I cannot believe how fast time has flown by as I start to wrap up my exchange. I have had an amazing time here in Germany and am not ready to return to the US. The friends I’ve made and the memories we’ve shared will last me a lifetime.
Throughout my time here I’ve had to get used to boarding school and I’ve actually grown to quite like it. I thought I would miss the privacy of my own room, but I can honestly say that I don’t. I am happier than ever living with my two roommates, not to mention everyone else in my wing, Junibau Oben. All of my friends are only few steps away all of the time and I love it. I’ve gotten used to the freedoms and responsibilities that come with living so far away, such as getting to freely take the trains to nearby cities or buying things, like food, for myself whereas, before, my parents might have done it for me.
The hardest part of my exchange was definitely the language barrier as I made many friends in the German system. It was sometimes difficult because I had to get used to not understanding everything 100% of the time. Despite the fact that this was hard every now and then, I don’t regret it. I made some amazing friends who, if I was struggling, would always stick up for me. I quickly found that everyone was willing to speak English, I merely had to put myself out there. Even in the event that the big group wanted to talk in German, there was always someone who was willing to chat with me on the side. Through my experience with the language barrier I’ve surprised myself quite a lot, noticing myself growing more talkative and outgoing, which is something I am very proud of.
One of my favorite parts of living at Salem is the baggersee. Baggersee is a lake that is located roughly 2 kilometers away from the school and we go there quite often. At the edge of the lake there is a big ship with places to jump off, ropes in the middle to climb back up, and lots of other things to climb. Many of my evenings were spent here; listening to music, laughing, and pushing each other in. At one of the earlier baggersee trips, a couple of friends taught me to watch out for the term ‘austauschülerin, schubsen!’, which means ‘exchange student, push!’ Of course now when we go I know that there is no ‘watching out’. I am going in, end of discussion.
As I attended Salem during the sixth epoch, the epoch of end of year exams, I also got to participate in the Sommerfest that takes place in the last week of school. Since finals are over, it is basically a weeklong celebration of the coming summer holidays. Each wing prepares a dance, which they preform at the end of the week at a school wide competition. I was particularly nervous about this, as I am not a very good dancer. Yet, to my dismay, my wing ended up tying for first place! After the dancing there is a big party held in the castle courtyard with lights and music. Although I am sad that my time has ended, I was glad to spend one of my last nights this way with all my friends by my side.
Words cannot explain how much I am going to miss Salem and all of the people that come with it. Thank you for this amazing opportunity.