To begin the trip, our group met at the JFK airport on July 4th and spent the day getting to know each other before boarding our overnight flight. We arrived in Frankfurt early Thursday morning, and were led on a tour of a city that afternoon, allowing us to expand our knowledge of the city’s history and see the preparations for the Ironman triathlon the city was hosting during the upcoming weekend.

We then had an opportunity to explore an area of the city, followed by dinner. Upon reaching the hostel that night we all crashed, sleeping in until 9, when we left by train to Niederalteich, a small village in southern Germany in a region known as Bavaria. We were greeted at the station by our host families, and we all split to spend the weekend bonding with them. Over the weekend our families took us to various attractions and nearby towns so we could experience the wonders of the area while enjoying everyday life and the culture of Bavaria. On Monday we visited our host siblings’ school and spent half a day learning with them before taking a bus to Deggendorf, where we were greeted by a town council member and taken to the town hall to watch a video describing the culture of the town. We also heard a famous story about the history of dumpling throwing in the town. The town managed to avoid invasion due to a misunderstanding that occurred when the mayor’s wife threw dumplings (knudles) at invaders, who assumed that because the people were throwing food, they had enough resources to survive an assault and didn’t bother attacking.

After this we spent a calm evening with our host families; some went to the opera, some went bowling, and some enjoyed a relaxing dinner at home. The next day, we met at school and took the bus to Munich, going on a scavenger hunt through the city, where we saw many famous attractions, from the town hall to the old royal houses. Following the hunt, we had a few hours to ourselves to walk around the city and get some lunch, and we returned to Niederalteich in time for dinner with our families.

– by Cassie K. (Photos by Brianne C.)