Farewell to Hello: The First Few Weeks of Studying Abroad in Germany

Farewell to Hello: The First Few Weeks of Studying Abroad in Germany

Leaving behind my friends and family to study abroad in Germany was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I was scared that I would be alone and wouldn’t know what to do, but I took deep breathes like my mom and grandma told me to do. After I met the other American students at the gate, breathing became easier. We were all talking about why we were going abroad and where we were from. I felt like I’d already made a couple of friends. 


The orientation in Cologne was so much fun. I learned about Germany and being an exchange student, and it really took away some of my anxiety because I no longer felt like I was going in blind. My favorite part about the three days was by far meeting all of the other students. I learned about where they came from and what their lives are like. It was just a group of teenagers having fun, and it was awesome. Saying goodbye to them after such a fleeting time was also very hard. I’m really excited to see them in November.


This picture is of the castle in Karlsruhe. I went to the light show they were hosting there with my host family. By then, I had been there for almost a week and everything was starting to get less scary. In the beginning, everything was new and I didn’t know what was going on. All of this was making me homesick. I just kept thinking about how I’d never had to learn how a family did things before. I’d always just known because I was always with my family. But after we started a routine, I got more comfortable. 


This photo of a river and trees was taken in a northern part of the Black Forest. My host family and I went hiking and it was beautiful. Coming from Indiana where everything is flat and covered in cornfields, hiking was still a new experience for me. Or at least, I hadn’t done it very much. Now, I’ve been with my host family for about two weeks, and we’ve gone hiking twice. 


This was taken at the end of the second hiking trip. The three girls (from the left) are Maren, Judith, and Paula. All of them go to the same school as I do, and are in the same grade. At first, I was really nervous about school. I’ve always had a slight issue with “coming out of my shell.” I tend to be quiet around people I don’t know, but going to this school I knew that I would have to be the one to introduce myself to everyone else.

I was also worried that the language barrier would cause a huge problem; but so far, it hasn’t actually affected my making friends much at all. They all understand that I don’t know German. They try to translate what they can for me. Of course, I try to learn as much German as I can, and it is getting better with time. It’s quite funny sometimes because I’m really bad at pronouncing the words. Either way, the students are all really nice and the longer I’ve been there the more comfortable I feel. 

Morgan Tucker is 16 years old and lives in Greenfield, Indiana. Her goal during her study abroad program is to “make friends that I will keep for the rest of my life. I also hope to learn about the Germans, and in turn, learn about my heritage.” Follow Morgan’s adventure in Germany on her blog post updates throughout her program.

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