In December last year, students Carter Haddon, Christine Fraser-Jones and Anna Corkery with Miss Cotton (Teacher in Charge) joined 20 other students from around New Zealand, to participate in a 2 month exchange to Germany:

We had been learning German here at Sacred Heart for four years and the opportunity to go on an exchange benefited our knowledge and ability to speak German.Throughout our time in Germany we all experienced different aspects of German life, living with a host family and experiencing German culture.

One of the biggest differences between New Zealand and Germany we all agreed on was school. Here at secondary school we learn usually around six subjects, but in Germany students a year younger than us learn eleven! It was very interesting to be able to learn and try new subjects that we might have never done in NZ. We also had an insight into how a class is taught in Germany. For example in German schools 50% of their overall grades come from how much they participate in class. it was quite a shock to see 10 students put their hands up to answer one question when a teacher asked! We also all agreed that we loved it when a teacher was sick as relievers don’t exist in German schools once you reach year 11! So you wouldn’t have to go to class and if you had enough time you could go home. Overall school was a great experience and it was very interesting to learn how schools are run in a different country.

Whilst being in Germany we had the opportunity to spend a week in Berlin with the other NZ exchange students. Over the duration of the week we attended many famous landmarks. Some of the these included Reichstag (Parliament building), Stasi Prison (Alt-Hohenschönhausen) Brandenburg Gate, Potsdam and the Berlin Wall. These visits were the gateway to learning lots of new things about the history of not only Germany but all of Europe as well. It also meant we had the opportunity to meet students from all over NZ.

Spending Christmas in Germany was something we will never forget. The fact that it was winter and we had to bundle up every time we stepped outside definitely meant it no longer felt like a Kiwi Christmas. Unfortunately we did not have a white Christmas but we did get to experience many other aspects of a German Christmas, like the famous German Christmas Markets, definitely a highlight for all of us.

We had three German exchange students here at Sacred Heart last term who lived with our families for 6 weeks. They will be friends for life, as will our host families who were all amazing. Our exchange was an amazing experience and we will definitely be back in Germany soon!