Kate: Germany

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.

Alexis: Ecuador

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.