Wednesday, May 9, 2007

1 April: Your Typical German Teenager

This morning John and I went for a walk with Evelyne’s daughter (whose name, I finally figured out several days later, is not Ara but Oda; since I am writing this after the fact, I will spell it correctly here!). We had Endor with us so we just did a short loop, since Endor’s pace is a bit more leisurely than Cody’s. Oda was a little shy at first but got going pretty well towards the end. She’s 17 and in her eleventh year of school, which means she has two more years of what we would call high school in the States. There are several different levels of “high school” in Germany. You have to take an entrance exam after elementary school; your performance determines which high school you get into and has a big impact on your future career track. It is possible to move up to a higher level school mid-way through, but that doesn’t happen very often. Oda is in the highest level school, which is called Gymnasium. Her favorite subjects are biology, German, art, and music. She’s just started learning the trumpet and plays volleyball in a women’s league. They don’t have school-affiliated sports teams in Germany like they do in the U.S. – here, sports are a completely separate activity, but still very popular. She was tired because her team had just won a match yesterday. She really wants to visit America; her school sends a group of kids to Seattle every other year, but her class is in the off year, and so is her younger brother’s (he’s 14). But, she said the trip requires you to miss four weeks of school and it would not be easy for her to miss so much work during her last year of Gymnasium. She is on spring break for the next two weeks and asked if I’d like to walk with her in the mornings so she can continue to practice her English. She is working at an Apotheke (pharmacy) in Botnang this week to earn some money, so I agreed to walk down there with her tomorrow morning.

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