To start off my last half month in Germany, I threw a party! This party was a Fourth of July party to share more American foods with Germany and a sort of last time get together with lots of relatives and family friends who I wouldn't be able to see again before we left. Because school in Nordrhein-Westfalen didn't let out for the summer holidays until two days before I flew back home, I planned for the party to be the weekend before the Fourth, on July 1st. My entire host family was sooo helpful with getting everything ready and set up. My host sisters even surprised me and baked this awesome cake, complete with 50 stars.
Because it rained the day of the party, my host dad had to set up a mini grill inside. We had both hotdogs and hamburgers, in true American fashion. Speaking of food, we went the whole nine yards. What's an American party without chocolate chip cookies? When I first started planning the party, I looked online for patriotic foods and found these white chocolate dipped strawberries. We looked everywhere but couldn't find any red, white, and blue sprinkles so I had my mom send me some along with a few other things.
It's very common in Germany for classes to take a class trip at the end of 10th grade. Except these trips include everyone in the grade and they're overnight trips. This year Berlin was the destination, which was perfect because Berlin was the last big German city that I hadn't yet visited! We left for Berlin on the Sunday of my last week in Germany, with a bus full of 80 students and teacher. The bus ride was around eight hours long. Everyone was super happy when we were able to relax that night in the hostel, although the front desk worker was a little surprised to realize that all 80 of us were girls.
Over the next four days we took in almost all of what Berlin had to offer. One of our first stops was, of course, the Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate). While walking around, we stumbled upon the Reichstag. On one of the days where we had a bit of free time, it rained. We made our way to Museum Island, but the lines were so long that we decided to go to a cafe instead. I got a hot chocolate.
After breakfast, I went straight upstairs to clean out my room. I might be good at telling you what to bring with from the U.S., but if I ever give you advice about what to bring back, don't listen to me. I ended up shipping four or five boxes home of random things I bought along the way and had to buy another carryon suitcase to fit more in. My suitcase was also severely over the 50 lb. limit so I had to pay for that as well. My host sisters all had things they needed to do at church, so just my host mom and dad were driving me down to Frankfurt. Before I left them, I gave them a scrapbook with lots of pictures from the year and they promised to keep my little plants alive. With our final hugs, we said goodbye and set off to Frankfurt. I think the quote that best sums up what I was feeling at this time was "You get a strange feeling when you're about to leave a place. Like you'll not only miss the people you love but you'll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you'll never be this way ever again." -Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran.
After a night spent in the hostel, we all got up super early and lugged everything to the airport. We said goodbye in country groups. There were only two Americans and we were one of the last groups to check in, so right as we made it to our gate, the plane was already boarding.
I feel like now that it's been over a month since I returned from Germany that I can finally put all of my thoughts into order. Germany and the U.S. feel like two different worlds to me. They feel separate. I still talk to my exchange friends and my host family, but then here I spend my days talking completely in English with people I've known my whole life. I am so happy that I decided to spend a year in Germany rather than a semester or trimester because I feel like I couldn't have gotten to where I was without that extra time. Spending my senior year in Germany helped me explore and experience so many different things that I know will be helpful to me for the rest of my life. Germany has become a huge part of my life and will always stay that way.