Trip Start Aug 27, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Germany  , Baden-Württemberg,
Tuesday, August 28, 2012

After two whole years of excited waiting and preparations, I've made it back to Germany!  Upon my arrival at the Stuttgart Airport, I was picked up by my German host family from my exchange program two years prior.  My exchange partner has been a great friend, and I have done my best to keep in contact with her since that program ended.  Not only has it been great getting to see the whole family again, but they have been awesome enough to let me spend my first week at their home.  Things are primarily just as I remember them from two years ago, which is nice considering what a great time I had.  I feel just like a part of the family again.

It has been a very busy first week as my hosts have constantly been thinking of ways to keep me entertained.  Some of the highlights have been:

Seeing the Expendables 2 in German, quite an experience.  There was something very strange about hearing Arnold Schwarzenegger's voice dubbed back into his own native language by another person.

Visiting the Wilhelma in Stuttgart, the city's historic zoo and botanical garden, build originally as a royal palace.  I still always wonder if it really makes sense to call a hippopotamus a Flusspferd (river horse), even though that's basically what the name means in English as well.

A night of German board games, also quite the experience trying to keep up with a bunch of native speakers.  The word games were a challenge, but I think I held my own.

Trying Kegeln for the first time, an interesting form of bowling with nine pins.  Probably my favorite variation of the game was the one that entailed eating a Kinder Egg and assembling the toy inside as fast as you can while everyone else bowls.

Visiting the Sinsheim Auto & Technik Museum, which houses some really impressive pieces of engineering from Germany and around the world.  The place has over 3,000 exhibits, including historic cars, planes, tanks, and even a space shuttle.

Attending the Bietigheim Pferdemarkt (Bietigheim Horse Market), a huge regional beer festival.  The festival, which started as a traditional horse market in 1792, attracts several hundred thousand visitors a year, and also has some of the most impressive carnival rides I have ever seen.

Those are just a few of the highlights from what has been an amazing first week back in Germany.  I cannot thank my host family enough for the amazing hospitality, and I can't wait for the next time I will see them this year!
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