Okay so, about a month ago I went away to southern Germany to stay with an exchange student (Julia) & family, and to say this was a big deal, for me is an understatement.
Over the years I’ve developed a strong fear of being away from home, which is crazy because there’s nothing more I like doing than staying with friends or going abroad, travelling! So when the opportunity came for the exchange – I took it with great stride but also a little doubt about whether or not I really would end up going.
From seriously regretting chances to go to Germany before, I kept convincing myself how amazing this trip was going to be, and quite honestly it’s been one of the biggest highlights of my life, totally shaping me as the person I am today – assured and gratified.
Sleeping in a house with people I only just met, making conversations with a language barrier and attempting to talk in a foreign language really took a strain on my confidence at first. Whether we were at the table or in the shop, I stuck to Julia like glue in panic of being spoken to in German and not being able to communicate back. I did get over this after a couple of days and slowly began speaking phrases of German I’d previously learnt (even if I did suck at it (: ). But looking back at it now I can see how much confidence I’d grown throughout the days and that what I’d accomplished, mentally and linguistically, made me proud – however cheesy that sounds;)
Improving my knowledge of culture
Experiencing different culture within a family makes it super easy to pick up on their ways of doing things. One thing I noticed, it may have been just around the area, but mostly everyone rode their bikes around town. To tennis lessons, the swimming pool, the supermarkets- you name it, we rode there. Sometimes it was quite exhausting in thirty degree heat but it felt great to fit in with everyone else around town and not be automatically labelled- tourist.
Now onto food, a topic that goes straight to my heart. On the morning I woke up, I was enlightened by fresh pretzels from the bakery (sounds so good, right?) anyway they ate so much lovely food, spaetzle was another favourite of mine and if anything other than Julia I’m missing the food most.
Another really cool thing to experience was catching the train to school. Where I live, the trains only run to the nearest major cities so as you can probably guess when Julia told me about the train, I was amazed to say the least! (:
Dealing with the unexpected:
Of course you can’t travel and not come to any issues, even the smallest of them. I remember being sat on the train with two of my other English friends, and this woman asking us questions in German, very quickly. All three of us stared blankly and started to repeat that we couldn’t speak fluent German, and to our surprise she understood but still continued to talk at us in the foreign language (:. We did end up understanding her last sentence and with the response; she seemed satisfied, well over satisfied actually with a big smile on her face so I felt pretty content with the effort I’d made:)
When the week was beginning to disappear, I tried my hardest to soak up every experience, laughter and memory into my brain, to keep an internal diary from the best 8 day of my life, fortunately I have also my camera roll as a visual representation too:) But this trip gave me so much, knowledge and all. To think I wasn’t going to go in the first place makes me laugh, laugh as I would’ve been so stupid!
So to wrap it up, I’m just going to quickly say that always am I going to remember taking a large leap out of my comfort zone and being over the moon, shocked with the positive things that came from it.
I need to tell y’all that hiding away from your fears is going to stop you from not only moving forwards but also being happy. I wish I’d known this A LOT earlier as I would’ve done so much more already! This trip changed me for the better and I’m so glad of it!