Same Friends, Different Countries


German students pose with their exchange partners. The partners came for eight days in October.

Abby Allen, Staff Writer

Last Summer, on June 16th ten juniors and ten seniors from Seattle Prep embarked on a journey to Germany. First flying six and a half hours to Iceland, then another three and a half hours to Berlin, Germany, topped off by a five-hour bus ride to Kiel, the travel was exhausting. Many students who take Prep German applied to go on the trip, but Frau Khouri, a Seattle Prep German teacher, could only take twenty. Before leaving for Germany, Caroline Baker said that she “didn’t know what to expect”, but once they arrived “both Germans and Americans bonded and created really strong friendships”.

The first town that the students went to was Kiel, which is where Frau Khouri is originally from. Upon arrival, Roxanne Anderson said that she first noticed that Kiel was “really cute, rural, and simple. There were lots of fields and trees and all the roads were winding and the houses were small”. She also noticed that her exchange student “knew every single person who lived on that road”. The village was completely different than the urban life of Seattle.

At Kiel, the students stayed with host families. Caroline Baker stayed with a girl about her age named Cecilie (16). She recalls that Cecilie’s family was “super sweet and welcoming. The language barrier was not too difficult because almost all the host families spoke primarily in fluent English for the Americans”. Getting to stay with the Germans allowed the Seattle Prep students an authentic visit with lots of German language practice.

The students spent about twelve days exploring Kiel, until they ventured to Berlin for four more days. They visited schools, spent time with their host families, and explored German cities and the countryside. Kenji Hoover said that his favorite part of the experience was taking day trips: “I really enjoyed visiting different parts of the country. I went on a day trip to Denmark with my host family”. The students also went to festivals. Caroline Baker’s favorite part of the trip was going to Kieler Woche, which is the largest sailing festival in the world. Almost every night, the students visited the festival, which lasted a whole week: “thousands of people were there with lots of live music”.

Both the Seattle Prep students and their host families became very close throughout the trip. To this day, Kenji Hoover still snapchats his host family members. The Seattle Prep students were excited to be reunited with their German friends when they came in early October.

The trip was a life changing opportunity. Kenji Hoover’s biggest takeaway from the trip was “how incredible it was to experience another culture after studying their language so closely”. When the Germans left Seattle Prep, it was a tearful moment, as the students were so sad to see their friends leave.

Another benefit of the trip was the constant opportunities to speak German. All the Seattle Prep students agree that the trip was extremely beneficial for their knowledge of the German language. Many improved both their pronunciation and vocabulary while on the trip.

Roxanne Anderson said that she would definitely consider doing the trip again because she “loved it so much” and is going to go back and visit next summer.

The trip is wonderful experience to make life long friends and bond with fellow classmates.