I’m proud to introduce our daughter Greta’s first ever blog post!
I’m Greta, I’m ten years old, and I’ve lived in Vermont since I was a year old. I love to read, especially adventure fantasy books like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and many more. I’ve always wanted to have adventures like the heroes in my books, and now that wish has come true. I’m living in Germany for a year, a country I’d never set foot in until August 1, 2011, and I have to speak German, which I’m still learning. I had known this for a year before I came, but it never fully sunk in until school started.
Life in Germany for the two weeks before school started was definitely different than living in East Middlebury, but not in a way that made it feel weird or uncomfortable. I knew Göttingen was where I would be living for a year, but it just didn’t feel real to me. I didn’t miss my friends, I didn’t feel too out of place, I just felt like, “Wow!” Then school started and it changed everything.
My school in Vermont is a small elementary school called Mary Hogan, with about 400 students and 45 teachers. It feels like a home to me, knowing all the kids in my grade and most of the kids in the school. I’ve been there since Kindergarten and had the same teachers last year as I would have this year, so I usually know what’s going on, and if I don’t, I can just ask – in English!
On the other hand, my school in Germany, Felix-Klein-Gymnasium, has two buildings, and many more students and teachers. I was totally new, didn’t know anyone, and couldn’t even speak the language! What’s more, the kids at the school are much more independent. In fact, teachers are usually only present during the lessons themselves, not at recess, in the early morning, and so on. I felt so alone, and started to miss the familiarity of Vermont. I also miss my teachers, friends, and grandma, always there to help. Thankfully, with the help of new friends, my family, and extremely nice teachers, I’m starting to feel more at home. But then I had my biggest adventure yet.
On Monday, September 11, I left for a 4 ½-day and four-night class trip, to Jugendherberge Helmarshausen, a youth hostel outside of the small village of Helmarshausen, about an hour away from Göttingen. It was very difficult, because now I wasn’t only in another country, I didn’t have my family around to help. At home, I have my mom and dad to help me when I have a hard time, and my brother and sister to be my friends – and sometimes fight with me! I got homesick a lot, but my teachers and friends helped me along, and I managed to have fun too!
Monday was the hardest day, because everything was new and I was pretty nervous. However, we did some cool things. The first was going to a ruined stone castle, called Krukenburg. It was built in the 13th century, and it was very pretty. The other fun thing was having a campfire, where we made “Stuckbrot,” dough wrapped around sticks, over the fire. Still, despite the fun activities, I didn’t have such a great day.
Tuesday was much better, my favorite day! We were out on a hike for eight hours, and walked at least 15 kilometers (10 miles)! I loved walking in the woods and seeing little towns, because it reminded me of Vermont. I usually feel at home in the woods with my friends. But the hiking wasn’t all we did. I loved going to a skywalk over the Weser River with an amazing view. We also went to a monastery where a nun explained how she lived. And the most delicious – going to an Italian ice cream salon! I even managed to comfort another homesick kid. Unfortunately, I got stung by a hornet and got a little homesick back at the youth hostel, but the good outnumbered the bad and I had a great day!
On Wednesday, the class did a program with counselors from Arillus, an outdoor education organization. We played a lot of games in the woods. One included bats hunting moths, and one was about trappers trading fruit, nuts, fur and other natural goods. Once we played a tag game with clothes-pins, and a game with a rooster in it that was similar to red light-green light. Most of the games were very fun, and I was glad to have friends to play them with. After dinner, we went on a night hike. We played some games then too, and it was cool to see the woods I had spent most of the day in transformed in the darkness. Wednesday was a homesickness-free day, and although it wasn’t as fun as Tuesday, it ended with me feeling happy.
Thursday was a fine day. In the morning, we voted for class president and class representatives. I immediately thought, “Not for me!”, because in the USA, I would love to do that kind of thing, but not here! However, friends who I thought would do the job well were elected. In the afternoon, we went on a ferry on the Weser River. The view was pretty, but I felt a little bored, and then a little homesick, partly because of the anticipation and excitement of going home in the morning. I cheered up quickly though, because in the evening, we had a “Bunten Abend”, which was like a talent show. There was everything from dancing to storytelling, and I had a laugh and a good time. I played the piano with a friend. It lasted till almost 11 o’clock, so I was exhausted, but the Bunten Abend was the best part of Thursday.
Friday was all excitement to be with my family again. I slept in, ate breakfast, got packed, and hopped in the bus. Before I knew it, I was walking home with my mom and dad, back at last.
So maybe I’m not fighting monsters or going on quests to stop evil. But I’ve discovered that I can survive tough times and have adventures of my own, and I hope to have more soon. And who knows? Maybe it’s the first step to having the kind of adventures I read about in my books.