Musings on the Hamburg
It was on 25 October
2013, that thirteen bleary-eyed UCS boys gathered in the halls of Luton
Airport to embark for the North German city of Hamburg for the Heinrich
Heine-Gymnasium exchange – a trip which we had all been eagerly awaiting.
On arrival in Hamburg and after emitting a few of my best grunts in a
language quite far from German, we were all whisked away by our exchange
partners for a delicious evening meal. It was both comforting and
refreshing to see the way in which these families welcomed complete
strangers into their homes, and when the evening was finally over, our
bellies filled with various traditional German delicacies, I was beginning
to lose consciousness with the effort it was taking to communicate and so
it was off to bed for an early start the next day.
I woke the following morning, still half-asleep,
unprepared for the weekend ahead planned by my German family, a weekend in
which many a UCS boy was seen down by the Hamburg docks, taking in the
sights and smells of the city. Complete with a Sunday evening of bowling,
where we had a chance to mingle with the other German exchange students,
we all left happy and cheerful, if not slightly horrified at our sub-par
bowling performance, returning home to another hearty evening meal and a
good night’s sleep.
To start the week we were then escorted by Dr
Plow and Mr Underwood to the city of Berlin, where, on a rather rainy
Monday morning, we took in sights such as the Brandenburg Gate and the
Holocaust Memorial/Museum. Later, we visited the Berlin Olympic Stadium
which, in 1936, witnessed the memorable triumph of American black track
athlete, Jesse Owens in the 100m sprint. However, at present, the stadium
is currently used as the home venue for the Fußball-Bundesliga's Hertha
BSC and, might I add, its extortionately priced gift shop, which we (of
course) all visited.
The next day we had the pleasure of visiting the
town of Lübeck, the birthplace of marzipan. Here, we were provided with a
guided tour of the area including its various churches and numerous
marzipan outlets, which were frequented by the UCS crowd and thus it was
laden with bags bursting with almondly delights, that we returned to our
homes once again.
The final day of our week in Hamburg was spent
at the school of our exchanges, the Heinrich-Heine-Gymnasium, where for
half the day we were given the opportunity to take part in our exchange
partners’ lessons, including 'self-defence’. The sight of thirteen gangly
and uncoordinated UCS boys gyrating and rolling about on the floor proved
to be absolutely hilarious. This was followed by an evening meal at the
German restaurant Block House where we sat, chatted and laughed with our
exchanges for one last time, before we headed home.
It was a great end to a great week. I can
honestly say (hand on heart) that my spoken German has improved a great
deal throughout the duration of our time in Hamburg. On behalf of myself
and the rest of the UCS exchanges, I would like to thank Dr Plow and Mr
Underwood for organising such a wonderful trip and wish next year’s
exchange to be just as successful.