GCSE and A-level Students Travel to Germany for Exchange Visit | Epsom College
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GCSE and A-level Students Travel to Germany for Exchange Visit

Dejan Filipas, Year 10, reflects on the week-long trip for the second part of this year’s Exchange Programme over the half term break.

After embarking on a bus journey from the College on Sunday morning, we arrived at Heathrow Airport. The group consisted of 18 pupils from Year 10, 11 and Upper Sixth, as well as Miss Williams and Mr Carr who accompanied us there. As we headed off on our flight to Nürnberg, the excitement levels were through the roof. An hour later we arrived in Germany and began our journey by bus to Coburg, the city where we would be spending most of our time.

There we met our host families and enjoyed an evening in their homes. On Monday morning, following a tour of the Gymnasium Casimirianum, the school we partnered with for this exchange, we went to our first lessons with our exchange partners which were either English, German or Maths depending on their timetable.

Following this, we went on a hike to the Veste Coburg, Coburg’s fortress. There we experienced a guided tour of the fortress, which touched on the history and architecture of the building and the beginning of the Protestant Church and the connection between Coburg and England through Prince Albert.

Afterwards, we met our German partners in the main square for our first taste of German culture, as we ate a traditional Bratwurst. To end the day, we were given a guided tour of the city and its history by an A-level class, before spending the rest of the day with our exchange partners.

On Tuesday, we left Coburg in the morning, so that we could head to our first ever Footgolf experience. We then visited the Basilika Vierzehnheiligen (Church of the 14 Saints), where we heard the story of the Church and its name. After returning back to Coburg and spending the afternoon with our families, we went to see Top Gun: Maverick at the Coburg Cinema. This was by far our biggest challenge yet, as the movie was in German with no subtitles. Although it was a difficult listening exercise, it felt very satisfying to understand the movie, even if not entirely.

On Wednesday we enjoyed a ride on a double-decker train to Bamberg, a small university town with the nickname ‘Venice of the North’ due to its canal and gondolas. After touring Bamberg and its tunnels that were used as shelters during the war, we had about two hours of free time in our groups in which we could either grab a traditional German lunch, consisting of Wienerschnitzel or Bratwurst, or we could complete a photo challenge of the town organised by Mr Carr.

Thursday was our last full day in Coburg. We attended lessons, including PE, in which we played a game invented by the school called ‘Tribal’, which is a combination of Rugby and Football, whilst also introducing some new concepts. Moving on from the sports ground, we entered an escape room that was also invented by the German school and then we attended two more lessons to end our day.

On Friday, we got on the train to Nürnberg with all our luggage, which we left in lockers at the station while we visited Nurnberg’s future museum, which was an eye-opening experience, and roamed around the city to buy some final souvenirs and say goodbye to our exchange partners before embarking on the flight back to Heathrow.

In summary, the trip was an unforgettable experience, which I do not regret going on, even at the “expense” of having a shorter half-term holiday. Not only did we forge friendships with the German students, who could not have made us more welcome, but we also bonded as a group, as we continuously relied on one another during the trip. We learned valuable life lessons, such as getting around a city where not everyone speaks English, whilst also getting a taste of German culture.