Staying in England

20.01.205 | I am a student at the THG Göttingen and, in 2013, I went to Plymouth, England for four months. That was not only a great experience when I was there, it has also helped me ever since. At the time, I was in year 10 (15 years old) but the idea of going there already came up in year 9 when we talked a lot about going abroad in school and when friends of mine decided to go abroad as well. I always liked travelling and seeing other cultures so I thought it could be something for me, and also I wanted to improve my English. I then surfed the internet a lot, to find out where I would like to go and what different possibilities there were. Within short time it was clear to me that I wanted to go to England and live in a host family. The hardest part was to choose an organisation to go there with. There are so many and there is no sufficient information about which are good or which are not. After a lot of thinking I chose ICX (InterCultural eXchange), a small non-profit organisation from Oldenburg. I really liked the very personal contact with ICX so I could ask all my questions and that made me apply for a place in the end, being lucky to meet the deadline which can be up to six months before the departure!

My stay began in London at the end of August 2013 where the group of about 40 participants in the ICX exchange programme had a seminar, which was basically a sightseeing tour. After that weekend, the group split up and spread all over England – not very equally though since there were about 15 students in Plymouth. We arrived at the central bus station on a Monday morning and were all picked up by our host families, who we already got to know via email and facebook etc. To my mind, I was very lucky with my host family. I had three host brothers – one in my age, one who was 10 at the time and one who was 19 – and we were getting along really well and had a lot of fun together. My host mum was the probably loveliest person in the world, always helping me for example when searching for a sports club. And also, she always made sure that I didn’t get bored, especially in the beginning. With my host dad I didn’t get along that well in the beginning but that became better with time. Altogether they were very nice and made me feel like a part of the family. On the weekends we made a lot of trips together and in the mid-term vacations, they even took me with them to Dorset for a week.

Even though there were so many Germans in Plymouth, I was the only one at my school which was called Hele’s School. There, I was in year 12, which is like our year 11. Year 12 or AS-level is already part of the Sixth Form so I had to study only four subjects but each taught by two different teachers. I chose Physics, Mathematics, Product Design and German – German because they asked me to help the students there. In the end, German was one of the most fun classes and I certainly do not regret having agreed to attend it. With the German class I also went on a trip to Birmingham to visit the uni and the German Christmas market which was one of the highlights of my time in England. Mathematics and Physics were actually quite hard for about the first two months. There was a lot of vocabulary to learn and it was very hard to follow the subjects but the teachers were very understanding and caring so I didn’t feel lost at any time, and later on I even enjoyed it. Product Design was the most special subject, there is nothing like it in Germany. We learned about materials, about planning the production of anything from scratch and we planned our very own furniture and built a model of it. I really enjoyed Product Design and spent a lot of time with my friends in the workshop. Already in one of the first breaks, when I didn’t really know what to do, whom to talk to, I had been welcomed by some students asking who I was, where I was from etc. It was them who soon became my best friends there and with them I spent a lot of time, going to the cinema or partying or something. In Sixth Form, there weren’t too many students so it was all quite familiar soon, I had a lot of friends and really liked going to school.

On the last school day before Christmas my departure had come. The last week was great but also sad when seeing all my friends for the last time. But we are all still in contact and I am planning to visit them this summer.

(Lars Hebisch , Theodor-Heuss-Gymnasium, Göttingen)

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