Liquid awesomeness

25 05 2011

The internets are a wonderful thing. Through the power of Facebook I’ve actually talked to many of the exchange students going to Japan this summer, waited with baited breath as acceptance letters were sent out, and celebrated (or cried) as people were rejected or accepted. It’s actually really nice having a bunch of people with the same interests as you going through the same experience as you. They understand. Well, except for that I’m now going to Germany instead of Japan. And I haven’t found a Facebook group for students traveling to Germany this summer.

But still, the wonderful world of social networking allowed me to see this image found by exchange student John Shinn. And I must share it. Because it is awesome.

Nestea knows what’s up.


Learning German with the linguistically challenged

16 05 2011

I needed (still need) some help, and I needed some help fast. So, the day after I discovered I was going to Germany, I decided to pay a visit to my school’s German teacher, Herr Bondar.

I was only coming to ask if he had any basic textbooks, perhaps, or methods for picking up the most rudimentary of German. What actually happened looked a little like this:

He then proceeded to write furiously in German on the blackboard, trying to explain to me the difference between ie and ei and a and ä. Naturally, since this was all very fast, I didn’t pick up on a word of it. My favorite part was when he tried to explain ach to me:

So I might be exaggerating, but German really is a gutteral language. Very unlike Japanese, which, I quote my mom, sounds like

Herr Bondar did give me a children’s dictionary and a level 1 German textbook, though. However, since I didn’t quite catch his 2-minute pronunciation lesson, I have no idea how to read it. 

Luckily, I have a friend with a brother who once took German but does not anymore. What does that mean? I get his old version of Rosetta Stone, Deutsch levels 1,2, and 3!


I’ve sloughed through the first lesson, and so far I know how to say “Er Mann kocht” (the man cooks) and “Die Frau schwimmt” (the woman swims.) At least, I think that’s what it means. What’s interesting about Rosetta Stone is that it provides no direct translation, only images to go with each phrase. Thus, the entire lesson is entirely in German and you’re truly forced to forge the connection between the word and its meaning by yourself. It’s a pretty neat way to learn a language– better than flashcards, at least. Hopefully I can pick up a little more as I try out the lessons! I mean, I think I need a little more than “Der Junge isst” (the boy eats) to get through the day. I’m just glad I’m fortunate enough to have access to this program. The Rosetta Stone set I have sells on Amazon for $379 USD, just a tad out of my budget…

Auf Wiedersehen for now!

Who is this girl and what is she doing

10 05 2011

Howdy, reader! I’m Vy– a typical Vietnamese-American high school suburbanite living in a temperate part of the United States. As part of the language requirement in my school district I studied Spanish in middle school for two years and then Japanese for three more, something that coincided perfectly with my unwavering obsession with comics. (I can prove this with my other blog about comics, maniacallycomical.)

As my dream has always been to go to Japan, I applied for a scholarship to travel abroad this summer through Youth For Understanding, an organization that arranges high school exchanges worldwide. I applied in December and waited for what seemed like an eternal 5 months.

Except for anyone who knows anything about the news knows that Japan had a massive earthquake. And a tsunami. Oh yeah, and the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear reactor had a partial meltdown, spewing radiation everywhere. Which resulted in me getting this call two weeks ago:

…and then, of course, they hung up, which looked a little like this:

So I changed my top-choice scholarship from Japan to Germany, not knowing whether or not I was actually getting a scholarship. YFU, for some reason, insists on notifying its applicants by mail instead of by phone, e-mail, or a secure account on their site, unlike every other application office anywhere else. So the wait continued.

But just yesterday, I saw a package in the mail. From YFU. And I opened it. And inside was…

THE YFU T-SHIRT! And a letter stating that I had received the Mazda/Nationwide Community Scholarship that gave me a full ride 6-week stay in Germany. NO WAY! THIS CAN’T POSSIBLY BE TRUE.

After tearing around the house for a good hour, reality (as crazy as it is) began to sink in. Reality meaning–

So if I ever had to say to a stranger, “Help, I’m sick, where is a hospital around here?” I could do it in English, I could do it in Japanese, I might even be able in Vietnamese, but German? Nope. Hopefully I can pick up the basics in the next month I have before departure.

But I’m incredibly, incredibly excited, and still in slight shock. This is the last thing I imagined myself doing this summer. But hey, I can’t say no to such an amazing, awesome, crazy (and other mind-blowing adjectives) opportunity, right? I am so, so lucky to get this chance, and I hope the other YFU applicants get to travel abroad as well!

For now– I gotta get ready. And learn some German.