From May 2-5, I went back to Hamburg, Germany. “Back?”, you may be asking. Yes. Back. When I was a senior in High School, I did an exchange program where I lived with a German family for 3 weeks and then my host sister came and lived with my family for 3 weeks. That was in October 2010. I haven’t seen my German family in 3 1/2 years. I was so excited to see them! My German dad, brother and his girlfriend came to get me at the airport. My brother’s girlfriend had flowers and everything for me!
When they drove me home, I told my dad in my God-awful German that we passed our apartment building. And my dad just smiled and kept driving. We pulled into a neighborhood and saw a cluster of row houses. My German family got their own house! I was so excited for them because my host mom always talked about having a house of her own. When I got there, I felt like the Prodigal Son returning. My entire family was excited to see me and it was like I never left! My host mom almost cried — she’s so cute. Crazy but so cute. Mom told me to put my stuff in my sister’s room, but Niki wasn’t there. She was working at ReWe, the local supermarket. So we devised a plan to surprise her. My parents drove me to the store with my hair hidden under a baseball hat and gave me money and shopper rewards cards to buy chocolate. I hid my face in books until it was my turn to pay. She rang me up and after I paid, I took the hat off and showed my face and she was so surprised and excited to see me. But we couldn’t make a scene until after she got off her shift.
When she got home, she told me to get ready because we were going to a party. Niki, Eleni [my brother’s girlfriend] and I crammed into the bathroom and all got ready together. Eleni and I got along instantly, even though I had only met her for a few hours and tried communicating in broken English and broken German. Niki translated for us most of the time. Kosta [my brother] and our parents got ready and we all left for the party. Yes, my parents came with us. This is probably where I should mention that my German family has dual citizenship — they’re not actually German. They are 100% Greek. So when Greeks party, EVERYONE comes. And its not weird. We show up to a full blown club that was bought out for the night by the Greek community and stayed out until 530 am! I cannot dance to traditional Greek dances; it’s so difficult. But my mom joked that I had to learn for when Kosta and Eleni get married in a few years and I have to go to Greece for the wedding. Oh boy. We had a great time but I was so exhausted after dancing and wearing Eleni’s 4 1/2 inch heels that all I wanted to do was sleep.
The next day we went shopping! We had decided that we were going to go to another club with American music! Mom gave me 50 to treat myself for a new dress and heels for tonight’s party. So I did. The heels I bought are beautiful and are 4 inches high. Niki wasn’t kidding around when she said they don’t sell anything smaller because they really don’t! My sister’s shoe collection is ridiculous; Ke$ha is the girl’s mentor or something, I swear. After shopping, we had a huge dinner and all of us were so tired so we ended up not going clubbing. But of course, we did something that no one will ever be able to let go. I am famous for playing Monopoly. The first time around, I played Monopoly with my family every night for a week straight to learn German and no one lets me forget. So we played Monopoly instead and it was so fun. Kosta loses every time 😛
On Sunday, it was studying day which sucked. I had a final the next week and Niki had the Arbitur on Tuesday. The Arbitur is the German version of SAT II subject tests at SAT length. In 13th grade, each student must take 5 Arbitur tests, and these tests basically set up the rest of your life. So we studied side by side, hating everything and interrupting the peace and quiet every half an hour to talk and laugh. Like Italians and Spaniards, Greeks have huge meals on Sunday with the whole family. We were all there plus my aunt and her new beau. I was so excited to see Tante too because she is the absolute sweetest and she gave me white chocolate, which me and Niki ate immediately after lunch when we had to study more.
I left on Monday and I was so sad but I couldn’t have asked for a better time with my second family. I miss them so much but I hope that Niki, Kosta and Eleni will be able to save enough money up to come visit me in the USA. And in 2 or 3 years, when I hopefully have a steady income and my life together, I will be able to visit them in Greece for a few weeks in the summer!