HHS students visit GermanyPublished 11:40am Monday, July 22, 2013
Nineteen Hartselle High School students visited Germany June 2-16 as part of a German exchange program between Robert Koch School in Clausthel Zellerfeld and HHS.
Rising HHS juniors and seniors were invited to host a German exchange student in their home for two weeks and then take a trip during the summer to Germany to visit the student they hosted.
Students traveling to Germany this summer included Shayla Alexander, Nick Beach, Sarah B. Crow, Katie Glasgow, Dakota Goff, Johnston McCutcheon, Alex Nickles, Christina Holmes, Sarah Logan, Taylor Lybarger, Mary Claire Swann, Melissa Underwood, Haley Phillip, Curtis Russell, Mallory Faulkner, Blaine Williams, Brooke Wilson, Tate Mathis and Nidhi Vakharia. Houston Blackwood and Tanya Lybarger served as chaperones.
This was the third year for the exchange program, and it has quickly gained interest from both schools involved.
“We had more interested this year than usual, but we still ended up with the same number of hosts,” chaperone Houston Blackwood said. “Interest seems to be growing on both ends. The Germans take big trips out of the country every year with their school, but they always are excited about coming to America. It’s not just a fieldtrip for any of the students involved. It’s a time to have fun and experience what it’s like to be a teen in another county.”
The exchange began with the 25 German students visiting HHS back in March. They took their usual trips to the beach, Atlanta and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, but this year they also got to visit the University of Alabama campus and tour Bryant-Denny Stadium for the first time.
“They absolutely loved every minute of the Alabama tour,” Blackwood said. “They don’t really have sports around them on such grand scale in Germany. They were just in awe of the facilities. They got to see the stadium, the Walk of Champions, the locker rooms and everything.”
The trip to Germany was also a little different this year. Hartselle students were able to visit a Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg, Germany, in addition to seeing the Parliament building in Berlin and spending time individually with their German exchange family. Many students took day trips to nearby countries such as Austria, France or Italy with their exchange family.
Sarah B. Crow, a rising junior on the trip, said she hopes to go back to Germany during her senior year, possibly as a senior trip.
“I really had a lot of fun,” Crow said. “The Germans were just like us except more conservative. They don’t waste anything, and they make sure to turn off lights to save energy. If where they are going is close enough, they walk.”
Crow also felt American teenagers were very similar to German teenagers.
“They weren’t very different from us, which was nice,” Crow said. “They were a little more responsible than us. I think it has to do with their lower drinking age, because they have already learned to be responsible with alcohol. They stay out later than us during the week, but it’s not a big deal to them.”
Crow said she felt like she learned responsibility as well on the trip.
“We were away from our parents for two weeks in a foreign country. We had to be responsible,” Crow said. “We especially had to learn how to save our money, because a trip to the ATM was another fee for the currency exchange. I feel like it prepared us for what it’s like in college.”
This trip offered HHS students the chance to expand their experiences and learn from another culture.