Hi my name is Rory and I've recently returned from a 5 week homestay in Germany. I flew to Zurich on the 17th of February 2018 and was greeted by Ute and Immanuel, the mother and second eldest of the family. For a few weeks before my trip I was in contact with Immanuel, which made the first meeting a lot easier.  We travelled to Konstanz where they live and got ready for the Tanzball that night. Immanuel had the dance showcase for the lessons he had gone to for a few months beforehand to learn the formal dances. It was a great ice breaker as I met his friends and saw some culture straight away. They even taught me two dances so I could join in.

The family had an Irish exchange student last year while the eldest son, Simeon, was in Limerick for a year to improve his English. This meant the family were used to Irish phrases and way of living which made everything a lot easier. Simeon was in school with a good friend of mine when he was in Ireland so we automatically had something in common.  I was in school for the full 5 weeks. I split it into 2 weeks with Simeon, 1 week with Immanuel and then the last 2 weeks back with Simeon. They both go to Gymnasium schools but Immanuel's school is a little different because it has a focus on languages(Latin is compulsory and you can do Ancient Greek) while Simeon's school is a general Gymnasium apart from the fact you do an extra year of school before their Leaving Cert. This meant I got a nice insight into how different schools in Germany work.  The school work wasn't too difficult because the teachers were realistic about my ability to do the difficult topics and my classmates were also really helpful with everything. The classes were really interesting and a lot more relaxed than my classes in Ireland. 

I did a lot while I was there. I went walking on a frozen lake and then on to Stuttgart on the autobahn with a family friend and the two lads. I went to an old palace on a beautiful island (Insel Mainau) on Lake Constance and the Rheinfall in Switzerland. I played tennis every week with Simeon and Immanuel. Ute has worked teaching refugees German so we had dinner with one of her students, Erfan. He then brought me to his football team's training in the last week.  Immanuel did lessons with me on my German grammar and other rules. As a result, combined with the homestay, my German has come on leaps and bounds in that short time.  In truth, this trip was one of the best experiences of my life and I loved every minute of it. The family were brilliant, Jane and my German coordinator were really helpful and I would whole-heartedly recommend an exchange to anyone considering doing one.


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