Samantha on Exchange: Brisbane to Fürth, 2015
Memories of Germany were relived recently as 22 students met to share stories, photos and laughs from their fantastic SAGSE German summer exchange 2014/2015. Follow Samantha’s first-hand account of her amazing experience.
They went; they stayed; they returned … but what these Australian exchange students brought back from their time in Germany was priceless – memories of fabulous experiences, being able to communicate better in German, and making good friends on the other side of the world.
“Grüße! My name is Samantha Ewin from Wellington Point State High School and at the end of 2014 I was fortunate enough to travel to Germany for six weeks with Society for Australian and German Student Exchange (SAGSE). There were 17 students in the group from various high schools across Brisbane and throughout the state. I stayed with a family in a village called Fürth in the state of Hessen.
I went to school for the first 2 weeks with my host sister Anna who was 15. School was different in Germany, they don’t wear uniform and in winter they begin school when it is still dark.
I then went on an 8 day tour with the Australian SAGSE group, travelling across the border to Austria. I went on tours including the Sound of Music, Dachau (German concentration camp) and Neuschwanstein Castle. It was a wonderful experience especially listening to the history of some of the places in Germany (most were older than Australia!).
I also stayed in Germany over Christmas time, it is a very different experience because they have real Christmas trees, however they can be a nuisance because of needles falling off the branches. Christmas in Germany is unbelievable, especially if it snows! I wasn’t lucky enough to have a white Christmas however it did snow while I was in Germany.
New Year in Germany was awesome because fireworks are legal over there. So at midnight everyone lets off their own fireworks I found it a little bit different but by the end it felt normal.
For my last week in Germany my host family took me skiing. I had never skied before but after five days of learning I was ready to go down the mountains. The weather was beautiful for the first four days but the last day the wind was so strong that my host brother, Aaron, was skiing up the mountain.
Overall my time in Germany was a wonderful experience that I would relive in an instant. It was a privilege to be allowed to participate in this exchange and I am forever grateful for the opportunity.”
The SAGSE German exchange program in 2014-2015 placed each of the 22 Australian students group with a host family in a different city, town or village in the state of Hessen. This annual exchange program enables Brisbane students to improve their German skills, but even more importantly, to experience daily life with a German family … and sometimes visit those places they’d only dreamed of.
Find more information about SAGSE’s exchange program here, or contact SAGSE President, Linda Mains, here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Report by Sebastian Condon:
I am Sebastian Condon, I am currently in Year 12 at Kelvin Grove State College, Brisbane, and recently went on the SAGSE exchange to Germany. In Germany I was billeted in Essen, was hosted by the Heil family and attended Leibnitz Gymansium for the three weeks of school. I participated in all of the eleven subjects my host brother, Nikolas, took: German, English, French, Latin, Chemistry, Physics, Maths, Sport, Music, Politics and History. I enjoyed my time in the school, it certainly improved my comprehension skills, and I learnt many new card games in the 10 minute interval between classes. I found the German people to be friendly, especially the students, who were always willing to practice their English on me.
After the fourth week of my stay, the last week of school, it was nearing Christmas and the time had arrived for the Tannenbaum, to be set up and decorated. Here if a live Christmas tree is bought, it’s shedding needles and in the process of dying soon after purchase. In Germany, the tree looked fresh, strong and vibrant from the day it was bought, until presumably, they threw it out, I was gone before that day came to pass. The Heils held a great interest in their tree. From the moment it arrived home there was heated debate about the height of the tree, and the straightness of its trunk. I was told to stand in one corner of the room, Jannis, my host brother’s brother, in another corner, while Liza and Nikolas took up the remaining positions. Bertam, my host father lay under the tree, and on our directions fiddled with the stump for a good 25 minutes, until it was believed to be perfectly straight. That was a big cultural difference for me.
Christmas itself consisted of a church service in the early evening, of the 24th of December, and a simple baked dinner back at the house. Presents were passed around and opened after dinner and each person, received an enormous, not joking, huge, plate of chocolates, lollies and backed goodies to munch on for the rest of the evening, and presumably the rest of the year. We stayed up playing card and board games late into the morning, but eventually went to bed, as the next day was the erste Weihnachtstag, the first Christmas day. More delicious food, biscuits, cakes and other culinary delights, only it was held at the Grandparents’ place.
Apart from eating amazing food, I visited the local museum. Nikolas, my host brother, wishes to become an archaeologist, and he had completed his Praktikum, a form of work experience, only weeks before, at that very museum, so I went on what equated to a personally guided tour. I also visited and went on a tour of the Zeche Zollverein, a closed coal mine – now a museum.
On one of the last days of my time in Germany I went snowboarding in the longest indoor snow hall in Europe. Though not a brilliant snowboarder, I was alright, considering I had only seen snow for the first time a few weeks before.
Another highlight was my attending a soccer match, Rot Weiß Essen vs. Ost-Friesland. There was nothing else I have experienced like a stadium full of Germans screaming and singing ‘Bundesliga zwei, Essen ist dabei!’,
along with all the other ditties and songs they had invented for their local team. I was told by the man next to me that I was to scream louder if I wanted to win. Obviously my mouthful of bread roll and bratwurst did not exclude me from the cheer squad. Nonetheless, my impassioned screams must have had some effect, Essen won 3-1.
In conclusion, I had a wonderful time in Germany, and thank all the people involved in the exchange’s organization. It was great.