Zara blogs about the German Exchange

                                      German Exchange Trip: Monday 29th Oct – Monday 5th Nov

All the SES, Year 10 students had a very early morning on Monday, waking up at 2/3 o’clock in the morning, lugging their suitcases all the way to the LMS car park. We set off at 4am to ensure enough time for some good, old airport shopping at duty free and a well deserved Starbucks. Once we had arrived at Stansted airport everyone was buzzing to get out of the minibus, Vicki was so excited she broke the rubber lining off from rushing out of the door!

It had been a long morning for the Stamford Bunch and despite, what seemed like many hours, of waiting to get into the school in Bonn, we had a pleasant stroll beside the famous River Rhein and a long stop at a nearby park to relieve some of the tension from the heavy turbulence earlier on. We had a lovely little break at the schools tuck shop and we can all agree with confidence that our school tuck shop needs to up its game, I mean kinder chocolate bars and hot chocolate, we were all drooling! We walked back to the school courtyard to meet our exchange partners after their lesson and came back to their house to familiarise ourselves with their family and way of living. Each one of us will take away a different and very unique experience and I think that is why it is important to try and go for opportunities like this, you learn something about your new friend and a bit of German culture at the same time, a much more retainable way of learning.    I learned how to play a new board game, completely in German, tried some very traditional German dishes and explored an amazing part of Bonn with her dog Lulu.

The next day greeted us with a 6am start and a taster of the German education, but I can’t say we learnt much in the lessons. At 11 we met up and caught a train to the centre of Bonn. We had a guided tour of the beautiful city, courtesy of Frau Chavaux, and then had a few hours of free time, which obviously meant spending a ridiculous amount of money in Sephora and an overpriced Starbucks. We managed to see Beethoven’s house and birth house – both completely different in size and style, Beethoven grew up to be a very classy man, and discovered that within a 2 mile radius, there are many, many McDonalds restaurants. The German school held a lovely Welcome Evening for the exchanges with fake, non-alcoholic beer and lots of food, we all had lots of fun that evening hanging out all together.
The next morning was a very similar start from the day before and we travelled by train to Cologne to the El-De Haus, the former headquarters of the Gestapo (which personally was my favourite part) and an extremely long climb to the top of the Cologne Dom Cathedral, which took our breath away, quite literally. We had a couple of hours of free time to explore Cologne a bit more and purchase some delicacies from bakeries nearby, I personally am addicted to pretzels! We met our exchanges at the train station, ditched the teachers and went to a local waffle café where we ate our body weight in waffle, ice cream and all sorts of toppings, varying from strawberries to fruit loops to biscuits!

The next day we went on a tour to a Cold War government bunker, very interesting, although the living conditions were not as glamorous as we’d imagined. Then, the trip took a completely different way and we had a wine tasting session. I myself am not a big fan of wine especially red however Marianne was delighted to finish mine off, her French colours finally show. To finish it off at Ahrweiler, we all bought a bottle for our parents, at least mine is for my parents…

The next day our brains were full of new information and knowledge that we had to cool them down with a visit to either the chocolate or sport museum. I obviously chose the Lindt chocolate museum as by the end of it you were practically made out of free tasters! We had a little trip to Haus der Geschichte to fudge our brains even more but it was led by an audio guide so we took it at our own pace.
Sadly, our last day had swiftly strolled round the corner and it was time to say goodbye to our exchange partners for the last time and make our way to Bonn Flughafen (airport).
We have achieved a lot of sight seeing and I have not explained them all very well in the slightest: our week has been so jam-packed it would have been impossible; we all cannot thank Frau Chauvaux and Miss Washbrook enough for such an amazing school trip and opportunity.

Zara Hodges