Monday, December 18, 2006

The big 20

Tomorrow, I leave to head to Prague with my brother Tim. It’s been a long week and next week seems like it’ll be even longer. I suppose traveling takes a lot out of a guy. I’m still looking forward to it. It’ll be really a good time, hopefully.

Yesterday was my 20th birthday. I am really so mixed with emotions right now I really don’t know what to think or say about life. To be honest, I feel as though a part of me has died. I suppose there is a point in every person’s life when they leave behind childhood for good and progress onto the life of an adult. For me, this was the point of no return. My days of teenage recklessness are mostly over. They’ll appear every once-and-a-while, but I’ve hit the point where I know that it’s time to move on.

Looking back on my true teenage year, lets say 14- 19, what a huge period of growth and development. Just go back and think about what happened between grade 9 to your 20th birthday (if you’ve done so, if not just to the present); it’s just astonishing to think of all that has happened in that short period of 6 years. Girls (or boys), sex, money, music, spirituality, school, university, jobs, camps, booze, drugs, love, heartbreak, revenge, friendship, family, traveling. Looking back, everyday seemed to be a life changing experience.

Here is the issue for me: how do I quantify all of this? How to I express everything that has happened. If I try to, it almost moves me to tears of joy or tears of anger. How do I sum up the experience of being a Teenager? It’s beyond me I guess.

I’d like to really hear some feedback on this one. How do you sum up this time period?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Advent and the Royal Tennenbaum...

So you all wanted a piece of the Gary, so here it is. It is now December 5th, which means tomorrow the Weinachtsmann is coming. It’s the same thing as Santa Claus except if you’re bad he beats you with sticks and only gives you coal. Sounds like the raw deal to me.
Today at one of my kindergartens (Neidergörsdorf), the ‘Santa Man’ came early for all of the kids and gave us all presents. I got a bottle of wine, which I’m looking forward to later on tonight. One of the kids was talking while Santa was giving out presents and then he yelled at her and said that she wouldn’t be getting anything for Christmas and she’ll most likely be beaten too. She was 3. The look on this kids face was like we just told her that her family was eaten by wolves. She didn’t cry, but she tried to so hard that she stopped breathing for a minute straight. I laughed. Haha, I wish we had Euro-Christmas events. In the Netherlands, if you’re bad Santa beats you with whips!
Other than that things are pretty good. Life is going on as it always has. November wasn’t the best month as the whole being away from home thing was getting a little annoying. I’ve figured that I live in the Manitoba of Germany. Lots of farms and once you grow up you leave, move to Winnipeg (Berlin), or become a farmer and marry young.
December has tonnes of stuff to do though. Christmas is everything to these guys. Everyday in a different village they have these cool outdoor ‘Christmas Markets’ and they give our free spiced wine and beer. You can buy all sorts of Christmas type things, trees and whatnot.
Plus my brother is coming in a week and we’re off to Prague for a while and then Krakow, Poland for Christmas. I think we might be going to either Hungary or Ukraine for New Years.
The only thing that we’re missing here is snow. Still hasn’t snowed yet. Soon enough I guess, then I’ll wish that it was warm again.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Sometimes, I am so thankful I come from a country like Canada. Hosers forever.

Monday, November 20, 2006

My poor legs....

My poor freaking legs. I was finishing up my adults english class when I walked outside into the dark. I was walking pretty fast and then walked right into a huge slab of rock that was lying in the middle of the parking lot. Now why was there a huge rock in the middle of the parking lot? We might never know.

Anywho, my legs are not to pretty at the moment. I walked into that rock full-on. They tried to get me to a doctor, but I said I was okay. It just stings, is all.

47b865zt78,8uiu8989790pßü0öuikhgbgtfrvbrfedrt5f4zu7jiuji8zhgt66hg ---> face mash on the keyboard to help stop the pain.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Glaring Differences: Canada and Germany

So, obviously, there are some differences in cultures between Cananda and Germany. Go figure. I just thought that I would go ahead and list a couple of my all-time favourites.

- The Hair. Oh lordy, the hair is something you have to see for yourself. So many mullets and no one cares. The horror...

- Diet. By this I meat the pork. I think all Germans would starve to death if there was ever some type of pig sickness. So many sausages...makes me a little sick just thinking about eatting another one.

-Hand Shaking. In Germany, especially in the east, you shake everyones hand. Always. All the time. Everytime you see them. I could crush rocks with my hands these days...

More to come, I forgot I need to make a phonecall.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


I love weekends. I'm sure you'll all agree that weekends are pretty much the only reason to keep going during the week. This is the only 2 days of your week inwhich, I Gary Hallman, am the master of my time.

My thought lately have been drifting a lot towards Stouffville and to Canada. One thing I want to start is more interesting activities with my friends, on the change that I make it home alive that is. We're always doing crafts and whatnot in the Kindergartens and I figure that they're a heck of a lot more fun than sitting around watching movies all of the time.

I am really looking forward to my brother visiting in less than a month! Oh heck yea, the stories are sure to be amazing and the beer will flow like wine. Another good thing to look forward to, to say the least.

Friday, November 17, 2006

A night on the town

Jüterbog can certainly suprise me with its European shic, even after all this time. Its interesting to see the same things during the night, it takes on a different aspect and a whole new light.

Keith and I enjoyed a night on the town tonight, most of which included a walk and a excellent supper of chinese food. I almost felt like I was back in Chinatown, Toronto. All that was missing was bad English, as opposed to bad German.

Its Friday and tomorrow I get to sleep in for the first time in a long while. Something I am lookig forward to immensly.

Speaking of which, I should get on that post hast.

Peace out.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

What? Two nice days in a row?

This is the second day of beautiful weather in a row. I'm expecting the end of the world any time now. I even got to spend most of the day playing soccer amoung other really interesting things.

We, Keith and I, had to spend a good chunk of our evening playing sports, so needless to say, I'm a little tired. Those of you who know me, know that I avoid physical exsertion like the plauge. Maybe not as much as I used to though, I do enjoy a good game of Fußball. Who doesn't?

We enjoyed the good weather by taking a night on the town. We went out to eat and had some excellent currywurst and pommes. I also had my first beer in about 3 weeks, which was delicious in every sense of the word.

Well, now the count down begins: one month until my 20th birthay. I have 30 days to enjoy the rest of my teenage years. Where has the time gone?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Even November can have its days...

November in Germany is suppost to be one of the worst months of the year. This is something that I can personally attest to. So far this month has been crap. Plain and simple. The weather has been so nasty, somedays I don't want to step outside. Today was a nice and welcome change to the norm.

I took advantage of this nice sunny day to take a hike in the woods and do some thinking about a book I just read. This book being Hannible, the book proceeding Silence of the Lambs. I have to say that I was very intruiged up until the end, where it had possibly one of the worst endings ever.


Starling ends up with Dr. Lecter in a weird nympho-I eat people- relationship. I'm sorry, but what the hell man. Yes, the naratives were interesting and there was some excellent detail on some of the characters but this ended screwed it over. Starling having sex with Dr. Lecter is just wrong on so many levels and effectivly ruins the entire trilogy. It makes me wish I never read the damn thing.


Anywho, other than that I've been working on a form in which I must reflect on the first 3 months of my experience. Part of me likes it and part of me wishes I could leave after six months and go to the West. Thats what I essentially summed up.

Well, I have to go start more reading so I can have something to reflect upon tomorrow.
Peace out.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Sometime we all get tired of running the Race..

Sometimes, a person in my position has to wonder why we need these journeys of self-discovery. I often find my mind wandering to the ‘million dollar question’ of my whole experience here, that being why am I here? It is an interesting and tough question to be sure.

Here are some things that I have recently pondered over, as I now have ample time to think and mull things over. The first being about youth and life; I always feel that I’m living in the wrong manner. I’m talking about how we spend our youth.

One of the big worries is that I am wasting my time here and losing precious time to be at home in the Race. What is the Race you might ask? The Race of Life; get a good job, find a beautiful wife, have children, be a community leader, get rich, be happy at the fastest possible time. I often find myself almost panic stricken sometimes that I am losing a whole year of my life with very little to show for it. Sometimes I think that if I don’t keep running this race, I’ll never get the job, the girl, the security we all desire.

It’s almost as if I don’t keep running this race, then life as an adult (car, money, girl etc.) will never happen. Perhaps, if I wait too long this adult life will simply pass me by and I’ll have missed my chance at making my mark in the world. Then I sit back and remember that I’m 19 and I relax a little. I remember that even if the past two years have really not been the most productive, the act of living them has been so profound on who I am as a person, I don’t think I’ll ever be the same person I was before (even if I wanted to).

It’s little more than a month until my 20th birthday and I am not sure if I am looking forward to it or dreading it. To me it’s a physical sign that my days of carefree fooling around are coming to a close. Maybe, not fooling around will come to a close, but a mindset will be set to peace. Remembering high school puts this into the best perspective, back when we all were a little less jaded and a little more excited about what life had in store for us. Back when we all fought against George W. Bush and were positive that if we get enough people to come to our rallies, we could save the world. Back when the only think that mattered was getting out of town and surviving school long enough to make it to college. People say being näive is a bad thing, I’m really not so sure anymore. Ignorance is bliss.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Gary Hallman’s life has been anything but normal and boring, and for the most part it’s made me happy. So why want the normal life? At the time, these constant adventures of life sometimes seem like really horrible things; like almost getting killed with a machete, practically living with 5 year olds for a year, forcing myself into cultures where I don’t speak the language and don’t know the culture. However, looking back at every time I’ve forced myself into an uncomfortable situation that puts me out of my circle of comfort, I come out being a wiser person. Or at least I always have a funny story to tell people.

In my short 20 years I have seen and experience some life changing things. Hopefully, this trend will continue.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Intermenno All-Around Awesome Fun Type Event

So its Sunday night, and I've enjoyed having the place to myself for a couple days. Last week was pretty intense, so its been quite nice to have a little bit of peace and quiet. Keith will be returning tomorrow from his 8 day trip to Barcelona and Paris, so this is my last night of solitude. Which, I have to say, has been okay but I'm ready for a little action again. Things can get pretty boring when you're by yourself. I went to bed yesterday at 6pm, because there was nothing else to do!

Last week was our Intermenno trainee event. Holy crap. That pretty much describes the whole event. It was like a whirl-wind of awesomeness in 5 days. My liver still hurts. I have yet to clean my appartment from the disaster, which is unfortunatly the cause of the growing, uh smell, in my room. I have about 5 cases of beer in my closet and about half a dozen wine bottles, not to mention an odd assortment of other things. Now hold on there folks, there were 12 of us all together, so really if you divide it up its not that bad.

We started off on Thursday with Rachel coming to Jüterbog. We went back to our place , ate good pasta, and then drank beers and went out to the flugplatz and talked about geek stuff and aliens. I love geeks.

The next day set us off on an adventure to Berlin to pick up all of the other folks. Of course, being the hungry guy that I am, we stopped for some delicious pizza and dunkelbier on the way. By far the best meal that I have had so far in Germany.

We met everyone at the trainstation and came back to our appartment. We then proceeded to grab lots of stuff and head out to the Russian racetrack so we could be a little louder. About 2 hours later, a little louder turned into screaming songs and such. That night will definetly be one of my favourtie memories of this experience. We came home at about 3am and I promptly went to sleep after grudgingly giving up most of my pillows.

The next morning we all woke up relatively alive and then ran to catch the train. Of course, I had to do 4 trips with the red car so we were almost late. We got the the HBF when, naturally, I was hungry. I decided that it would be a good time for everyone to eat, so we ate Dönners. Delicious.
With our bellies full, we went outside and saw Berlin in all of its glory and awesomeness. It we saw that it was awesome and we said it was good. At the end of this day we rested. Just kidding, we bought more beer. The events of that night included:

- a costume party were I was a monk
- a spooky tour through the communist base (they love hopscotch)
- an interesting party story I might discuse later on in life

The next morning we all came to the conclusion that so far we had 2 awesome days. That made the ratio of awesome days 2:0 or would it be 1:0? Doesn't matter. We let Sunday be a day of rest. Keith set out for his adventure and then the rest of us went to Jüterbog, ate dönners, and then moved on to say goodbye to half of our group. It was tearful. Then the rest of us went to the grocery store and bought more beer. And wine. And some other stuff.

That day we went back to the ruins and had a day time adventure. We drank bad beers and had some sugar water. It was here that I learned of my poor ability to judge time. Apparently, 5 minutes to me, is 30 to the rest of the world. Everything in my life makes sense now. That night we made pasta and then talked for a long time. The fab 5 will rule for all times. People who stay get richly rewarded. It was another premium moment of the Fest.

The next morning we all went to the train station to say goodbye to our fellow trainees. Josh and Mattias stayed and after we said our goodbyes to the gals, we went to Wittenburg for the Remermationstag celebration. It was amazing, we say olden days type people and then drank the most delicious honey mead. It was the best beer I have ever tasted. If I could only drink one thing again for the rest of my life, it would be mead. So good. We also ate some good goat/beef stuffed pockets? We finished the day with some good food and a movie. I went to bed early, Mattias drank the last of our beer and the slosh bucket. Oh Mattias.

Thats pretty much it. My fingers hurt.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Real Deer Cleaver

Back home my brother and I drive the crappiest little red Honda Civic. It was made in 1986, the same year that I was born. Now despite all of its downsides its been with my siblings through some pretty freaking good times.

My brother calls it the 'Deer Cleaver'. One night he was driving with a man I'll call Matt Jones. They were cuising along when Tim runs over something. Tim swears that it was a deer and that the car cut right through it. Jones claims that it was a clump of dirt.

The reason I mentioned this is that I have now moved on to a new red car in Altes Lager. Tonight I almost cleaved through, not one, but two deer. For real. Keith and I were coming back from our English teaching for adults lesson, when we almost smoked this one deer in the face and then almost hit another. It was awesome.

We ate dinner tonight at Jake and Dorothy's and then played Settlers. I thought I had the game in the bag and then Keith came out of nowhere and destroyed me. It was humiliating. I'll get my chance for revenge soon enough.

This weekend is Intermenno Trainees Altes Lager All Around Family Fun Time. So unbelievebly excited. I might not sleep until then.

Friday, October 20, 2006


So its Friday. Tonight I enjoyed a premium bottle of dry Italian white wine. Its was delicious. I have been trying to learn a little bit more about wine and such. Its a tad bit healthier that beer and not nearly as calorie heavy.

Today I took Keith to the ruins of the Russian base and we saw some interesting, yet slightly spooky, paintings of Soviet Russia. I took a piece of Stalins face of one of them. I have a little piece of history to take home now.

Other than that today was pretty simple and I am in a much better mood than yesterday. I got to talk to a lot of people from home today which was also nice. On the down side though, I found out that my grandpa has colon cancer. Thats not too good.

Well until next time. Peace out.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I only come in one flavour

So today was a good day and a horrible day all mixed into one. Makes me almost not want to be here anymore. This is a lot harder than I expected. I suppose they can't all be good days, but the language barrier is really hurting me here.

So Sarah Jones and her friend Mark came to visit yesterday and we had a lot of fun walking around Berlin and seeing the sights and sounds. We did so much freaking walking! We certainly got a work out. It was really nice to see Sarah. She lives around the corner from me back in Stouffville. I guess you could say we grew up together.

We came back to Altes Lager and went out for a döner and a beer. We talked for a good while about things back home, things happenning in the world, people we know and people we knew. After the meal we slowly paced home and proptly went to bed. I was exhausted after all of the walking.

This morning came rather early and I decided instead of taking a shower that I should sleep in...until 7:40 (work starts at 8am). Needless to say, I ran out in yesterday's clothes and drove as fast as I could to Langenlispdorf. I was still about 10 minutes late, not that it mattered as this particular kindergarten is well liked and the people there were just happy that I came at all.

We had a good English lesson and then a coffee brake. I was told to leave early so that I could go back and see Sarah and Mark. I took them up on their generous offer. Later, people from the Diakonie would phone for me while I wasn't there. I got in a fair amount of trouble from Frau Förster. Really I can only think of one word : bullshit. They told me to leave and I get in trouble? People here can be so unbelievably unflexable. If anything doesn't go according to plan or if something changes they flip out and don't know what to do.

Olaf is apparently 'sehr sauer' because I didn't go to the Mennonitengemiende with him. The guy says to come when I want and that I don't need to come. I never made any plans to go with him this week and then because he can't phone me (my cellphone is broken and no one will help us fix it), he flips out. He waited for me to come at the train station, even though we never made contact in the past week and a half. He's really a nice guy, but again, does not have an ounce of flexability. I mean, the guy acts like I hit him in the face with a hammer everytime I phone a day late.


'Gary! Why didn't you phone me yesterday?'
' Sorry, I forgot'
' But you said that you would phone me yesterday!'
' I know, but I forgot. Sorry.'
'I don't understand!' (Head explodes)

I don't know, I suppose there is a large part of the blame to be put on myself. I don't exactly say what I am going to do. I guess this is the real world now, no one to make excuses for you. Just you, your actions and your resposibilities. Its hard because I really am such a layed back person. If someone doesn't phone me about something important or critical, like directions to my workplace, I would get upset like any other guy. However, if someone didn't phone me to ask directions to youth group, I'd just as soon think that they're not coming and move on. When I say that I'll talk to someone about a subject here, they think in the next 24 hours. I mean in the next week, as thats what I'm used to in Canada. Understanding different cultures through trial and error is not exactly how I wanted to learn.

I guess at the end of all this ranting I have figured out at least one thing: something is going to need to change. Be that myself or my current lifestyle, because at the rate I'm going I'm going to run out of steam long before my 9 months of Germany is finished. I'm leanning towards myself becoming a little more organized, but that really won't change the everyday boredoms. It will certainly help things to run a little more smoothly though. I'm still going through major culture shock right now.

On a lighter note, I made a decision with a friend that we are going to buy both a chocolate lab and a golden retreaver. I'm thinking that I might replace the later with something with a bit more, shall we say, awesomeness? I'm thinking maybe something with teeth or good hearing. You know, something that will be useful. So that way I can impress people with my amazing dog that does neat things other that be 'nice'.

ps. If any other trainees ever find this, what did you do to pass the time?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Boars, Yaks and Ostriches

So today Keith and I went to go visit a co-worker, Ina Albers, and her family. I have to say it was the most interesting think that I've done in a while. Her husband was really nice and they live in a small village called Meckezdorf.

We went on a walk with their small children and on the way we went to a small farm with wild boars. Now I have lately become, shall we say, completely and udderly obsessed by these wonder beats. I walk in the woods everyday in hopes of seeing one. I've seen lots of deer so far, but who the hell wants to see deer? The answer? No one. The eat grass, run fast and are generally not all that awe inspiring. Sometimes they have cool horns. Boars have tusks, how could you ever really compete with that?

After that wonderful moment that only fulled by boar lust, we went to an osterich farm. Also awesome. I suggest looking here at if you want to learn more about these truely amazing animals. Who knew that Germany was such an amazingly diverse place? They also had yaks and pot-bellied pigs. Now, I think that I'm man enough to say when something is 'cute' and I got to say, those pigs were damn cute.

I find that each day in Germany brings me a little closer to feeling at home here. I really like the area I live in, that being Neidergörsdorf, but I find that Altes Lager is just so rediculously depressing. There is something about this place that just sucks creativity and happiness out of you. And people wonder why no one wants to live here! Hello! Its a freaking military bunker! How much more depressing to you want it? Every other village here is small, happy looking, and actually has at least some degree of community bonding. If it were a choice between living in a small dorf, Berlin or Altes Lager, I wouldn't even give it a second thought.

All that being said, I still like it here but I wish now that I had something more. There is nothing to get involved with here except for the Church-which is good, but I have a good church group back home. I wanted more of a real German community to try and fit into. Guess I'll have to look a little harder, or perhaps a little deeper.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Sitting with the Russians

So I'm sitting here right now with a bunch of russian guys. They all seem like moderatly nice people. They like to sing about Keith and I. I'm currently showing them a map about Canada. We went to this pretty amazing simming pool last night close to the Polish border. It took forever to get there. I do have to say though that it was pretty freaking awesome, German pools are very high-tech and modern with waterfalls, wavepools and the hold deal. Beats our typical pools: cold and square.
I got the day off today which is pretty nice. I used it to clean up the place a bit in anticipation of my friends who are coming to visit on monday. I am definitly looking forward to that. Should be a good time.
October is still running by and things are seeming to get into a pretty sonsistant grove now. I feel like Altes Lager is become a little more like home. Except I don't have nearly enough cool things to do or english books to read.
Peace out for now, I smell cake.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Steve Irwin

Okay, so I've been out of the loop for a while. I cannot full understand German media at this point, so it was relatively recent that I learned of the death of Steve Irwin.

I don't think I've been this sad to see a celebrity die since Princess Diana. Its just plain horrible. He seem to be a man full of moral fibre and good standing. He wasn't an academic or perfect, just a person who wanted to share his views with the rest of the world.

I still remember watching some of this shows and thinking how awesome they where. He lived a life for a cause and that I can respect. Stabbed by a Stingray is a horrible way to go, but it seems almost fitting in a way.

R.I.P Steve

Friday, October 06, 2006


Well friends, we see that we have once again found ourselves in the month of October. This being the best month of the year I am quite happy. Its Fall and when its not raining the weather is close to perfect. The best time to be in Germany I think.

This past little while has been pretty busy, yet relaxing enough. On the 3rd of October it was Germany's Reunification Day. A good day to say the least. The stories I could tell about life before the Wall came down, they could fill a whole other blog! The secret police, the life, the Wall...there is a lot of pain still very evident in East Germany. Its not something that people easily forget.

Keith and I went to Berlin with the youth group too. It was pretty fun, we got a paid trip to Berlin and a free McDonalds lunch out of it, so it was okay (even if it was raining the whole time). It was pretty neat to hang out with people roughly my own age, even if they are crazy Russian kids.

Two things I am excited for:

1) My friend and neighbour from Stouffville, Sarah Jones is coming to visit me in 10 days! Woohoo! I miss Canadian friends. There is so much here that all of my friends from back home would love. Some times I wish they were here, then Altes Lager would be a bit more interesting I think. Sarah and her friend are coming and it looks like its going to be an awesome time.

2) I phoned my brother Tim today. That was wicked, he's studying Human rights in Norway. We're planning a trip this Christmas to Switzerland, Poland, Chek Rep. (spl?), and of course, Ukraine. It looks to be a most premium trip!


Monday, October 02, 2006

Urlaub! Huzzah!

So today is part of the long weekend. Tomorrow is Germany's Reunification Day, which is when East and West Germany offically reunited back in the 90's. Fun stuff indead! Most of this weekend has been spent chilling an relaxing.

On Saturday, Keith and I had to work with the Jugendmobile at this kids fair. It would have been a total waste of time had there not been an archry tent set up. I've been wanting to shoot a bow so badly for some reason. I got my wish and it was very satisfying.

Today, I thought that I was supposed to work but I guess I wasn't as no one was at both of the kindergartens. So I went grocery shopping instead. I got a nice little supply of apple juice that should last me for some time. I also bought some figs as I was having a conversation with someone yesterday about this odd little fruit when I realized that I had never tried one. I did and I have to say that it was about a 7/10. Not amazing, but I can see how people would like it. Lots of seeds.

After that I went for a very long bike ride with Keith. We ended up going at least 30k which was very tiring to say the least. We stopped on the way home for some good ol' fashioned curry wurst mit pommes, and a nice cold one. It hit all sorts of spots. After that we pretty much have spent the rest of the day watching odd German music videos. I seem to be developing a strong addiction to walking deutsch MTV...its very disturbing.

Its nice to get a little time off. I've been enjoying the excellent Fall weather here and the hilarious Oktoberfest celebrations. Pretty much just a beer tent with odd food stands and dangerous German carnies. Lots of interesting vendors too.

Here is a picture of some figs:

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Meckesheim and then back to life in Altes Lager

Well Mechesheim was pretty much a blast. Keith and I did not make our first train so we ended up buying a new ticket. It really was not all that pleasent of an experience but the train ride through Bavaria almost made up for it.

I have to say that southern Germany is much more....awesome than the north. Don't get me wrong, I love being in the North and being an East side boy, but it gets a little lonely out here! The green hills and awesome people in the south seemed to suit me just as good though!

We got to the conference in one piece and then we met some new committee members from Switzerland, like Debbie, and some old ones from Germany, like Dora and Corola. It was awesome getting to see everyone again and have some fairly deep english conversations. We played some games and swapped stories about our first couple weeks in Europa.

The next day we went to Heidelberg, which was a-freaking-mazing. I will never forget it. We went to the castle and then to the old town. It was very 'cute'. I hate that word, but it fits well in this situation.

All in all, a good time was had by everyone. I'm already looking forward to the end of next month when everyone is coming from Swizerland, the Netherlands, and Germany. Should be awesome.

Today in kindergarten, I was the hero because I found a sleeping hedgehog on our walk around the village. We also looked at baby cows and horses and learned the different types of fruit in English. I love days like today.

Once I got home I took a nice 3 hour hike through the forest and then had a 4 hour nap. Just plain cool.

Meckesheim and then back to life in Altes Lager

Well Mechesheim was pretty much a blast. Keith and I did not make our first train so we ended up buying a new ticket. It really was not all that pleasent of an experience but the train ride through Bavaria almost made up for it.

I have to say that southern Germany is much more....awesome than the north. Don't get me wrong, I love being in the North and being an East side boy, but it gets a little lonely out here! The green hills and awesome people in the south seemed to suit me just as good though!

We got to the conference in one piece and then we met some new committee members from Switzerland, like Debbie, and some old ones from Germany, like Dora and Corola. It was awesome getting to see everyone again and have some fairly deep english conversations. We played some games and swapped stories about our first couple weeks in Europa.

The next day we went to Heidelberg, which was a-freaking-mazing. I will never forget it. We went to the castle and then to the old town. It was very 'cute'. I hate that word, but it fits well in this situation.

All in all, a good time was had by everyone. I'm already looking forward to the end of next month when everyone is coming from Swizerland, the Netherlands, and Germany. Should be awesome.

Today in kindergarten, I was the hero because I found a sleeping hedgehog on our walk around the village. We also looked at baby cows and horses and learned the different types of fruit in English. I love days like today.

Once I got home I took a nice 3 hour hike through the forest and then had a 4 hour nap. Just plain cool.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Tomorrow is my first real trip to West Germany. I'm not going to lie, I've drank a lot tonight, and I am a bit as we say in Canada, hamtangeled.

I'm excited for tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I'll stop my rambling...

The second post in one day. Very unusual, thats for sure. Sometimes you just need a little bit of extra emtional release I guess.

Where to even begin to describe how I feel at his moment? I million things are running through my head. Different people, places, what will happen tomorrow, this weekend, a year from now, etc. There is certainly a lot to mull over and if there is one thing that I have plenty of here in Altes Lager, its free time.

I'm thinking about things that have happened in the past. There is still so much I have to come to terms with from back home. A whole life I just left behind. This is by far the oddest feeling ever. At this moment, there is nothing I wouldn't give to be back at home in Stouffville. Weird, eh? During my childhood right up to highschool, I don't think there was a place I hated more in the entire world. I could do with a nice campfire and my own bed for a night though. Things to look forward to I guess.

Its frustrating because it seems that there is so much I want to do back in Canada. There are things I want to start and people that I want to be with. Fall was always the best time of life in Canada.

On the other hand, I think there is a mountain of things here in Deutschland that still need to be resolved. It harder than I ever thought it would be. Actually, I knew how hard it was going to be, but I chose to ignore it. Its hard, but I'm still at the point that I'm enjoying myself. However, I am looking forward to going to Meckesheim this weekend so Keith and I will be able to interact with normal (?) people.

I just miss the things that made life normal and convient. Like normal food, places being open past 6pm, my beautiful music collection, and even my lovely computer. I miss my friends and even that stupid bakery and the freaking Italians. Its only natural to miss these things though.

There is a feeling I get here, that I don't get elsewhere. Its an old feeling, odd to describe unless you've been to Europe.

The beginning of a very ridged trip

Okay, time to finally put the beginning of my trip onto this here blog. This is going to be a doozie.

So there I was at home in little ol’ Stouffville when it finally came time to get in the car and drive to the airport. I said my goodbyes to my brother Tim, who would also be leaving on his own Eurotrip to Norway about 7 hours after my flight got there. It was oddly hard to leave behind that little blue house that I call home.

I was excited to leave but I had this awful stomach ache. I felt fine mentally but I have a feeling that it was my body being nervous that caused me so much pain. I felt like I was going to throw up the entire way to the airport. Fortunately, I didn’t and with less than an hour I had checked my luggage and got my plane ticket from Martinair, a sketchy unknown Dutch airline.
I walked around with my mom and my step-dad for a while and then finally I decided to make for the gate checkpoint. The goodbye was not nearly as emotional as the whole Ecuador one, but it was sad to see them go. That would be the last time I would see them this year.

Everything at the checkpoint was fine so I walked down the corridor to find my gate. I found it and sat down, trying now to decipher who was in the Intermenno program. I eventually asked the girl beside me and then before I knew it I was with 16 other people. Most of them seemed like kids fresh out of high school, first time on their own and all that spiel. It made me laugh on the inside.

The flight was horrible. I spilled hot tea all over my crotch and shirt and effectively made myself look like a dumbass in front of 150 people. All the food was not good and the cartoons were all in Dutch.

Once we finally got to Amsterdam, everyone was excited but tired at the same time. We meet some of the Intermenno committee members and then we were off on a bus towards the small Dutch town of Elspeet. In Elspeet we would stay at a Mennonite retreat centre called Mennorode. It was way out in the country so after a few days of morning walks I saw not only deer but wild boars. Wild freaking boars! I can now die a happy person.

Mennorode was awesome. We learned about the program, about our placements, German and Dutch culture and, of course, the many types of European beers. All nights were spent by everyone in the bar. I was freaking out that everyone was being so loud around all of the old people in the bar. I think everyone thought that I was really strict. I guess it goes to show you that culture does have an impact on our behaviour! Me strict? Ha!

It was nice getting to know everyone and then before we knew it all of the German-Swiss trainees were off to the train station in Niemejin. We all boarded the same train and then got off at different points. Keith (my partner....mate...thing?) and I were the only trainees stationed in East Germany.

We got off at the second stop and then proceeded to take a very long 6 hour train ride. It was enjoyable though, and Keith and I talked about a lot of stuff and got to know each other better. For me the best part of the trip was arriving for the first time in Berlin. Going in to the Hauptsbanhof was amazing. The Berlin BHF is the largest train station in Europe and is made mostly of glass.

When we arrived at our platform I was looking out the window and then I saw her. Hannah was sitting at the platform waiting for me. Actually, now that I think about it, that was the best part of the trip. This would be the first time in a year I’d seen my best friend (and sadly only the first of three days in which I would see her for another year). Well, I think I’ll leaver her out of the rest of this story and leave you with your imaginations. It was nice to see her.

We walked downstairs and then found our train going to Jüterbog. It was a short 40 minute ride until we arrived to a host of welcoming Germans. It was very intimidating at first, but to say the least I was happy for after a week of travelling I had finally made it to my destination of Germany.

That seems like enough for today, peace out.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Another week done...

Man, I am tired! Another week gone by and many more things accomplished. This week's colours lessons went okay but I think I need something more interactive. This weeks lessons will be none other than: Farm Animals! Woohoo!
Yesterday Keith and I had to work with the Jungendmobile in Berlin for the day. It was at this large church on a really nice day. I also found a shop that sells Absinth....we'll see how that works out.
As for today, I just drove my old people to church and back. I also finally got those kids who were ringing my doorbell. Stupid kids.
I need a nap. Peace out

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Well yesterday was pretty cool. I spent the last half of the day with Keith and Olaf in Berlin. I really like Berlin its a kicking city. We went to this one area called Lichterfelde, which oddly enough is also the name of the village I got questioned by some very angry police officers, but thats a different story.

We ended up going to this Mennonite hostel called Mennoheim. It looks pretty awesome! I'll be helping to lead a young adults group from there sometime soon. Maybe in October. Paid trips to Berlin with people my own age? Heck yes!

I talked to Hannah yesterday it was nice to hear from her. I also tried to phone home to no avail. I friggen tried to use the phones for a week and I finally discovered that I must first press 0 to actually get out of the 'Office' phone mode.

Other than that this week has been moderatly uneventful. All of my teaching has been doing okay, colours is not the best thing to teach, kids lose the interest quickly. I need to think of some better games! Maybe something involving soccer? I miss Canadian kids, they're so much better behavied!

There is so much to cover and I am not looking forward to writing it down here. I'll get it done eventually. Meh, until then kiddos.
Peace out

Monday, September 11, 2006

Blogging: Take 2

Well look here, its Gary and he's back in action. I've decided that it is time to offically start up the old blog again. I need to start to chronical all of these crazy times I've been happening. Also it gives me something to do when the times are not so crazy and I become really bored.
Hmm, it would seem that there is a lot to recap. So I'll make it as short at possible now and then try to make things a tad bit longer once I get some more time. So here we go:
My name is Gary. I am 19. I am currently living in the small town of Altes Lager, Brandenburg, Germany. I am on a one year program with a Mennonite (yes, those crazy mennos...) group called Intermenno. Although I am enjoying myself here, I call real home Stouffville, Ontario, Canada.

Currently I am working as an English teacher in about 5 kindergartens, 2 sports halls and at least 2 cities. Most likely that list will grow with time. Right now I play lots of soccer, sing songs, and generally play and colour with 5 year olds. I love it.

Why, am I here? I have no idea. As for now, I'll take the easy road out and say that I'm here to 'find myself'. Most likely I am here to avoid starting my life in the real world, but thats an issue I'm sure I'll have plenty of time to deal with as the year presses on.
I have seen a lot, and done much in my short time here. I've seen the Wall, wild boars, lots of Europeans and much, much more. So far my crazy Euro-trip has been only in Holland and Germany. I'm sure that will grow in time. I'm getting ahead of myself though.

Personally, I have always found the act of 'blogging' to be very satisfying. I try to be as honest and interesting as possible. I used to have an old blog but I found it to be going in a very negative direction so I wanted a fresh start for a fresh country. You can find it here at But be forwarned that its not all that great and I think it no longer will provide you with an accurate discription of yours truely. I'd like to say that I've grown a lot but who are we kidding? Those of you that know me, know that I don't grow (save sideways). I mature at a shockingly slow pace. What can I say? I'm awesome, maybe.

And with that I'll end today's blog and be back tomorrow to retell the start of my journy from Toronto, Canada to Berlin, Germany via the lovely city of Amsterdam.
Peace out

p.s. - Swedish Chef anyone? Heck yes!