When I was seventeen years old, I signed up to go on my school’s biannual trip to Germany offered through the GAPP (German American Partnership Program) This trip was both unique and life-changing. It was an opportunity to improve my level three high school German and learn more about the culture of my ancestors, which I leapt on with very little hesitation. The first phase of the trip consisted of first hosting a German student. Your home becomes a totally different place with even one student of another culture living in it, in a way that is impossible to describe aside from just saying that they always bring a little bit of their country with them. This can be embodied in any way from their mannerisms to actual “pieces” of their country, such as art or food.
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My German partner was courteous enough to get me addicted to Milka, their version of hershey’s. we now have a trade agreement that goes along the lines of Twinkies for Milka. While My partner, Joris, was in america, he experienced our culture, and instructed me as to his, and I learned much more from him than I had from any German class
Joris stayed for a month and then went back to Germany with the rest of his class. A year of school passed by and them my class went over to Germany. The flight to Amsterdam was singley the longest flight I have ever taken. I hope you pack a nice, long book or handheld game, because eleven hours is a long time on a plane. after that, we were checked into customs at amsterdam, and them were boarded on a puddle-skipper plane to Hannover, where we linked up with our hosts and returned to Luchow. After we arrived in Luchow, we went home with our hosts. My host family lived in a refurbished old townhouse in the dorf ( a small satellite town that holds around 60 or so people) of Neritz, just a hop, skip, and a leap from Luchow. That was my home for a month.
While I was there, I attended school with Joris, hung out with him and his friends, and essentially explored and became a part of the community. Germany and I go along rather well. One of the friends I made, Niklas, actually said in heavily accented english “You look German, you speak German, you belong over here.” Of course, there were little pockets of home I enjoyed as well. For example, schützenfest, a German tradition, mirrored our own St.Paul rodeo almost perfectly, right down the foods and rides. I did, however, prefer to explore German culture. While roaming Lüchow, I found several little places that I liked, such as the Kreta grill which specialized in authentic greek food, and the cortina, which addicted me to their spaghetti looking ice cream. Of course there was also always the China haus too if you wanted something more familiar.
Our class also took a week long excursion to explore Germany ourselves, where we went everywhere from erdfurd to eisenach. at our first stop, eisenach, we stayed at the DHJ Jungendherberge and we visited the historic wartburg castle where Martin Luther translated the bible. we also hiked the Dragon’s gorge and explored around the Denkmal of eisenach. From there we went to erdfurd, the big city. this place was a lot more like home, with the hustle and bustle of the city blurring international lines. Here, we just stayed and observed. All in all, it was an amazing trip, and I recommend it to all high schoolers.
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