I am approaching the end of my time here at Schule Schloss Salem so I will give you all one last update before I return to Athenian. My time here has absolutely flown by. Just as I’m beginning to get comfortable in this environment and have figured out the ins and outs of school here, it’s time for me to head home. It has been such a great experience for me, especially as I prepare to head off to college this fall. I think one of the greatest things I’ve gotten out of this experience is a better sense of self-reliance. It’s not always easy adjusting to a living situation and academic system entirely different from that of home and living in another country where they speak a foreign language. It forces you to do things outside your comfort zone to get the most out of your experience.
After I last updated you all, I went to London to spend a weekend with a friend there. I had to take three different trains to get to the Zurich Airport. The school is far out in the countryside where there’s not much of an international presence, so they only announced things on the intercom in German and I had no idea when my stop was coming up. While it was a little bit anxiety inducing, it felt like quite an accomplishment when I actually arrived at the airport having made all my connections correctly. I had a lovely time in London. It was very cool to have the luxury of being in a place completely different from Germany, with a completely different culture, after only an hour-long flight. I’ve been to London a few times before but it was nice to visit again. We went to see Big Ben, the London Eye, Trafalgar Square, Chinatown, and the National Gallery.
The following weekend, I had the opportunity to visit Theresa’s family in Munich. [Theresa is a Salem student currently on exchange at Athenian.] This time I was not as on top of it with the trains and accidentally got on one going in the opposite direction from Munich. I quickly realized my mistake, got off at the next stop, and luckily made it back to the station to catch the next train to Munich, as I had missed the one I was supposed to take. I got into Munich an hour later than I was supposed to but, hey, at least I made it! I’m really glad I got the opportunity to see Munich, as it is a beautiful and historic city. As soon as I arrived on Saturday afternoon we walked around the downtown area and saw the Marienplatz (main square) and Viktualienmarkt (outdoor market). The following day we went to the Olympic Tower, where you can see all of Munich and beyond, all the way out to the Alps. After that we went to BMW World across the street, which has a lot of electric concept cars as well as all sorts of other cars. And finally we went to Nymphenburg Castle, where we were caught in a bit of a snow/hail storm. We only got to look at the castle for a little bit before we were running to the car for shelter. Luckily, I didn’t have to take a train back to school. I’m not sure I would’ve made it back in the dark, changing trains four times.
This past weekend we had Carnival, or Faschingsfest as it is called in German. It was a lot of fun to dress up in costume and experience a holiday that we don’t celebrate in the states. It was an evening filled with lots of music and dancing until about one in the morning. It was a very fun experience.
I’ve gotten to work at Kaffee Hahn, the café here on campus, a few times now and I think I’m starting to get the hang of it. It has been a great way to become acquainted with other teachers and students. The coffee machine hasn’t caused me any trouble, so that’s something to be thankful for. There’s another girl who works with me as well which is great. If she wasn’t there, I don’t think I would remember which drinks go in which cups and what everyone’s name is.
That’s the highlights from the past few weeks. I’m savoring my last few days at school here before I go back to my regular routine in California. Exchange hasn’t been the easiest experience the entire time; however, all of the opportunities I’ve been able to take advantage of–experiences I’ve had and memories I’ve made–have more than made up for the bumps in the road. I would definitely encourage anyone who is thinking about going on exchange to go for it. No matter what, it will be a great learning experience and something you will remember for years to come. See you all soon!