British Dresden Scholars scheme, a pupils report

Jack Theodore one of the first British student to participate in the Dresden Scholars scheme from the UK  and after his time there this August and Septmeber sent this highly enthusiastic report:

In summer 2018 I was in Year 12, having never left my family for any longer than a week, only a fascination for the German language and a burning desire to explore the world. After seeing this amazing opportunity to stay with a German family for an extended period of time I was determined, although a little nervous, to get involved.

After being informed about my successful application I was put in touch with St. Benno Gymnasium, whose friendly foreign exchange leader gave me details of a host family, who I started getting to know via WhatsApp. After frequent emails between myself, the family, the school and the Dresden Trust, I arranged the transport, travelling alone. Although this aspect alone initially felt daunting to me, I am glad to have done it on my own, since it gave me such a huge confidence boost and a sense of independence. I flew from Luton Airport to Berlin Schoenefeld and then booked the Flixbus to Dresden, using the same route on my return; if I could have done it differently, I would have just used the train from Berlin, since it would have been quicker and more punctual than a bus.

I arrived late (approximately 22:00), but was greeted by my incredibly kind and considerate host family, who offered me Schwarzbrot (a new favourite food of mine) and cheese before I settled in for my first night.

The next day I was completely thrown into the deep end. First thing in the morning I had my breakfast and was told that I was going to be cycling to school with the children (something I had never done before). On the first day I got my first glimpse of the true beauty of the city. I cycled over a bridge over the river, with a fantastic view of the Frauenkirche and other parts of the Altstadt (this was one of my favourite parts of the school day).

I was put into the ‘year 11’ class, and was quickly introduced to a group of energetic, enthusiastic boys who became my group of friends that I hung out with and am still in contact with today. There was a sense of camaraderie and community at this school that you don’t really see in English schools which I loved. The first week was the most difficult, but I soon settled in because everyone was so accommodating.

Outside of school, I did something different with my host family almost every day: jogging, cycling, visiting museums, a tour of the breath-taking and historically fascinating Frauenkirche, kindly organised by the Dresden Trust, shopping, exploring the city were all things I did after school. Weekends were also incredible fun; on the first week I went canoeing in the Spreewald, then went to a street festival in a lively district in the city. On the second weekend I went to a family friend’s party and visited some interestingly decorated buildings in the Kunsthof, as well as visiting the science museum. On the third we travelled to a family owned farm in the countryside, then hiked through the Saxon-Switzerland nature reserve before returning home. These were but a few of the many things I did in my time there.

The Dresden Scholars’ Scheme has provided me with one of the best experiences of my life. I have met countless new people who I will stay in contact with for a very long time, I have become more open minded and learned so much about the culture, and of course I have massively improved my fluency and confidence with the German language. If I could have changed anything about the trip, I would have stayed longer, in order to gain a better experience of everyday life and to explore Germany even more.

St Benno Gymnasium below

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