Report about the Chicago exchange 2012

It’s the 7th of October 2012. Finally. Haven’t we been waiting for this date for so long ? Oh yes, we have. Didn’t we have so many things to prepare and struggles to go through beforehand? Yes, we did . But now, at the airport, everything is forgotten and you see excited faces everywhere: 32 students and 3 teachers on gate 2 ready to board the plane and start the "Pilot Program" America exchange!

After at least 9 hours of flight, we arrive. Everyone is tired but the shining faces of our exchange partners at the O’Hare Airport Chicago make all this exhaustion fade away. Still, there is this fear inside of us because tomorrow we have to spend our time alone in the host families, without seeing the Germans. But after the first contact everyone immediately feels comfortable with their hosts. The two days go by fast and we all have a lot of fun with our partners. Some go to the theme park ‘Great America’, others play Laser tag for the first time. On Tuesday we all meet at Maine South High School in Park Ridge and the exciting program starts with a yellow school bus tour to downtown Chicago. It is a beautiful city with all the skyscrapers and its interesting history. We have an exciting week with many new experiences for all of us: for example, a boat tour on the Chicago River, a shadow day with our exchange partner at Maine South, seeing the town from high above on Willis Tower and the Hancock Building, enjoying the illuminated skyline of Chicago, enjoying the reflections in ‘The Bean’, learning about German Americans in Illinois in the Dank Haus and that is not all. Teachers and students are quite tired after days full of adventures. The relationship between Mrs.Tautz , Mr. Heibel, Mr. Meinderink and their 32 pupils is almost always good. Before our flight back home, Mrs. Tautz tells us: "You were a great group and I would definitely do it again!" We all agree on that.

The last ‘highlight’ of our trip is the 5 hours delay. We are all ready to go and see our own families again but then we have to spent another day in Chicago which isn’t that bad because we can spend some more time with our new friends. Some little problems at the airport (one of us can’t find her suitcase, mine is 8 pounds too heavy…) and the final goodbye to our host families make a lot of us cry. We are very sad because we have to leave friends we have really got close to.

Our image of the United States has changed: not every American has a pistol in his night stand, they don’t always eat fast food and the high schools aren’t the same as in American Pie. Our host families and all the other people we have met have shown us how open-minded, friendly and interested Americans are.

The exchange has also improved our language skills. As a result of the direct contact, everyone had to give their best speaking English because the teachers were not always around to help. But that was very good as we have realized that we actually are capable of speaking decent English.

I personally miss the time in America pretty much. My family was amazing and I felt like I was adopted. Other students also said that their families were perfect, friendly and open-minded. I’m still in contact with every member of the family and I will visit them next summer.

The America exchange was truly successful.

Nadine Lupp