The whole of Hertfordshire and Stansted airport were gridlocked by snow the day before our trip! Would we be able to go?….. Faithful school buses and Mums’ and Dads’ taxis ensured everybody arrived at St Ed’s, with the last student being ferried triumphantly up the main drive on the Site Team’s golf buggy! After that everything worked like clockwork. Amazing!

Twelve students from Syntax, Poetry and Rhet 1, accompanied by Mrs Gardner and Mr Mandizha, spent 6 days before Christmas visiting our Partner School, the Arnold Janssen Gymnasium in Neuenkirchen near Münster in NW Germany.

This was a completely different sort of school trip, where students really had to step out of their comfort zones and become part of a German family. They experienced what it is like to go to school in Germany, to live in a German home, to join in preparations for Christmas, whilst hearing German spoken around them the whole time and becoming increasingly confident at speaking it back. They had trips to Christmas markets and a hands-on science museum with their German partners and took part in a scavenger hunt in German in the local town. On Friday evening there was a big party with pizza and Christmas cookies, where students worked together to produce display posters about the differences and similarities of how Christmas is celebrated in Germany and the UK and about the different school systems.

Students fed back that they had made new friends (who have a lot in common with British young people), learnt so much about the culture and found the Germans really friendly, both at school and in their host families. They are very excited about welcoming their new friends back to St Ed’s after February half term when the German school visits us.

We were fortunate to be awarded a grant from UK-German Connection towards our trip.

Here is what different students appreciated about the trip:

‘’The trip has been a once in a lifetime experience. We have learnt so much from our partners’ families, the school and even some friendly locals we met on our excursions, whether it be new German phrases, more about the culture or something new about ourselves.’’

‘’Staying in the homes of our German exchange partners meant that we could experience German culture first-hand and improve our German speaking and comprehension skills.’’

‘’I most enjoyed listening to German conversations and recognising things learnt in class.’’

‘’We really enjoyed visiting the Christmas markets in Münster and Bremen because there were lots of handmade and interesting things for sale. It was also very insightful to experience a school day in Germany.’’

‘’I found it absolutely worth it. I would do this again.’’

‘’This experience has been so unique from anything else I have ever done and I would love to have my time here again. Really looking forward to the exchange in February taking place in the UK.’’

‘’Overall this trip has been amazing and has surely formed new friendships and new memories which we will always cherish.’’