And that's it! Today was the last day of our exchange. It's totally amazing how much we've been able to experience here. We look back on three wonderful weeks full of new experiences. We learned a lot, met new people, made friends, got to know each other better and definitely had the time of our lives here. All this will last forever and we'll hopefully meet again someday.
In the morning we were still with our host families, packed the rest of the things in our suitcases, hoping not to exceed the given weight limit, and then finally drove to Westford Academy one last time.
In tears we had to say goodbye to each other. It was extremely hard to leave our partners behind.
But we all know which memories we will always share. The bus trip to Boston airport flew by. We handed in our luggage, went through the security check and off we went first to Iceland and then to Frankfurt. When our train in Göttingen arrived we finally made it home. With a happy welcome our parents picked us up from the train station. Everyone was exhausted by our long journey, but we're happy to be back in Northeim even though we'll miss Westford and the time we had.
We want to thank everyone involved in the exchange for making these in total six weeks so enjoyable. A big thank you to our teachers Mrs. Theis, Mr. Busch and also Mrs. Smith and Mr.
Welch who picked us for this program, planned everything and been on this whole trip with us together. Thanks a lot to all the host families who welcomed everyone so friendly and made our stay memorable. Last but not least thanks to Westford Academy for being as welcoming as you were. We had the best time walking into new classes everyday and meeting new people everywhere.
Good bye Westford!
Thank you all for keeping up with our experiences in Westford and reading our daily reports!
A safety drill for school shootings? In Germany, not very common. However, for Americans, it's not unusual at all. I interviewed the school security officer Detective Anthony Bernadin, who is in charge of all schools in Westford. He told me that they follow the „ALiCE Drill" in case of an active school shooter. Alice stands for Alert - Lockdown - Inform - Counter - Evacuate. All the students had to barricade the doors and then gather at a rally point to evacuate the building.
In addition to that, the police officer brought his dogs to the school and showed students what they are capable of. The training paid off because you could see how well-trained the dogs were and how they listened to the commands of the officer.
Furthermore, we went on a hike at Mt. Watitic which was really hard to climb. There was no real trail to follow, we had to find our way through the forest. After staying at the top and enjoying the beautiful view for a few minutes, Krister and I got lost in the woods. We had to go back to the top to get picked up by the group. It was a great experience and I bet we could have survived for 10 days in the wilderness in case we weren't rescued.
Today was what I’d call the perfect day to reset and relax. All of the exchange members were tired, since yesterday was our big NYC trip from which we got back late at night. We definitely had an awesome time and made a lot of core memories, but visiting such a huge city can be quite overwhelming, especially when it’s done in a one day trip.
However, today at school everything was almost like we’re used to by now. What I mean by almost is that instead of joining our exchange partner’s classes or going to new ones individually, each of us German students got to meet a freshman and follow them around for their classes. I had a fun time with the freshman I spent the day with and she seemed to be very interested in what my life is like in Germany. Additionally, she thought it was cool hearing me and a friend speak to each other in German as native speakers.
When school ended, I met Julia, my exchange partner, and we drove home together after chatting with her friends. Originally, we were supposed to go on a hike today, but it was postponed because of rainy weather. I feel like no one was mad about that, since it gave us the opportunity to relax and work on our portfolio based on Liberty and Freedom. In the evening, I had dinner with Julia and her parents and spent some time downstairs in the living room talking to them. Now I feel ready for what else is about to come in the last week of the exchange.
Trip to New York
Today we all woke up super early because we met at school at 5:50 am, so we could leave at 6 to spent the Sunday in the city that never sleeps.
We arrived after four and a half hours of driving and were dropped off at the central Park in Manhattan. We met some of the Students, who already spent the Saturday in New York there and got some free time. We were allowed to go everywhere and see what we wanted to see. My group and I went to the Grand Central Station, saw the Trump Tower on our way, the Library and the Bryant Park. We arrived at one of the big skyscrapers and bought tickets to see New York from the top (one of the best views!). We went up with elevators and escalators and saw the whole City from another point of view. It was 1120 feet (ca. 340m) high and it was just amazing to see everything in New York. We were able to see the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Time Square and a lot more.
After that we met with the others at the Rockefeller Center and drove with the Bus to the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. On the other side we got some food and headed back to walk to the 9/11 memorial, next to the new World Trade Center building. We spent half an hour there, learned about the history and the terrorist attack and looked at the impressive memorial.
Around 6:30 pm we met at the bus to start our way back. We arrived at Westford Academy at midnight and everyone drove home after a really fun but also exhausting and eventful day and went straight to bed.
A day at Newburyport
My day started with being able to sleep in, what I really enjoyed, because the last days were really exhausting (of course in a good way). Then at 10am I got up and joined my host family at the dining table. The breakfast, where there were many delicious things, like scrambled eggs, sausages, bagels, etc., was already prepared and it was very tasty.
After we've cleared the table I took a shower and got ready for the day. The plan for today was to visit Newburyport, a little pretty city which is located about 61 km northeast of Boston at the mouth of the Merrimack River into the Atlantic Ocean. So Ben, my host parents and I picked up Samantha and Emilia and started our tour. After about 45 minutes we've arrived there and strolled through the city streets with many nice shops. Then we arrived at a market where there was a food stand with fried dough. I tasted it, but really have to admit, that it was not that tasty, it was just greasy.
Afterwards we went into a typical American restaurant and ate burgers, in contrast to the fried dough they were very delicious. Following we went to the beach and I really enjoyed being there, the waves were high and it was a good feeling to stand now at the ocean, which we had flown over before with the airplane.
Then we got back into the car, brought Samantha and Emilia home and bought some pumpkins for Halloween. When we finally arrived at our house at 10pm we watched a movie with the whole family.
Finally I want to thank my host family for giving me such a great day and in general for being that hospitable to me!
I woke up at 6:30am, like I usually do on a school day and my exchange partner Ethan and I went to Dunkin’ Donuts to get breakfast before school starts. School was really interesting today because I went to a class I’ve never been to before: Criminal Minds. I’ve always been interested in trying to figure out mysteries and this class gave me a good first impression in how profilers work on evidences for serial killers. Unfortunately, we don’t have classes like this one in Germany. I also went to Math, English and History lessons.
After school we had free time for a bit before we went to the Tailgate that was organized because of the upcoming football home game this evening. Everybody brought something to eat and Noah’s father kindly grilled sausages and burgers. While everyone was getting ready and dressing up for the theme of the football game “pink out”, because of the breast cancer awareness campaign, we enjoyed hanging out as a group and eating the delicious food. Additionally, a few of the girls brought spray to dye their hair pink and we even got Mr. Busch to dye his hair pink for the game!
However, the game was really fun and even though Westford won the game pretty clearly with 21:6 and was therefore the winner of the regional championship, it was exciting because of the awesome atmosphere we had in the crowd. Everyone, especially the seniors of WA, was so hyped and excited! Some of the people even threw pink powder into the crowd whichsome other people didn’t really enjoy. But all in all, most of us Germans were really impressed by the effort the school puts into a football game and what big of a deal it is to the people.
After the game a few of the other exchange people and I went to Kimballs to get some ice cream, which was also pretty good. Unfortunately, Kimballs is seasonal and closes by the end of the week, so we won’t be able to go there again. When we got home I was so tired, I went to bed immediately.
Today was a really fun and interesting day. I woke up at 6.30 am as usual and got ready and ate breakfast before we left our house at 7.25 am. When we arrived we didn´t have to go into any classes because our bus to the Plimoth Patuxet Museum left at 8 am. 2 hours and a sleepy bus ride later, we arrived at the museum. It didn´t look special on the first look but after we went inside and watched the introduction video, you could see what is special about this place.
The museum is separated in two different areas. On the one hand there is the indigenous village and on the other hand there is the village where the Europeans settled down in 1620. The cool thing about the village is that you can interact with the museum staff because they dressed like inhabitants of the villages and also acted like them. You could learn so many things about the museum there and it was a great experience. After we left the Museum we went to Wrentham to an outlet mall. We had four hours for shopping and eating there. There were many famous brands there like Nike or Adidas so you could spend a lot of time there. It was a nice time at the Outlet even though there wasn´t a big difference to German Outlets. We left the Outlet at 5.30 pm and when we came home I was very tired. I ate dinner with my host family and went to bed.
Today we've had a really relaxed and fun day. It started with school, which is really fun and really different from our school.
First of all they have way more classes that we have and get to pick their Interests and integrate them into their school life. So they have classes like nutrition or forensics.
And my day started with forensics since it was my first class of the day. Forensic is the science behind a crime and the teacher explained to us how crimes are solved and which factors are important to solving a crime.
After lunch, all the seniors had their pictures taken because they are graduating. My exchange partner Leah is also a Senior so I went with some other Germans to the football field and we waited there for our exchange partners. One thing that I keep noticing is the good spirit in school. Everywhere is good music and good mood. Everyone is super nice and polite. Also, everyone asks you how you're doing and wishes you a good day, which makes everything seem welcoming.
All the teachers that I met were really cool and chill. They instantly talk to you like you're a friend and made sure that you had a great time in their classes and really experienced what school means in America. And with all the music playing, sometimes it really feels like the movies!
My favorite class of today was gym. Me and 2 of my friends went to gym class outside and it was really fun. The weather was great and warm and we played ultimate frisbee in teams.
After school, I got home and relaxed for a little while and then it was time to go to an soccer game. The game started at 5 pm and the motto was blackout, which meant that everyone has to wear black clothing. Once we got there and the game started, I was amazed by the school spirit, once again. Students were screaming and supporting the soccer team. A lot of my friends were also there to watch the game and support the team. The teams played 1:0 and around 7 pm I was back home. My host family ordered Chinese takeout and it was really good. After we were done eating, I just hung out and went to bed later.
We went canoeing!
Today we had school. I try to see as many classes as possible, that's why me and a few other exchange students went to "Nutritions" today. We expected to prepare and cook a meal, but instead we ate cup cakes, which the American students baked the week before and ice cream. It was very delicious.
We also had a meeting with our teachers and all the other German exchange students, where we talked about what we already found out about freedom and liberty in our host families, because that's the topie of the exchange.
After a great school day, my host father picked us up from school and dropped us off in Concord, because that's where we went canoeing.
I was in a canoe with Merle and Leah and in the beginning we were really fast, but we became pretty slow, as soon as we started to try keeping our canoe and a canoe where three other people where sitting in, together.
When we finally reached our destiny Lexington, where the first soldier was killed in the "Independence War" in 1775, Mr. Welch told us a little bit about the historical event that happened there and that the colonialists won this battle.
After that we canoed back to the start. Some people took there time, including us, and other people like our teachers were so fast, they were unassailable. My host father picked my exchange partner, another German and me up and took us home, where my host mother already made dinner.
My host family has Ukrainian roots, that's why they really like to eat Russian food. I enjoy all the meals because my host mother is a fantastic cook. However, after dinner, we talked for a bit, I took a shower and I went to bed.
All in All I can say that it was a succeeded day!
My day started with sleeping in because of having no school due to the Indigenous Peoples’ Day in America. The late morning I spent playing games with my exchange partner and her brother. At noon the exchange group met at WA to get on the bus for our trip to Boston where we spent the entire day. We arrived in Boston an hour later and went to the New England Holocaust Memorial as a group. After walking through the six glass towers we went to Faneuil Hall where we got 3 hours of free time to spent nearby. I spent the time with a friend walking around and getting to know that area of Boston. My favorite part was either the cannolis we got at Mike’s Pastry and ate at Boston Common, a park which is part of the Freedom Trail, or the little book shop we went into after seeing it on our way. The group met at Faneuil Hall again and from there we walked a bit on the Freedom Trail where for every stop a German had prepared a little talk about the history and why it is part of the Freedom Trail. Personally the most interesting part was the stop at the Old State House from whose balcony the Declaration of Independence was read for the first time in Boston. In front of the building we took a group picture. Our last stop of the Freedom Trail with a small talk for today was the Park Street Church. After that we went to the Massachusetts State Building and took another group picture. From that we took a walk to the Restaurant Fire+Ice where we had dinner. The restaurant was quite amazing because you could watch your food from the Buffet being grilled. Around 10.20pm (22:20) we returned to Westford Academy and went home. All in all, it was an amazing but also a very long day.
This Sunday was a family day. We slept until 10am after a long night yesterday at Charlotte‘s halloween Party. After waking up I went upstairs to freshen up. For breakfast we had some of the good apples we picked yesterday. At 11am my partner left because she had a hockey game. While she was playing hockey I did some of my homework I got from my teachers in Germany. The days without any Program are good, because we can relax from the exciting activities and the new experiences we get while we‘re going to school or meeting some of my partner‘s friends. My partner got back at 1pm. She won 3:0. We ate some cereals and talked about our plans for the day.
At 5:30pm we got picked up for Noah’s Birthday Party. We went Bowling at Apex entertainment in Marlborough, MA. It’s a huge bowling Center, but there are also other fun activities like laser tag, Minigolf or Arcade. We had 6 bowling alleys and Noah also ordered some Mozzarella-Sticks, Chicken Nuggets and Mini Burgers. My group played two games. In the first one I lost but I won the second game. We all had so much fun while bowling. After the bowling Noah had Fun passes and we went to the Arcade. Playing Arcade games was so much fun and with the passes we didn’t have to pay for it and won tickets on the cards. With the tickets we could buy some prizes. All in all it was a fun activity. After the bowling we went home and got our stuff for the after party at Noah’s cottage at Summer village (a gated village). At the party we ate cake and cookies and sat together at the bonfire. After the party we all slept in the cottage. It was a good day.
Today was the start of the first full weekend we got to enjoy in Westford. So my exchange partners and I slept quite a long time before getting breakfast at Dunkin Donuts and then going straight to the orchard for apple picking.
It's an exchange tradition to go apple picking as Westford used to have lots of orchards and farms. At the Orchard you can not only go apple picking but also pick pumpkins this time of the year. The orchard also sells different types of apple-related things like apple cider donuts and cider. So this afternoon was all about apples.
After arriving, each German-American pair of exchange students got a bag to collect the apples in. We then walked up the hill together and spread out to pick our favorite apples while taste testing them. Especially the sampling of different types of apples didn't fall short as they were simply too tasty and we figured out that the fastest way of sharing the best apples was throwing and catching them from one person to another (of course nobody was hurt in the process). After all that apple picking we took a break in the shade as the weather was pretty good and sunny compared to what it was like in Germany when we left. Shortly after we all left with bags filled with apples.
Then everyone had enough time to get ready for the early halloween party. Charlotte, one of the american exchange students, hosted for us. Every German-American pair had matching costumes and the party offered everything you would expect for halloween: cobwebs, candycorn and a scary clown greeting everyone in the driveway.
As soon as the school had ended, we took the yellow school bus that brought us to the house of one of my exchange partner´s friends, that also takes part at the exchange. Her father drove us all to the next group activity on our schedule, which was rock climbing. As the name might suggests we in fact did not climb a big rock. It was a huge gym, where you could climb various walls with different difficulties. I think everyone had a great time there and because afterwards we still had a bit of time left, me and a few friends from the exchange decided to enjoy the beautiful sunny weather with a frozen yoghurt at Menchies.
In the evening me and my whole host family sat together and we ate pizza together. We decided to let the evening fade away with a great concert by a friend of my host family in a small town close to Westford. When we got back I fell straight into bed and fell asleep immediately. This was a great day and I am really looking forward to the rest of this extraordinary journey.
The sixth of October was a half day, which means school ended at 11am. So my exchange partner took me to an American diner for breakfast with four friends that I already knew from the days before. They are all very kind and nice and we ordered omelets and pancakes. One of the girls wanted to meet a friend and took us with her. It was really exciting to meet new people and see the American lifestyle. After that, we went to icolor to get our nails done, a nail studio where you can watch friends while waiting for your nails. I decided to get a ghost design for Halloween since we decided to have a Halloween party at the weekend. Halloween is a much bigger holiday in America than it is in Germany and it is fun to see all the decorations and customized packaging for Halloween. On our way home we stopped at the workplace of my partner Charlotte, which is an ice-cream stand at Maxe’s Country Golf. I was able to try their ice-cream and it tasted amazing! Back home we decorated a haunted gingerbread house with Olli, Charlotte’s little brother. It was fun and turned out so pretty. I only knew gingerbread houses for Christmas before. Then we had dinner before going to Leah, also a girl from the exchange. We were sitting around a bonfire and roasted marshmallows. It was a very nice ending of the day.
Today was finally a day to calm down a little. We had no school and I personally finally had the chance to spend some time with my host family. My exchange partner, Samantha and I, had a sleepover in my room and even after we woke up we stayed in bed almost until noon. Then we had coffee cake for breakfast and got ready for shopping. When Samantha asked me what I was most excited about, shopping was my secret answer. I bought a bunch of clothing as well as basics like shampoo.
We then bought a costume for Sam's dog since there is a costume contest for doggy daycare.
We finished off our shopping day by getting Acai bowls. I was so excited to finally get something fresh and "healthy" again. Even though we had a lot of good food, it's a lot of fast food, cupcakes and sweets, nothing to compare to our German food.￼
(My exchange partner Samantha and our Acai bowls.)
Five years ago my brother took part in the exchange program as well and I visited his host family that year too. So today, I finally saw them again after years of staying in contact with them through social media and Zoom. For me that was a really special experience. I still remember how insecure I felt about my English when I first came to Westford five years ago. We were now able to talk casually about the last few years and what happened in Germany and in the US. That really shows me, how much my English has improved within the last few years.
I already learned so many unexpected things about this country, and we've only been here for a couple of days.
To start the day, we had school this morning. For me it was a little surprising that the class of Nutrition was not a class about cooking, as I expected, but more of a gardening class where we helped building a 'green house'.
Later the day we went to Boston and visited 'Boda Borg'. Boda Borg is like an escape room with not just one room but 22 little rooms with many different tasks to finish. This was also kind of a teambuilding exercise because it needed a lot of teamwork to get rewarded in the end. The rooms ranged from pure cleverness to solve the room up to a lot of physicality.
This was a lot of fun not just for the exchange group, but for some other students who could participate on the trip as well. After a long day we arrived at the school again.
On October 3, I woke up at 6:30 am. I got ready and me and my exchange partner Noah went to Dunkin‘ Donuts where we got food for the second lesson exchange meeting. It was my first day of school at Westford Academy. Most of the senior students, the students who are in their last year, drive their own cars to school. This means we don't have to use the yellow school bus.
Before the first class starts at 7:35am, you walk through the school hallways and greet people or meet the teachers. I went to all the classes with my exchange partner Noah. The first thing we had was Criminal Minds. In the subject you learn how the criminal mind works. Then we had a meeting in the cafeteria with the German students and their exchange partners. It was really nice and fun because we talked together and ate the food that all the exchange students brought to the room. The principal from WA came to us and greeted us. After that, we had our fourth lesson. In this lesson we went to the cafeteria and had some snacks. After lunch we had ceramics. But the lessons are different than in Germany because most of the students are on their phones or doing other things without the teacher caring. So you can definitely say that the school system is different than in Germany.
After school, which usually ends at 1:55 pm, the exchange group got a bus tour through Westford, where we learned about the place we’ll stay at. After the short and interesting bus tour, we watched a soccer game of Westford Academy. There weren't many people watching because it was very windy and cold. However, it was really interesting to see that there are rules in soccer that we don't really use. It was a very interesting and full day for me and I am looking forward to the next days.
By Claudius Müller
Oct 3_01.jpg: Group picture of some German exchange students and their partners
Oct 3_02.jpg: Tjark Seraphin giving a presentation in German class
Oct 3_03.jpg + Oct 3_04.jpg: School buses
Oct 3_05.jpg: Westford Academy football field
Today, on our first real day in Westford, I thought I'd sleep long, but I actually woke up at 8am. So I just took a shower and called a couple of people from Germany. After that I had breakfast with my exchange partner Ellie. I tried pop tarts, they are very sweet, like a lot of things here in America, but they are also very good. Later, at 2 pm, was the welcome party. We had some typical American food and talked a lot with everyone. The house, where we celebrated with the teachers and parents, was that of one of the American exchange students and it was huge! And everything was already decorated for Halloween because it’s a really big thing here. After the party we just went to eat ice cream with two other girls from the exchange. Even the smallest size was already enormous! After that day I was tired early on, probably also because of jetlag. So I went to bed early.
1.10.2022. It was 5:00am in the morning, when the phone alarm filled my bedroom with its annoying buzzes. When I looked at my phone display from half-closed eyes, I realized that it was way too early to get up on any given day, especially on a Saturday. But today wasn’t a normal Saturday, it was THE Saturday, the day we would travel to Westford. With that thought in mind I disentangled myself from the sheets and prepared myself for my travels. I threw the last things into my backpack, kissed my wife and kids goodbye and set out for the trip to Göttingen train station to meet the students and their parents.
After lots of hugging, smiling and good wishes, we travelled to Frankfurt airport, boarded the flight to Iceland, had a quick changeover and finally arrived in Boston about 20 hours after we had met in Göttingen. Tingling with anticipation we walked into the arrival hall and were greeted by cheering, laughter and hugs by our American exchange partners.
One interesting bus ride later (quote bus driver: “You have to drive it like you stole it”), filled with chatting, joking and singing along to popular songs, we stumbled out of the bus, the fatigue of travelling starting to show on everybody’s faces, we left our students in the care of the host families and watched them driving away into their first night in Westford.