And don’t forget to unpack your presents!

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I’m writing these lines sitting in the midst of green beauty, a breeze of natural sweetness blows around me, mixed with herbal cigarette scent of the past evening.

Maybe I should not continue with my writer’s career for the time being … The described scene is not invented, but actually illustrates my writing situation with the French host family, which accomodates me for a week.

I like to live in the boarding house and love it to meet my friends right around the corner, but some distance and a little break from the always same environment do well from time to time.

Matching the end of the first trimester, this post could be a year’s review, but I don’t feel like it right now. Instead, I’ll tell you about my last weeks in Term One and my first half of December Break.

The school time went academically demanding with a few deadlines and tests, but compared to others, I had it quite calm with my subject combination. In my spare time I wrote Christmas cards, have been invited with the German-speaking girls for pre-Christmas Raclette to a German UWC family or met Yan Ping, a friend of Jonas, my sister’s boyfriend, for bubble tea.

Arina and Milena in the sea, smiling
Arina and me in the sea

I welcomed my holidays with catching up on some Christmas movies and series for which I had no time so far and on the first Monday we went to the beach for bathing. The water was quite quiet as we were in a bay, and very salty, so it was easy to relax like a driftwood in the water.

I was absolutely thrilled when we swam out a few meters and witnessed the rain front coming towards us. I had never seen that before!

The next few days I committed myself to baking Christmas cookies, a very German tradition, as I always notice when I am abroad over Christmas (okaaay, that was the second time after France). The others have also baked a few biscuits, but this excessive baking (three varieties on my part) is quite German.


By the way, I now have a buddy class! It is a first grade, which I can visit for example in my free hours and play with the children. Optimally, this will be physically possible after the holidays, because until now we were not allowed to enter the elementary school because of Covid.

A family of my buddy class visited me on December 24th and brought me a Christmas present, so sweet! I had to laugh at the card that my little Buddy painted and wrote to me, because it contained some important life wisdom and tips such as: “Don’t forget to open your presents!”

We celebrated Christmas Eve with a dinner by our school catering. They worked hard and even tried on the German bread dumplings that I wished. For the fact that they had never heard of this dish before, neither seen it, neither tried it, and have been very skeptical that it would be cooked in the water (“they will be full of water!”), I was amazed how well they succeeded. Sure, they’re better at home, but they looked like German bread dumplings and tasted like that!

Despite the good dinner, to which everyone also dressed up, which is an unusual picture in the boarding house, it did not feel like Christmas. In my mind it just doesn’t go together that people celebrate a festival that they have no idea about and that doesn’t mean anything to them. Then why not simply celebrate October 24 as a celebration of family and love instead of December 24 as Jesus’ birthday?

As global tradition, we spent Christmas Day together with relaxing, food, games, food, watching movies, food, karaoke, food, just dance, food. I had a lot of fun watching the German ARD fairy tale “Die zertanzten Schuhe” (The worn-out dancing shoes) with Moana when towards the end non-German speaking people came in and we simultaneously translated what the king and the princesses had to say.

The next few days I went to brunch with Arina and Varini, participated at an evening with Secret Painter (paint an assigned person and they learn afterwards who painted them), baking Grießschmarrn (“semolina rubbish”) with my school friend Siya and followed an invitation to lunch with an Indian family, which was heavenly!

Since yesterday I have been in my host family, which is pretty cool and does not let me regret the decision to leave the boarding house for a few days.

All the best,

Milena

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