On the first day of the Semester 1 holidays, 11 eager Year 9 to 12 students embarked on what was very soon to be a trip of a lifetime. Our first week in Germany comprised of attending our partner school ‘Comenius Gynmnasium’, as well as various day trips to surrounding cities.
Upon arrival in Düsseldorf airport, we were all very excited to meet our billets and see the familiar faces of the German students who came to Australia on exchange last year. We were immersed in the German language and culture – improving our German every day. School life was found to be very different to Australia, with more freedom and varying school hours. Our excursions to the Ski Hall, Cologne and Münster were all very exciting. However, the main highlight of this first week was the time spent with our billets and the lifelong friendships we formed with them. After a very teary goodbye, we left our host families in Düsseldorf and began our coach tour around Germany and Austria.
The coach trip proved to be a great bonding experience for the group as we got comfortable chatting, listening to music and spreading ourselves over every available seat. The first stop on this sightseeing journey was Hamburg, where we enjoyed a guided tour through the city, learning about its unique history and language before boarding a cruise through the canals. The first night of this tour was our first experience in an A&O youth hostel, and while we all loved the abundant amounts of spaghetti, it was certain that everyone felt homesick for Düsseldorf. The next few days took us through the wonders of Berlin, showing us the still scarred buildings of the Second World War and the path of the Berlin wall. This historical guided tour through the city was for some of us the highlight of the entire trip, seeing the Reichstag building and the memorial of the Holocaust. The next stop for us was Rothenburg. This breathtakingly beautiful medieval town was like something out of a fairy tale and spending the night in a converted castle was such a treat. The local nightwatchman held a tour through the town, explaining the history from the medieval period to the current day. Finally we hit Nuremberg and Munich, two extremely interesting places. Nuremberg was of course home to Hitler’s Nazi party rallies, and the Documentation Centre - a museum that took us through an in-depth history of his career and life. Just outside Munich, we visited the Dachau concentration camp. Our time at this camp was quite sombre, although it was a very powerful learning experience for all.
As we entered the last leg of the trip, we enjoyed the breathtaking views of southern Germany and Austria. The highlight of the third week was definitely Austria. Our first stop was Salzburg, where we did the Sound of Music tour, taking in the sheer beauty of the Austrian country side and small villages along the way. While in Salzburg, we visited the famous Salt Mine, which is the oldest exhibit salt mine. We received a guided tour through the mine which was very interesting and fun to explore. Next on the trip was the lovely Vienna. While in Vienna we had some free time, which allowed us to really enjoy the city and take in all its beauty, while having a little bit of fun on the side. Our farewell dinner was held at a local restaurant ‘Hausmair’s Gaststätte’. Here we celebrated with a traditional Austrian banquet and reflected on the highlights of our trip with a tear or two. It was then time to conclude our trip and slowly but surely make our way home. After a flight delay, we finally commenced our journey home to Brisbane, arriving on the Sunday before school, all extremely exhausted, jet-lagged and definitely not ready for school.
We would like to thank Mrs Ciappara and Mrs Sauer for making the trip possible.
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