Here is a “highlight list” of Kate’s time in Germany.
- Got the opportunity to fly a glider
- Went to language school in Bielefeld (the largest close city) and spent the first couple months studying German
- The first host family lived in a pretty remote but beautiful location and had a great relationship with them. Her host brother was 14.
- The second host family became like a second family to Kate. She went motorcycling a lot. She lived with her school’s principal, which was hard but good as he helped her a lot.
- There were 80 students in her German District that she got to know very well, getting together once a month as well as sight seeing.
- Went on a trip around Germany for a week and a half.
- Went to Oktoberfest in Munich.
- Visited the concentration camps.
- Went on two ski trips in Austria and Switzerland
- Spent three weeks traveling around Europe.
- Got to see the Pope and all the major attractions.
- Spent a bit of time in Berlin which became one of her favorite cities in the world.
- Participated in Karneval where Germans get to “make fun of anything with consequences” in Cologne.
- One of Kate’s favorite things about Germany is Christmas because of the beauty, markets, and food. Christmas Eve is the big tradition, lighting the tree with real candles.
- Language was the most challenging and surprising aspect of the trip.
- Kate’s advice to new exchange students is to have courage and talk as much as you can. Try to fit in and don’t spend all your time with exchange students.
- Coming back to the US was hard and a bigger culture shock. She notices a lot of unsavory things about the U.S. that she didn’t notice before.
Here is a “highlight list” of Alexis’ time in Equador.
- Never got below 70 degrees.
- Ecuador is the size of Oregon but population is 4 times larger.
- No trees at all compared to Oregon.
- Lived in Puerto Viejo, 20 minutes from the coast.
- The first host family was very large. She had 3 brothers who were 17, 22, and 23. One had a wife and child. Houses in Ecuador are open air. She was very close with them, particularly the brothers and dad.
- The second host family was smaller and she lived with the grandmother. She was very close to her dad.
- She was very tall compared to everyone in Ecuador.
- She went to a very small catholic school for a couple months. She only went to school for a couple months and then spent time as an intern and learned to cook. This is because school in Ecuador ends in February and resumes in May.
- She went on two trips including a week on the coast learning Spanish and to the Amazon Rainforest for a week where she was able to swing on a vine like Tarzan. She also went to the Galapagos where she swam with jellyfish and sharks.
- Catholicism is huge in Ecuador and it is very influential.
- She also visited Quito, which is 9500 feet above sea level.
- It was different Spanish so even though she’d taken 5 years, there was a lot of learning to do.
- Rotary in South America is a lot less active.
- She ate a lot of rice and plantains and chicken bones.