German students venture to Kings Dominion

As the German department welcomed exchange students this month, students who went on the summer trip to Germany reflected on their times abroad, as well as what they expected as the Germans experienced America.

In late June, 12 students, German teacher Emily Massey and counselor Kirsten Wiley made the trip to Germany, first arriving in Frankfurt. The students immediately immersed themselves in the culture, sampling all of the traditional local cuisines and experiencing typical high schools.

“It was exciting to see the students’ reactions when they were fully immersed in the German culture. It’s a completely different experience to actually witness the traditions as compared to simply reading about them in class,” Wiley said.

Many students felt their German-speaking abilities greatly improved after being constantly surrounded by native speakers, as well as primarily speaking in German throughout the trip.

“My German skills improved a lot because I only spoke English occasionally to correct my host parents,” said senior Sarah Gross.

Others found improvements in their fluency and proficiency in class.

“It was great practice and made it easier coming back to America and going into IB German,” said junior Noah Simon.

A part of the exchange program calls for American students to host the incoming German students with whom they stayed over the summer. Exchange students get to experience American culture and the students’ way of life. According to Gross, many of the German exchange students looked forward to typical American foods and forms of entertainment, such as eating at Chipotle, having Buffalo wings, going to Kings Dominion and going bowling.

“The girl I hosted last year was very excited about everything in America, and showing her all the fun things to do here just made her experience all the more thrilling,” said junior Helen Dahlhauser.

Though the Germans leave on the 27th after two weeks with their host families, the students create strong friendships with each other through their times in America as well as in Germany.

“It was great having a break from the norm, but towards the end of the trip I started missing my buddies at home,” Simon said. “It felt good to be home but then I quickly started to miss my family in Germany.”

With the two weeks’ time constraint, there is much the students won’t be able to see and experience about the different cultures. Many students said they want to return to Germany to see more of the countryside, while others would’ve liked to have been more adventurous when trying the local food.

According to students, the experience has helped open their eyes to different parts of the world. Though there won’t be another official school trip to Germany until the summer of 2015, students can still host German families and learn about German culture through participation in activities such as Oktoberfest and the German Cafe.

As the exchange students finish their stay in America, they see and experience many new places and activities. Both Americans and Germans gain friendships and insight when visiting the other country and enjoy showing each other their ways of living.