Friday, January 27, 2012

I am Emma Hennessey

I have officially claimed my domain. My door is now Hennessey-ified. 


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Video Blog

My first video blog! Check it out :DDDD

 *note of warning--I only realized after I uploaded it that the second half of it is flipped. Oops, sorry! And also, when I am in the bathroom, I couldn't stand and have the camera work, so I had to lean on the toilet. Sorry that looks a tad awkward. Haha, anyways, hope you like it!


video

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Intouchables

I just got back from a great new culturural experience with the host family--the Swiss movie theater experience. 

When my host mom asked me if I would like to go to the movies with them, I said sure, only then realizing I hadn't been to a movie theater in over 5 months. In fact, I have only watched two movies not on my computer since I have been here, the Sting with my host family, and the Denzel Washington movie about a robbery with my old host sister Eva. And I have already seen both of those! I realized how much I missed just seeing a new movie, so I was excited by the time we pulled up to the theater.

There are some major differences in a Swiss movie theater compared to an American one. First of all, most movies you have to reserve seats for. My host Dad forgot which ones we had reserved be the time we got there, so we had to buy ours anyway. (hahahaha)

This was the only movie theater in Zug, so I was surprised by how small the screen was. It was about the size of one of the mini-theaters they have in malls in America. Also, all the seats were huge and velvety. I don't mean like normal movie theater velvety--I mean like Lazy Boy lounger comfy. And our movie theater had a balcony, like in a play theater! No one ate snacks or anything, so the seats didn't have cup holders which was pretty interesting for me. 

We saw the movie Intouchables, or Untouchable in English. It was a French movie with German subtitles. I felt so proud of myself while watching it! Not only could I understand bits of French while listening, but I could understand all of the German subtitles! There would be a word once in a while I didn't know, but halfway through the movie, I realized that I had been reading the subtitles like they were in English. I wasn't translating what they said anymore, I just was reading them like I would read any dialogue. I was so happy when that dawned on me! 

Of course, reading dialogue is way easier than reading a newspaper or book. Think about it, in most movie the conversations are almost always at 3rd grade reading comprehension, like "Hey, how are you?" "I'm good, you?" and so on. It still was cool feeling semi-trilingual though!

The movie stopped halfway through for an intermission, which really confused me at first. During that time, people go on and buy ice cream and socialize for 15 minutes, and then the movie starts again. It was actually really nice, I liked having time to stretch and talk about the movie (which was really good by the way).

I don't know if it has come to the states yet, but I would totally recommend seeing Intouchables. Its about a rich man who is paralyzed that hires a guy from the slums to help him. It is Pretty Woman meets the Blind Side, and I think it is one of the funniest and heartwarming films I've seen in a long time. It's getting all this French Oscar buzz, especially for the guy who played the lead. 

All in all, seeing a Swiss movie was totally worth the $16. J Edgar Hoover is coming out soon, and I've decided I want to see it on the nights they play it with German subtitles now. 

Tschüss!

After watching this trailer again, I realize when I read the subititles in Deutsch, their voices sounded different in my head. Is that weird?

Monday, January 16, 2012

I AM IN A RAGE

Hello everyone!

There has been something that has been frustrating me for months now, and an event today finally was the tipping point for me. I am so frustrated and angry and annoyed and have no way to express my emotions, since most Swiss people can't understand the situation I am in.

To put in short, I am in a rage.

So, hence came the angry blog post. I did something not that smart today, on account of my temper. I am going to vent, but I hope all my Americans will understand!

Ok.

I love Switzerland, don't get me wrong. I have met some of the kindest and most loving people of my life here. Everyone has been so welcoming to me, and for that I will always be grateful. Everyone here speaks English, and they have been willing to help me in my mother tongue, when ever I don't understand something.

Over my stay here in Switzerland, I have come to realize how frustrating this must be to them. They all are forced to learn English in school, when all the many Americans and British people in Zug hardly know German. One can make the case that English is a more global language, which is true, but it still must be frustrating to feel like you have to change you culture to accomodate someone else. Many people here feel like Switzerland has been to Americanized, and that it's cultural essence is being taken away. There have been a ton of anti-immigration movements here over the summer. Trust me, I understand how it is a problem, and I truly feel guilty having to make people speak English to me.

THAT being said--I am officially tired of the anti-Americanism attitude some people have shown me. Although most of my teachers have been wonderful at school, a couple have been nasty. They assume I am stupid and arrogant, because of my nationality. It is the always present feeling that I am somehow more spoiled or less educated than everyone else. If I do not know an American figure from the revolution, I get the reaction of "Of course, why would you know?"

Do you remember my history teacher? The one who when I walked in the class the first time, and couldn't answer a question, stated "why do all Americans come here and not try to learn our language? The one who made me cry, when he told the class he didn't grade my test, but threw it in the trash?

Yeah, him. Well today, he asked me if I was taking the test on Friday. I said yes. Then he asked me if I receive grades here, when I said no, he rolled his eyes and said "Oh, typical American. Never having to work." (or something really similar, since I can't understand German perfectly.) My class gasped, and I just felt this anger inside of me. I felt like screaming at the top of my lungs "I UNDERSTAND YOU. I may not be able to speak German well, but I can think!" These little comments that have been made the whole year have been like a nail slowly hammered in my heart. Each time he says a question I can't answer, and he gives me that same pittying look, I have to work to restrain myself. Well, today, I didn't. Yeah, thats right, Emma Hennessey talked out against a teacher. Or atleast tried too, with the broken German I have. I told him in my most sassy vice "Just because I am an American doesn't mean I am dumb." and then I glared at him and said  "You are a teacher, you should know that."

Well....long story short, I'm not in trouble, but lets just say he is not my number one fan. Or, I think he dislikes me even more than before. He'll probably go around saying now "Typical Americans, cant control their tempers!" I guess I should have controlled my temper, but I'm still a teenager, what can I say? Its stange--back home, I was not proud to be an American. I would complain about corruption and our government, but over here, if someone is nasty about my home, I'll be nasty back.

So, still a little frustrated, but writing that all out really helped. If you read all of that, I am sorry for all the boring blabbing, but it feels good to talk about it.

Until next time! See you in 6 months USA!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Winter-ish

Hello Everybody! I must say, I am sorry for once again failing to fulfill my promise of "I will do the next post tomorrow!" I know I have said this before, but I am a very busy person over here! Life of an exchange student I guess. I knew I had officially postponed writing this too long, when I got an urgent email from my Dad, saying my Mom thought "I was dead". So Mom, I am sorry! And I am very well alive!

I originally planned on doing a post about winter and another about Christmas, but knowing me, that means the Christmas post won't be up until February. So instead, I am writing a super-mega-supreme post of December and January. This might be a little long, so sorry in advance.

DECEMBER:

December saw many improvements since dreary November. Maybe it was the Christmas spirit, or maybe it is that I reached the hardes point of my exchange, and now, it is all just uphill.

Zug was starting to look like a winter wonderland, with the lights the town hangs on the streets. I took this in Alt-Stadt (old town) walking home one day in the rain, doesn't it just look like a post-card? But don't let Zug's Alt-Stadt deceive you--there is a very modern part to Zug too, but it usually isn't in the postcards. Zug's Bahnhof (Train Station in English, but for some reason, I can only call it the Bahnhof) had a huge 30ft crystal tree hanging from the ceiling! And the Metalli has a Christmas tree too. I love Switzerland in the Christmas season so much! And to make my December even better, I woke up to a surprise one Saturday morning: the first snow!

This was very late for Switzerland, because it usually snows in November or even October. The weather has been really weird this year. In August, it was in the 80's up until mid-September. That is really weird to think of, seeing as how cold it is now!

My host mom took me for a walk in the snow, and I stupidly decided to go in my leather boots. What choice did I have? It was either that, or ballet flats. I probably slid half-way through the walk. At one point, I skated by mistake and she had to run and catch me. Very lucky for me, she bought me some new snow boots afterwards, and I have had to learn how to deal with all this snow.

Also in December were the all the Kantis' Christmas Balls. There are 2 Kantis in Zug, one in Zug and one in Menzingen. For the Menzingen Ball, Winnie and Elle came to my house and spent the night. It was probably the worst dance I have been to in my entire life. I guess Swiss people aren't that dancing inclined, because the whole time, most of the people awkwardly stood around like in Middle School. So, we had to find our own ways to have fun, like taking pictures in the bathroom stalls!







Although the dance itself wasn't that fun, it was definitely a great night hanging out with my friends. Our other Swiss friends met up with us at the dance, and we all had a fun time hanging out and talking. We eventually went outside to avoid the awkwardness, and ended up getting locked out. And of course, it started to snow. We all had to run under the stairs of the school to hide in warmth, which is when the picture above was taken. Me and Elle and Winnie walked home at around 1, and fell asleep in my room to Friends re-runs in my nice cozy bed.


We also had the Zug christmas ball a week later. Our Kanti has 1700 kids, so it was a lot bigger than the one in Menzingen. It was a super fun night, and I enjoyed every minute. Only bad news was that I had to leave at 1 to catch the last bus to Menzingen, and ended up forgetting my bag at the coat-check (full with my hair straigtner, cell phone and clothes) and it was stolen. Ah, well. Still a great night though!

This picture is of the Zug girls, an AFS exchange student from Indonesia, and James and Dominic.
And the picture below it is of course, the Zug Girls. I love them so much!

Before the Holidays, we were all itching for school to end. It goes until the 21st here, which is far to late in my opinion. For the holiday season, Sienna and I went to a Gospel concert in Zug and my friends and I went Christmas shopping in the Zurich Christmas market. The market is huge, and wonderful, and we all spent all our money buying presents. So, as typical exchange students, we ended up sitting in the Bahnhof eating $1 bread to stay warm.

















My other early Christmas present of the year was that we got to watch Charlie Brown in English class! I had been begging my English teacher for weeks to watch Charlie Brown, and she always said no. To my surprise, I walked into my last English class of 2011, and was greeted with the Charlie Brown theme song! It was such a great Christmas gift!

CHRISTMAS:

Christmas was wonderful in every way I can immagine. For Christmas Eve, my family surprised me by taking the whole family to an English Christmas service in Zug. Since Zug has so many international
people living in it, there is an English church which has about 100 people who go to it. The church turned out to be a typical American Mid-West church. This has never been my family's church of choice, largely because I think my Dad and sister would have a hard time with the hand-waving and crying, since Hennesseys "dont show emotions unless it is required". I think having to sit through that church service was totally worth it too seeing my host brother dying a little inside during every gospel song. This proves yet again, that I think my host brother and Lilly should get married. Anyways, it was a nice service, and I was very thankful my family thought of me.


After our Christianity ordeal, we all came back to an amazing fondue dinner. We talked and laughed and made jokes about the dog farting, and it was wonderful. Afterwords, we opened presents. I received only four presents for Christmas this year, but they are by far the most meaningful presents I have ever had. First, my host brother got me a box of chocolate. This wouldn't be meaningful, if you didn't know my host brother. He and I have said probably 5 words to eachother in the last 2 months. He is a nice kid, but just very shy. I was so surprised he  got me something! Second, my host sister got me Its a Wonderful Life on DVD. This was so meaningful, because I watch it every year, and was so sad I couldnt this year. I searched all over Zug, but couldnt find it. When I opened it, I almost started to cry that she remembered! My third gift was from my host parents, and was the best one. My host dad had been hinting for weeks about it, and he was just giddy when it was time for me to open it. They blindfolded me and put me on the couch, and brought over my gift. I could tell my host mom was smiling, and she said "Feel it! Guess what it is!" After a couple of seconds I realized, my host family had rented me a guitar! I was so happy! I  have missed playing guitar so much here, and taking off my blindfold and seeing all there faces made me realize how truly lucky I am. It was one of the best Christmas' I have ever had.

The rest of Christmas break was great. I got to relax in the mornings, and explore Zurich or Luzern in the afternoons. I was a little sad that all my friends were gone skiing, but I managed to have a lot of fun with my host family. We had guests over almost every night, and I really enjoyed being with them. I love my host family so much, and their friends are super funny too! During Christmas break I also went to a great New Years party with my Swiss friends and was up until 8 am and I went to Bern one day with a friend from Portland who lives in Uri. Bern is beautiful!



 In the beginning of break, all the Zug girls met up to exchange gifts before they all left me to go skiing. We all got each other the perfect gifts. It just proves how well we know each other. Sienna got Elle a book full of tons of stories and pictures from her friends about the last 5 months, and Winnie got a scarf that she had been wanting for ages. We all started crying half-way though because of how much we truly know each other, and the fact that Winnie was leaving in 2 weeks. I ended up getting these beautiful feather ear-rings from Sienna, and had to tell her I don't have my ears pierced. So of course, the four of them physically force me to get them pierced that day. I will admit, I was actually a little scared, but I am so glad I finally did it. And to commemorate the experience, Winnie and Sienna got a second one too. Elle, being the crazy person she is, spontaneously decided to pierce hers herself while we were all sitting in Sienna's room.

To end a perfect break, when all the girls were back from skiing with their host families, we all met up in Luzern for one last goodbye to Winnie. Everything was closed, so we just stayed in Starbucks talking and ended up going to McDonalds for some good ol burgers. Pretty American of us, huh? But alas, McDonalds burgers are $11 in Switzerland for some strange reason, so we all had to share two burgers.

JANUARY--

Its good to be back in school, and be working (Ok, by exchange student standards) again. I learned my class is putting on a concert in a couple of  months, and were going to Berlin for a week in May. I also got the most Math questions right on a test! But I didnt get the highest score, because I didn't "explain my work", in German! I also made a 15 minute long Rotary presenation last night for my club, about Vashon and my last 5 months here. It was all in German, and I was a little scared, but my host Dad said it went great! In the least self conceited way possible, I think all the Rotarians love me. They are all the sweetest old Swiss men, and each one wished me luck before or winked or something. And during dinner, I had a fluent conversation with four of the Rotarians for about an hour! Rolf (my Counselor) looked very proud and so did my host dad. I felt very proud too.




Today, I didn't go to school and instead went to the Zurich airport to see all the Aussie's off. There were about 20 of them leaving today, so a ton of exchange students skipped school to say goodbye. It was so emotional and sad seeing everyone! All the exchange students were hugging and crying and signing Swiss flags. Of course, the hardest part for me was seeing Winnie leave. She was excited to go home since she has had a tough exchange year, but we all will miss her so much! We all got one last group hug before she boarded, and Elle was sobbing. I started to cry when I saw her walk through the gate, and knowing that I'll very likely never see her again.

It was a very emotional day to say the least. When we all walked away from the airport together, someone turned and said, "you realize we are the Oldies now?" which is true! Our oldies have officially left, so we are now half way through our year. Thinking that the next time I come here, I will be going home to America was so weird to think. Switzerland is my home now, and these other 30 exchange students my family. These have been the most amazing 5 months of my life, and to immagine I will be leaving soon is astounding. Every difficulty I have had has been counter-balanced with three more life changing high points. I dont know if Switzerland has changed my outlook, or if have just grown, but I am a completly different person than the frighten 16 year old that boarded that airplane in August. I have loved every minute here, and grown so much. Everyone says that if you can make it to January, the second half of the year will go by in a flash. I want to strive to live every minute to its fullest here, and make the most of the rest of my amazing 6 months.

Ich liebe der Schweiz, Ich liebe meine leben und Ich bin dankbar für diese toll Gelegenheit!