Notions About Language Camp (pt. 1)

Authored by:
Rachel H.

Rachel H.

When doing my search for exchange programs, I’d always get stuck in a few places. The first was when I scrolled down to cost and saw a 5-digit number staring back at me; the second was when I read that you had to know the language of the place you were going. CBYX, luckily, includes a great language camp that teaches those who sprechen kein Deutsch (speak no German), like me, the basics. 

If you’re in the Southeast, which apparently includes Ohio and Kentucky, (but not Tennessee or Alabama, which I still don’t understand), then you stay at a castle-turned-boarding-school, which, from the moment I heard about it, gave me a new hope that I‘d experience Hogwarts

There‘s stairs, dozens and dozens of them, but they‘re not moving. The food doesn‘t just appear on our tables, but it is pretty spectacular. They don‘t teach magic, obviously, but German classes are fun and we get to go down to the town, Bad Laasphe, more often than they got to go down to Hogsmeade. So, as far as Hogwarts goes, Schloß Wittgenstein is a pretty good replacement. 

I‘m having a much better time here than Harry had at Hogwarts, anyway. In Harry‘s first week of school, he was late to McGonagall‘s class, got lost several times, everyone whispered about him in the hallways, and he met Snape, who was instantly horrid to him. In my first week, I’ve only ever been late to a class or meeting by a minute or two, never got super lost in the Schloß, met some amazing friends, and am practically best friends with the teamers and teachers.

Starting on the first day in Germany, we had to get settled into our rooms, which meant we had to drag our bags up 3 flights of stairs and then the most aesthetic spiral staircase that I have come to hate. I got pretty lucky, room-wise; I have the middle one on the very top floor, which means it's slightly bigger than other rooms, but I also have 3 roommates compared to the 1 or 2 other people have. 

The kitchen staff are extremely talented and the food is my favorite here. There is Brötchen served at almost every meal and the noodles with this gravy/ brown sauce is to die for. It was just in the last few days that my streak of having a Brötchen with every meal was broken. 

German class is a lot of writing and a lot of questions, but it’s been so helpful. For future applicants/ participants, I do recommend learning vocabulary, specifically nouns and their articles. For example, der Hund (the dog) verses die Katze (the cat). I’m in the lowest class and for the most part we’re focusing a lot on grammar and sentence structure. This is all really helpful, but not so much when you don’t know what words to put into a sentence. 

Bad Laasphe, the town, is so pretty, but to be honest, the walk down is practically straight downhill, which makes it hard for those of us who aren’t the most stable when we walk. But since it’s straight down on the way there, the walk back up is all uphill. I beg of future participants reading this to be careful. And to not get lazy at home just because you’re going to Germany, either. While I didn’t get lazy, I definitely took a step back in my athleticism (also partly because of a knee injury), and have somehow hurt my ankle which makes the walk killer. Either way, though, take up walking around your block 2 or 3 times a week, because believe me, there’s a lot of walking here. And make sure to bring proper walking/running shoes. You do not want to be going down or up that hill in sandals. 

The best part of language camp, though, is the people. Somehow despite knowing these people for barely three weeks now, I feel like I’ve known them forever, that I’ve grown up with them. The experience at language camp really is what you make of it, so, if there’s a dance party in the rain, join in. If everyone’s laying in the grass behind the Schloß watching the shooting stars at midnight, join in. If someone suggests a game night, do it. If there’s a movie night, do it. My only regret so far is saying no to going onto the stage at the Friday concert in Bad Laasphe with the other exchange students. Make the memories, do the experiences, and don’t forget to take pictures!

In conclusion, as much as I am so grateful for the German lessons and the presentations that are preparing us for life in Germany, nothing compares to the gratitude I have for the people who have made this such a wonderful experience. 


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