Atlanta Blog 2023
Hello and welcome to our Atlanta blog🌎
In 2023 we’re happy to be celebrating a decade of our school exchange program with high schools in Atlanta. This year we’re cooperating with Dunwoody High School with which we’ve had relations since 2018 when we hosted some of their students at THG.
Yesterday our unusually small group of six students and I embarked on our two-week trip to Atlanta and were warmly welcomed at Hartsfield Jackson Airport by the host families and Mr. Henderson, who is one of the two colleagues without whom we wouldn’t be able to be here. On Wednesday we will be joined by Ms. Demel who is taking over for Mr. Riemer this year. Unfortunately, his part of the program had to be temporarily suspended, but we’re working on getting it back on track for 2024.
I have just returned from DHS where I met Principal Bass, Mrs. Steinbrenner, and all students for a welcome breakfast. Everybody was in good spirits and looking forward to an eventful week including a pep rally and an important football game on Friday night.
So, in the following two weeks the students and I will regularly post blog updates of our experiences at school, with the host families and all activities. Stay tuned for more!
This year’s group.
Welcome to Atlanta!
Mr. Bass, Mrs. Steinbrenner and me.
Today, Monday, September 25th, was our first day at the Dunwoody Highschool. We arrived yesterday at around 4:15 pm, the entry into the US was surprisingly easy.
Our host families welcomed us with self-made signs which was very sweet. After that everyone drove home and settled in.
My family consists of my exchange student Marin, her 13-year old brother, their parents, a cat named Gracie and the dog Luna. Their house is quite big and very typically American with a garden and a beautiful veranda. Also, their fridge is huge and they always have a box of ice cubes that they put in every drink.
The entire neighborhood consists of similar houses that all look slightly different and have a very big property. That’s already a difference to Germany. There, our houses are smaller, often look entirely the same and are located quite close to each other.
Additionally, many of the surrounding mansions are already all dressed up for Halloween, which is in a month. There are huge sculptures of ghosts, skeletons and fairy lights decorating the yards and facades of the houses.
So yesterday I tried to stay up as long as I could to avoid the jet lag and today I got up at around 6:40 am.
Marin and I were picked up by a friend of Marin’s who drove us to school. Before going to our first class, which is Literature, we had to pass a metal detector for security. The school is very big, I would surely get lost without my exchange student. There are certain areas for each field of subjects, so for example one for science, one for art and one for technical subjects. Every teacher has their own class room that they decorate accordingly to their subject.
Around 2100 students go to Dunwoody High School being almost three times as many as go to the THG, one have to keep on mind that DHS is a high school with 9th to 12th graders and THG includes middle and high school, so 5th to 12th grade. That means that each grade here is very big and you definitely do not know everyone.
Additionally, the students have the same schedule everyday, so only four subjects per semester, which is why it is very unlikely to see your friends that often. Marin has Literature, Spanish, Maths and Art, every period last an hour and a half.
As we arrived in Literature class, the teacher was a little bit confused since she did not know about the exchange. Therefore, Marin and I went to the principle’s office and I got to know the principle who is very nice and friendly. After that, all the Germans with their exchange students went to the auditorium where a welcome breakfast took place. They ordered chicken biscuits, pop tarts, little donuts, fruit salad and orange juice from Chick-fil-A which is a fast food chain that originated in Georgia. Marin actually works there once a week. Anyways, I thought it was very nice of them to organize this little welcome celebration. I also got to talk to some other exchange students and my German friends which was pretty cool. We took a few pictures and the principle was generally so excited to welcome us, he even gifted us shirts with the school logo. My host mom told me that you value hospitality a lot in this are which I can already see.
After the breakfast, we had Spanish class and then there is a 30 minute “break” called ROAR, which is meant for the students to study. Normally, you switch the subject you go to everyday. So for example Literature on Monday, Spanish on Tuesday, etc… But today we were told to meet the German club and then made a quick tour of the school. Lunch is at around 11 am, you can eat the school lunch, but apparently the food is very bad, so we my host mom made us lunch before school. We brought
a sandwich with cheese and chicken, cookies and chips. It really is typical for America, but I did not know that the kids really only take candy and snacks to school.
Everyone has these little chips, popcorn or candy bags that you normally buy at a kiosk or a vending machine. Also, the sandwiches are mostly packed in plastic zippers which they use a lot to contain food instead of actual containers.
After lunch, we had Maths class but there was not a lot to do. I talked to Marin and we discussed what we wanted to do after school. The last period was Art and the teacher was very funny and friendly. The theme was negative space, so we colored in a few sketches.
School ends at 3:15 pm. Generally what was striking in school was that classes were a lot more chill than in Germany. Usually, the teacher gives some task and the students get the lesson to
work on them. Everyone has headphones in and they barely write anything down. I usually do not need to participate, but I try to keep up a little, otherwise I use the time to write this blog or study for school in Germany. Also, the students are very close with their teachers and talk to them like they talk to friends, so they are not very strict.
Additionally, it is pretty warm outside, around 30 degrees Celsius but the school is so cold due to air conditioning. You need to wear a sweater not to freeze.
My host dad picked me up from school since Marin still had to go to tutoring for another hour. So her Spanish teacher basically stays one more hour to help her understand the subject better since it is very hard for her.
I arrived simultaneously with Marin’s brother Cooper, he goes to a private middle school. We went on a walk with the dog Luna and talked a little about their family and the school system. Then, he made us Ramen noodles and Marin arrived at home. Later, Marin, Cooper and I drove to the mall. In fact it was Marin who drove and her dad was in the passenger seat. I knew that you can get your license really early in the US but it is still pretty odd to me that teenagers are able to drive the car.
Marin is 15 and apparently they can drive at 15 with their parents and then at 16 fully alone.
At the mall, we went into a few shops and got a milkshake at Chick-fil-A, the fast food chain I was talking about. What also really surprised me was that Dunwoody is a
rather small and rural town and they still have a mall with shops as big as in our bigger cities in Germany.
At around 7pm, my host mom picked us up and we drove home. Then she cooked dinner. We had Broccoli, barbecue pork and Grits. Grits is a creamy porridge-like side dish made of corn. It does not actually taste like porridge though, it is less sweet and slimy. The barbecue pork was not actually made on the barbecue it rather describes when you cook or smoke meat very long in a certain sauce. They told me that barbecue is a very typical food in the southern part of the US. In this area, they use pork and a rather tomato based sauce. In other parts, you use chicken and different sauces with mustard or vinegar. My host parents explained that this originated in the slaves that lived in the area. They had to eat the rather not edible parts of the animal, so they needed to find a way to make it taste good, that is how they came up with the long cooking and the sauces. Grits has a similar history, since corn is a very cheap food. During dinner we talked a lot about the food and they told me some family stories.
After supper, I watched my first football game ever. My host dad tried to explain the rules to me, but it is a little hard to understand. We generally spoke about sports, he told me about baseball and football and I told him about soccer. I was very tired after my first day and I went to sleep at 10:30 pm.
Today is Tuesday, so the second day of school.
I again got up at again 6:30 am and had cereals for breakfast. Like yesterday, Marin’s friend picked us up to go to school and the first period was again Literature, as I said the schedule repeats itself everyday. The students should read and analyse a text and I tried to join them and annotated the text, it was actually pretty easy to understand but I needed a little more time. In Literature, there are two teachers and one of them adopted a bearded dragon from a reptile rescue and she brings him
to class sometimes. It was so hilarious, she even put dragon wings and a leash on him.
In Spanish, I wrote the blog for yesterday and at some point the teacher came up to me and looked at my ID in my phone case. He asked me to show it to him and tried to read a few words on there. He was stuck on the word “Staatsangehörigkeit” and I showed him how to pronounce it which was pretty funny. The teacher also told me that he likes languages a lot but that German is really difficult for him.
We had lunch outside today which was again a sandwich, chips and cookies. I honestly already miss the German bread and vegetables.
In Maths, we again did not really do a lot. What I think is interesting is that in the beginning there is a daily affirmation. So the teacher goes: “Repeat after me, I am a scholar. Learning and studying is important to me…”. I’ve never experienced this before.
Our third period was again art. We had to do research on a few words. After some time there was a lockdown drill but it was not that big of a deal. It was stage 2, so the teachers simply locked the door and that is it. However, a few minutes later an armed police officer entered the class and asked us to leave the room and let all our stuff inside. We had to line up in front of the classroom and boys and girls were separated. They searched the room with dogs and shortly after we could go back in. Apparently, they randomly drug checked a few classes. So that was a crazy experience, all the students and teachers told me that it is not very usual and they joked that I get all the American charm during the short time I’m here.
After school, Marin and I were picked up by her mom and we went to the Chick-fil-A drive-through and got some food and drinks. Coke is from Atlanta so it was my first time drinking the original cola, I do think it tastes better.
Later, we went on a walk with the dog Luna and saw some deers on the street. Apparently, the deers are not shy at all so you see them very closely.
We actually wanted to meet Caro and her exchange student Sophia today but that sadly did not work out. Tomorrow we will meet all the exchange students at Emma’s host family’s place which I am looking forward to. I truly appreciate that the Americans are that uncomplicated and open.
Anyways, in the evening we went to a small supermarket and I discovered a lot of candy and flavors that I did not know before. For example, there are Takis, Twix with cookie and KitKats with Churro flavor. They also have sushi, pizza and pickles made of Gummi bears.
The evening was very chill, we had dinner and I spent some time with Marin before I went to bed. Tonight, Luna, the dog slept in my bed which was really sweet.
Today I talked a lot with Marin about different topics and I have to say that it is pretty easy to speak English with the natives. I appreciate that my entire host family explains a lot to me and really lets me be part of their culture. I truly look forward to the next days since there are some things planned. There is the pep-rally on Thursday, a football game on Friday, a trip to Atlanta on Saturday and a baseball game on Sunday.
I’ve just returned from Dunwoody HS where we attended a pep rally, which is an event that’s supposed to motivate the students for the upcoming football game tomorrow night. What a spirit!
Wednesday 27th & Thursday 28th September
I’m Collin and I am staying with the Fosters family for the 2 weeks of our stay here in the US. The family contains of their 16 year old son Davis and his parents Chris and Sarah. They’ve got a nice house in Dunwoody a few miles out from the school and a cute little neighborhood in their street.
Wednesday was the 3rd day at Dunwoody high school and in Atlanta for us. Even in the first few day you were able to experience a lot of differences between a German and American lifestyle both inside and outside school. The first thing you’ll notice in the US is that everything is just so much bigger than in Germany, no matter if its cars, buildings or food portions. I have my own room in the house with a bathroom which combined is probably four times the size of my room at home. I got used to the time difference quite fast and as I have to wake up at a similar time like I had to do at home it wasn’t a big struggle at all and I adapted to the new rhythm after the first days already.
Immediately on Monday we took the typical American yellow school bus to school which is so fascinating because you can just take it for free and it will pick you up wherever you stand and wait on its route to take you to school. The school is a lot bigger than the THG and it really confusing if you walk trough it the first time as every corner of the school looks the same. A high school basically contains the grades 9 to 12 in most cases and so does Dunwoody. Even though it contains only 4 different grades there’s still about 2000 students at the school and if all of them walk to their next period at the same time it gets really confusing in the hallways. The first special thing was that the school has metal detectors before you enter the school building which is more like an action to make the students feel save than serious controls but it’s interesting to see that they are reacting to some actions in the past that happened on different schools. Indeed it kinda looks like the typical stereotype of an American high school like its shown in movies and series with hallways, lockers and a huge cafeteria where everyone chills out during the lunch breaks but you have a lot of possibilities to sit outside as well. The classrooms look quite old from the inside but still they got very modern big touchscreens instead of boards where teachers can write with their finger or a pencil like on a normal board which is very fancy. The system of lessons is very difficult to the one in Germany, as you got certain periods each day that you have to follow. The students have the same periods each day for a time of one semester so there’s no variety in the days for about 4 months. You will have a lunch brake period every day to eat your lunch as you have no real breaks between the periods like we have in Germany to chill and eat. Every teacher got his own classroom in the school and the students have to switch to their rooms every period and there’s no real general staff room for themselves but use their classrooms as their office. The rooms are set up very similar and there are always two teachers in the same room that teach in the different periods. If you wanna use the bathroom during a lesson u need a so called hallway pass to go so teachers know that you are allowed to go and don’t skip any class if they meet you in the hallway. Theres an American flag in every classroom and there’s an announcement trough the speakers everyday when everyone is told to stand up for the flag which shows the all known American patriotism. On every Wednesday the school gets visited by a Coffee shop which sells delicious typical American things like muffins, donuts and a very delicious ice coffee with crushed ice, chocolate and caramel in it.
School ends at the same time everyday for everyone and the school busses will pick you up to go home and drop you of at any point of their routes. It’s a real carnage in front of the school as there are more than 20 busses at the same time that pick up students while students get picked up with a car at the same time as well. Something that’s very different in the school as well is the way of teaching as well as the working discipline within the classes. The school has certain platforms and portals to get working material on their chromebooks which every student has got from the school. Most of the times its rather working on material on your own with a possibility to hand your results in at the end of the lesson and get a grade for that or writing down what the teacher puts on the board. You don’t have the same kind of oral grades in the classes and even when comparing work from the lesson in class together you don’t have to show up and wait who gets chosen by the teacher but just loudly say your answer if you think you know it.
My daily schedule with my host student contains of the four periods Spanish, biology, geometry and art. Some teachers are very interested to hear about my first impressions in the new system and are very open and friendly towards me. The topics in the subjects are well known for us like cell division in biology or solving equations in geometry and I try to take part in the lessons as much as possible but most of the times I take care of my own stuff or have a chat with the students or teachers.
In terms of communication there’s no problem at all no matter if it´s with the family, teachers or the other students in the school. Sometimes you need a few seconds to translate as some people are speaking really fast and mumble a bit but if you at least understand some parts you can build the sentences together in your head. Of course you don’t always have the vocabulary to tell exactly what you mean but trying to describe certain words does it as well as most of the Americans are impressed that we can speak fluent english and there’s basically no language barrier at all. Sometimes if I meet some of the other German students I start to speak English out of habit before I remember that I can switch back to German. The Fosters took me to golfing on Monday and I watched my first Baseball match of my host student Davis on Tuesday so I already experienced quite a lot on the first days and there’s even more to come today and yesterday. We had a little pool party at the house of Emma´s host family at Wednesday evening with all German and American students of the exchange project. We had typical American barbecue with burgers and Hot Dogs and made S’mores (Marshmallows and a chocolate bar between 2 crackers) over a fire pit. We had a good fun and played some games in the pool till late in the evening as well as they got a heated pool and a hot tub in their garden. It was a great evening and we had a good fun all together. The mother of Emma´s family who is a teacher at Dunwoody high school asked us to come to the Mercedes factory which is located in Atlanta since a few years which we probably do next week.
The next day began very exciting as well as the „Wildcats“ which is the school American football team won the Fox5TV Team of the week award the first time since 2008 and there was a big ceremony (the „Pep rally“) in the school gym for every junior and senior grade instead of the 1st period. A TV team was there as well and the show was streamed live on TV in the whole US. Th school marching band played some great music an the atmosphere was just crazy for the whole time so you could really tell what an award like this means to them. They got a little trophy for the school showcase and during the advertisement breaks there were some funny games as well where teams of senior students, junior students and teachers competed in little challenges like throwing footballs blindfolded while your teammate has to catch it. We had some great fun this morning and we were really lucky to see an event like this as it’s s very special and doesn’t happen that often at any high school. Later that day I got invited to an Interview for the Dunwoody news network (basically like a school newsshow which is quite cool to have) together with Etienne and we had a good chat with them about our first experiences in the American lifestyle.
In the evening we went to a MLB (Major League Baseball) match of the Atlanta Braves together with mine and Emma´s host family. The Truist Park which is the stadium of the Atlanta braves is quite huge and looks almost like a little town when you come inside with a lot of snack and souvenir shops both inside and ahead of the stadium. Our seats were very high at a very good spot straight above the pitcher and catcher so we had. Great view on that. The level that these players have in terms of pitching is incredible as they throw the balls with over 90mph most of the times which is about 145kph and they go a lot quicker than that most of the times. Something crazy happened as well as the 3rd pitch (so the 3rd throw of the pitcher) we saw was a homerun by the home team and the whole stadium went wild with sirens, fireworks and everything to cheer as they are rarely happening even in the competitive leagues like the MLB. The game was a lot of fun in general as it was a great atmosphere and after some time I even started to understand the rules which made it quite interesting to watch even tho the game duration was about three hours. The Braves won with 5 points to 3 points against the Chicago Cubs and continue to lead the National League East standings with the most wins of every team in the whole MLB (103). We went home happy and came into traffic on the way home which was shocking as it was 10:30pm on a 5 lane highway and I still can’t understand how this is possible. We came home at around 11pm and went to bed immediately as we were very tired from the whole day.
These are only some expressions from the first days in the US and there are a lot more to come in the next couple of days until we fly home and you will hear a lot more expressions and experiences from the other students in the coming days.
We’ve just returned from our downtown sighseeing trip with the students. It was a splendid day full of sunshine and fun activities. Of course, we had to go to the World of Coke and try at least 20 different types of beverages they offer in the tasting room. You’d be surprised by the amount of tastes they offer (spoiler: about 100)! Then we went to the CNN center for lunch and right after that moved on to the Georgia Aquarium. It was great seeing everybody getting along so well.
We’re looking forward to our second eventful week and to many more good memories to be made!
I am Emma and I am staying with the Gates during our stay in America. My hostfamily consists of Greg and Chrystal, the parents, and Carson (16), Lauren (14), Maddy (9) and also three cats named Bear, Sunny and Gizmo and two dogs named Brody and Max. Carson and Lauren both go to Dunwoody Highschool as Junior and Freshmen, while Maddy is still attending elementary school. Greg does homeoffice, working in a company and Chrystal is a teacher at Dunwoody Highschool, which
is actually very cool, since she was able to show me the school.
They live in a beautiful house with a garden and a pool in a gated community, which means that there is a gate for which you need a code to get into the neighborhood. This was very new for me, since I have never seen anything like that in Germany, but I think it is a good thing, as it provides safety. The neighborhood is very pretty as well and is close to the Highschool, which is why I can walk to school and also back home.
Today was Friday, the 29th of September, and I started my day as usual at 6:30. At that time I got up, got ready, had breakfast and packed all my stuff. I was very tired because we went to a baseball game the night before and got home late.
In the afternoon there was going to be a football game, were the Dunwoody Wildcats played against the Marist Eagles. For those days, there is always a theme, and everyone dresses up accordingly. This time it was Cowboys/ Cowgirls, so many students came with Cowboy boots and hats. Since Chrystal is driving to school every morning, we left the house at 7:30 and
got to school. Today, the marching band welcoming the students at the entance.
In general, the school is way bigger than our school in Germany, which is why it was very difficult and confusing to find the rooms, but I think after a couple of days, I got the hang of it.
For the first period, I was in Chrystal’s class in Childhood Education, which is something like Pädagogik in Germany, where we talked about “the stages of Play“ and created a poster for this. After that, I went to Spanish class with Matilda and her exchange student Marin. For the “roar“, which is a period of time where all students have the chance to work up projects and assignments, we went back to Chrystal’s class, were we talked with other students, that wanted to know more about typical German food, traditions etc.
Then there was the lunch break, were we either go into the cafeteria or outside to eat our lunch. Lunch is also very different and way healthier in Germany.
Especially the first days, I was very shocked about the American lunch. Luckily my lunch is quiet healthy compared to the others, consisting of vegetables, a sandwich and some kind of snack. Other sudents would just have chips, cookies, sandwiches and chocolate bars or fastfood like burgers, pizza and nuggets, making it very unhealthy.
After lunch I went to maths and German class with Matilda and Marin. In general, I have the feeling that the lessons are, compared to Germany, more relaxed and some kind of easier.
After 4th period I went back home and called my parents and sister, since I was not able to call them yesterday. By the time Chrystal was home, Maddy and I went for a walk with the dogs Brody and Max and after that played some Volleyball in the frontyard.
In order to get some typical American food we wanted to try together, Carson, Lauren and I went to Target . It was a weird feeling driving in a car with someone who is your age but is actually allowed to drive, since Americans can get their driver’s licensce with about 16 years. We bought some sweets and drinks and then headed back home.
Later that day, me and my friends dressed up as Cowboys and Cowgirls and went to the football game. Even though it was a home game, it did not took place at Dunwoody Highschool, since the platform was a little bit to small for the viewers, which is why the game took place at another Highschool.
My host family and also the other American students told me that the other team,the Marist Eagles, are better than the Dunwoody Wildcats, which is why it was very predictable for them to lose, even though they won the last five games. I have never been to a football game before, which is why I was excited but also did not now what to expect. I also did not really now any of the rules of American Football, making the game really hard to follow and understand. After asking the American
students, I did understand the basics, but there were still some situations were I did not get the referee’s decision.
At the beginning the atmosphere was very good and everyone was cheering, clapping and singing, but unfortunately, the other team scored several times, making some of the students leave after the first two quarters. However, when our team scored at least 7 points, all Dunwoody Highschool studens were hyping the team up.
At these events, there is always the marching band playing between the breaks and after a team scored. They also performed a small show while the halftime, where they also had six dancers dancing in front of them. The band walks while they play their instruments and take different positions, which takes a lot of coordination and practice.
Furthermore, there were also the Cheerleaders from each team supporting their Highschool and hyping up the viewers with several different chants. They were wearing the typical Cheerleader outfits and their pompoms, performing different figures like flicflacs, cartwheels, some kind of flips etc., which I think is very impressive.
Since it is very exhausting, there were two differnet groups ot cheerleaders, the seniors and juniors, which took turns after the halftime. In the end, Dunwoody Highschool lost with 45:7, but it still was a great experience and it was a fun night watching the game.
The next day started a little bit later than usual, since it was Saturday and we of course had a day off from school which is why we wanted to do a little sightseeing trip with our teachers Mr Teigelack and Mrs Demel. Of course the families were invited too, but since most of them had already visited the attractions several times, not all of the host students and families came with us.
Our plan was to visit the World of Coca-Cola, the CNN center and later also the Aquarium or the Center of Civil and Human Rights in Georgia.
Matilda and her host mum picked me up at my house at 9:30 am to meet at the World of Coca-Cola at 10 am. When everyone arrived, we got tickets and the tour through the museum started.
As we approached the entrance, we were greeted friendly by a guy who provided us with a brief overview of the museum and what to expect during our visit. We then watched a Coca Cola trailer and went into another room, where the closely guarded secret formula of Coca-Cola was kept in a safe. For me it was very surprising that Coca-Cola was originally medicine and was also used as such.
The tour then continued through showcasing the evolution of Coca-Cola‘s unique branding and advertising campaigns worldwide. There were different posters, signs and products from different years and decades in which you could see how the logo and slogans evolved over the years, which I think was very interesting. Furthermore, all the brands belonging to Coca-Cola, were mentioned in another room, which was very surprising because I did not know that the company owns that many other brands, like Sprite, Fanta, Powerade, Schweppes,etc.
Finally, we had the opportunity to taste Coca-Cola products from countries all over the world. We got to try the familiar classics, but also unique flavors like Inca Kola from Peru or Beverly from Italy. I think the weirdest flavor was pickle Fanta, which I personally did not like at all. But there were also some good flavors like pineapple Fanta and mango Fanta. I really liked the idea of it, but I did not like the majority of those flavors, since for me, some drinks just tasted very sugary and chemical. Before leaving the museum, all of us went into the Coca-Cola shop to get a little souvenir.
We then went to the CNN center, which was only a few minutes away from the World of Coca-Cola. Since we were very hungry, we wanted to get some food and decided on Chick-fil-A, which is very popular in Georgia.
The CNN is a multinational news channel and website which follows the latest news on politics, sports, health or technology 24 hours a day. The CNN center in Atlanta is basically the international headquarter of the Cable Network News. From the outside it did not look that impressive, but once we went inside it was quite impressive, as there are many offices and rooms. When we finished our lunch, we decided to go to the aquarium so we went back and got tickets.
The aquarium was actually way bigger than I expected it to be and had many different aquariums and animals, like aligators, penguins, starfish, rays, sharks, otters, sea lions, beluga whales, plenty different types of fish but also frogs and lizards.
They also had two whale sharks that were kept in an aquarium with manta rays and sea turtles. On the one hand, it was very impressive to see animals that big, but on the other hand I felt bad for the animals, since their aquariums and cages were not that big and they did not have a lot of space.
All of us were very impressed by the colourful coral reefs and all the tropical fish, which you rarely see in the wild these days.
The highlight of it was that we were able to see the penguins from close up, when we got into a kind of tunnel, which led into the cage, where we could also take some pictures.
They also offered sea lion and dolphin shows, which we were not able to see. All in all I think going to the Aquarium was a fun experience and we got to see many different animals, but I feel like it was a little bit too expensive and the animals did not live in the best conditions.
After getting out of the aquarium we all were very exhausted, got a coffee and enjoyed the sun in the park for a little bit while we talked about the major differences between our school in Germany and the Dunwoody Highschool.
Collin, Davis, Étienne and I then got picked up by Collin‘s host dad, who then brought us back home. On the ride I talked to the host dad and Davis about hunting and fishing, since he and his family do that in their freetime. It was very interesting hearing about his culture and point of view. They go hunting as a family and hunt nearly every animal from pheasants to deers and they sometimes even hunt aligators which I think is very unique.
Davis actually started going on hunts at the age of 5 and killed his first animal already at the age of 7, which for me is crazy to think of. The licenses for that are also a little different compared to Germany.
When I got home, I packed up some stuff to Big Canoe for one night with my host family, since they have a cabin located there. The drive only took about one hour and led through a beautiful landscape with beautiful houses and we also got to see some deers and an armadillo.
The cabin is located in a some kind of forest with an spectacular view on the mountains, from the balcony where we could also watch the sunset, which was very pretty that evening. Chrystal also told me that they sometimes see deers, squirrels and even bears from the balcony, which I think was scary but cool at the same time.
After our arrival, we had dinner, played some cards and after that watched a movie together. For the next day we planned to go to a pumpkin farm and pick some pumpkins for Halloween decoration and we also wanted to visit Helen, which is a German city. Since it was a long day and we planned to do a lot the next, we went to bed early after finishing the movie.
Hey, I am Caroline. For the exchange I am staying with the Baier’s who are a blended family: My exchange student Sophia’s parents are divorced, but she lives with her father Rodney Baier who is a dentist and her stepmother Veronica Baier who works as a dental assistant. Veronica‘s son Shane also lives with us and Sophia actually has another sister called Kaitlyn who is already 24 years old and lives and works in the city of Atlanta. On top, she has another stepbrother who does not live in Atlanta, so I have not met him yet. Sophia herself is 15 years old and visits Dunwoody highschool. Since she primarily lives with her father, she loves to visit her mothers home at weekends and they often to go to church together. Together with their four dogs Scrappy, Oakley, Karlie and Leddie, the family lives in a communtiy close to the city center of Dunwoody in a beautiful mansion which even has a pool in the backyard. The backyard facility is a great opportunity to invite friends over.
Today marks Sunday, October 1st which means that there was no school today. For my stay, I live in a beautiful guest room with a king-sized bed and an own bathroom which means that I got lots of space. This morning, I got up at around 8am which proved to be a little challenging: We had returned home very late yesterday since my host family took me to my first ever baseball game in the evening: The Atlanta Braves and the Washington Nationals we playing, luckily, the Atlanta Braves won. I learned that the Braves are actually one of the top teams in American baseball. I however then proceeded to get ready quickly and afterwards cleaned up my room since I knew Veronica wanted to clean the house today.
My host family and I shared a typically American breakfast of bacon and eggs with some white bread. It feels very unusual to only have white toast since we have many more different types of bread and bread rolls in Germany. Furthermore, I am not used to have any kind of warm breakfast since I normally eat some cereal at home.
At around 9:15am, Sophia‘s mother Julie picked Sophia and me up and drove straight to church: Even though I of course knew that churches in the United States had to look very different in comparison to our considerably older churches in Germany since the churches in the US were built way later, I was not prepared for what I saw when we arrived: The church building had the size of a huge shopping mall and was very modern. Julie dropped Sophia and me off since she still had to take care of some stuff and wanted to join us later. When we entered the church building through the backdoor, I was very surprised and even a little shocked: We had immediately entered the so-called basement of the church which had the size of an elementary school, however, since we were running a little bit late, Sophia could not show me around. So, we hurried to the “Friendship Room”. There, since Sophia is part of a “Bible-Study Course”, about 10 other teenagers our age already waited for us. That event was strikingly similar to a class at school, however with the difference that all students were seated on huge sofas all over the room and the “teacher” was a girl not much older than us. To start off, everybody introduced themselves again since I had never met them before. We proceeded by sharing the weirdest or funniest experience or moment each person had witnessed at their school. I was delighted I was also allowed to participate. In the next 45 minutes, we read excerpts of the bible and discussed them: I was very surprised when I realised how serious each one of my peers takes those classes because normally, teenagers in Germany are not very invested in church-related issues. Everybody participated and the whole event reminded me a little bit of a Religious Education class at school in Germany. However, I did wonder about the teaching girl saying “You are getting a good grade in bible today“ after some answers. Do those teens actually get graded for a freetime activity?
Afterwards, the church served Dunkin donuts for the whole class and we were allowed to chat with each other for a while: All of the guys were incredibly friendly and open and they asked me many questions about my life in Germany. Sophia had informed me earlier that one of her friends actually hosted exchange students from Spain and I had been very excited to meet them, but unfortunately, they were not there today, however, I might still get the chance to meet them on Wednesday since we will spend that day at church too. I also only now learned from Sophia that the girl who taught the Bible-Study class actually is obligated to give out grades regarding participation and quality of the contribution of each teen. That answered my question, but I was still very surprised since I am unfamiliar with actually getting graded for freetime activities.
However, when we went upstairs to the main floor of the church to be on time for the Sunday service afterwards, there were hundreds of people in the huge lobby hall. Sophia told me that today was actually a special day at church called Together-Sunday which means that I just came at the right time: Together Sunday is celebrated because the church actually is not only home to Christian parishioners, but also contains Hispanic and even Indian religious communities who all came together for a huge service today. The service hall of the church looked very different to the insides of a European church: The hall reminded me of an extremely modern theater or opera since there were huge rows and many stories. The sermons etc. were held on a huge stage with fairy lights and LED-stripes that blinked in all colours. To the sides, there were huge French doors which created a beautiful light reflection. Maybe that explains why this church can be home to more than one religious community: Since many features of the traditional Christian church are missing, other parishioners can also celebrate their religion at the “neutral” church. At the beginning of the service, young 3rd graders were gifted their first bible by the church organisation which demonstrated that already very young kids are members of churches here. The actual service was surprisingly similar to German service since a pastor held a sermon, however, next to him, a woman translated each sentence into Spanish for the members of the Hispanic community. That surprised me since it is a striking difference to church communities in Germany. Maybe that is the reason why more people visit church here in Atlanta. Furthermore, the worshipping songs reminded me of modern popsongs since they all had a beat and we played by guitar and drums. I actually knew some melodies and was able to sing along at some songs. After the service, at around 12am, the church offered barbecue lunch for everybody which was why there were tables all over the lobby. It was extremely unusual for me since I had never experienced such a thing before. During lunch, I had the opportunity to converse with many different people at church. Some of those conversations proved my theory that many kids my age actually see church as a hobby just like sports or playing instruments. Since Sophia’s mother was not able to pick us up immediately after the meal, Sophia used the remaining time to give me a tour of the church: I was very surprised since the basement of the building had many showrooms which looked like small theaters, a cafeteria for the kids and teens and huge rooms that can be used for dancing or playing instruments.
Furthermore, some of the very invested teenagers have own offices at church where they organise meetings or even services.
At around 1pm, Sophia‘s mother Julie took Sophia and me to her home which luckily was not far away from the church at all, the car drive only lasted 15 minutes. There, Sophia insisted to watch some episodes of Phineas and Furb, an American children’s cartoon series, because she was shocked I had never heard of it before. Afterwards, we started baking the typically American cookies and even prepared some onion rings for us to eat. We drank some iced coffee and watched popular American Halloween movies. I was unfamiliar with most of those movies since the festival of Halloween is not as huge in Germany as in the USA. However, at around 5pm, Sophia‘s mother drove us to church again since Sophia is part of a so-called small group there. On the way, we stopped at a taco place to eat dinner quickly. I have noticed that I almost always have eaten out which is unusual for me since I normally eat and cook dinner with my family at home. At church, the small group is a group of 6-10 teenagers of the same age. Together with a suvervisor from church, our group, which consisted of 6 people including me, discussed a bible story and shared stories from school. The girls at Sophia‘s small group and also the supervisor were very kind which was why I enjoyed the event. I am also in awe of the small-group concept since it is a great opportunity to find friends outside of school. After an hour, Sophias mother picked us up and drove Sophia and me back to the Baier’s home and dropped us off there. At home, I am currently working on my blog and will head to bed soon. However, upon reflecting on my experience today, I cannot help but immediately notice the huge difference between church here and at home: In Germany, churches have become pretty unpopular for teenagers. Here, many teenagers visit church because for them, church is not just being in services, but mostly spending time with friends and establishing new contacts and relationships. Furthermore, churches here offter much more programs for their youth organisations than churches in Germany.
However, even though I did enjoy my experience in an American church, I could not help but miss the more traditional service and a majestic, old European church building. Overall, it was a worthy, exciting
experience for me which showed me that church can also be a freetime activity for teenagers when they have enough opportunities there.
Today, Monday, October 2nd, was a normal school day. Over the last week, I have developed a new morning routine since the mornings here in the US differ from my mornings in Germany a lot. At home, I usually get up at around 6:45am, have a quick breakfast, get ready and leave my family’s home at around 7:30am. I can decide for myself whether I take the bus or walk to school. Here however, that is very different: I get up at around 6am which is very unusual to me since I normally get up considerably later at home in Germany. The first thing I do in the morning here is cleaning my room, afterwards I get ready. At around 6:35am, my exchange student Sophia and I prepare our school lunch ourselves because her father Rodney and his wife Veronica already leave at 6:30am. Sophia and I always leave the house at around 7:20am, walk to the bus stop and take the bus to school at 7:30am. However, we would not be able to walk to school in the morning because the walk would last an hour and we would have to wake up even earlier. However, today was a little bit different for me: I overslept and only, luckily, woke up from Sophia knocking at my door at 7am. I hastily got ready and since Sophia had thoughtfully prepared some pasta and vegetables for my lunch, we eventually did manage to catch our bus to school at 7:30am.
The school buses here are the stereotypical yellow, small, older vehicles often seen in series and movies. Those buses are the reason why I absolutely love the ride to school since I get to see the environment of Dunwoody: Even though there is much forest, I can see beautiful mansions with huge front yards all over the place. However, the distance between the single homes is definitely bigger than in Germany which contributes to the stereotype that everything is bigger in the USA. We usually arrive at school at around 7:45am which, since the classes start at 8am, leaves us enough time to meet up with some of Sophia’s friends on some tables in front of the school. They mostly talk about recent school issues which include tests, essays or exams. Since Sophia had an exam in her subject AP World History, she was especially nervous and was grateful to catch up on some details before school.
In general, especially in comparison to the Theodor-Heuss-Gymnasium in Germany, Dunwoody Highschool is huge since it is visited by over 2,000 students of four grades: They are either Freshmen,
Sophmores, Juniors or Seniors which means that there are way more people in each grade than at home. There are actually security controls at the entrance of the school which almost reminded me of airport security. You have to take all bigger metal items like laptops or Ipads out of your backpack and then walk through some scanners. Luckily, I never had any kind of problem regarding the checks since the security personal is very kind. As already mentioned in the previous articles and blogs by the other students, the school system itself differs immensely from the German system I have grown up with:
Everyday, the students here have the same four subjects in four periods, for Sophia, these are literature, chemistry, AP world history and German class. I have learned that AP classes are college courses which you will not have to take in college. Since college classes in the USA are very expensive, everybody is grateful to be able to take AP classes and school and save money. In literature, Sophia’s class read a novel about the holocaust and now they are presenting different aspects and issues of the Nazi-Regime in groups. Surprisingly, the teacher already asked me if I was uncomfortable with that topic since I am from Germany. Apparently, she thought that talking about the past of Germany was a new experience for me, which however, luckily, was not the case at all since we learn about the Nazi-Time from a very young age. Many students here had questions for me and I was happy to be included and answered them. In the second period, chemistry class, the teacher gave us a task in which we were supposed to calculate the molar mass of unknown elements and identify them. Étienne, who was with me in chemistry today, and I were surprised and even a little shocked since we already learned that in eighth grade and saw that many Sophmores in Sophia‘s class (tenth grade) had problems to complete the assignment. Actually, Étienne and I were one of the only ones in the class who got 100 percent on the assignment which made us happy and of course a little proud, especially because I do not even have chemistry classes at home anymore.
Next, I normally would have had one period of AP World History, lunch time and after another period of World History. However, since Sophia had a test in World History today, I went to math class with
Matilda and her exchange student Marin. But before, it was lunch time: Sophia and I met with Marin and Matilda and ate outside since the school does provide some tables under some trees. I had never
eaten there before since Sophia and I normally eat in the cafeteria between the two periods of World History. A striking difference between my school in Germany and Dunwoody Highschool are the hall
regulations: While in Germany at my school, you are allowed to move wherever you want to when not in class, Dunwoody highschool has strict regulations in place: In class, you are only allowed to use the
restrooms with a so-called „Hall Pass“ which confirms that you walking through the hallways is permitted by your teacher. Even in lunch, when you are not in class, teachers or security personel constantly ask where you are going. Even though this is new for me, I understand that the school wants to provide security and safety for their students since many school shootings have occured in especially American schools. This is probably also the reason for the security checks at the entrance at the beginning of the day. However in math class, Matilda and I tried to follow the class since we both were familiar with the topic, however some specifics like formulas greatly differed from what we had learned in school und the structure of the classes is very different from school in Germany. Matilda then accompanied Sophia and me to our last period, German class. My peers here are currently in their second year of learning and it is very weird and even a bit funny for us Germans to see other people learning the basics of the language, the native language you grew up with. The German teacher, Mrs. Steinbrenner, often includes us Germans in her class as we are able to provide answers to many questions of her students such as cultural or language related issues and aspects. Today, we first did some grammar practice with reflexive verbs and then started a small project in groups of three: For the project, we had to invent a product for personal care which does not exist but should. My group came up with a hairstyling laser tool which does anything you want it to do with your hair. Especially German classes are a great opportunity to get in contact with American students because we can have conversations in both languages and learn from each other. I have already exchanged phone numbers and social medias with a girl from German class called Hava and we are planning to stay in contact with each other after I leave on Saturday.
School ended at 3:15pm, however the day seemed a lot longer compared to days in Germany, particularly because there are no breaks except for the 30 minute lunch. Sophia and I rode the bus home and arrived at my host families‘ house at around 3:45pm. There, I had some cookies and got on a call with my friends from Germany since that was the only time of the day all of us were up. Generally, communication with family and friends has become difficult regarding the time difference of them being six hours ahead of us in Atlanta, but we do try our best.
However, at around 5:30pm, Marin‘s mother Kim and Marin (host mother and the exchange student of Matilda) picked me up since we all we planning to watch a volleyball game at Dunwoody highschool.
Unfortunately, Sophia was unable to join us because she still had some homework to do until the next day. We picked up Matilda herself on the way and then drove to the school where we waited for Pia, her exchange student Whitney, Emma and Étienne. It turned out that it was a game between Dunwoody highschool‘s different grades, however it was still very fun to watch. Even though volleyball is also quite popular at home, it was still a completely new experience for all of us to watch a game in the gym of a typical American highschool. The game had started at around 6:15pm and ended at around 7:30pm, however, Matilda, Emma and I still had to wait half an hour for our host parents to pick us up. We spent those 30 minutes watching another game outside which looked a little bit like American football, but none of us knew the actual game nor the rules. Rodney picked me up at 8pm and gave me a ride home which I was very thankful for. At home, we ate some leftovers from the last days which consisted of some Schnitzel, Sauerkraut, potatoes and pickles. After dinner, I played with the family’s dogs which was very fun. I love those dogs since my family at home unfortunately does not have any pets which is why having pets here is a great experience. I then took a shower, sent messages to my family and friends at home and then went to bed early since I do not want to oversleep again tomorrow.
All in all, living in Germany and the USA are two completely different experiences since the daily routine, including the structure of the school system, are incomparable since they are very different.
Furthermore, I have noticed that Americans (or especially American kids) go to sports events way more regularly than I do in Germany. This might be the case since there are almost no clubsports in the US
and many kids are part of highschool sport teams which gives many more kids the opportunity to involve in games or general sports events.
10/03 & 10/4/23
Howdy! I’m Étienne and I had a great time in Dunwoody, a city north of Atlanta so far. I am staying with the Dunnick‘s/Ballow‘s (they were amazing hosts): My host student Ian, his brother Nathan and my host mom Amanda, who is working for the government at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Therefore, she could share small insight into the discussion of the governmental budget, which was a huge topic during the first week of our stay. Ian is an 11th grader and therefore a junior, like me. He’s playing the trumpet in the marching band of the Dunwoody High-school, which made it possible for me to take part at the practices throughout the week and the football game. It was a lot of fun, as the people are so kind and welcome you with open arms, like everywhere during this exchange (e.g.: saying “bless you” when someone sneezes, even if you don’t know the person). Therefore, it was easy to get in touch with people and it didn’t take much time to blend in.
Tuesday, October 3rd
It’s Tuesday, it means it’s a day during the week, which means it’s school time. It makes me a little jealous, because all the friends in Germany are going on vacation these days. BUT I am in Atlanta, so I shouldn’t complain about that.
Like every day I am waking up 7am. It seems to be a little late but as my host family lives pretty close (10 to 15 minute foot-walk) to school in a nice house. I mostly had cereal, of course one of the American favourites: Cheerios. As everyone thinks that the cafeteria lunch is horrible, most of them take their own lunch with them. That’s why I am making lunch at the morning.
Even tough everyone gave their description on how school works in the US, I would still like to give my two cents. In this school there are four periods each day, which are the same everyday. That means that though a semester you got the same four subjects. In the first week I basically followed Ian’s schedule, which was: Filmmaking (that’s how I ended up I the schools own news, called DNN), AP Calculus, AP American History and Literature or German. It might be important to mention that AP classes are classes on college level and go way deeper into the topic. But because I wanted to use my time during my stay I tried to experience as many different classes as possible.
When we arrived at school we needed to pass the security controls, which is kind of annoying, but it is how it is.
If you are walking through the hallways you will find an endless amount of lockers, but Ian told me that they aren’t actually used anymore. So they somehow serve as an accessory for the stereotypical image of the school.
In first period I had art class with Emma. The art room are soo much nicer than the one we have. They actually provide all the art supplies for the students. And not only the basic stuff. You will find salt for textures, egg cartons and soo much more. The ceiling is also painted with different pictures of album covers, landscapes, etc.. one can actually find the Berlin Skyline too. Again the teachers were so kind, and we had a conversation about the good old southern hospitality, which as I already said does exist. It all just starts with saying hello to anyone.
I had Spanish in the third period. It was still a good experience, even if I can’t say a single word in Spanish. But at least I tried my best. Besides it is honorable to mention that during our stay the so-called “Hispanics heritage month” was in full swing. That means that there was some stuff going on concerning Hispanic culture.
During second period there is always the “pledge of allegiance”, which is given by Coach Bass (the principal of the Dunwoody High school (It’s hard to think about a better principal)) before the announcements of the day, with his unique “Let’s go!!!” at the end.
In third period, I went to Davis’ (Collin’s host student) math class. As I already went to the AP Calculus class, I could compare the levels that are taught in High school. And the difference is huge! That’s probably the effect of the non-divided school system. On this day there was the Waffle House truck in front of the school and Mr. Yoon was so kind and brought us some.
The last period was German class, and it’s really interesting to see how our native language is taught to non-native speakers. For some reason the word “Wassermelone” became a running gag.
After school we (Collin, Emma, Caro, Sophia, Laureen, Carson) went to Emma’s host family (somehow their house turned into a hub for afternoon adventures/trips), as we wanted to check out some typical American stores. And like every time we needed to eat some American junk food before going.
I drove with Carson, who is 16 but already allowed to drive which is crazy.
We first went to Home Depot, which is an American hardware store chain. Crystal, Emma’s host mom showed us something that a least I haven’t seen in Germany: an electric Shopping cart where you could sit on and drive through the store, either for handicapped or lazy people. It was really impressive to see all the HUGE Halloween and Christmas decorations. It really showed how big the celebration of those holidays are in the US.
Just next to it there was Costco, a mix of Metro and IKEA. Why metro? Because it’s built like a warehouse, with the pile of toilet paper stacked to the ceiling and the amazingly fitting child costumes of dragons, astronauts and my favorite, Air Force pilot. And why IKEA? Because of its famous hot dog and drink for the famous price of unbeatable $1.50 (and the hot dog was actually really delicious)! America just can do fast food.
But we were just halfway through the tour. After that we went to Petland, a store where you can basically get anything for your pet. But actually we were just there for the pets, that you could hold on your hand, like hamsters, different kinds of birds, bunnies and so much more. The only thing that we were a little shocked about was that then dogs were kept in way too small cages. In total we really spend too much time in it.
That’s why we needed to rush into Walmart, probably the grocery store when you think about America. Walmart was huuuge, so we weren’t able to check out everything. Something that shocked me was that there is way too much junk food. I mean, there are these meter long shelves, only with chips or only with softdrinks. I already had a stomachache by only seeing this stuff. They also had an insane amount of types of Oreos, for example with mint flavor, which actually tastes pretty good. As Walmart is famous for its cheap prices, so I couldn’t resist to buy an Atlanta Braves shirt, as I somehow got some sympathy for baseball. Two weeks ago I wouldn’t have thought about saying something like that.
I got home at around 8pm and I was just chilling around and went to sleep as the next day still had much to offer.
Wednesday, October 4th
We are in the middle of the second week and it’s weekday, that means: we got school! Therefore, the morning looked quite the same as on Tuesday and every other day before: Cheerios, making lunch, going to school.
In 1st period I had childhood education at Emma’s host mom, Chrystal. We tried Baby food, which was interesting. I somehow managed, to be one of the winners, even if I got some stuff wrong. The best was definitely the peach apple pulp.
On Wednesday is always that coffee shop next to the gym. It just opened recently and there is something special about it: Special education students are able to work there and sell coffee and small snacks. So, I of course got one.
In 2nd period I was again at Dr. S’ (His name is quite hard to pronounce so that’s his nickname) AP calculus class with Collin. They wrote a test and Collin and I tried hard to solve the questions but we were just too confused.
As am interested in biology, I went to biology class with Matilda. Again the teacher was so kind and had a nice chat with us.
In the last lesson I again went to German class, as we presented the projects of the inventions that should be brought into the world. Sophia’s group had the “Wasserwecker” with watermelon flavor, which was the one I worked on too and which was definitely the best invention.
After school we again went to Emma’s host family, because Crystal managed to organize a little tour of the US Mercedes Headquarters. We went there with all the exchange students except for Pia and Caroline.
We were welcomed by the huge Mercedes logo above the entrance and the head of PR and got some visitor passes. We started in lobby and got to know that this is the new US Mercedes-Benz headquarters. It opened in March 2018 and the campus covers an area of around 12 acres. The all new 2024 Mercedes EQE (electric E-Class) was displayed there too but sadly we weren’t able to sit in it. We went further to some meeting rooms which are named after important people of the company. This was followed by the main hall with the cafe, where they serve Starbucks coffee and the cafeteria, where the employees get freshly baked pizza. Form this point on Mercedes probably got a new potential future employee, as Collin somehow “fell in love” with this headquarter. Because the new Mercedes Benz stadium in Atlanta just opened they had a special room with a huge display, where they actually watched all the World cup games last year.
We continued with the gym in the basement and the rooftop were parties would take place. At the end we got to see the bureau section with more meeting rooms. Collin wasn’t happy with the chairs in the meeting room, because he thought they were not that comfortable. Outside we still got to see the EQS (electric E- Class) and were able to ask some questions, mainly about alternative fuels.
Even if it was a short tour only, I still think it was interesting to see the facility. Unfortunately, there weren’t so many cars on display, so Emma couldn’t really decide which car she wanted to buy.
After Mercedes we went to Village Burger, and I need to say that this was maybe one of the best burgers I have ever had. And one should definitely try the fried onion rings if one got the opportunity to go there.
That night the girls Dunwoody Highschool team had a game. The game was really nice to watch as Dunwoody kept the win home by winning with 3:1. We also had these typical posters that had some motivating words for a specific player and it was a lot of fun.
Emma’s host student Carson, drove me home after the game, while listing to the American Classic “American pie”!
It was a long day again and I needed some rest for the next day. But I am happy and thankful each day as I got to experience so much, improve my language skills and get to know so many nice people in those two weeks. For now I can say that this exchange again strengthened my love to this country!
My name is Pia and I‘m staying with the Salas family. Whitney, who I go to school with, is their 17-year-old daughter and a senior in Highschool. Since she has a car and a driver’s license, she can drive us to school every morning so we don’t have to take the school bus and save a lot of time. Her little brother Landon is 13 years old and goes to the private middle school where Whitney’s mother Crystal is a teacher. Alex, the dad of the family, plays tennis at the same court where Whitney plays too. They also have a cat named Oreo.
Today is Thursday, the 5th October which means that it is our last day of school at DHS because there is a small fall break from Friday to Monday. It is hard to believe that this is our last day, the time really went by way to fast.
Every day, Whitney’s first period is AP Calculus, so an advanced math class. After that, she normally has literature, but today i went to a different second period, Spanish. It was really interesting to see since I have taken 2 years of Spanish in Germany too, but unfortunately, I can’t remember much of it so it was really hard to follow the class. For 3rd period, Whitney has Finance. In that class, the students learn much about how to start your own business and do many group projects. For example, they do a project for this whole semester for which they havem to get together in pairs and sell stuff at school to earn money and the pair who earned the most in the end wins. Many people do DHS-related
merchandise such as sweatpants, hoodies, keychains or jewelry. They also learn about stock and investing, but on Thursdays, the lesson is different. Two speech coaches come in and the students do something called “toastmasters”, so they learn about how to deliver a speech -or a toast- convincingly. They have a different topic each week, and this time, it was “inspiration”. Two to five people have to prepare an about 4-minute speech that fits to this topic, so this time either something that inspires them or they try to inspire the others themselves.
Today, it was Whitney’s turn to give a speech and she talked about how her grandma that passed away before she was born inspires her. Once the people with the prepared speeches are done, the coaches give them feedback and say what they liked and what could still be improved.
After that, the second part called “table-talkers” starts, where one of the coaches tells a short story and then asks a question that has something to do with the story. They then pick a random person out of the group of students that has to come to the front and give an improvised 1to 2-minute speech answering that question. After about 5 to 10 rounds, the lesson is over and every tabletalker gets feedback too, but not with as much detail as the people who held prepared speeches. Today, I was picked to give one of these improvised speeches. I had to answer the question “When was the last time you thought that something was beautiful?” and I talked about the sunrise I saw on the
way to school a few days ago. For me, holding that speech was a very interesting experience since I was very nervous in the beginning but as soon as I started talking, it became quite easy for me and I ended up getting very positive feedback.
Whitney normally has B Lunch, but because of the Toastmaster speeches, it got delayed to D Lunch. Either way, I would not have been there with her since Principle Bass organized a “Goodbye pizza lunch” for all the exchange students. He also used that opportunity to talk to us again and tell us how much he enjoyed that we spent two weeks at Dunwoody Highschool and to surprise us with a gift again: he got us all blue DHS crewnecks, so school merchandise. We were very surprised and generally loved the effort he put into making us have a great stay.
After Lunch, Whitney normally has Human Geography, but since it was our last day, I decided not to go there with her but went to Emma’s host mom’s class with Emma and Matilda where we learned about childhood education. We did a baby food-tasting, so we tried many different kinds of baby foods and had to guess what it was afterwards. Then, every group table got a life-size doll of a baby that can make sounds like a real baby and when the doll started crying, we had to figure out why and try to make it stop. This helps to teach the students how to handle it when a child is crying.
After school, Whitney took Matilda, Emma and me to the Mall. Before getting there, we stopped at Moe’s, a Mexican fast food restaurant, to get burritos. At the mall, we were joined by Mei, Whitney’s friend. They showed us many different stores and we ended up buying quite much.
Before going home, we went to a thrift store. Everything was very cheap there and they had tons of different things, not only clothing but also toys, costumes and kitchenware.
At around 8pm, we then drove home and picked up food on the way from Chipotle, which is another Mexican restaurant. When we arrived at Whitney’s, to of her friends were already waiting for us: Jun and Alice. Mei had to go home, but the to of them spent the night at Whitney’s house since we wanted to do a sunrise hike on Stone Mountain, a well-known mountain in Georgia that is about half a kilometer high, the next day. Matilda and Emma stayed with us for another 2 hours and we tried lots of different American candy that the girls bought us. Most of the stuff was really good, even though some was not what I expected. At 10 pm, Whitney drove Emma and Matilda home and we all went to
bed since we had to get up before 5 am the next day in order to be at the top of Stone Mountain the next morning.
Today, on Friday, October 6th, we got up very early around 5am and drove to Stone Mountain with Whitney’s friends Jun, Alice and Lindsey. We arrived at 6:30 and were on the mountaintop about 45 minutes later. The way up was not very long but steep and partially really slippery. Every few meters, there were initials in hearts carved into the ground, some even dating from back in the 17th century. It was really cold at the mountain since we got there before sunrise. However, we were by far not the only ones who had this idea. A lot of people walk or run up the mountain for sunrise since the view is beautiful. One man who we asked to take a picture of us even said that he did this sunrise hike every single day for the past few years. We enjoyed the view and took some pictures for about one and a half hours until we went back down to get breakfast. The way down was a lot easier than the way up and we made it in about 25 minutes.
After that, we got breakfast at a small café a few minutes away and went home afterwards. When we were back, I had to say goodbye to Alice, Jun and Lindsey because this was the last time for me to see them. It felt really weird because I can’t imagine that we are already getting back, it feels like we just got here.
Later, Crystal took Whitney, her brother and me to get Ramen for lunch at a restaurant that opened a few months ago. The interior design was very pretty and appealing and they had robots who brought us the food which was very funny since they could even speak a few words. After Lunch, we went to Costco to buy a pumpkin. I was amazed by the size if the store as well as the size of the goods they sell. Everything was huge and they really had everything, from food to kitchenware to clothing to car tires. We had to search for a while until we found our pumpkin, but the reason for that was mainly because we stopped every few meters because they have lots of different free samples where you can try food. I could have spent a whole day in that store.
Once we got home, Whitney and I quickly got ready, took the pumpkin we just bought and headed to Sophia’s house, Caroline’s host student. We had planned to carve pumpkins together with the other exchange and host students. Sadly, not everyone could come buy we still had a good time.
Whitney and I had to leave early at 7:30 pm and changed at her house really fast to then go to SkyZone with her little brother.
SkyZone is a Trampolin park with UV light, so you have to wear a white or neon shirt to get in. Landon met up with two of his friends there and Whitney and I also tried out lots of different activities the Trampolin park offered. After about two hours, we were really tired so we decided to go home. On the way there, we stopped at McDonald’s to get fries and ice cream and arrived at Whitney’s at
Looking back on all the things I’ve done in these two weeks and all the people I met, I can only say how much I enjoyed it. Everyone was very friendly and there were no language problems at all. Even though many things, especially school, were not how I expected them to be, I had the best time ever and I think I can speak for all the German exchange students that it was definitely worth it – but
two weeks were way too short and passed so quickly.