School away from school–Monday, March 21st, 2011

Depending on the various homestays the previous night (Sunday, 3/20), we all got back to the hostels at different times Sunday night, and even Monday morning. One of my roommates didn’t trickle in to our hostel room until about 4am! Monday morning we woke up and had our optional (and delicious) hostel breakfast and headed out to the bus stop around 9:30am. We took one bus then walked the remainder of the way to our destination: Humboldt-Gymnasium ( Lincoln High School in Sioux Falls is a partner school with this school, so many students from that school come abroad to Sioux Falls as high school exchange students.

Our group went into a 5th grade classroom and spent nearly an hour with two different groups of students. We were in small groups, and spent time with our groups of students discussing the USA, our interests and hobbies, what we do at school, and the like. After that we ate lunch in the cafeteria. It was interesting to see that all the students at the school (enriched 5th year students all the way up to 12th year students, if I recall correctly) ate in the cafeteria at the same time. The school supplied the lunches for us, so that was a treat. I saw some of the young girls I have previously met/talked with, and it was so cute, because one of the girls asked for my name and email address. That made my day–and a few girls have actually emailed me, one giving me her address, and the other just wanting to talk via email. Her email said: “Hi, here is Lara,
so, I want ask you, if we want write in english or german. CU Lara.” 🙂

With about 30 minutes so spare before we met with the 11th year students we headed outside. Some of us played soccer (Fußball) with the students while the rest of us watched and enjoyed the spring sun and blue sky. When we met with the older students they took us in pairs and gave us a tour of the school/campus. Just as with the younger students, we talked about our experiences in the US (home life, school, etc.) and our interests/hobbies. Their teacher wanted them to talk with us about nuclear power after they gave us tours, but I’m not sure if any of the groups actually discussed that. 😉

After visiting the school (which was a great experience/interesting to see), we stopped by a convenient store to grab some drinks and grub, then Dr. Lhotzky showed us where he used to live when he stayed in Potsdam on his sabbatical in 1996/97. It was right near the convenient store and tram station, so we walked around the housing complexes which were old DDR housing/apartments, and he told us stories of when he lived there for a year. Even six or seven years after the fall of the Berlin wall and shortly after the fall of communism that neighborhood was not a very safe/secure place to live in.

Next, we headed back to the main square in Potsdam to await our tour guide for our tour de Potsdam. This tour was not on our original itinerary, but Sigrid Sommer and Lhotzky set up this tour last-minute for those of us who were interested. Our tour was long–at least 2 or 2.5 hours–and we walked all around the city, learning lots and lots of history. Again, our tour guide spoke in German, so some of the history was lost in translation (for me at least). It was a very informative tour, though, and I’m glad it worked out for everyone. The one thing that stuck out the most for me from this tour was seeing the site of the former church in which Hitler officially came into power. The church was bombed for that very reason, but a door from the bell tower still remains, which is now near the site of the former church.

The rest of the night was open and we were free to do whatever we wished for dinner and entertainment. A few of us (myself included) ate donner kebabs at a restaurant on Brandenburger Straße, headed back to the hostel for a bit to relax, then headed back to the main city and spent some time at a local pub, Kneipe Hafthorn. I had a B-52 shot (one that you set fire to and drink from a straw) and almost burnt my eyelashes off, no big deal.

–Heidi 🙂

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