LVI Munich Exchange
Day 1: Welcoming, Warming and Enjoyable
We were greeted by Frau Kilian at Münich airport and took the train to Gymnasium Ottobrunn. We were then shown round the school and were extremely curious about the difference between the German and English school systems.
Frau Kilian explained that Ottobrunn was a Gymnasium, where A level equivalent exams were taken, which allowed students to apply for University. She also explained that there is a Realschule, which doesn’t offer A levels and below that there is a Hauptschule. We were also very jealous of the fact that German schools finish at 1pm. We then had a brilliant lunch in the Sixth Form common room and went to meet our school exchange partners. After meeting our partners’ family, we spent the rest of the evening with them. I went to a traditional Bavarian restaurant, where I was particularly captivated by the Lederhosen outfits that the male waiters would wear and the Dirndl that the waitresses would wear. We then went to bed after a great first day, ready for a 6:30am start the next morning.
Day 2: Enriching, Intriguing, Informative
Being our first full day on the exchange, Tuesday was tiring but really fun and interesting. We spent much of the day trying to get to grips with speaking German with the exchange families, which proved to be a difficult, but thankfully not impossible task. Our first activity was to go with the exchange partners to their first lesson, which for most of us was religion. It was interesting to see how the lessons were conducted, as they were focused very much on discussion and group work, and the students seemed to have a much more casual relationship with their teachers than we perhaps would in an English school. After this we completed a tour of the old town, during which we learned a lot about Munich’s history and visited some beautiful buildings such as the Frauenkirche, which is one of Munich’s main landmarks, and is considered a symbol of the city. Many of us had our first encounter with a Maibaum, a tall pole which is found in every town in Bavaria. After this we walked to the Englische Garten, a large park in Munich, where we saw people surfing on an artificial wave in the river, something which was slightly surreal in the middle of a bustling city. The weather was warm and sunny, and we were thankful to be able to spend some time relaxing in this beautiful setting. We then made our way to the university, where we saw the memorial to the White Rose, a Nazi resistance group made up of students and professors from the university. The whole day was a captivating experience, and we really enjoyed getting to know the city where we would spend the rest of our week.
Day 3: Fascinating, Touching, Exciting
In the morning, we went to the Munich Documentation centre, where we learnt about the Nazis, their development of power and how they became the leaders of the country. It was so surprising to hear that the museum building was in exactly the same place of where the Nazi headquarters once stood. The museum included lots of pictures and video footage of people in concentration camps, the history of the party and people who rebelled, including the 7 members of the White Rose, a group who tried to spread leaflets and messages raising awareness of the terrible things that the Nazi’s do, aiming to change people’s thoughts. It was incredibly interesting and sometimes overwhelming to learn this information and our tour guide was keen to stimulate discussion and answer any questions, meaning we were able to gain a full insight into the topics.
We then sat down for some lunch in the Kings Square and went to the Olympic Stadium. Here, we climbed the Olympic Tower to see an utterly beautiful view of Munich city. It was so captivating to see such a plethora of the different building styles and architecture of Munich in its finest form.
After this we met with our exchange partners, where we went shopping and saw all the Biergartens and Markets. We then all sat down to watch a football match of Bayern against Sevilla. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day.
Day 4: Beautiful, Exciting, Enjoyable
On Thursday we had our excursion with the exchanges, and after meeting each other at the school we all travelled together by train to the Chiemsee, or what is commonly known as the Bavarian Sea. We got an incredible view of the Alps as we took a boat ride across the lake to Herreninsel, an island with a palace built by Ludwig II in 1878, which was never completed, but was supposed to be a replica of the Palace of Versailles. While taking a tour of the palace we saw the incredibly designed rooms decorated with perhaps an excessive amount of gold. After this we visited a second island, Fraueninsel, which was significantly smaller, and after taking a short walk around it the weather was nice enough that we could sit outside eating ice cream until the boat arrived to take us back. The boat ride was a fairly interesting experience, with some of us attempting to learn and play German card games with a group of exchange partners. Despite a slightly stressful return journey involving several delayed trains, the day was really enjoyable and worthwhile, and we loved having the opportunity to get to know not only our own exchanges, but also other people’s exchanges. Overall it was a really wonderful day spent in a beautiful place.
Day 5: Relaxing, Informative, Intriguing
We began the day by sitting in lessons with our exchanges, which allowed us to get a true insight into school life in Germany and the types of things they learn. We then went to the ‘Deutsches Museum’ where we were given free time to look around the museum and embrace all the things that they had to exhibit. This included information about new technologies, electric power, energy technology, historic aviation and astronomy. I found the mining section of the museum particularly extraordinary. We were low underground, which immediately set the ambiance and it included lots of machinery and tools that they used, whilst showing what it looked like from a miners perspective to be underground. It was very enthralling and we all loved the immersive experience.
Day 6: Magical, Enchanting, Unforgettable
We went to the famous castle Neuschwanstein, built by King Ludwig 2nd of Bavaria in 1869. It was used as an inspiration for the design of the Disney Land Palace due to its dream-like and magical nature. We went on the Marienbrücke, a bridge over the Pollät Gorge and looked at several bedrooms, assembly and throne rooms within the castle. Every year over 1.4 million people visit ‘the castle of the fairy-tale king’ so it was such an honour to visit it ourselves. I found that the gothic design of the building, shown through the slim towers and delicate embellishments, really stood the castle apart. It was truly beautiful and was most definitely memorable.
Overall the Munich exchange has been a really rewarding and just incredible experience – personally I’ve found that it’s not only improved my language skills, but it’s also been hugely culturally enriching, and I’ve founded a really close friendship with my exchange partner which I hope will last for many years. We’ve all learned so much about German history and culture through this trip, and are really lucky to have had this amazing opportunity to discover such a beautiful city and the surrounding area, as well as getting to know a great group of people in Germany. I’m so glad that I decided to participate in the Munich exchange and can’t wait to go back!
By Hannah (LVIE) and Sadie (LVIH)