This year I had the opportunity of a lifetime: to travel with the school German Club to Germany. We embarked on an eight day in-depth tour of the country with my incredibly wacky German teacher, Herr Schneider. All year he was building excitement for the trip; every now and then as we were working in our textbooks, he would point out a picture and say, “Those of you traveling overseas with me to Europe will be seeing this in a couple of weeks/months/days…” And then, the travel date arrived: We were actually going to be in Germany! One eight-hour plane ride later, we touched down in Berlin, the most fascinating city I had ever been in! On our city tour of Berlin, we saw many important historical and picturesque places, such as the Reichstag building and the Brandenburg Gate. That was totally awesome!! We immersed ourselves in the local cuisine; for example we had Currywurst in Berlin, and WeiÃŸwurst in Munich; along with other German specialties such as Schnitzel. To get a feel for the historical culture of Germany we also traveled from Bundesland to Bundesland, each of which was its own country under the rule of the Holy Roman Empire during the Middle Ages. We visited the second largest art gallery in the world while we were in Dresden, second only to the Louvre in Paris, we saw the medieval Glockenspiel in Munich with its dancing figurines that are 6 feet tall, and lastly we toured the famous Neuschwannstein Castle, known world wide for being Walt Disney’s inspiration for Cinderella’s Castle.
I have to admit, it was a bit of a culture shock coming back to the US after living in Europe for eight days. Germans tend to be very environmentally conscious, much more so than we are here in the US. They are also surrounded by breathtaking scenery, which they maintain very well, and I miss dearly. I didn’t really want to leave; this was the most memorable trip I have taken so far, and I hope I’ll go back to Germany again sometime. This experience made the German culture come to life for me; several of my more cynical classmates were debating whether Germany really existed or not, but I have plenty of photographs to show them wrong. Germany’s culture varies radically with the region; all you have to do is cross a state border and you are in a totally different culture. I learned that there is no such thing as a true “German” culture; instead there are many different cultures in Bavaria, Saxony, Berlin, and Munich, as well as every other Bundesland. This was the trip of a lifetime, and I know anyone can open their horizons by traveling to someplace new.
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