The last half of my exchange has officialy started, and it makes me sad to realize that so much time has flown by, and that my year is already half finished. But by no means does that mean my year has been half wasted. I have grown more than I could ever have had I remained at home, and this exchange has been the single most important event in my life concerning my d...evelopment as person in general. I have seen, experienced, and lived through so many different events from my time here in wonderful Germany that it would have been impossible for me to remain an unchanged person. The fact that I have changed (in my opinion) is something great, because it entails that I have learnt, grown, and adapted to life. Everything changes, it is a fact of life.

Where to begin? I have been doing as many different things as I possibly can in the short timeframe of a week, and in between sports and youth groups, I often find myself wondering why there are no more hours in a day. Almost everyday I have a different 'group' I am with, from volleyball, shooting, scouts, youthgroup, grammatic lesson, more volleyball, and everything spontanious in between! There are often events or special occasions with every group, and so any spare time I thought I had is gone aswell! But I am happy with things going this way, and I very seldom find myself 'with nothing to do'.

Joining scouts in Germany has been one of the greatest experiences for me. I am with my group everyweek, but several are in my school, so we see each other everyday. I have done so much with this group, from bike trips to bowling, from going to another city for indoor skating to going to a theater to see the latest movie, or simply sitting around and talking about what is new in the world. They are incredibly well planned and feel like a family to me. Not to mention they are understanding about my non perfect grammer. Recently we had a winter scout trip to the mountains (in the south of my state) and we stayed there for 4 days. It was a great experience, but we had no snow! And on the final night I had a swear in ceremony in the dead of night in the mountains, and it was really incredible and it was a great surprise for me. They brought everyone into the mountains that were gold blue scouts (older scouts, they have yellow scouts with yellow neckers for the youngest, blue for the middle, and then gold blue for the full initiated members) and the new blues that would became golds. The blue scouts were then initated, and it seemed like the ceremony was over, but then the scout leader started talking about world scouting and about how I was a Canadian scout. And then he said that I was now a part of German scouting and initated me. It will be something I will remember for the rest of my life. I had to jump over a fire, and then swear on the flag the German scout promise. I then had to walk around the circle and shake hands with everyone (left hand) with the scout sign and say 'good/safe travels' (gut Fahrt). I do not think I have ever had a bigger smile on my face.

I am incredibly thankful that you have provided me this opportunity to live halfway around the world. It has changed me and the way I look at the world in so many different ways, and I wish everyone the best of luck in their respective travels, and I have my 'thumbs locked' (the German 'fingers crossed') for everyone.

Vielen Dank und eine gut Fahrt!

... Joel Dzuba