Happy New Year everybody!
I hope you had a great Christmas especially the other three exchange students here in the blog. I had a really awesome time in December.
Just one day after I published my last report it was my birthday. I woke up early in the morning to skype with my family. As soon as I saw my living room in the background I realized that I already got my first birthday present. My whole family was there to wish me a happy birthday. It was so great to see them all together. The next present almost topped the first. I got an HD sports camera from Swann, which I can attach to my ski helmet and film my ski adventures. It’s really a very nice gadget. I really didn’t expect anything like that. I also got a nice sweater from my host family and some other smaller presents.
In the evening we went to the musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. The musical is about the story from the bible, where Joseph’s brothers get jealous of him and sell him as a slave to Egypt where he becomes the best man for the Pharaoh. My host brother did the spotlight during the show and some technical stuff before and after. Beside him some elementary students volunteered for the choir. I really enjoyed the musical. The actors were convincing and I also enjoined the music and the story. There were some really good gags, too, like Elvis as the pharaoh.
The following weekend, I went skiing with the other International students. Everybody had a lesson in the morning and after lunch we could go wherever we wanted. There were more Snowboarders than Skiers. We had just one ski beginner and about 15 tried snowboarding for the first time. It was fun to ski with the others and the lesson also brought me a bit further. It was also the first chance to try out my camera. I banged my camera a couple times while putting the lift bar down, but it worked pretty well for me.
In Canada, you can cut your own Christmas tree. Not everybody does, but I tried it of course. My family followed some rules for that. First drive until you get stuck or my host mother freaks out, which happened in this case. Then walk at least 300 meters from the car and the first tree is never good enough, even if it is perfect. After a nice hike in the woods and a lot of arguing, I finally cut our Christmas tree down. It is really fun to go out and find a Christmas tree rather than just buying it. After we attached the tree to our car we went to our cabin at the lake, which was perfectly frozen. I am a horrible ice skater, but I didn’t have any skates, so that I wasn’t able to demonstrate my skills. It was fun to try some ice hockey, even if that probably will never be my favorite sport.
We wanted to spend Christmas at my host mother’s dad in Cranbrook. We made a trip across the province. A day trip to Cranbrook would last over 9 hours. That’s why we stayed two nights at different friends of my host family. We left on the twenty first, heading towards Revelstoke, which has a really awesome ski hill. It has the biggest vertical difference between top and bottom in the whole of North America and when all the plans for new lifts and runs are finished, it will also be the largest.
On the way to Revelstoke we visited the place, where the last spike of the Canadian National Railway was driven. This rail was the final connection between East and West Canada.
It turned out that I met the son of our first host before. He was part of the volleyball team, against which my team lost against in the final game of the season. The world is small even in Canada.
The next morning I went skiing with my host dad and brother, while my host mother did something else with her girlfriend. When we were standing in the lineup for buying tickets, my host brother met one of his friends, who lives in Revelstoke. It turned out that he forgot his helmet, goggles and gloves. So we gave him the stuff from my host mother and he came with us. The mountain slope is steeper than in Sun Peaks and I really liked to ski in Revelstoke. We were lucky to have somebody, who knew the mountain really well. We went a couple times in the trees, but most of the time we stayed on the groomed runs, which were really well groomed this day. It was too bad, that the day wasn’t that long.
We left a bit early, because we had another three hour drive to our next stop in Invermere. Our next host had a ranch and we had a within-100-feet-dinner together. Almost everything we ate was grown on the ranch. The next day we went to Radium Hot Springs. I’ve been to a great Hot Spring in Iceland before, but it was still really nice to have a bath there in the Rocky Mountains. It was the first time for me to see the Rocky Mountains. My host parents were arguing with each other all the way to Cranbrook, where the Rockys are. It was quite entertaining, because everybody we met said something different. My host father thought they already began in Revelstoke, but it turned out that my host mother was right. I wasn’t able to see them as long as I thought first. They started pretty near Alberta. The Border between Alberta and BC is exactly the middle of the Rocky Mountains. After the hot springs, we head south driving between the Rockys and the Columbia Mountain Range, which was really impressive, too.
In the evening of the twenty third, we finally arrived in Cranbrook. I got to know the dad of my host mother and his wife. They were really friendly to me and liked them at once. We went skiing in Kimberly on the twenty fourth. The ski resort was all right, but not as good as Sun Peaks or Revelstoke. But because skiing is always fun for me it was a great day.
We had a Christmas dinner in the evening. It was actually a normal traditional turkey dinner. Before dinner we cracked some Christmas cracker, which made a “pop”. Inside them were a little present and a funny looking hat, which we wore during the meal. We went to church just before midnight. It was a very Christmassy service in an old wooden church. We sang a lot of Christmas carols and also heard the Christmas story. I found out that the popular story comes from two stories, the story of the three holy kings and the actual story about Jesus’ birth. It was the first time I heard the story of how it probably really happened.
The next morning the presents were in our stockings, which we had placed at the chimney. I was surprised that my stocking was full because I’ve picked the largest I’ve ever seen. The most volume was made up of candy and a bottle of “Gerolsteiner”, but I also got a couple of very useful presents. My Canadian Christmas was very similar to the Christmas I’m used to. The differences weren’t so great, but it was exciting to have Christmas in another culture. We drove the whole day after Christmas back to Kamloops. Then we had one day off to wash all our clothes for the following week in Sun Peaks.
The first skiing day was a short one. We arrived in Sun Peaks at 10:30, because we had to buy some groceries before going up to the hill. We stayed in a nice little hotel at the edge of the village. It had the advantage that you could ski from the hotel straight to the hill and the other way around. The second day I skied alone for the whole day with just a 15-minute break. I was happy that there was enough snow. The ski hills of whole BC really had needed snow a few weeks earlier, but finally the snow was lovely. At 6:30 we took the lift to have a fondue dinner on the mountain. There were four different types of meat, some veggies and an awesome dessert, but the real highlight was skiing down in the dark. We got some headlamps and went down in groups. Of course, we took the easiest run possible because it isn’t the easiest thing to ski in the dark. We were lucky because it snowed while we had dinner. So we had perfect snow conditions. Unfortunately, you couldn’t see much on the video I took with my camera.
On the third day my host father took me out of bounds to the “Gills”. They are on the backside of Mount Tod and just a 15-minute hike from the top lift. It was one of the first times for me to ski in deep powder. I really have to work on my powder skills. On my second run I crashed into a tree while following my host father. Skiing in powder is really fun and I got much better by the end of the holiday.
For New Years Eve I signed up for the torch light parade. This year there were 180 people skiing down in the dark while holding a torch light. This time my camera worked better because there was enough light from the torches. The video will be a great memory. From the bottom we looked like two large snakes of light going down the hill. We had the biggest crowd at the bottom for over twenty years and it was really fun to ski down and hear the crowd cheering for us. After we extinguished our lights, the big firework went on. The fireworks lasted for over 15 minutes.
As usual the holidays went by very quickly. School started again and it seems a bit like there were no holidays, but I will always remember the experiences I had. In January I’m starting to play tennis again and at the end of month I’m getting a new host family. The older son of my host family, who is staying with my family in Germany, also leaves to travel to Austria. We had a true exchange for “just” five months. I really like my current host family and so does my real family like their first exchange student, but there are also some good parts about the change. This week I’ll meet my new host family and I’m both a bit sad and really excited.