[IMAGE:04679f90]

As December dawned the eagerly-anticipated Bensheim exchange began. 22 students in Year 10, all studying German at GCSE, spent a little over a week living with their exchange families in Bensheim - a town in the south of Germany.

The first full day was an opportunity to explore Bensheim, and learn its history – with a tour, a meeting with the mayor, and arranged activities in the school, the Liebfrauenschule (LFS). This was only the beginning of things to come, a fascinating whistle-stop tour of the Mercedes Benz Museum in Stuttgart and the stadium of the home side to explore filling Friday with action galore.

Spending the weekend with our exchanges, without any school-arranged gatherings, led to go-karting, ice-skating and castles, topped off with a visit from St Nicholas, who fills shoes with chocolate and other treats. The exhausting and exhilarating weekend then gave way to another week of eye-opening trips. Hockenheim is one of the premier racetracks in the world – dominant on the Formula 1 schedule and a memorable part of the trip. Exploring the stands, the track, and also learning about the logistics of organising a race, the visit was made livelier with an impromptu (minor) incident on the track: a car spinning off into the shingle, while we watched from the winners’ podium.

[IMAGE:5264bd19]
[IMAGE:687ce80b]

During the week Mr Cadman wanted to show us some of the several sides of Germany’s faceted countenance. We looked at the industrial Germany seen in Stuttgart, with manufacturing at the forefront (in cars, architecture and factories). The next aspect was in Frankfurt: Germany the economic superpower. The city serves as a vivid reminder of Germany’s strong position on the world economic stage. From the towering skyscrapers to the iconic Euro sign the city, with its vast retail sector, shows German economic wealth. We visited the Christmas markets and shopping centres, this time joined by the exchanges. The final side to Germany that we observed was the historic side, and where better to see this than Heidelberg, with its iconic castle, sought out by many tourists.

The exchange was a fantastic opportunity for language speaking, as well as appreciating German culture, such as St Nicholas, and the Christmas markets.

Thanks must go to Mr Cadman, Mr Elliott and Mrs Whittle for leading the exchange, the English teachers at LFS, the visits team and Mrs Sealy who organised administration back home. We wait with anticipation for our exchanges to come to England at the end of June.