Sara is living with me for the week.

She had to get out of her host family immediately. Well. Josa and I said she needed to get out immediately. So we got her out. We called the organization. We put up a fight. And now, Sara will switch host families.

The host mom asks to read Sara’s diary. The host sister wears her clothes. The host brother comes into the room without asking and takes her things. There is never food in the refrigerator. They don’t eat dinner. Sara goes to the store every day to buy food for herself. Since the others are hungry, they eat Sara’s food when she comes home. The mother makes up random rules throughout the day. In order for Sara to go to a party, the mother must know each individual who will be attending. She must have names and phone numbers of every person. One day, the mother came into the TV room where Sara was and started yelling. “Rule #1. You must ask me when you can turn the TV on. Rule #2. You must ask me when you can turn the TV off.” The only reason the family wanted Sara (blonde, beautiful, from California) is because the host sister will be going to America next year, and she needs places in America to stay.

Sara’s host mother told Sara that she’d be meeting with someone in Köln on Monday. The host mother didn’t say why or how long she’d be gone. Sara called me and was bawling. “Everyone’s against me,” she said, “No one on the program believes me. They think I’m the only problem in the family. They don’t believe me. And now I’m going to Köln and I don’t even know why! I don’t know how long I’ll be there, or what I’m going to do there! Anne, I’m so confused!”

I kept Sara on the phone and explained the situation to Josa in German. Josa asked to have Sara’s caretaker’s number. (Each of the exchange students have a “CR” in the region who meets up with them monthly and makes sure everything is going well.) I told Sara I’d call her back and we were now calling her CR. Josa called the CR and put her on speaker so I could hear. The CR told her that earlier that day, she went over to the host family’s house and spoke with the family and Sara together. She said that Sara told them straight out that she will not change, even if they found her a different host family. She won’t get off the internet. She won’t try to learn the German language. She won’t spend time with the family. And so on and so forth.

I said there was definitely a communication problem. The CR (who could hear me) said that she and Sara were speaking in English when she said this. “No,” I said, “I know she wouldn’t have said that. Even if she won’t change, everyone knows you say yes when someone asks a question like that. There was a communication error.”

So listen to this. The plan was that Sara would pack everything up, go to Köln on Monday, and… GO BACK TO AMERICA.

But of course, no one needed to tell Sara about this.


Josa said Sara could not be sent home without having another chance in the family. Claudia (main person in charge of program) had told Josa herself that if the chemistry was not there, they could simply switch families. Josa offered to take in Sara for the next week.

When we got off the phone, I tried calling Sara back to tell her everything that was about to happen. Sara’s phone was busy. Then, the CR called back. “Can you be ready in 5 minutes to pick up Sara? She’s packing everything right now,”

“We’re on our way right now,” Josa said. So! We hopped in the car and took a 30-minute drive to Sara’s house in Düren. “Ich bin nervous,” Josa said. “I don’t want to meet this mother. I hope Sara is ready.” I laughed, “Sara won’t be ready Josa. Sorry to say. She has no idea what’s going on right now.”

When we got to Sara’s house, the host mom answered the door. She was blonde, skinny, and tall. I’m gonna say she was 6’2”. She smiled, let us in, and invited us to sit. The son was also there, but he did not smile. He squinted his eyes and glared. The house was clean and empty. Cold. “Wo ist Sara?” I asked. “Anne! Help me!” Sara was upstairs in her room. I ran up the stairs. Her room was a disaster. “Anne, please tell me what is going on.” I kind of smiled and started grabbing things off her bed. “I’ll tell you everything in the car. Right now, let’s pack as quick as possible.” Sara looked through all the drawers and cabinets and I shoved everything into suitcases. I heard the conversation going on downstairs. “Go help the girls get the suitcases down,” the mother said to the 17 year old son.

“No. They’re too heavy. There’s no way we can pick up the suitcases.”

I showed him! I picked up two giant suitcases and heaved them down the stairs. Good. Glad you didn’t help, squinty-eyed, freaking tall, lurpy kid. I can do it all by myself. Sara said, “Tschüss!” to the mother and son, and… Then we were gone.

“Unsympathisch,” Josa said. “Sie ist unsympathisch. Und Kalt.”

I told Sara everything in the car.

But now everything’s okay. It’s Tuesday, and she’s been here since Friday. She is sleeping in my room, and I’ve been sleeping on a foam pad in Ann-Kathrin’s. Now I’m sleeping in Marie’s room cause… Lissa, another exchange student, is also here. There was a miscommunication with her and her host family, which turned into this big problem in the house. She had plans to stay in Köln, but her host parents told her she wasn’t allowed to do that. Since her host parents were going out of town and her host sister had other plans, Lissa had to figure out what to do without going to Köln. So now, Lissa is here. She’s been with us since yesterday, and she’ll be going home Wednesday night. She is sleeping on the foam pad in Sara’s room, and I’m sleeping in Marie’s room. Seven girls in the house… and Herbert. Josa said we’re running an American girl hostile. Oh, how much I love Josa.

So. I guess… it’s good my Hamburg plans got cancelled and that Micky couldn’t come. Did I tell you he’s going to Portugal? Portugal!? I’m jealous and beyond excited for him. I’m glad he’s getting the opportunity to see more of Europe.

Ann-Kathrin and Herbert got in a fight the other day. They were angry at each other and yelling and it got out of hand. Ann-Kathrin came to her room and was holding back tears. I hugged her and she started bawling. We stood there for a long time holding each other. I kissed her head and told her I was sorry. I remember when I was fourteen and getting in a big fight with my dad. It sucks.

I lost my wallet on the bus last night. A woman brought it back to me this morning. My debit card was still there, but 50 Euros are gone. Ugh. Ugh.

Opa was angry. “Anna, you must be careful. You must be paying attention. This is serious.” I nodded and told him I understood, but he kept going. Saying the exact same thing, but going on for another 10 minutes. “You can’t act this way, Anna. You must pay attention.”

It was right for him to lecture me. Yes, it was stupid of me. I don’t know what happened from when I was sitting down and getting off the bus, but it’s true! I should have been paying more attention.

But I know what Opa thinks. I’m just a blonde, stupid American. I’m irresponsible, careless, and silly. I know that’s what he thinks a lot. And that hurts.

I’m sorry, Dad. About the 50 Euros. I’m really really sorry.

Ann-Kathrin says the family has a surprise for me. We’re doing something fun this weekend. Thursday, I’m staying here. I don’t know why, but they’re going out for something. So on Thursday, I will find something to do. Friday night, we’re going bowling with the family and family of friends. Saturday, who knows. Sunday, church maybe. I keep asking Josa if I can make plans with German friends, but I can tell she doesn’t want me to. She hasn’t said straight out “No” but I can tell she wants me to stay here. Which is fine with me. I should be with the family. But Josa is acting weird with me this week. She’s not mad or bugged with me. It’s like, she doesn’t want to include me in on something the family’s doing or talking about. Cause usually I’m a part of the family conversations. But right now I feel really out of the loop. Maybe it’s cause I’ve been worrying too much about Lissa and Sara being comfortable here. So whatev.

Mom, thanks for the package. It came today. I haven’t showed Marie and Sophie, but they’ll be so excited about the Halloween party things. Thanks for packing my hippy bag. I’ve missed my button pins. And thanks for the pullover and the Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. I’m so excited to eat them.

Lissa, Sara and I talked to Micky on video chat last night. Afterwards, we sat on the couch and talked. Until 5:30 am.

Lissa has movies from Hedersleben. She has a video of Evan, Lucas and I singing the Nutella song. The song the three of us made up and taught the rest of the students. I watched this movie a million times over and laughed. It made me so happy.


I like the Kinder, I love the German girls
I like the pillows, or the lack they’re of
I like Nutella with the German bread
Doom dee la dee, doom dee la dee —-

I like Johnny, I love the way he smiles
I like his hugs, the ones he gives to Anne
I like Nutella with the German bread
Doom de la dee, doom dee la dee —-

I like the kitchen, I love the food we eat
I like the dryer… Oh wait, there isn’t one!
I like Nutella with the German bread
Doom dee laa dee doom dee la dee


Okay. Done.


  1. I’ll say it again, Anne. You’ve been blessed, you’ve been guided to your host family. Your family fasted and prayed that you would have a great host family. I just couldn’t possibly be any better. Josa is some kind of heroine in my eyes.

  2. And YOU are wonder woman saving everyone in sight.
    You are able to stop bullets with your silver bracelets. No you are AMazing MAdchen! You need some cute costume with huge AM on your t-shirt. Whose that? Sie ist die Anne Madchen. Wie gross. Wie schoen?

    American maidens crying: Save us Anne!

  3. Anne thats amazing! you have always been a caregiver to everyone around you. i am so glad you are with the family that you are they are a blessing in your life and i can tell you will be their friends forever. love you i hope you have a good week 🙂

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