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Staying with a foreign family and school life

Friday, 23 February 2018

Fourth Former Isaac spent his half term with his German exchange family. Here he writes about his experience.

"Although a seemingly daunting prospect at first, staying with my German exchange family was a great, informative experience. I learnt lots about the typical daily life and distinctive differences between certain social norms. For example, I discovered that the average German gets up really early in the morning, which was definitely a shock to the system, considering that I usually wake up an hour later. Another difference was that with my family always seemed to have a lavish, varied breakfast which was a change as it seemed as if I was really living in a hotel (this was their normal routine, not just because they had a guest). Additionally, in my exchange family, meals were rarely eaten as a family, and thus I seldom managed to see the parents at all during mealtimes. The family I stayed with were very welcoming and kind, offering a variety of things to make me feel like at home, which was great as it contributed to making the trip amazing. The usual preconception of an exchange trip is to believe that the family might not be quite so nice, but this is almost never the case, so there’s no need to be worried about it.

The objective of the trip was to practise our German for the oncoming GCSE, and of course to have fun. I felt particularly relieved to have a family which spoke fluent English, often at times encouraging me to just help them practise their English instead of my German; however, it was also particularly convenient that one of the brothers didn’t speak a word of English, so I managed to get the occasional practice in, even if only for a simple conversation. However, I did also manage to learn a few random phrases like “Morgenstund hat Gold im Mund,” which translates as “the early bird catches the worm.” In addition, we watched a handful of English films with German subtitles or vice versa which was very useful. Luckily, we had the terribly good German teachers Mr Emerson and Mr Pollard teaching us many German words along the way, and translating adverts and posters on the trains and around town. The trip definitely improved aspects of our aural work and is the best way to learn the language.

School life in Germany is definitely different to ours. School for them begins at 8am and finishes at 2:40pm, which made us all really jealous, as they don’t have to return home in the dark every day in winter. Many would prefer to wake up earlier and finish earlier because it would allow us to have more time after school for extra curricular commitments and other activities. What’s more, the amount of homework they receive is a lot lower than ours, with very little time spent after school on it. In addition, all students, no matter their age, were allowed to go out for lunch every day, which seemed a very popular idea to all of us. There were also some interesting activities that happened in certain lesson. For example, in the history lesson, everyone had to do a Canadian greeting to one another, which involved people shaking hands and kissing on the cheek. Their school seemed very different to ours, but both schools have their benefits.

Overall, I would definitely recommend anyone who has the chance to go on an exchange to do so as it is an amazing experience: you learn a lot about life in another country and manage to speak the language with people who are fluent, which really helps to improve your speaking ability. I really enjoyed the trip, and am sure that the others did too."


I would definitely recommend anyone who has the chance to go on an exchange to do so.
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