It was March 27th when we, 15 students of our high school and our three chaperones Mrs. Brenjo, Mrs. Rachold and Mr. Worms, got on the early morning train from Ulm to Frankfurt Airport. The flight from Frankfurt to Philadelphia took about eight hours, so we were all really happy when we finally arrived at Council Rock High School South, where our host families were eagerly awaiting our arrival.
The next day was our first real day at our respective schools. My school, Council Rock South, has about 2,000 students and looks pretty much like the school in “High School Musical”. The schedule varies from student to student and students have only six or seven subjects a day, which are repeated every day. School starts at 7.33 am and ends at 2.15 pm.
In the evening, Germans and Americans came together as we had the great welcoming banquet which took place at Council Rock South. We, the German exchange students, were supposed to present our little program, which included a speech, a quiz about Ulm, a self-made movie about our school and us Germans performing a little dance to the song “Go West” by the “Pet Shop Boys.” Apart from the obvious entertainment factor, the banquet offered also a good chance of meeting and getting to know the American exchange students and their parents and of introducing them to some aspects of our daily life in Germany.
On Tuesday evening, all of us went to a basketball game: the Philadelphia 76er´s against the Charlotte Hornets. The arena in Philadelphia was really huge and it was such a great sport event. Everybody had such a great time!
The next day we visited Newtown, a nice little town and went on a scavenger hunt there, called the “Newtown Heritage Walk.” This is a self-guided walking tour consisting of thirty-four historic sites from the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. During the tour we had the opportunity of visiting the Newtown library and the First National Bank and Trust Company of Newtown.
After another day at school, we headed for Washington D.C. on Friday morning. There we saw the White House, went on a tour of the Capitol and enjoyed our evenings in Georgetown. We also visited different museums, walked along the famous “Mall” with its memorials including those for the Korean and the Vietnam War, and saw the Arlington National Cemetery and the Lincoln Memorial, both of which were really impressive in terms of their size and historic legacy.
Back home in Newtown, we attended school again for a couple of days before going up to New York City. There we went on a tour of Manhattan and walked down the amazing Times Square. Some of us went to see a Broadway musical, while the others got on top of the Rockefeller Centre. The next day we went to United Nations and enjoyed the informative and interesting tour. In the evening, we spent our time in China Town and Little Italy. On Saturday, we went to Lower Manhattan to see the 9/11 Memorial and the Wall Street. Of course, the Ellis Island Tour and the visit of the Statue of Liberty were also included. It was a pity that we caught a rainy day. In the evening, we had some free time, which most of us spent around Times Square. On Sunday, we went up the Empire State Building, took a stroll through Central Park and enjoyed taking pictures of Brooklyn Bridge.
After the grand weekend in New York, we went back to school on Monday, knowing that the next great sporting event was already awaiting us in the afternoon: the Phillies Opening Day – the first baseball game of the season.
On Wednesday, we went on a tour of downtown Philadelphia, where we saw the Liberty Bell and set foot in the room where the Declaration of Independence was signed. We also tried the delicious Philly cheesesteak, a sandwich typical of Philadelphia, at the Town Hall Market and visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The next three days we spent in school, where we attended different classes and talked to lots of American students.
The last weekend we spent with our host families. Students used the time either to visit the Six Flags Great Adventure, to go up to their families’ holiday homes or to go shopping in the outlets.
We weren’t fully aware of how fast time ran by, so it came rather as a surprise to realize that the Monday after this weekend was already our departure day. We took the plane from Philadelphia to Frankfurt and were back home on Tuesday at noon. What a great trip!!
by Melanie Anderer