At first, I was nervous that it may be awkward with the family, and that conversation may lack. I was nervous that we may not get along or that the language barrier would be too difficult to handle. I was nervous that I would miss being with my classmates, and that I would long for the times that we would be able to spend as a group. All of these instincts were completely inaccurate. Instead, I find myself longing for time that I am able to spend at home with my host family. I keep thinking about how little time I have left with them, and how difficult it is going to be to leave them in one week. The bonds that I have formed with the children and with Tanja are some of the most incredible bonds that I have ever formed with anyone. This family truly took me in as one of their own, and has done everything they can to make me feel as comfortable and as at home as possible. I think of them as family now, and I am so excited about the relationships that I have formed with them already. I know that these are relationships that I will maintain for the rest of my life.
My first evening with the family, I sat with Franzie at the kitchen table in silence. She is only five, and does not know one word of English, and I know not one word of German. We sat there in silence, smiling at each other but also feeling slightly awkward. Finally, I began asking her about some vocabulary. The walls are plastered with vocabulary translations from German to English for the children to study. I began by looking at the English words and acting them out, asking Franzie to translate it into German for me, so I could begin to practice the language. Soon her and I were laughing hysterically as we played charades, and looked ridiculous doing so. She taught me colors, actions, and objects. It was a lot to take in, but it was a way for us to communicate and enjoy each other's company. And if you're wondering about the title of this blog: Wassamelone, it is the first word that I could actually pronounce properly and Franzie thought it was absolutely hilarious when I'd say it. It is now my favorite word.
Moritz, the oldest child knows quite a bit of English, and we are able to communicate quite well! One night I decided to download an app to my phone that allowed me to speak into it in English, and it would translate it into German for me so that I could communicate better with the family. (It also allowed me to translate German to English so I could finally understand what they were talking about at dinner). I had no idea how much fun the family and I would have with this app until we were sitting at the dinner table. I discretely turned on the app to try and translate the conversation to English. My phone started blurting out the English translation and everyone was confused. I couldn't help but laugh and explain what I was trying to do. For the rest of dinner, the kids and I played around saying different phrases in German and English and translating them with one another. We laughed all night long.
My time with this family the past week has been incredible. The children always come to my room and say good morning and good night. They greet me with smiles and hugs at the end of the day, and always make me feel at home. Tanja has been so supportive and an incredible asset both in the classroom and at home. From picking me up from the train station late at night, to always making sure I have food in the house that I like to eat, and being like a mother to me, I am so incredibly thankful to have her in my life. My new family is everything to me, and I am thankful for every moment I get to spend with them.