Wir Sprechen Deutsch; German Trip is a Success!!

16 students, 6 cities, tiny kitchens, massive cathedrals, and more bread and cheese than you can shake a bratwurst at. Welcome to the whirlwind adventure that is an Ames High foreign language trip. For 15 days, from March 5 to 21, Ames High German teacher Herr Reichart and his band of proteges immersed themselves in the culture of several cities in West Germany. The travelers made it to Wulfrath, Dusseldorf, Cologne, Aachen and Hamburg in the short two-weeks they had. Being suddenly thrust into a world of little or no English, adjusting to jet lag was the least of their problems. “The first 48 hours you’re there, everything’s in German and you’re like. ‘I don’t know what I’m doing here….’ senior Jacque Nowers said. “We heard a lot of things about Japan, but I couldn’t really tell what they were talking about. You’d listen to the radio or watch TV or somebody on the street would start asking you questions and you’d just be like, ‘I don’t understand what you’re saying to me…’” For some, this was their second time around and acclimating to the copious amounts of spoken and written German came a little easier. For first-timers, it was a lot to cope with, but for the most part, the students’ host families made sure their guests felt as much at home as possible, in a place 5000 miles away from Ames. “The best part for me was my host family,” senior Joy Busch said. “I just felt I was at home. This time, I could actually participate in conversation. I was just more prepared and I knew what to expect.” “My host mom didn’t really speak much English,” Nowers (a first-timer) said. “So she would talk to me all the time in German which was really great because my host sisters would always try to talk to me in English. But sometimes she’d be saying something to me and I’d be like, ‘I don’t know this word’ so she’d run around the house looking for the dictionary. She was a lot of fun and she kept making me food. They fed me all the time…” Among other exciting happenings, the students attended school with their host students, made cultural presentations about America (i.e. talked about German people in the Midwest, holidays and Chicago), rode in the “Kaiser Wagon” hanging train, met the mayor of Wulfrath, visited cathedrals, castles, and the Netherlands and ate a lot of bread. Really good bread. But are these good enough reasons to live in a strange house, expose oneself to the embarrassments associated with not knowing what people are saying to you and missing two whole weeks of school?! Busch summed it up in a phrase: “Exchange trips are definitely worth it.”