a few more times keeping the score down to 14-7 our team up!
the other team scored in the last 5 minutes so the final score ended up being 14-8 our team!
No one there believed me that i really hadnt played before... i just told them that i just kicked the ball as hard as i could towards the goal and it sometimes worked out for me!
It was so much fun and we are going to play again next Sunday! It is a good and fun way for us to stay in shape when not riding.
Another plus was meeting the boarder here at the barn, Yvonne's, boyfriend. He lived in Michigan for a year when he was in Highschool back in the 90s. He is super smart and really really nice. He speaks english perfectly and fluently. We got along really well. Most of the others had to keep telling us to stop talking and play the game. He wants to take me around Dusseldorf some more and to some of the fun local spots that the others here dont know about. After winter he wants to take me to this mall that has a beach on top. YES, a BEACH! complete with sand, water, and cocktails! It is closed now for winter, but when it opens again we are totally hitting it up! It was nice to meet someone that reminded me of my friends back home! We could talk about politics, school, religion, etc... It was a nice feeling!
Well thats about all I have been up to for the last week or so... Still working a ton and learning even more!
I think im gunna start doing a weekly german riding tip of the week...good idea? or a waste of time!?! horse poeple-let me know what you think!
I'm off to go cook some chicken and pasta for the housemates.
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.
Henry David Thoreau
Monday, November 2, 2009
I have been working the hardest I have ever had to work and riding more horses than I ever had to ride in my life. The work is exhausting and the riding is difficult, but the knowledge I've already gained in just 3 weeks is incredible.
My daily Schedule kinda goes as follows:
6:30am-Start work at
6:30-Clean about 8 stalls, put new straw in stall, and sweep the whole barn
8am-Break for a 30 minute breakfast with the whole team
8:30am-Start to ride. Ride usually 3-4 horses. Tack a few. Warm-up/cool down a few horses for the Chef.
1:30pm-Break for an hour. Eat lunch and usually check Facebook and emails.
2:30-Clean horses for boarders coming to ride in the afternoon and ride some more(usually 2 horses)
Until 6:30pm- Feed and hay horses, sweep the barn area, change blankets on horses, and do anything else needed to do.
(This is only tuesday through Saturday though. Sunday is a half day and Monday is usually a free day. We do have to work ever fourth Monday, but we get a day off during the week.)
Its a full day. We sometimes work until 7 or 8 at night. Once a week the hay is delivered and all the guys have to unload and put it in the pony barn where its stored. It is probably the work job of everything I've had to do. Its moving about 200-450 bales of hay about 15 meters. In a chain of 3 guys. Doesn't sound horrible, but you have NO idea!
On a different note, I am making some great friends! One of my housemates, Peter, is from Poland and is newer here than me. He doesn't speak a word of German, but speaks quite a bit of English! We have clicked pretty well being as we are the two foreigners in a barn full of germans! He has a car and a GPS navigation, so we go exploring. We drove to Dusseldorf(only about 30minutes away) one night and had dinner and walked along the beautiful Rhine River. Its a really pretty town! I'll post pictures soon!
Everything is going well and I'm having a blast. More to come soon, I promise!!
And i apologize for the grammar and spelling errors, I don't write particularly well. I ride horses instead!!
John Mason- Germany 07 October 2009
I have arrived! My plane landed in Dusseldorf at 2:35pm(14:35). I met up with Johann’s wife, Katja, in the baggage claim area and we set off to the barn. The drive was only about 25 minutes. She then gave me a mini tour of the barn, seeing as I had already been there once before, and introduced me to the other workers there.
After getting all my bags unpacked and my room organized, I took a long awaited(and I’m sure needed)hot shower. Katja then took me to the local supermarket which was very similar to a Texas Walmart, except for this had a great selection of GOOD food. I stocked up on bread, cheese, and sandwich meats. It was raining when we walked back outside so we had to run to the car and try to unload the cart as fast as possible. The short car ride home was filled with fun little questions about the little tiny differences between Americans and Germans. She helped me unload the groceries in my shared kitchen, which my kitchen mate keeps quite cluttered. After all this hustle and bustle I finally got lay down for a minute.
Sleep was not in the near forecast though. It might have been late afternoon here, but it was only mid-morning back in Texas. So I thought I would go and meander through the barns and meet some of the horses and people. I watched Johann and Thomas, the assistant trainer, teach some lessons. Thomas rode a very hot and gigantic black gelding that he rode effortlessly, making it look easy. After about a half hour of arena and people watching, I headed back to the room to call my dad and check in. This was the only time today I got really homesick. It finally sunk in that I am on the other side of the world and don’t really know anyone within a 1000 mile radius.
Then that puts me here. Writing this journal entry on my brand new MacBook Pro(thank you Uncle John). I think I might go for another walk. The sun is going down and the barn is getting quieter... my kind of time!