Peter Farrell on the German Exchange Trip
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During the past few weeks, nineteen of Nashoba’s German II-IV students, accompanied by Herr Prichard and Sra. Davis, visited Germany as part of an exchange program. The students spent two weeks in the country, dividing their time between the cities of Weilheim and Munich in the German state of Bavaria. They experienced several elements of the country’s culture and shadowed students at Gymnasium Weilheim, a local high school, for four days. The students’ exchange partners will be arriving in the United States on March 30th to shadow at Nashoba. The Chieftain Press spoke to German IV student Peter Farrell about his experiences on the trip.
Chieftain Press: Did taking German at Nashoba help you prepare for the trip?
Peter Farrell: To be able to partake in the exchange you must be at least in German II. Being in German IV, I don’t think I would have been able to have such a good time in Germany without having so much experience with the language. Nearly everyone in Germany has some experience with English, but it makes it ten times easier to be able to communicate openly with friends and strangers in their native language. It also helps to let you blend in easier with the native population, rather than sticking out [as a] foreigner.
CP: What were your first impressions of Germany upon arrival?
PF: In all honesty, I did not see or feel much of a difference within my first twenty-four hours in Germany. Over time, I gained a sense that the people were such a kind and respectful group that accepted us with open arms from the first to the last hour that we were there.
CP: Did you attend any interesting events?
PF: I attended multiple local hockey games along with a champions league match between FC Bayern and Arsenal. Carnival was right around the corner, so I got to witness some of the setup before Carnival actually started. We also participated in a short series of traditional Bavarian dances which were accompanied by a group of musicians from the local high school [in which we] had shadowed during our time there.
CP: Were there any elements of the culture that you had to get accustomed to?
PF: One aspect that I definitely didn’t expect was how kind and generous everyone I came in contact with was. From my host family to employees at the cafés and stores, I was never treated poorly or looked at differently, even though I was clearly not a native German. Some of the most important core values for German students are honesty and respectfulness toward one another, which are not always a priority for students around here.
CP: How does German food compare to American food?
PF: German food involves a lot more meat, potatoes and bread than American food and one of the main differences was a lack of fresh vegetables and fruits in their main meals. It is not hard to find fruits and vegetables, but it is just that they are more likely to be hidden ingredients rather than the stars of a dish.
CP: Would you be interested in going back someday?
PF: I am definitely interested in going back in the near future. I hope to be able to study abroad while in college or take advantage of one of the many programs provided by the State Department that let students spend part of their time studying or teach[ing] in Germany.
CP: Do you have any tips for other young people traveling to Germany?
PF: The biggest tip that I can give is to be ready to have an absolutely amazing time. You do not need to be completely proficient in German to enjoy yourself because many Germans have at least a basic knowledge of English. When it comes to food, you should be open to eating anything offered to you. I like to use the “try every food twice” trick when it comes to new experiences. It helps to make sure that you aren’t missing out on a dish that may have been prepared incorrectly the first time or one that may grow on you over time. Public transportation is extremely easy to use and anyone traveling to Germany should take advantage of it.
Students interested in the German exchange program should take advantage of this amazing cultural experience in the future. Sounds like the group learned a lot and had a great time!