Authored by:
Asha R.

I truly never realized how much attention other countries pay to the US until I found myself in Germany during the 2016 election. This election made it at times painfully obvious that I am representing the US to not only my host family, but my classmates and teachers as well. The week leading up to the election, many of my teachers and classmates wanted to know my opinion and more about how the electoral college works. While I enjoyed sharing more about the American government, at times I felt that I had to be defensive of America's decision, even though I did not have a say in it because I am still only 17. We spent an entire period of art class sharing our opinions on Wednesday after the deciding votes came in. Because of the political climate, I tried to stay as unbiased and impartial as possible by using facts over feelings. Germany is a socialistic/left-leaning country, so it makes sense that the majority of the people I talked to would have preferred a Clinton victory. Luckily, it didn't take more than a few days for all the excitement to die down. 

Germans watching the election results roll in.

I spent a long weekend in Wiesbaden with my fellow exchange students learning more about German culture. You can check it out here!

Walks in November are rapidly becoming one of my favorite things to do. They allow me time to reflect on my day and explore the neighboring villages. It's rather hard to bike with a camera hanging around your neck, so I've reverted to walking instead.

Kirchtroisdorf from afar. 

This month I received a new chore. Once a month for a week, I take care of the two rabbits. That means I change their water and feed them everyday, and clean out their cage. I remember being younger and wanting pet rabbits. Even though I don't mind doing it, and sometimes even enjoy it, now that I've experienced the responsibilities of having rabbits first hand, I'm certain that eight year old me wouldn't have been up for it.

In an effort to share something American with my host family, we prepared a Thanksgiving meal together. You can read more about it here.

Thanksgiving in Germany!

On November 26th, exchange students and their host families from all over Nordrhein-Westfalen came together in Köln to share our experiences. I only knew around ten other kids from previous orientations that were there. The majority of the new people were with different organizations, but most were American also. It was great to talk to old and new faces, even if only for a few hours!

The Weihnachtsmarkt right in the middle of our seminar location.

Half of the original American group reunited again.

My host sister Svenja and I.

November is the beginning of Germany's many Weihnachtsmärkte. Markt der Engel was truly something out of a fairytale. Initially my host family visited this Weihnachtsmarkt because I needed to find some gifts for my family, but I was so infatuated with it that we stayed longer than necessary. The pretty lights strung from the trees above us and the various stands selling trinkets, jewelry, anything you can imagine made out of wood, waffles shaped like the Kölner Dom, and Christstollen (a typical German Christmas fruit bread) all had me wishing I could stay there forever. 

The entrance.

Here's a peek at the inside of Markt der Engel.

There's no better end to November than going to more Weihnachtsmärkte. The first stop on Sunday was to the Weihnachtsmarkt right down the road. Because the village I live in is so small, the Christmas market is only open for one day. It was set up in a farmer's shed and had food and about 15 vendors selling various things. In a way, it reminded me of a yard sale, but with more people and Christmas things instead of random things from your house. Der Weihnachtsmann (Santa Claus) was even there. My host family said that they usually just go to look, not to buy, because it's so small. We left after twenty minutes to head to Kaster, a nearby town. This Christmas market is known to be special because it's in the Alt-Kaster, a sort of neighborhood where many of the houses were built in the 1600's. People come from all over Germany for this one day affair on the first day of Advent. Rather than the normal set up of rows of booths all right next to each other, the residents open their homes and sell things out of them.  

Alt-Kaster Weihnachsmarkt.

Because it's finally getting colder (although no snow so far) we decided to indulge in a Weihnachtmarkt favorite: Kinderpunsch. Kinderpunsch is warm apple cider. I even got to keep the mug! 

Me with my Kinderpunsch!

From what I've already experienced of the German holiday season in November, I can't wait for even more fun Christmas festivities in December!

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