Happy Thanksgiving!

Unfortunately, not as much school got canceled this week as it did last! Math has kept being canceled because my teacher has a really bad leg injury. However, I did have to take my exam (Klausur) first block Tuesday. I understood what I was doing and all my answers made sense, which probably means I bombed it completely.

On Thursday, the teachers went on strike throughout my entire state. All the upperclassmen had Schluss (end of the school day) at 11:30. It was absolutely wonderful. One, because I'm finally an upperclassman. Two, because it kind of made me feel like I was having a normal Thanksgiving.

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When I got home, my host mom was already there, and so we started making a pumpkin pie together. We made everything from scratch, except the pumpkin goo (she actually found a can of Libby's at a grocery store, it's kind of sad to say that I actually got excited)! First we made the dough (Teig) from scratch. It tasted really good raw, kind of like sugar cookie mix. Then we organized all the ingredients we had to make the pumpkin part, but unfortunately we were lacking brown sugar.

There's a discount grocery store a little less than a mile up the road from us called Lidl, which is smaller than Haddonfield's Acme but sells everything from pre-colored eggs to underwear to keyboard pianos to ice skates to cereal to really big jars of Nutella. We assumed that it would also sell brown sugar, so we decided we'd kill two birds with one stone (zwei Fliege mit einer Klappe- lit: two flies with one swatter) and walk there with the dog. We took a different route, through the residential streets and not on the main road. A few streets away from my host house is a little park, pond, and elementary school (Grundschule). It's really cute and pretty, and apparently the pond freezes over hard enough in Winter that everyone can go ice skating!

We cut through the park and past the elementary school, up to where I thought was the end of the neighborhood. I was wrong, as always, as there was a little street cutting between some houses. Taking that street, it brought us to a set of stairs and then a bridge over a larger pond. There were ducks (Enten) floating around under the bridge, even though the water must have been freezing. Crossing the bridge, my host mom pointed out an after-school teen 'hangout' covered in graffiti. It was a group of a few buildings where some teens go after school when they don't want to go home, there are even a few social workers who work there.

Going further up the road, I had to watch my step - we were in the older part of the town, where the sidewalks and streets were relics of the GDR. The cobblestones on the streets are sunken from the weight of the cars, and one can't drive faster than about 10 mph because it's so bumpy. The sidewalks are just as terrible, little pieces of stone made incredibly uneven from tree roots. They are so much worse than old brick sidewalks!

After coming back from the grocery store and successfully finding the brown sugar, we started on the inside of the pie. It was quick, easy, and also tasty raw! We stuck the pie in the oven, and one hour later....

Friday I had gym, which meant I had to play volleyball. It was painful and sad, I really miss Haddonfield's opt-out forms! After school, I went in the city with friends of mine to go to the movies. The tickets here are 7€ for students, I think I'm getting spoiled (Loew's Theater is what, $11?).

On Saturday I had the day to myself because my host parents went shopping. I ate breakfast, did some homework, took the dog on a long walk, and read a book. I felt very productive, but a little guilty because the book was in English. I found it on my host brother's bookshelf. "What book was it?", you may ask. Since you asked so nicely, it was... "Catcher in the Rye." I have no idea what an English version of this book was doing in my host brother's room because we were supposed to read it in 10th grade American Lit (I think I was in the only class that didn't read it, as we had spent too much time on other books). I'm not sure if I actually like the book, or if I'm just relieved I found a classic in my native language. It's not really written in my favorite style, I think I seemed to agree more with Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea." But that's beside the point.

After my host parents came home, we headed back out into the city for a Thanksgiving dinner being given by the American Church in Berlin. It was really nicely set up, they actually moved every other pew out, and used the remaining as benches- tables were placed in the now empty spots. We sat with people from Germany, one of which who performed later in the concert. We listened to a few people speak, including the American Ambassador to Germany (who unfortunately had to leave early before I could introduce myself) and the pastor. We were served pumpkin soup as an appetizer (Vorspeise), then we were allowed to get our entreé buffet-style.

We grabbed a little dessert (the pumpkin pie that my host mom and I made two days before was much better), and listened to the Gospel concert. Some of it was really fantastic, there was an MIT grad/Fulbright scholar studying in Berlin who sang! In his little biography in the program, it said he studied both math and music at MIT. It's people like him who inspire me.... Until my next physics class when I realize the bane of my existence is math.

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