After taking only a year of German language in school, I decided to travel to the country itself through one of the school’s programs. I knew beforehand that I’d be going alone and there would be people I didn’t know, but I was still raring to go.
I left on my first airplane flight ever in the summer of ’06. The excitement of a plane ride added to my first trip overseas to none-other than the “Deutschland” I had studied was overwhelming! It was my first “big trip” I’d had in all my years of life. Unfortunately, I was completely unaware of what would happen only after one day of being there.
I initially arrived in Frankfurt and took a long rest at my host-family’s residence. I awoke after a long sleep due to jet-lag. Even before opening my eyes, I knew I obviously felt quite ill. Then, I discovered I had a fever and the right side of my face was the size of a softball. My kind family took me to a doctor who explained that the condition was only going to worsen if left alone. The decision was made to drive across the city of Wiesbaden, to the hospital. I ended up wasting 4 days of my 3 week trip in the hospital, for a total of a week wasted in activities I could have been doing. When, I finally got out, the rest of my trip was an absolute blast!
I traveled to the capital, Berlin, and was astonished by the sights I saw there. Such as, the parliament building, the dome on top of it built entirely from mirrors, the environment of a common youth hostel in Europe, and even the famous “LoveParade” that celebrates sexuality. Plus, I made so many new friends when I went. Some of them were Americans participating in the same program and others were born and raised in Germany and had lived there their whole lives. I observed an unbelievable amount of things that would not have been possible if I hadn’t left America. Even though the first couple of days were awful, I learned several small things that I’ll never forget when I travel in the future.
Only after getting myself into a predicament, had I realized I did not have my healthcare card with me. Thankfully, my mother was able to fax a copy of it to my host-family. What if I’d been there without contact from my mother? What would have become of me? I’ve also made it a point to study the German language more, especially health related terms. I now carry all forms of I.D. with me and keep extra copies, just in case of an emergency. I also know to be sure to try and experience all aspects of every trip in order to get the most out of it. Germany changed my attitude towards cultural experiences, my appetite for education, and even also how I view safety matters in foreign countries.
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