Graceful, athletic, other things I am not

August 06, 2015

(Originally posted on my old personal blog, Adventures with KHill!)

Oh, this week has been funny. But then, I think just about every week is funny because every day, I have experiences or interactions that are weird or confusing or awkward to the point where all I can do is laugh in my head at myself and everybody else. Am I losing my mind a little bit with all this laughing in my head? Who’s to say? Anyway, this week has been particularly funny as I’ve been a chaperone on various excursions for the Ferienprogramm, which is a collection of day trips/classes/fun outings for kids planned by the city government for every day of summer vacation. It was my last week of “work” but if we’re being frank, there wasn’t a ton of work involved and I really just got to tag along on some fun trips and make sure we didn’t lose any kids.

On Monday, I worked in the Ferienprogramm office, so that’s not too exciting to describe. Tuesday, I went to the Stadt F Kletterinsel, which is a climbing park close to the cloister in town. I expected to mostly sit and watch, but I actually ended up being able to climb with the kids for a majority of the time. The “Kletterinsel” is this big wooden structure with five different paths to climb, each with varying heights and levels of difficulty. Everyone wears a helmet and harness from the moment they step onto the structure and is attached by the harness to the cables that run throughout for the entire time. There were a bunch of different tunnels, obstacles, etc. to navigate and I did a lot of watching what the kids did and following in their footsteps. This somehow led me to the hardest path which ends up at a place called the “base jump.” Looking at this platform about 40 feet in the air where you attach a rope to your harness and jump down to the ground, I’m not really sure what compelled me to think, “That looks like an activity for me.” But my follower mindset led me there and turning back would just make me look wimpy to my new 10 year old German friends. Watching the other kids go down first, I couldn’t see the full descent and thought it would be more like rappelling down from a climbing wall, where you’re let down slowly with a lot of resistance from the rope. As soon as I stepped off the platform, I realized, nope, this rope is not trying to let me down slowly. It was more or less a free fall with the rope to slightly - SLIGHTLY - slow you down. I was so shocked by this in my seconds-long fall that I didn’t really process anything about the landing and I guess just assumed that the rope would stop me before I hit the ground. In actuality, no, the rope expected me to catch myself with my own two feet, and since I didn’t anticipate this, I landed completely on my back. It was like a put-tears-in-your-eyes, splattered-on-the-mulch-like-a-cartoon-character landing. The kids watching me immediately launched into fits of laughter before checking to see if I was okay and I tried to pretend it was a gentle, non-painful, perhaps even intentional way of landing. Oh my goodness. So funny. So painful. I definitely stretched a bunch of muscles that I didn’t realize I had during my day of climbing, but I’m pretty certain the reason I’m still sore today is due to the fall. A stunning display of grace and athleticism on my part.

Kletterinsel
Kletterinsel

Yesterday, I got a little break from hurting my poor, underutilized muscles by chaperoning a cooking class. The kids were instructed on how to cook various Italian appetizers, main courses, and desserts, and then set loose with a chaperone to watch the cooking station in charge of each course. This was a reminder that I need to learn how to cook before I move somewhere that doesn’t have a cafeteria staff or my parents serving up hot deliciousness two to three times a day. I “helped” the girls working on the dessert and it was a bit of a train wreck. I couldn’t understand anything that the instructor was telling us and as a result, gave the girls a bunch of wrong directions. I thought maybe this was just because I don’t know how to cook nor do I know German cooking vocab, but after the class, learned that the instructor speaks Bayerisch. This is the Bavarian dialect of German that sounds almost totally unintelligible to someone who has learned “Hochdeutsch,” what is normally taught in schools. So I wasn’t entirely stupid, but the communication errors did lead to us leaving the sweetener out of our dessert. It was the best (read: only) savory tiramisu I’ve ever made and everyone in the class had to eat it. Poor kids. I enjoyed all the food that I didn’t help make, though, and I got some recipes to start off my grown-up life.

Last night. So odd. So fun. My host parents took me to the movie theater for a DOUBLE FEATURE of Magic Mike XXL and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. That is over three hours in a theater stuffing popcorn and spezi in my face and watching attractive Americans with their lines dubbed into German. Fortunately, there are few things I love more than an entertaining movie and I was glad to spend the evening there. My host parents continue to be the funniest, coolest people and I think we all loved both movies. Host dad was certainly the only man seeing Magic Mike which made it all even funnier. Love those people.

Today, I accompanied a big group of kids and a few other chaperones to a huge water park/thermal pools/spa complex called Therme Erding. It took us about two hours to get there going through Munich on the train, so most of the job was just making sure we had all the kids together in transit. I had some high expectations for this place because everyone I’ve ever mentioned it to has talked it up. It’s supposedly the biggest park of its kind in Europe and it’s pretty massive and expensive to get into, but I was lucky enough to go for free with the Ferienprogramm! Once we got there and dropped our stuff and I got the chance to walk around a little, I understood the hype. This place is unlike anywhere I’ve been before. It’s part waterpark with a ton of slides of all different sizes/intensities and both in and outdoors. But then it goes farther and has lots of pools for fun, pools for relaxing, pools with special healing powers (ex: “Jugendbrunnen” aka fountain of youth), hot tubs, spa treatments, saunas…it was kind of unbelievable. I did a good amount of sitting by the kids’ stuff in a central location and being available if any of them needed anything, but I also got to go down some slides, swim, and eat ice cream. I got to show how unaccustomed I am to water and really anything that moves fast on the first water slide I went on. I guess it’s been a really long time since I’ve been to a water park? Because I kind of wasn’t sure how to sit or what to do with my body parts the whole time and ended up bouncing like a pinball between the two sides of the slide (occasionally hitting another person or two) the whole way down. I now have a couple of bruises on my hips, but a decent story for how I got them! The day was really fun from start to finish and a perfect final full day of my internship.

Therme Erding! Just LOOK!
Therme Erding! Just LOOK!
RIP my hips, killed by the slides
RIP my hips, killed by the slides

Tomorrow, I’ll be chaperoning a unicycle course for a couple of hours in the morning. This is almost guaranteed to bring more injuries/embarrassing stories should I actually try to learn. I’m writing this blog today, though, because tomorrow, my host family and I are leaving for vacation! Going to spend my last week here exploring new parts of Germany with them and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s crazy that I’m already pretty much done with my internship and that I have been here for as long as I have. I am really glad that I get this final week to spend a lot of time with my host family before going back to my own loving family and friends who I miss a TON.

Normally, this would probably be a post where I drone on reflectively on how my internship and summer went, but I think I’ve been doing enough written and mental reflection since I’ve been here. Final thoughts on my internship just center around how thankful I am. I have learned SO much more from this internship than I ever expected and those lessons are really important for the next few years ahead of me and perhaps beyond that. It’s been a ton of learning about German culture, life, politics, and such, but maybe even more learning about myself? Wow, is that grossly cheesy? Surely you saw that coming. While I already knew that I was awkward and unathletic before this week reaffirmed it, I’ve learned new things literally every day about who I am, who I’m not, what I like, what I don’t like, what I’m good at or really not so good at. Every single one of those lessons - even the harder to adjust to - is so incredibly important moving forward. I know I am still so young and I am positive that I don’t have all the answers (except maybe while watching Kids Jeopardy), but it’s cool to feel yourself changing and growing in unexpected settings. It’s had its rough patches, but this summer has been so incredibly worth it. I feel only positive feelings about all I’ve gotten to do here and about moving forward into my last week. So thankful, as always, for all the people who have made it possible and those who have read along for the journey!

It is 10:51 which means it’s way past bed time now. Goodnight everyone! Catch ya on the flip side (back on my blog for my actual last Germany summer post in a week or so).

XOXO,

Kaitlyn

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