My summer in Germany has forever stamped an impression on my life. During the course of my trip I had a variety of experiences; all of which have aided me in my growth as a person. I made lifelong friends who accompanied me in that adventure.
During the month of June a group of high school students and I participated in our school’s foreign exchange program. After a nine hour long flight I met up with my partner, Ilona. We had talked through emails and Facebook since her departure and were quite excited to see each other. The ride to her house was terrifying; the car was flying over 120km per hour and the strawberry and asparagus fields to the point that they were just one colorful blur. We arrived at Ilona’s house with only enough time to drop off my suitcase and have a quick tour of the house before we were off again. Ilona and some the other girls in the exchange had a class that afternoon at a massive climbing wall. It reached 200 ft. high and was extremely intimidating. My friends and I summoned our courage and attempted to scale the wall of impending doom. I only made it up about half way before my fear of heights got to me. Still, it was a thrilling experience.
That night the group met at a local restaurant for some traditional German cuisine. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed everything that was served. By the end of the night exhaustion had taken over so Ilona and I headed home. The following morning I officially met her family, they only knew German and since I cannot speak German Ilona had to translate. Most of the time we would just smile and wave to each other. The fact the I was welcome didn’t need words.
Over the next month Ilona exposed me to a variety of German culture. Just driving around the country there are old castles and forts dating back to the middle ages. To stand on the top of a fort and watch the sun set; causing the old stone walls turn into a golden yellow you feel as though you are on top of the world. During my attendance of Ilona’s school I discovered that the European style of learning varies greatly from that of the United States. Instead of having a graduation ceremony as American schools do; in Germany the all the schools in Damstadt parade through the city’s streets music is strains speakers, decorations are everywhere, and the day turns into one massive party.
The weekend before my departure Ilona and a few friends took me to see Lake Constance. It is controlled by Switzerland, Germany, and Austria and is gorgeous. The lake was a lovely blue green with white sail boats gliding through the water. In the waters reflection you could see the Swiss Alps standing protectively over this little oasis. We spent the days taking the ferry to various areas surrounding the lake. One day we went to a monkey garden as one walks through the garden you feed popcorn to the family of monkeys. Midway through our garden walk it began to pour rain. We ran through the rain to the main building laughing the whole way. The weekend was wonderful over all and one of the highlights of my trip.
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