After several meetings with our chaperons Mrs. Gminder and Mr. Fritz and the other exchange students, we could finally pack our bags and get ready to leave. We had to be in Friedrichshafen very early, at 4:45 am, as our plane would depart at 6 am and we still had to go through security. Fortunately, our bags had already been transported to the airport the day before, so we didn’t have to be there even earlier.
About 30 minutes after the plane took off, we landed in Frankfurt, from where we departed to New York. International flights aren’t as boring as one might think, everyone has their own screen and an up-to-date selection of movies to watch. Finally, and with great anticipation, we then arrived at JFK International Airport. After a long and bumpy bus ride through New York traffic, we could finally meet our host families and students.
The next day, when we first entered the school we, or more specifically the girls, were welcomed with an ovation. Since the school’s founding in 1942, no girl had ever entered it as a student, they were the first ones. We followed our guest students and attended their classes that day.
As you would imagine, for most students, the exchange’s highlight were our two trips to New York. Among other things we visited the Tenement Museum, Ground Zero and Central Park, admired the city from the Empire State Building’s observation deck and, most importantly, had free time to do whatever we wanted. During that time, most people grabbed some food or walked through nearby malls and shops.
The observation deck was amazing and helped us to grasp the sheer scale of New York. Though we also noticed it when walking, or should I say hiking, through the city in the blazing sun. It felt like you could walk for ages and still be in the same city, which is probably true.
Another great experience was the bike ride through Fairfield. We were guided through Fairfield University by a student and learned about the American college/university system. College students don’t have to decide what degree to get when starting, they can try everything and choose their favorite field.
We cycled on to meet a guide and Fairfield’s First Selectman in the city’s historic center. They told us about Fairfield’s famous buildings, in which some of the founding fathers and presidents of the United States had stayed, and some interesting events like witch trials. It is even believed that a German-American inventor flew a powered aircraft before the Wright brothers, and that flight took place in Fairfield.
Our final stop was Fairfield’s beach, from where we could see the state of New York and heard the story of Fairfield’s haunted lighthouse.
During the weekend we had no planned activities and could go somewhere with our host families. Many people visited New York again, others went to go shopping in some local malls, and some travelled to other cities.
The exchange was a great opportunity for the German students to gain insight into the American school system and way of life and to have fun!
Mathis Salmen, 10a SJ17/18