College – Issue 34

Football and chips – the complete German experience

A shared love of football meant Year 13 student Thomas Walker and his German host Pius Nelles immediately hit it off when the Christ’s College student arrived in Essen, in the Ruhrgebiet, north west Germany, in December 2017. “I’m a big football fan and my exchange family was too. They supported Borussia Dortmund, a team in the Bundesliga, the top league, and I was lucky enough to go with them to five games,” says Thomas. Not surprisingly his birthday present, celebrated with pizza and chips just before he returned to Christchurch, was a football jersey with his name printed on the back. The German exchange had been in Thomas’s mind since he started College.

“I knew a lot of College boys had done this in the past, and they said it was quite difficult and scary at the beginning, but so worth it. “It was something I’d always thought I’d like to do, and when the time came I just went for it. It was an absolutely amazing experience – to immerse yourself in a new culture and improve your language. “My pronunciation is so much better now. I wasn’t confident in class last year, but I’m feeling a lot better now.” On the first day at his co-ed school Thomas says he could barely understand anything. “It was quite a struggle for the first week or so, but towards the end I could have a good conversation with everyone.”

School started at 7.45am and finished at 2pm after which

everyone went home to a big dinner. Currywurst was Thomas’s favourite.

His host family spoke mainly German at home and only the

mother understood English. Now the boot is on the other foot for his host brother, Pius Nelles, who is spending eight weeks at College. Highlights of Thomas’s German stay were going by tram in the snow to the Christmas markets three nights in a row (“awesome”); spending a week at a youth hostel in Berlin with all the other New Zealand exchange students; going to Munich, Bavaria at New Year with his family; staying with Pius’s uncle and aunt in Wolfsburg; and spending a day in Amsterdam. “It was all amazing and I can’t wait to go again. If you get the chance, do it.”

Christ’s College Canterbury


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