Notions About Language Camp (pt. 2)

Authored by:
Rachel H.

Rachel H.

I mentioned in an earlier post that when in the program time seems to be warped. I had no idea how true this was of the second half of language camp. We were used to the schedule, with German classes in the morning and then normally some sort of activity in the afternoon. 

On the last full Saturday at the Schloß, we rode the Deutsche Bahn to the nearby town of Marburg. Once there, we went on historical tours. I, ever confident, chose to go on the tour that was in German. Coming from the ‘beginner, beginner’ class, I understand very few of the words the tour guide was saying, however some friends translated some and the rest I could pick up from context clues. Overall, it wasn’t as big of a failure as I thought it might be. 

After the tours, we split up into groups of 5 and could explore the city on our own. The only condition was that we had to catch one of the 3 train rides back to Bad Laasphe. My group walked around, ate some food, and shopped a bit before heading back on the 2nd train at 6:24. We also encountered our first bathroom where you had to pay to use it at the train station. 

We had Sunday to recover and Monday was also pretty normal. Tuesday, though, instead of having afternoon classes, we went into town where we saw Minions 2: Rise of Gru, auf Deutsch. Fortunately, I’d already seen the movie so I wasn’t really struggling to understand what was happening in it. The weirdest part for me wasn’t that the movie was in German, it was that the popcorn was like kettle corn instead of being salty or buttery. 

After the hike back up to the Schloß, we all got ready for Schloß prom. Luckily, I had amazing roommates who helped me get ready. Aubrey gave me a dress to wear and Lauren did my eyeliner after I failed horribly at it. Prom finally started and picture-taking, screaming song lyrics, and falling in love with paprika-flavored chips soon followed. 

The rest of the week, no matter how much I wished it would go slower, came and went just as fast and the next thing I know, I was hosting the talent show and we were getting ready to say goodbye. The talent show was tons of fun and ended with me accidentally making people cry with a poem I wrote for it. 

Trying to postpone saying bye, I stayed up far too late on the last night and finished writing my sugar cubes (little notes you put in each other’s envelopes) and talked with people and almost cried a lot. 

Then, before I knew it, I was waking up to watch the Bad Laasphe sunrise one last time with my friends and helping Aubrey finish her last minute packing before heading down to see off my friends who were taking the train to their host families. A lot of hugs, tears, smiles, goodbyes, and a few more hugs, later, we waved off the final car. 

Our last breakfast, I changed things up a bit. We moved the tables around and I sat with different people than I normally sat with. Then, all there was left to do was wait for our host families to pick us up, but you‘ll hear about that in my next post. 

Signing off for now, 

Rachel Hesse 

Rows and Columns

(An Ode to Language Camp 22-23)


I used to think with 

rows and columns. 

Everything had to fit and when it didn‘t, I struggled.

And I did. For a long time. 

And slowly, I started to adapt. 

Life doesn‘t work in 

rows and columns. 

It works in squiggly lines and scribbles and smiley faces. 


When I figured that out, it was like color set in. 

I could see the beauty in the green of the grass

And the blue of the sky.


Coming here is seeing in ultraviolet and infrared.

It‘s being trapped in a room that had everything 

and finally getting to breathe fresh air. 

It‘s listening to a song you didn‘t know was stuck in your head. 


We came for different reasons.

We come from different backgrounds. 

A month ago we were strangers. 

A week from now I‘ll wonder why 

I miss everyone so much. 


At the end, we‘ll go back.

To our different lives, 

in different states.

We‘ll move on. 

Some will go back to high school.

Some will go to college.

Some will take a break. 

Some will get a job. 

Some will come back next year

or the year after as alums. 

Some will move on and 

think of this as a fun year. 

Some will think of this and 

reflect on how much its changed our lives. 


No matter what, 

we‘re here.

No matter what, 

we did it. 

And no matter what, 

it started here. 

With the D.C. Orientation.

With the chaos of the airport.

With the flight.

With Bad Laasphe. 

With Schloß Wittgenstein.

With a Euro.30 ice creams. 

With the people.


49 exchange students. 

5 teamers. 

6 teachers. 

60 people who care and want to experience something new. 


Sometimes, when I get overwhelmed, 

I resort back to my rows and columns.

I did it at the airport and on the plane. 

I did it at the market. 

I did it with the laundry. 

Rows and columns 

and everything fit. 


Luckily, when other things didn‘t fit in my 

rows and columns, 

someone helped me make sense 

of the scribbles.

It means embracing the colors that 

just so happen to be out of the lines.

It means embracing the fact that 

rows and columns aren‘t life. 


So, Dankeschön to everyone 

who‘s helped me when my 

rows and columns 

fell through. 

I couldn’t wish for a better group of people 

to be on exchange with.


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