Little sister is going to Germany as an exchange student for a year. Tips? Advice?
She's graduating from high school in a couple months, then almost immediately going to Germany. Will stay with a host family and then be in German high school for the next year. She basically is doing this because she can't decide on what to do in college or where to go. (different thread for that...)
So, any tips/advice/helpful info? Looking to buy a laptop so she can skype home as much as possible, and she's taking German classes.
Things to expect? Avoid?
Any help is great, thanks!
Don't interrupt soccer/football matches. Trust me.
Where exactly is she going?
It really depends on were she goes...
I lived in Berlin for a year when i was 19 and it was pretty great, although very wild.
The rest of germany is a lot more conservative.
I think germany is generally a pretty safe place, people are very helpful and nice, but they really know how to have fun.
Her host family will be able to give her a lot of specific guidance and take care of her. The Germans I've known have all been excellent hosts. Where exactly will she be?
I assume she's been learning German? There will be people who want to practice their English with her, which is cool, but she should really insist that people she's dealing with on a daily basis speak German to her and immerse herself in the language. The Germans (and most Europeans) really respect an American who makes the effort to speak their language, because there are so many tourists who don't bother.
If she's there in the fall, she should definitely check out a local Dult, at least in Bavaria. Those are the fall harvest festivals - Oktoberfest is the ultimate one, in Munich, but that's overblown and touristy - the local fests are better imo.
Public transportation is outstanding in Germany and places are much closer together than in America. You can get from one end of the country to the other in one day's travel. In Bavaria, they have a thing called the Bayern-ticket; for one pretty low price, you can ride the trains anywhere in Bavaria (and to the first station outside of Bavaria) for 24 hours. So she should really make an effort to get on the trains and travel around, it's cheap and there's lots to see. You can get just about anywhere without a car. We lived in the suburbs of Munich for a year and only rented a car (a van, actually) twice - once to pick up furniture we borrowed from friends, and once to return it. The rest of the time we rode the trains.
When I lived there, we lived on our own (rented an apartment for a year) and had a huge fiasco. The Germans insulate much more thoroughly than Americans do (good old German efficiency) but that means that for twenty minutes every day, even in the dead of winter, they throw all the windows open and air the place out. Otherwise too much moisture builds up and you get mold all over (an American builder would consider this "over-insulation"). We didn't know this, and so our landlords got freaked out when they came over and there was this mold everywhere, and we didn't know what to do about it. But since your sister is staying with a host family, these kinds of things won't be a problem.
It's fairly easy to pop around different countries on the continent, making sure to visit even the neighbouring countries would be a good call :)
Have as much fun as possible.
Save as much money as she can starting now so she can go out and do things.
Try to do all of the "tourist" things. It is very likely she wouldn't be able to go back, and if she did, she would not be an 18 y.o. HS grad.
Call Liam Neeson.
Tell her to checkout Sweden while she is there. Easy to get there by train or car. Amazing beaches.
Also if people finger her often, don't take it too personally. Middle finger is kind of a sign to shut up (in a nicer way) there.
My son did that his senior year and we hosted the daughter of the family in Germany that hosted him. It was a great experience for everyone. The girl we hosted had lived her entire life East of the Wall prior to coming to America to stay with us. It is an eye opener for kids to see the world outside of America and really gives them a good perception of how easy they have it here.
Your host family should be all squared away to make your ssister's visit a good one. But it's good advice to tell her not to venture out alone in a strange city and to rely on her host family for safe site seeing.
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