Year-long stay in Germany leaves student with lasting memories and friends

Year-long stay in Germany leaves student with lasting memories and friends

Many people have travelled the world, some have done it through schools, and some of those people are here at SHS. One senior in particular traveled to Hamburg, Germany for almost an entire year through the organization YFU, “Youth For Understanding” an organization that organizes intercultural student exchanges. Austin Walton, left America on July 29, 2014, and returned July 3, 2015. Walton went to school in Germany finding it hard to understand what he was being instructed the first few months.

Walton wanted to go in the first place because he knew it would be an awesome learning experience. The German teacher, Mr. Christopher Sponsler had a similar experience in college and it inspired Walton.

“For the first six months, school was (awful). It was really hard, and for a while I didn’t have any friends just because I couldn’t speak the language that well,” Walton said.

When Walton got there he realized German schools don’t have the extra curriculars like SHS does. There are no sports, clubs or various activities that are even related to the school.

Everything is different in Germany, Walton says. The food, of course, was different. Walton’s favorite German dish was “döner,” a type of meat. A difference that a lot of people are surprised about is that Walton was allowed to drink, in Germany people have to be 16 to be able to drink alcohol. The transportation alone is a huge difference, Germany has lots of public transportation, there are ways to get where you need to.

“Here we hardly have anything, we don’t have any types of trains,” Walton said. “We barely have any buses.”

A whole year away from home means a whole year worth of holidays away from family. Walton’s family didn’t come visit because they weren’t allowed to. Holidays at the German household for Walton mainly consisted of sitting at home and getting a day off of work or school. There weren’t very many weeks where Walton had to go all five days of school because of holidays or the government making a holiday.

The first few months Walton talked with his friends through social media, but later on, he talked to almost no one from America. Walton still talks to all his friends from Germany. Walton would go back and he plans to possibly attend a German college.