My German Exchange Experience By: Kylie Lichtenwald

Hello, my name is Kylie Lichtenwald and I took the chance of a lifetime to have a German exchange student stay with me for 17 days. I am in 8th grade and I am currently 14. I've grown up in a small town called Brandon, Wisconsin my whole life, so I never really thought that this opportunity could actually happen. My exchange student's name is Mira Bartelmeß. I have learned over the time of talking to her that we both have the same birthday of April 7, 2003. I am glad that she enjoyed my crazy family while she was here. When she was here, we went to The Wilderness in Wisconsin Dells, swimming, sledding, and many more activities that probably made her think that we were insane! I am looking forward to seeing Mira again in April. I am ready to take on whatever Germany has in store for me.

This is my family at my baby brother Sawyer's baptism. The front two are Kaelyn and Dylan. The second row from left to right is Conner, my dad Mike, my mom Jackie, and my brother Sawyer. Me and my Pastor are in the back.

She was Dylan's all time favorite person and to be honest he probably likes her more than me!

It is now April 2 and it is now 10 days until we leave! I am really excited, but I am still not sure what we are doing there. We went and bought a bunch of gifts for her and her family yesterday. I am really excited about everything. She received her birthday gift about a week ago, but Germans don't open birthday gifts before their actual birthdays because they consider it unlucky.

April 10, 2017: Mira and I are now both officially 14 as of April 7! I still cannot get over how we have the same birthday. I am very excited for going to Germany. There is currently 3 more days until we leave. I am really excited to see her immediate family and her cousins that she always talks about. My suitcase may or may not fit all the stuff I need because there are so many gifts to their family going! I am very scared that I will forget some things at home, or that some of the things I ordered on Amazon will not arrive at my house on time. I am overall really scared, nervous, and excited for the 17 day trip soon.

April 13, 2017- We have just taken off from O'Hare in Chicago Illinois. I can already tell that the group of people coming will soon become a family. I have just helped Ashley Pionke through a panicking crisis. I'm currently listening to Onerepublic, Imagine Dragons, and Fall Out Boys. Logan Sauer's carry-on bag was too big at security check so we had to pay a fee to make it a checked bag. It doesn't make sense though because earlier they said it was fine. Oh well. I am very sad because I saw first class and I thought it was where we were going to be seated. There is also no outlet by me. Ashley and I were taking a video in the man next to us was looking at the camera in it. The man behind us was talking about Miley Cyrus riding a hotdog! By the way I think the two mean are related. I will talk to you guys later. ~Kylie

April 16, 2017- So I haven't written in a couple of days because I have been busy. We met up with everyone on Friday in the afternoon. I got to meet her parents Sabine and Bjorn, and her brothers Linus and Louis. On Saturday we went to Marburg and then we went to a gummy bear shop, a chocolate shop, a toy shop, and an ice cream shop. We played Phase 10, which by the way I won. Linus, Mira, and I played soccer in her backyard and I also won! We later went to the Easter Fire and I met up with all the exchange students. It felt good to speak fluent English. I got to meet Carl and Frida. They are twins in my grade. I don't think they have a microwave because the noodles were only warm once. We also made Easter baskets. Today I got to meet Tom, Annabel, and Johann. We got to look for the stuff the Easter Bunny hid. We went to church also. We later went to an upside down house and then to a Waffle House. All the waiters were talking to me and I didn't know what they were saying. We also went to a dam. Louis and I played extreme rock paper scissors and I don't think I won. ~Kylie

April 18, 2017- today is our first day of school. We had a meeting in the morning and we talked about everything. I am getting kind of homesick. I feel sick because my nose is all stuffy and my throat hurts. The past couple of days we have played a lot of soccer. Yesterday with you Easter eggs in the field. All of the exchange students met at a weird bowling alley. It was really weird because there were no holes to put your fingers in. It was really good to speak fluent English with people. I got to FaceTime some my friends; Kayda, Kim, Gerrit, and Gavin last night. It felt nice to actually communicate with people back at home. Today we got to go to English and Physics class. It is really boring. I met these two guys that are in my class and they're so funny. They throw carrots at each other. ~Kylie

April 20, 2017- Yesterday we went to The Elizabeth church and we went to a castle. We learned a lot about the history of Marburg. I walked a total of 7 miles. After the tour, Jenny, Sophie, Mira, Ramona, Brynn, and I all went to try döner. It was so good. I later got to go to Zumba class with Ashley, Tizi, Nora, Jana, and Mira with Tizi's mom. Today we got to school and figured out there was no teacher for the first two hours, so we got to do nothing. All of the boys were playing ping-pong and Uno. I got to talk to Ramona, Josy, Hannah, and Nilay. I also got to talk to Moritz, Tim, Finn, Felix, Max, and Julius. They are so funny. We got to babysit Johann and play some more soccer. I think I get to go swimming tomorrow with Ashley. I cannot wait. ~Kylie

April 22. 2017- So, yesterday I got to hang out with Ashley basically the whole day. We got to go swimming after school with Ashley and Tizi. We swam from 2:00 until 8:00 p.m.. We got to meet some guys when we were there. They were at least a solid foot taller than us. This little boy came up to us and started speaking German, so I shook my head and said, "ya". It turns out he wasn't even speaking words to us! He knew the whole time that we were American. Today we got to go o Frankfurt. We went to really tall building called the Main Tower that was 55 stories. Rachel, Kathryn, Ashley, and I all got stuck on level 53 with a 7-year-old German named Lily. We got to go shopping and I bought the most clothes, of course! We also got to go to a lock bridge. I also got to buy a bunch of souvenirs for my family. ~Kylie

April 24, 2017- Yesterday I went to two confirmations and I was so tired. I got to meet a bunch of new people and I don't remember any names! Today, Ashley and I were excited to go to a climbing park, but it was closed. Instead, we went to a river in Marburg and peddle-boated down a river. After that, we went into a mall and went to New Yorker and tried on a bunch of clothes for fun because we didn't have any money! We did this at a couple stores I can't remember. We then ot ice cream again! I have been FaceTiming my family for the past couple of days and it is so nice to see my family. My brother, Dylan, is the sweetest I have ever met. He said, "And on Saturday, Kylie, we get you back." I almost cried. My mother also told me that he hasn't been himself since I left and I got really sad. ~Kylie

April 26, 2017- Today we toured Kirchhain and we got to we a witch tower. I also figured out that döner is made from baby cow and baby sheep. Looks like I'm not eating doner again. Yesterday, I got to get a picture with my class. It shows just how dysfunctional my class was. Mira, Tizi, Ashley, and I all went to get ice cream after school today, and Mira got me this replaceable ink for a pen she got me. We later went to the Going Away Party for us Americans and it was really sad, We got to see a slide show of basically the whole exchange this year. It was really cool. They bought me a bunch of candy on Tuesday, so I started packing then. We got to on the Autobahn on Tuesday with their Uncle Hans. Now every vehicle I'm in seems really slow. ~Kylie

April 28, 2017- Yesterday I got to skip school and go work at a bakery. It was fun to be able to make bread. I later got to go home and take a nap. We went to Tobi's party and we went on a scavenger hunt. Tobi told Logan to go away, so he did, and Ashley and I went to go find him. It was nice to bond with Logan and Myles. Myles showed up later. I have got most of my stuff packed and ready to go. It is hard to say goodbye to all the friends I made. I will miss Hannah, Nilay, Tim, Fynn, Felix, Moritz, and Julius. After school Ashley and I finally went to the climbing park. Tonight, the family and I went out to eat with the translator, Anna, who helped write emails to my dad. I will miss Germany so much. ~Kylie

April 28, 2017- Today is the day we left. It was hard to say goodbye to everyone, especially Ramona, Josy, Phil, Tobi, Jana, Miss P., and Mira. I am excited to see my family tonight! We got on the plane ok and things went smoothly. I watched "The Blind Side", "The Edge of 17", and "Friday Night LIghts". It felt like a super long flight. Trey's luggage was either left in Germany or lost in Philadelphia because we couldn't find it. I got messages when I arrived in America like, "Welcome to the U.S.A." Dylan is so excited to see me because he has been telling his teacher everyday how many days it is until I arrive home. I did not sleep on any of the plane rides! I have sat next to Ashley on all of the four flights, except for the second flight. I can now say that I made it through security check by myself. Ughhhh! I just can't wait to get home. ~Kylie

May 1, 2017- Well, I made it home safely. On Sunday, I went to church like I normally would. I went inside to make myself a sandwich and make Kaelyn a burrito. The situation, though, is that when I walked into my house, all my friends and family were waiting in my living room. I almost cried, but instead I took a look around to make sure it was real, and shouted "Hey!". It was really good to see everyone that I had missed so much. Kylie B., Kaysie, Kayda, Emma, Jayden, Makayla, Shelby, Kim, and basically my whole family was there to surprise me. I have been able to tell people about some of my stories in Germany. ~Kylie

May 7, 2017- Their overall culture is very different from America. When we refer to our pastime, we say exactly what it is. They are very vague about that kind of stuff. For example when we talk about Obama, we say stuff like, "Oh yeah, when Obama was in office, this happened." They more less don't say things exact. When they are talking about World War II, they don't ever say its name or the people involved. They will say things like, "Oh yeah that happened because of our horrible pastime." Another difference is the houses. Their houses are made of timber. They look very different from modern day American houses.

They are very open and friendly about a lot of things, but they also have a lack of privacy that I was used to in America. That was one of the things that I cannot get over. They also trust their community a lot. There would be items for sale outside of the store, and the trust their customers to bring the item in and pay for it. In America, it would be very hard to do that because, sadly, people would steal it. You also never really saw police around big cities. They also do not show national love to their country as much as we do. They found it weird that we have the "Pledge of Allegiance." Their family structures are very similar to us, but they usually have 2-3 kids. Their transportation is similar to ours in New York with subways, trains, and buses. ~Kylie

This experience overall has impacted me in many ways. It has made me realize how much you love your family because you will get homesick and you learn to miss them a lot. It has made me overall, I think, a better person. It has made me more open and more social. I have learned that you have to be open minded. You also have to be able to socialize easily or you will just be sitting off in the corner of their cousins house. What surprised me the most is how 15 8th graders who would normally ignore each other and pretend the others don't exist, came together like a family for 17 days. We were able to ask each other questions and advice that we needed. It was amazing how this trip brought us together because now we could probably ask each other anything. I strongly recommend taking this trip of a life time. ~Kylie Lichtenwald

Credits:

Created with images by DariuszSankowski - "old retro antique"

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