On today’s trip, we went to Potsdam, a city right outside of Berlin. In Potsdam, we explored the palace of Frederick the Great with our tour guide. We learned of Frederick’s upbringing in Prussia with his abusive father who did not tolerate Frederick’s interest in music, because he wanted his son to be a warrior. However, once his father died and he took the throne, he became a great general and took over much of Germany and Poland. When he reached Germany, he built his castle right outside of Berlin, because he did not like the place already in Berlin. His palace in Potsdam is ornately decorated with busts and gold leaf in the rococo art style, and it has an immense garden behind it. In the courtyard we took many pictures with all the statues, and found Frederick’s grave. He chose to be buried right next to his dog. Sadly, we could not stay at the palace for longer, because we needed to drive back to Löningen to see our friends again.
The first morning in Berlin was a fast paced one. First, we took a bus tour of the city. We stopped at the East Side Gallery and saw some fascinating graffiti, most of which had a political message behind it, a tower where the wall used to be, and at the Alexanderplatz. After our tour, which some people fell asleep on because of lack of proper sleep the night before, we grabbed lunch and then had a scavenger hunt. I was teamed up with Rachael, Andi, and Colin. I took over as navigator since I can read a map and with that our group headed off. The hot sun beat down, and the compelling objective to be first for some ice dream kept us driven. Admittedly, I learned more about the city from that scavenger hunt than I did riding on the bus. We had two hours to complete all the goals, some of which were buy an ice cream and take a picture, or ask a German what they like about Berlin, and even find this landmark and take a picture and explain why it’s called what it is. My group managed to complete most of the tasks, resulting in us winning. After we took a break after the scavenger hunt, we went to one of the biggest department stores in Europe, the KaDeWe. It was huge! They had everything! Some people bought things, or bought stuff from the stores surrounding the mall. We had free time to get dinner, so a group of friends and I went to get pizza and salad. Rio and I then went shopping together and got some things. It was a full day of walking, and then we took the subway to get back to our hotel. Everyone’s feet were dying, their clothes drenched in sweat from the dry heat of Berlin, and yet there were still smiles on faces from passing jokes and enjoying each other’s company. Our full day in Berlin truly was an exhausting one, but one I think all of us will remember.
After a long trip from the town of Löningen, our group arrived in the city of Berlin. Germany’s capital is full of history and culture, and our bus ride to our hotel room would give us a taste of things to come. After leaving our luggage at our hotel room, our group set off for a brief walk through the city. We visited the Holocaust Memorial, the Brandenburger Tor, and finally the Reichstag building. After exploring the beautiful glass dome atop the Reichstag building, our group returned to our hotel room, where some found that the rustle and bustle of the city made it difficult to sleep. So ein schöner tag!
On our first day, we entered the school excited and nervous. As soon as we entered, we were welcomed by our german exchange friends. Then we introduced ourselves in front of the whole school during their version of chapel at NA. We presented what we have practiced since day one of learning german: name, age, and where you are from. Simple as that, but regardless we were all still nervous! After our introductions we toured the school and met the headmaster as well. Then we chose our classes for all of the days that we would be attending class. We then headed off to our own classes and headed home.
Thursday was the day of the bike tour! After finishing up with a regular school day, we headed off to our own homes to prepare for the bike tour. Many of us were nervous, but the Germans were even more nervous after seeing our mediocre biking skills. After the teachers assigned leader bike riders and cabooses, we set off on our journey. Not even a quarter of a mile into our trip, one student’s bike malfunctioned. However, we kept on moving. All was well until the same bike broke down again, and Herr Mogen sped back to the rescue. Then not one, but two students wiped out on the bike trail. One fell while another wiped out into a ditch. Lovely. After we barely survived, we took a break in a shaded area while we waited for another “problem” to be resolved. About twenty minutes later, it started pouring. By pouring, I mean the rain where you can barely open your eyes. We powered through the rain and eventually made it to our destination. We were rewarded with a delicious barbecue party and played games until the sun began to set.
June 9, 2019
I arrived at the airport at 10 AM on Sunday morning, greeted by the excited faces of my classmates and teachers. We said goodbye to our families and proceeded through the airport. This was the start to a very long day with very little sleep. We got on the plane to go to Charlotte, NC, expecting to leave around 12:20. However, we ended up getting delayed until about 3:00. As a result, our three hour layover turned into a sprint through the airport to make it to our next flight. The next plane ride was about 8 hours long and took us all the way to Frankfurt, Germany. We then had a 5 hour drive to Löningen, the small town where we will be attending school for the next 2 weeks. At the end of this long journey, we were happily welcomed by our exchange students who we had not seen since April!