Last summer Oliver White in Year 13 won a place on a UK-German Connection programme
On August 16th I arrived at St. Pancras station in London ready to set off on an unforgettable adventure. 5 months prior I had signed up for a place on the 'UK-German Connection' 2-week pupil course, I knew that the course involved a fortnight away in Germany and was told it would be a perfect chance to develop my German speaking skills, however, I could never have imagined just how eye-opening and unforgettable this experience would be.
When meeting up with the 12 other British participants who would be travelling to Langerwehe with me, any apprehensions that I had about the course quickly melted away. Everyone in the group was kind and outgoing and we quickly became good friends. It was also really exciting to meet so many other young people who were passionate about language learning. Our group leader Sarah also helped to allay any worries we had about the trip; she was incredibly welcoming and friendly and throughout the trip was always there to help out and offer invaluable advice.
After a smooth journey on the Eurostar, I met up with Sullivan, my host sibling and the rest of my host family, who I would be staying with for the course of the program. Me and Sullivan had sent a few emails to each other over the summer before I arrived but in person he was even funnier.
For the first few days of the program, I felt as though I had been thrown into the deep end of a pool. Everything was completely different: the language, daily routines, eating habits, the school system, even the water was different - all of it was sparkling! However, my host family were super welcoming and were always there to support me and were extremely patient when talking German with me.
After about three days, however everything 'clicked' I was able to understand people better, my German communication improved, and I was so elated to be spending my summer in Germany. Overall, I think that despite being a little difficult at first, being completely immersed in German language and culture was amazing in helping me to develop my German speaking and listening skills.
The course was filled with many unforgettable experiences and excursions, from visiting the world-famous Cologne cathedral to riding roller coasters in the 'Movie-Park' theme park with Sullivan. There was something new to learn about every single day in the grammar and culture lessons and observing the lessons that German students attended taught me a lot about the differences between the British and German education systems.
I think the highlight of my trip was the visit to the city of Aachen, the cathedral was beautiful and had such a rich history. Aachen was a vibrant city, and it was a great experience to explore it with such amazing new friends.
I would definitely recommend taking part in a UK-German Connection Pupil Programme. It has opened my eyes to the importance of language learning, pushed my language skills forward and has allowed me to meet so many new and interesting people.