A Second Home, Just a 9-Hour Plane Ride Away - My Family Travels
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         When I took the AATG (American Association of Teachers of German) test in my German class, I never truly believed that it would lead to a trip to Germany. However, after achieving the required score on the test, and completing an application and two telephone interviews, I was awarded the incredible experience of a three-week study trip in Germany.

           

            I saw the 38 other trip recipients, who were from all over America, ranging from Alaska to Florida, for the first time just a few hours before our departure to Germany. In Nürnberg, there were yet more new faces: my host sister and her mother, father, brother, and an enormous extended family of welcoming aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins.  My host family lived in Fischbach, a peaceful suburb of Nürnberg.

 

            Nürnberg was, of course, not as quiet as Fischbach, but, for a city, was not too loud or crowded, and no traffic-dodging was required to wander around its quaint streets, in and out of gorgeous old churches and delicious “Eiscafes” (ice cream shops). Our tour of the city was filled with folklore that dated back to days far before the USA even existed.   

 

            While in Germany, I kept a diary each day, and I have included a couple of entries (translated into English, or course).

           

            July 1st

            …we met up with the other Americans and their host siblings at 9:10 in the Nürnberg station, and then rode the train to Regensburg. Regensburg is a very old city, and first we walked around a museum for a short time. At one point, we walked up to a huge stone block, sitting in the middle of the room. I was about to turn away and look at something more pleasing to the eye when our guide began gesturing excitedly toward the stone mass, and I realized that it was a piece of the original wall around Regensburg—over 1,000 years old. I was suddenly overcome by the powerful realization that I was staring at an original relic of the days of the Vikings and the Roman Empire.

 

            July 3rd

            Right now I’m standing on the train on the way home from München. First, we all rode to the top of the Olympia-Tower. From there, we could see all of München—the Olympic stadium, the shop-laden streets, the parks…the view was absolutely superb. Afterward, I went with a group through Schloss Nymphenburg, an enormous, elegant castle, which, like the other castles we visited in Germany, was filled with gold-trimmed walls and oil painting after oil painting, sculpture after sculpture, delicate chair (with a “do not sit” sign) after delicate chair.

 

            When I wasn’t on city tours or in school at Martin-Behaim Gymnasium, I attended theater group, dancing school (Tanzschule Schlegel), and driver’s education with my host sister, and went with my host family on excursions to the Adidas Outlet, mini golfing, and the cave in Pottenstein.

 

            After about a week and a half in Nürnberg, I and the other Americans on the AATG trip spent five days in Berlin. Of course, I’ve learned about World War II and the Berlin Wall in school, but walking through the Holocaust Memorial, standing in front of Checkpoint Charlie, and gazing at the graffiti-covered pieces of the Berlin Wall was far more meaningful and powerful than any textbook or lecture.

 

            When we returned from Berlin, and drove once again with our host families to their houses, it actually felt like going “home”, and, in conversation, it had become necessary to distinguish between “home” (with our host families in Germany) and “home-home” (in America).

 

 

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