An Eye-Opening Experience: What I Learned From My First Year in Germany

Expat LivingGermanyTeen Take

When I first got the news we were moving to Germany, I had high hopes. And this first year in Frankfurt has been the best year of my life. My new school is just amazingly fantastic, my friends are the nicest people I’ve ever met, and the travel opportunities are excellent. 

In less than a year, we visited; Vienna, Berlin, Croatia, Trier, Barcelona, Paris, Rothenberg, Nuremberg, Burg Eltz and a few other day trips. The academics at Frankfurt International School have also been amazing. I think I learned more in a year here than two or three back in the American public school. 

Observing German Behavior

One Year in Germany | Travel with Teens
Our pretzel, but not our beer!

When we first moved here, my dad encouraged us to make a daily German observation. But throughout the year we have discovered more and more about the German people. The one that I found the weirdest was how closed off the Germans can be. In the U.S, when walking around people will say “hello” or “good morning” and everyone seems very friendly to strangers. But when walking our dog past the same house for weeks, these old German people just give me this death stare, or look away and pretend to not see. Rarely, someone will say, “Hallo” to me but I’m not accustomed to it so I just forget to say anything back, and then I feel like the rude one. 

The main observation that my dad said that still stands in my mind is how the Germans like to make everything complicated. We went to the pool and it seemed like such an ordeal to buy a ticket and enter it through this machine. Often times, as a family, we feel like they just try too hard. 

Related: How to Help Teenagers Adjust to Life Abroad

Learning the Language

One Year in Germany | Travel with Teens

When we first moved, I was very scared about not speaking the language. I still am not very comfortable, but within a year I can understand most basic signs, menus, and some conversations. My German class in school hasn’t been spectacular, but I’ve learned enough to just barely get around without relying too much on English. We even now go to a CrossFit gym which is primarily in German. Since the moves and vocabulary is all in English it’s pretty easy to understand but it gives us a little bit more knowledge and vocab of some more complex German words. 

Experiencing an International School

One Year in Germany | Travel with Teens

There’s a lot to say about my school Frankfurt International School (FIS), almost all good. This was my first experience in an international school and it has been simply wonderful. Most of my teachers have been exceptional, and they made me want to learn more. 

Throughout my life, I continually change my career path, but once I came here, I have my heart set on something related to medicine, whether that be a doctor or a physical therapist. My favorite classes in the 8th grade were Science and English. I excelled in both classes, and I found both the teachers very nice and the curriculum very enjoyable. Also, the school’s facilities are just amazing. There are two nice turf fields where I enjoyed after-school soccer practice. A tech deck for computer issues and/or use, two main learning buildings, and a good gymnasium and fitness center. 

I must say my favorite thing about the school is the people. The first days of school I was very shy and nervous. This was my first time switching schools and it was nerve-racking. But because of orientation, I already had some friends, and within the first week I made some of my best friends, and we are still very close. These kids are nice, open-minded, and diverse, and I love being at a school surrounded by these wonderful people. Not only are my friends incredible, but most of the teachers are also too. Although it wasn’t my favorite subject my math teacher was very nice and funny.

Related: Want to Raise Expert Travelers? Don’t Pack Your Kids’ Suitcases

Traveling to New Places

One Year in Germany | Travel with Teens

Living in a place like Oberursel also opens up a lot of opportunities. Often times, we go into Frankfurt with friends and the convenience is wonderful. It’s safe so all we have to do is hop on the train and ride into downtown. We can also take the train to our CrossFit gym, the movie theater, and school. FIS is only a 10-minute drive so we have a prime location. Talking in bigger terms, Paris is a two-hour train ride away, Vienna, Austria is a one-hour flight away, Luxembourg is under two hours away by car, and Belgium is also very close. One of my favorite things about living here is travel. Luckily, in school, we often have 1-2 week breaks, and this allows us to travel around a lot.

Having this international experience is a real eye-opener. Not only because of Germany but in an international school we are exposed to many cultures. And because of this, everyone in the school is just generally more accepting and welcoming of everyone. Even though I was a new kid, just after a few months into school I felt like I had been there for much longer. My whole idea about the world has been somewhat shifted. When I lived in America, traveling kind of did that for me, but now living in Europe, that’s a lot that’s different. As you stay somewhere foreign longer, you start to have a deeper understanding of their culture.

This one year in Germany, I have learned so much, and I absolutely love living here. I can’t wait to see what is in store and our upcoming adventures. This opportunity for our family to move has been amazing, and I’m excited to start high school. I hope I just keep learning about Germany and the people and discover some more. I’m so happy that we get to stay there for another two years, and I can’t wait to keep spending time in Germany. 

All photos ©Linda Kerr, TravelTeening

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow by Email