Nadia Khawja arrives in Germany

Nadia Germany 2I arrived in Germany three weeks ago and time has flown by so fast. I am attending Schule Birklehof Boarding School and I absolutely love it here. Here in Germany, so much is different from Athenian and America in general.

Everyday, I have one to three classes, which gives me a lot of free time to explore the village—Hinterzarten—and the school surroundings. Since I don’t really speak any German, I am primarily taking English-only classes. I am in year 11 here and I generally have more freedom than the grades beneath me.

I wake up anytime between 7:00 to 10:00 in the mornings, depending on what my schedule looks like for the day. I board at the school and share a room with a girl also named Nadia. I’ve been getting along with her really well. Our room is beautiful with an incredible view of the Black Forest.

Lunch is at 1:15 every day and, as a surprise to me, it is an extremely formal affair. Everybody must attend and there is arranged seating. Once in the dining hall, you must stand behind your chair until someone rings the bell, wishing you a good appetite. The meals always consist of three courses—appetizers, main course and dessert. You are only able to leave the dining hall if you have been dismissed by another bell ringing following announcements.

After lunch, I almost rarely have any classes so it gives me free time to hang out with the many friends I’ve made here. Contrary to my large fear of going on exchange and not making any friends, everybody here is so extremely friendly. Upon arriving my first day at Birklehof, students were also arriving back from Easter break. I met Lena an hour after I settled in and she introduced me to so many people that night. I felt truly welcomed into this community and I am so grateful for all the amazing friends I’ve made here. I have been lucky enough to not be experiencing any homesickness or large culture shock. Being in Germany honestly feels like home to me, and it’s truly incredible here.

Nadia Germany 1bFreiburg is a large city, close to Hinterzarten and is about a 30-minute train ride. I normally go there on the weekends with my friends. We walk around the beautiful parks and we shop. Freiburg is south of Hinterzarten and is beautiful in its own way. It does not look anything like San Francisco but looks old and charming with its own unique style.

My love for Germany and Birklehof seems infinite and I never want to leave.


Nadia Khawja