Today was my very first day of school in Germany!! This morning my host mom drove me and my host sister to school because we had to meet with the principle and secretary; usually, we would just take the train to school. I was a jumble of nerves. I was excited, nervous, and kind of scared.
When we pulled up to the front of the school, I was kind of stunned. My school here is BIG. Unlike in the US, my school here has grades 5-10. In each grade, there are 6 classes, with about 25 kids in each class. Roughly speaking, that’s about 900 students at my school here. I’m going to a Gesamtschule, which isn’t as difficult as a Gymnasium but isn’t as easy as a Hauptschule.
After my host mom and I talked with the principle and secretary, I went to my first class: French. Because of the meeting I had, I was about 10 minutes late to my class, which meant all heads turned to look at me when I walked through the door. The French teacher knew I was coming, so she introduced me to the class and then told me to take a seat. I was relieved that my first class was something I could actually understand. The class spoke mostly only in French, so I was able to participate and say something every so often.
After French class we had a break, so my host sister introduced me to all of her friends. Everyone was really nice and tried to work with my limited German. The rest of the day was kind of confusing, but I managed to find my way around.
School ended at 3:55, which is about an hour later than it usually ends for me at home. My host sister explained to me that even though my host mom drove us to school today, we would be taking the train home like we will do every day after this. Don’t get me wrong, I was very interested to see what taking the train is like, but I was also kind of intimidated. Because we don’t have as many trains in the US as they do here, I’ve really only been on trains in big cities like New York. None the less, at 4:24 the train arrived and we all got on.
It was very crowded because a lot of people from my school and the other schools in town rely on the train to get them home every day. In some ways, it was strange. There were elementary and high school-aged kids. There were businessmen and women coming home from work. There were people traveling with large suitcases, bicycles, and even some people with dogs. Where I’m from in the US, the only “public transportation” really used to get to and from school are school buses. Taking the train was so different from any experience I’ve ever had with taking the school bus. It was so much busier and there were so many different kinds of people.
Nothing went horribly wrong on my first train ride from school (thank god), but I did learn that you have to be kind of pushy. Me, using my polite, Southern manners, tried waiting patiently to get on to the train until everybody who needed to get off, was off. This didn’t go over too well with everybody waiting behind me. They basically just kept pushing me until I was forced to elbow my way through the crowd of people getting off the train. Everybody knew exactly where they needed to be and when they needed to be there and didn’t really care who they had to push and shove along the way.
The train ride only lasted about 25 minutes and when my host sister and I got off the train, my host mom was waiting in the car to drive us home. Luckily, the drive to my house from the train station is only about 10 minutes, so we got home at around 5. It was a very long day, but I’m still excited for the rest of the week.