I have been studying the German language for three years at my school, Central Valley High School. Every year, there is a national exam we take. I took this exam, the National German Exam, and scored in the 98th percentile. I was shocked because I had a chance to travel overseas to Germany on a $5000 scholarship. The application process was writing an imaginary letter to a host family in German and a German-speaking interview over the phone. If I won, I would be living in Germany with a host family for one whole month.
I remember the day I got the news. I read my e-mail and noticed there was one out of the ordinary. When I opened it, all I saw was the word “congratulations” and I knew that I had been given an opportunity that very few people at my age get to enjoy. It seemed like the very next week I was saying goodbye to my friends and family in Spokane, Washington to go fly on the longest airplane ride of my life.
There was only one thing about the plane ride over to Germany that bugged me. On our way to and from Germany, the organization had split up our group on two different flights. This was my only complaint about the entire trip. Despite this, jet lag had begun to take over once I arrived in Germany. I met my host family as I got off the plane. Even as they were taking me home, I had begun to grow weary of all the differences of Germany. Everything was so strange to me. My host family was very welcoming and hospitable. For the next month I would be living with them in Nuremberg, Germany.
I was also, going to attend school in this foreign land. Sometimes I went with my German host brother and other times the school had set up special lessons for our group of American students. In total, there were 13 American students in my group. Only 39 kids across America won the scholarship. At first, it was hard for me to interact with the other kids because I’m so shy. As we spent more and more time with each other, however, I got more accustomed with them.
Our third week in Germany we, as a group, were all going to stay in Berlin, the capital of Germany, for a week. We spent all day and everyday together as a group seeing the sights of Germany. I saw the Brandenburg Gate, some parts of the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, and many other interesting sights of German culture. There was one guy that I would always hang out with on the trip. His name was Clark and we got a long so well because we shared an interest in music. It meant a lot to me having a buddy on the trip made it a lot easier for me to dispel my homesickness.
After Berlin, our group was extremely close. We were like a family. I did not anticipate getting so close to the people in my group. Half of us were teary-eyed when the day finally came when we had to say goodbye to our new friends, myself included. I will never forget any of them and the experiences we shared.
Going to Germany has made me become more independent. I had to walk to school by myself sometimes and Clark and I even navigated us through Berlin alone. All in all, my trip to Germany was an opportunity of a lifetime and I will never forget the memories I made.
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