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European Delight: Unforgettable Germany

"I will broaden my mind by broadening my horizons." 16-years-old marked the first time I traveled not only overseas, but also on an airplane. I was in high school at the time and won a scholarship to partake in a foreign exchange student program with the German-American Partnership Program (GAPP). So much preparation was involved in order to take full advantage of this phenomenal opportunity. We had to prepare for our German exchange partners' arrival and stay with us months before they anticipated our arrival and sojourn in their homeland during the summer.

We planned special trips for them to experience American culture by going to New York, Philadelphia, and DC while we went to cities like Berlin, Dresden, Weimar and Leipzig during our time in Germany. This unique experience injected me with the travel bug. I was ready to get up and go to a new place upon my return home that summer exactly 10 years ago (before my senior year of high school). It was then that I knew I wanted traveling to be a lifelong part of my life.

A whole new world of possibility unfolded before my eyes as I tried activities I never before had done such as horseback riding, visiting a concentration camp, hiking in the mountains, canoeing, touring the Berlin Wall remains, witnessing the famous balcony in Weimar where Hitler greeted his disciples, driving through the verdant countryside with the giant windmills all around, and trying alcohol for the first time (the drinking age is 16 in Germany). Not to mention consuming the best pizza I ever tasted!

Torgau is a small, beautiful town in Eastern Germany (nearest to Leipzig airport) where we stayed for three weeks. The following is a list of some sites to see in Torgau:

*Museum in Castle

*Climb the Castle Tower

*Lucas Cranach Painting

*Katarina von Bora House (Luther's wife)

*Katarina von Bora Grave in church

*Exhibits for Handesausstellong

*Walk around the market square

My wonderful host family welcomed me into their home and wouldn't let me do a thing. We ate meals together, spent quality time on the weekends, and enjoyed the outdoor serenity of our neighborhood. Their hospitality knew no limits and for that I was grateful. I will never ever forget them. At the conclusion of the program all 17 USA students who participated in the program were asked to contribute our comments. I will sum up this blog post with mine:

This trip was great. I enjoyed traveling to Germany so that I could experience livelihood/life in another culture for the very first time. The people were friendly and made me feel accepted. My host family was very hospitable. They took me to some fun places, and we had a blast. I learned that no culture is better than the other just because of the differences. We grew up differently and therefore have different lifestyles. If we learn to live with those discrepancies by celebrating diversity, we can be friends. I am glad I got the opportunity to participate in this exchange and the friendships I made will always be a part of my memory.


Profile photo of Charles McKinney

Travel is not just what I do but it is who I am. When I first traveled abroad in high school as a foreign exchange student, little did I know that it would serve as the threshold of a lifetime interest in globetrotting. Now nearly 10 years later, I have lived in four countries and plan to do much more traveling in years to come. The world of teaching English has given me incredible opportunity to engage in cultural anthropology and I certainly can't get enough of the language learning process as a polyglot in the making.My personal website is currently under construction but I also maintain a micro-blog on facebook that enables me to share my insights and experiences with my ever-growing following. All in all, I am most proud to be known as a global citizen, a reference I accept with humility and honor. Blogging is rad! Many thanks (muchas gracias, feichang ganxie, grazie un millon, fala menogu) to KFTW for allowing me this platform to connect with the world and vice versa. St. Augustine said it best: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page."

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