My high school only has one second language option, German. When I first started German in ninth grade, it was the last language I wanted to learn. I wanted to learn Spanish, French, or even Mandarin Chinese. But by the end of that year, I absolutely loved German. My teacher was great. He was sarcastic, witty, he didn’t take anyone’s lame excuses, and he didn’t care what people thought of him. But he was also understanding, and a very thorough teacher. He made sure everyone had a fairly firm grasp on the topic before he moved on to the next one.
Every other year he took classes of German II and III on a three week tour of Germany, Switzerland, and Austria (with half an hour in Leichenstein, Leichenstein ).
I went on one of these trips from June 9th through June 30th of 2008. After three years of studying, fundraising, and preparing paperwork; we were ready to go. The Ely German Club walked through the automatic glass doors of the Minneappolis/St. Paul airport with our suitcases under 50 pounds and our one carry-on. After we checked in we met the other school group we were going with, the New Prauge High School. 204
As we took off, I suddenly felt very nervous. (insert journal entry)
We spent the first three days in Berlin. I was amazed at how much freedom we had in a foreign country. We’d wake up at seven, have breakfast, spend two or three hours touring with the group, then be handed a bus ticket and given the rest of the day to ourselves. The only rule was you had to have at least one other person with you. I completely relaxed in those three days. Then I realized we had our host family stays next.
The host family stays were designed to give us a perspective on how typical German family lives. My teacher had always used the same three towns for the host stays in Germany. They were in northern Germany were the citizens didn’t have heavy accents. For some reason, my teacher decided to go to a town he’d never been in before. The town was called Hassfurt, and it was in southern Germany. The accents between northern and southern Germany are as different as the accents between the north and south of the US. Let’s just say it was very difficult to get an idea across the accent barrier, so most of my four-day stay was spent either looking words up in the dictionary or in silence.
After the stay, the rest of the trip was a blast. We saw villages, castles, rivers, cities, and so much more. We cheered for the German fussball (soccer) team in the Euro Cup. We traveled into the Salzburg salt mine via slide. We conquered the crazy Munich mass-transit system. But by far, the best part of the trip were the Alps.
We took a gondola to the top of a mountain, then walked back down. The scenes around me took my breath away. I’ve never felt so insignificant in my life. The world seemed too big and grand. I’ve always heard that people had “fallen in love with Ely” but I never really understood what they meant. Now I do. I fell in love with the Alps.
It’s only been a month or two, but I already want to go back. My sister(who knows six years of German), her boyfriend, my boyfriend and I are planning to go back within the next couple of years. I can’t wait.
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