After a very long flight to Frankfurt, we all had to jump on to a bus and drive to Bad Laasphe, a small town where we would be staying for the next month. Because we landed at around 8 AM (German time), we had to force ourselves to stay awake in order to fight the jetlag. The two-hour bus ride mostly consisted of all of us pinching each other to stay awake and taking in our first look of Germany.
Once we arrived in Bad Laasphe, we drove up a very large hill. Waiting for us at the top of the hill was the most beautiful castle. That’s right, A CASTLE!! For the next month, all fifty of us would be staying in Schloss Wittgenstein. Once we got off of the bus and were standing at the base of the castle, we were faced with a bit of a problem. In order to get to our room at the top of the castle, we had to haul all of our bags up about 6 flights of stairs. After dragging all of our suitcases up the stairs to our room, we all chose our beds and started looking around. Our room has some of the most amazing views looking out over the town of Bad Laasphe and the forest.
The first day of language camp consisted mostly of language placement tests; there was a written and speaking “exam”. Because I know absolutely no German, I was able to opt out of taking the tests and was automatically placed in the beginner’s class (the lowest class out of the six). This was perfect for me because we started with simple things like numbers and introducing ourselves in German.
The rest of the week was filled with German classes in the morning and then different activities in the afternoon. Sometimes we would walk into Bad Laasphe to explore and other times we would have an activity called Plenum. During Plenum we (all fifty of us and the “teamers” in charge) participate in different activities that have to do with things like cultural differences and what our experiences this year might be like.
On Friday night all of us went into town and watched a local band play. They played a lot of American songs, so we were all able to sing and dance along. It was kind of awkward at first because none of the Germans there were really dancing or anything, so everybody was staring at us. It was so much fun though that we didn’t really notice after a while.
Fortunately, we were able to sleep in late on Saturday and Sunday. Later in the day, we had several options for activities we could do. On Saturday, my roommates and I decided to go mini-golfing. I don’t really know what I was expecting, but German mini-golf is VERY different from mini-golfing in the US. Where I live in South Carolina, there are A LOT of mini-golfing places. They usually have huge fountains, waterfalls, statues, and all sorts of different levels where you golf. That’s not the case for mini-golfing in Germany. There were a few “obstacles”, but other than that, it was drastically different. And by drastically different, I mean kind of sad. Other than a few small ramps and blocks in the way of the hole, there weren't nearly as many cool parts to the course as there usually are in America. We all had a really fun time together though and we tried a Zimt Waffel (cinnamon waffle) at the little café next to the golfing place, which was delicious. Sunday was more of a chill day. We mainly hung out around the castle watching movies and talking with each other.
Overall the first week of language camp was a lot of fun. My German class is a perfect fit for me and my teacher is so helpful and patient; I can tell I’m going to learn a lot by the end of August. My roommates and I have already become so, so close and the town of Bad Laasphe is very cute. Walking around Bad Laasphe and speaking a little bit of German with the locals was really rewarding and interesting too.