Basically I always wanted to do a year abroad. And I was overjoyed when a few months ago this dream became reality step by step. Choosing the destination country was, of course, one of the first things I looked into. Canada had long fascinated me and seemed to promise both good schools and breathtaking nature. It was also very important for me to learn English properly.
After it was decided where I would go I waited feverishly to receive documents from my future host family and school and to be able to choose my courses. During the summer I slowly started to buy skiing equipment etc. search together. Until then I was full of pure anticipation, but during the last days in Germany I got a bit agitated by all the waiting to finally fly out, goodbyes and of course packing my bags. The latter was clearly quite a challenge; when hostess gifts, clothes, a large pile of German sweets – which, by the way, actually go down very well here – and and and come together, two travel bags suddenly seem quite small. Well, after a lot of sorting back and forth everything was packed and ready to go, including myself.
Departure to Canada
And then it was already. On 2. September was finally the big day: I left for Canada! I still remember how incredibly happy I was when I left, but also anxious: "What can I expect over there?? Hopefully my host family will like me. How will I get along in school?".
A few hours later I finally landed in Kamloops, my temporary home in the south of British Columbia. J
The excitement from the flight probably lasted a bit longer during the first two weeks. And at the beginning everything seemed much bigger than in Germany; the supermarkets, streets, trucks and especially the landscape. In the meantime I got used to it of course. On the one hand, everyday life is different in B.C. not very different from my previous one some thousand kilometers away, but still it is very different here. I think it is fantastic to learn something new all the time.
Holidays in the host country and my host family
One example is Thanksgiving. For the holiday dinner we had the traditional Turkey, Cranberry Sauce and Pumpkin Pie with the grandparents (Mhhh!).I had been looking forward to this holiday ever since I knew I was going to Canada, since there is no such thing in Germany. Well, it wasn't quite as special as I had imagined, but still nice to have experienced it for myself.
Christmas on the other hand was enormous! Most of the houses and front yards were decorated with lots of colorful lights in the form of snowmen, Santa Claus', icicles, etc. since the end of November. decorated. I even saw a giant blinking cactus once ; ). Also Christmas trees were gladly decked out with a whole load of decorations. On Christmas Eve the whole extended family came together. There were traditional Ukrainian specialties, since Grandpa's ancestors are from Ukraine. Later that evening, my youngest host brother was totally excited because he was sure he had spotted Rudolf's red nose (actually a signal light for airplanes) nearby on the way home. He voluntarily went straight to bed for the first time that day so he could definitely get presents from Santa. J I put a plate of cookies next to the fireplace before I went to bed. Early in the morning of 25. were, still in the new pajamas, unpacked gifts together. Santa also brought us all a full Christmas stocking. In the afternoon we went to the Grandparents, where most of the family met again. There was a lot of talking, eating, playing dice, cards and video games and it was a wonderful holiday! On Boxing Day we went for a few days to the other grandparents and great-grandparents (from Dad's side) who live about 4 hours from Kamloops – so from a Canadian perspective not that far away at all.
My host family is for me one of the most important parts of my stay. I get along very well with my host parents and my three host brothers Dayton (8), Tukker (12) and Drake (14). And also all the others, especially grandparents, Uncle Randy and the cousins have literally grown really close to my heart. My 'second' family has fully integrated me from the very first day on. That certainly helped me a lot when settling in. And actually, I felt at home in Kamloops as soon as I arrived, but it took a while until I really 'arrived'. That's why I'm incredibly happy that I can stay here longer than a semester; even 10 months is so short! There is so much to experience, especially after you finally get used to the daily routine and have built up a real circle of friends. Of course I miss my german family somehow. But I feel so comfortable here that I haven't been homesick once during my stay (until now) and it's already certain that I will go back in summer.
By the way, understanding English was not as big a problem as I had expected. And also in school everything went well after a very short time. The classes – especially math – are generally not that hard here.
Like my oldest host brother Drake, I attend the Sa-Hali Secondary School. Sa-Hali' is Secwepump (the traditional language of the local First Native tribes) and means 'on the slope'. The school system here is very different from the German one. The Elementary School goes from grade 1 to grade 2. up to 7. Class. Afterwards you go to the High School or Secondary School, which is usually attended by all students up to grade 12. At Sa-Hali you take 4 courses per semester. Choice is still relatively limited, especially in the lower grades, in Math, English and P.E. for example, there is no way around. However, there is also room in the timetable for other subjects, such as sports. B. Guitar, Yearbook or Drama. Among other things, I have taken Woodworking and Adventure Tourism (in this subject we go climbing, kayaking, etc.). ). I think it's great that I can try out completely different subjects thanks to the interesting course selection. It is worth it! Classes end shortly before three o'clock. Most students (luckily including me) ride one of the typical North American yellow school buses.
In the afternoons, there are a number of voluntary extra curricular activities at school (e.g. B. Jazz band). I am a member of the Drama Club. We have been preparing a play since January and the rehearsals are really "so much fun"! Besides, speaking helps me a lot with my intonation and finally slowly getting rid of my accent.
Also the sports teams are taken very seriously at my high school – as well as at many others. Team members are not only expected to give their all at tournaments, but also to represent the school in the best possible way all the time. By the way, this also includes suit and tie (for boys) on all competition days. In our country there are seasonal u. a. Volleyball, basketball, soccer, rugby and badminton for Grade 8s, Juniors and Seniors, boys and girls respectively. During the lunch break there are also frequent student vs. teacher meetings. teacher tournaments take place. It's clear which team gets more cheers here – unfortunately that doesn't always help.
However, the Canadians are enthusiastic sports fans outside of school. Thanks to this country's incredible landscape and weather, it's no wonder that winter sports are so popular. Here, the cold and snow do not spoil the fun. And of course (ice)field hockey is absolutely the national sport – it is really awesome! -, closely followed by football. (By the way, there is also Canadian Football, which differs from the better known US-American version in some rules and the field size.)
From the German side, I am very impressed with the organization Dr. Frank languages& Travel here; locally I am supervised by staff from the Kamloops/ Thompson school district. With their International Student Program (ISP), all exchange students from the school district go on monthly trips. These are always a lot of fun and a good opportunity to meet others from all over the world.
The Salmon Run is especially big every four years and fortunately also this fall, when about 2 million sockeye salmon make their way back to their birthplace near Kamloops alone. They swim from the Pacific Ocean against the current all the time, just to put their offspring (still in the form of little red fish eggs) into the riverbed to die. This event attracts anglers from all over the world year after year. Seeing the many scarlet salmon with green heads up close was also really an experience, even if a bit "stinky" ; ) . Later we also met a woman who is descended from the First Nations. She told us about her culture and showed us a real old Indian house. It looked a bit like a large excavated earth cave. I find the stories and morals of the First Nations absolutely fascinating.
Other excursions went to snowshoeing, or skiing in Sun Peaks. This is, after Whistler, the second largest ski resort in Canada and only about an hour from Kamloops. There ski resp. Going snowboarding is just awesome! Especially in good weather the view is gigantic, a true winter fairy tale! I also go skiing regularly with my host brothers, but at a closer ski mountain. It's not quite as big, but it's not as crowded and confusing, and we still have a lot of fun!
A special highlight was Remembrance Day on 11. November. The memorial day in honor of all fallen warriors and veterans of Canada is taken very seriously (completely different from the beginning of the carnival season in Cologne). At school the day before (on 11. 11. there are no classes) a plenary session was held and on the holiday itself a ceremony was held in the city park. There, the national anthem "O Canada" was played and sung together, thanks were given to the warriors, prayers were said for peace, and there was a long parade through the interior, u. a. uniformed with Rocky Mountain Rangers, as well as other military units of different ages.
In summary, the last six months were an incredible time for me. It is a very special experience to be immersed in a completely new environment, I think. I would encourage anyone to go abroad. It's really not just about improving language skills. The time here has already brought me so much and I have learned so much, become much more independent and self-confident.