Preparational Course in Hamburg and Berlin
We arrived on Monday the 12th of August in Hamburg, Germany. The first thing we did, was to go to the A&O Hotel, where we did the accommodation and then ate lunch. After recovering some energy back, we went straight to a small but beautiful city called Bad Oldesloe, near the city of Hamburg, where we started the orientation. Dinner took place back at the Hotel and since most of us were still tired from the long trip to Germany, we decided to relax and use the free time we had to recover and prepare for the next day.
Tuesday, started early. We ate breakfast and by 9 we started with the German classes. The classes were really interesting, the time flew by! We were really excited, because after lunch we were going to get to see Hamburg. We walked around Hamburg and did some sightseeing through some of the most beautiful and touristic places of the city. Since some of the underground stations in maintenance were, we had to take a different route to the hotel. We used this opportunity so walk and visit the famous “red light district”. It was still early, so most of the bars and clubs were just opening, but we got to see a bit of this interesting night life Hamburg has to offer. After dinner, we always had around 2 hours for ourselves before having to go to sleep. We either played some games or used the time to relax.
The German course at Wednesday was great, we learned mostly new vocabulary that would come in handy later on. This day we went to a neighborhood that would show us a more classic sight of Hamburg and Germany in general. This idea was underestimated, we didn’t know the structures would be so simple, yet so nice and that there would be so many trees in the city. After eating, we visited the Hamburg Dom. It is a city tradition that opens every couple of months and consists mostly in an amusement park, were the young population of Hamburg and also the tourist gather. It was really fun, we had a great time and ate delicious candies! After the Dom, we head back to the Hotel, most of us were really tired, the Dom was huge and we got to walk through the whole area, so we went straight to bed, to have a good night sleep and be ready for the next day.
Everyone started getting in rhythm with the German classes, practicing the new vocabulary with some new sentences and small talk. Most of the boys were really excited, because after lunch we were going to visit the St. Pauli Stadion. We had a guided tour in the stadium and we learned a lot about the German football, the football league and how it works. We also learned how important football is for the German culture! We ate something and then returned to the hotel, where we had to sort our laundry before going to sleep.
Its Friday, it was the last German class of the week and we all realized how fast the time had passed by. After lunch we went to the Hamburg city center. The weather was perfect for a walk through the city. The city was really active and we got to see how a normal work day in the city center is, even though it was Friday, the city was working actively. There were a lot of nice shops, but the best was definitely the Alster. Since it was a sunny day, a lot of youngsters gathered around the Alster to relax, maybe drink a beer and enjoy the day. After this we had a tour in the port side, Hafen city. The contrast of the old port and the modern structures of the Hafen city were stunning. We took some nice pictures and had a tour, which explained us all the history and importance of the port and HafenCity in general. For dinner, we grilled back at the hotel and it was delicious. We all had a great time grilling and eating together.
The first day of the weekend! After having breakfast, for the first time, we did not have German classes. This time the plan was different. We travelled to another city called Lübeck. Lübeck has to be one of the most beautiful cities in Germany. Its infrastructure was classy and old. We divided in two groups, with whom we did a city rally, visiting all the important places around the city and asking local people about directions and information, it was really fun, and we got to get in contact with German people. We went to the Holsten Gate, the lighthouse, we learned a lot about the history of the city and learned that it was not destroyed completely during the 2nd world war, hence its beautiful buildings and sights. Even though the weather was not the best for the day, the city active and happy, because the Christopher Parade was being celebrated. After lunch we went to Travemünde. We arrived at the famous beach train station of Travemünde. We walked around the beach and appreciating the docks with all the yachts and sailboats and taking pictures of the amazing view Travemünde has to offer. After one hour at the beach, the rain would not stop, so we all decided to go back to the train station and then to the Hotel, where we had dinner and went to sleep, after a long and great day.
The plan for Sunday was full of interesting activities. After lunch we headed to the Hamburg Zoo. We saw a lot of incredible animals and it was really fun. Then we visited another green area in the city called “Planten un Blomen”, which was a park full of beautiful flowers and plants of all kinds. Thereafter we went to Jungfernstieg, slowly making our way towards the port again, because later we had a harbor tour. Before lunch, we managed to visit a famous church in Hamburg called, “Nikolaikirche”. For lunch we ate a typical and delicious German meal called “Curry Wurst”. The harbor tour was interesting, we went through some of the canals in Hamburg and also the Port and saw some of the most important port stations. After the tour we still had some time before heading back, so we decided to visit one of the port stations. It was amazing! We went to the beach again! This time the beach was in Hamburg, the Elbstrand and we walked around it for a while. After enjoying the view and seeing some more of the Hamburg’s port, we went back to the Hotel.
Our second week in Germany started with a good breakfast, followed by our German classes. After the encounters in Lübeck, where we spoke to more Germans, our German skills improved a bit, some even lost the fear to speak, which was a pleasant surprise for everyone. On the afternoon went hiking and walking through the peaceful forest and grasslands outside city. It was an incredible time for us to relax and meet the German nature and landscapes the countryside has to offer. We then went to a different location, where he had a culture workshop. It was good to change the location to have these seminars, so that we did not get bored of the same environment every time. We learned a lot of the differences between our cultures, thanks to the culture workshop. We learned about the importance of the punctuality and honesty in Germany, Christmas and its traditions, etc. The most interesting differences were the eating habits and manners. After dinner we had some time for ourselves and then our day ended.
After both meals and the German courses, the weather was perfect to visit a museum. We visited the “Miniaturwunderland Museum”, it was a museum, where everything was in miniature. It was interesting to see many of the most important cities of the world in miniature. We could appreciate the hard work that was put in all the small structures, people and even landscapes. Some of the works were magnificent. After being in the afternoon in the museum we were really hungry, so we headed back to the Hotel to have dinner and end the day.
Once we finished the German classes and lunch, we took advantage of the not so great weather we had by starting to prepare the presentations. We talked about the plan for next week and about the presentations earlier in the week, therefore we decided to start preparing them while the weather was not so good, so that we didn’t have to do it during a different day if the weather was nice. We had to prepare about our country of origin, the touristic attractions and the delicious food the country has. We had fun with everyone talking and discussing about our country and about which food is the best. After that, we had dinner and then we had some free time before our bed time.
We had breakfast in the hotel, but before we started the German classes, the second group, who had problems with the visa and therefore were late, arrived. During the classes those who arrived in the first group, showed them the methods and what to do, like the diary, the new vocabulary, etc. After lunch, we separated in two groups. Since the second group just arrived, we had the introduction and orientation again with them, we showed them around the city and the hotel. With the first group we started the individual talks about their concerns and expectations of this exchange and how to confront and fulfil them. We all gathered together for dinner and ended the day.
It was Friday again, another week passed really fast and it was the last German class, before the weekend! After lunch, we went sightseeing in Hamburg. We walked around the city centre again, visiting Jungfernstieg, the beautiful town hall and HafenCity, we were slowly making our way to the port side. We learned a lot about the history of Hamburg. Some of the boys didn’t want to go to watch the musical “The Lion King”, they returned with Marie, one of the representatives from Aubiko, to the Hotel where they ate some icre cream and relaxed. The musical was on the other side of the river, therefore an exclusive boat from the musical, came to pick us up. The musical lasted around three to four hours and it was amazing. The music, the choreography and the whole scenario were stunning, it truly was a one in a lifetime experience! We all were fascinated with such an amazing play. After the musical, it was late in the night, so we ate something and went back to the Hotel to sleep.
On Saturday, the plan was to travel to Bremen right after breakfast, but it took a bit longer than planned and we arrived at Bremen by lunch. After eating we went straight to the city centre, where Bert explained us about the history of Bremen and the similarities and differences the city had compared to Hamburg. We then had to talk to the people passing by in Bremen and ask them about different topics like, what their favourite holyday in Germany was, or their favourite food, etc. It was really interesting to hear different opinions and to interact with the citizens of Bremen. Then we had a rally in Bremen, to try to find all the places of interest. After the rally, we all met and discussed about our experience and all the fascinating places we saw through Bremen, before heading back to Hamburg and ending the day.
After our meal in the mourning and packing all our things, we went back to Lübeck, where we took a bus headed to Berlin, the capital of Germany. We had lunch in Berlin and our tour around the city began. First we went to the “Alexander Platz” and visited the Television Tower, then we walked around the city centre and went to the famous “Brandernburger Tor” where we took some beautiful pictures. Thereafter we went to the Hotel in Berlin where we were going to stay for the last week of the program. We had dinner at the Hotel and then we had time to unpack and settle in before going to sleep.
The first breakfast we had outside Hamburg, was good. It felt nice to eat on a different environment for a change. Afterward, we had a seminar about Aubiko and the whole exchange program together with the other groups from Colombia. After this, Bert told us about the history of Leipzig, a city in Germany, like the “battle of nations” with Napoleon and how important this city was for the German reunification. Lunch came right after this interesting seminar and then we travelled to Potsdam. In we started visiting the new Palais and the castle of Sanssouci. Both were amazing. There was a lot of beautiful views to be appreciated in both locations. Little did we know, that besides being such incredible structures, there was a lot of history involved. The audio guides we had, explained us about all the Prussian and a lot of the European history in general. The buildings we just saw were also important for the wars that held in this region. We also visited the city center, we heard about the porcelain history, the silk factory and walked around the most beautiful parks in the city, where we obviously took some pictures. For dinner we had Korean food and it was delicious. We had free time after all this in Potsdam before we headed back to Berlin. Some of us stayed at the park and enjoyed what probably was one of the hottest days of the year in Germany relaxing. Others enjoyed their free time walking around watching and appreciating the classic structure of the German houses. After this beautiful day, we returned to Berlin and ended the day.
On Tuesday we had breakfast early, because before the German classes we had to practice the interaction while eating. We did some role play about the positive and negative behaviors on the table or possible situations we could have with our host family and how to improve or react upon them. During the German class, we had the option to finish the postcards we were going to send to our host families the day after written, of course, in German. After lunch, we visited the the famous German parliament called “Reichstag” and decided together which of the many places of interest were we going to visit after. In the Reichstag we were given some great audio guides, which you could set in any language. While we were walking around, looking at the amazing infrastructure of the parliament, the audio guide explained about the most important moments of the German history and about the decisions that were taken for them to happen. Afterwards we had the Spree boat tour, we appreciated the Bellavue Palace, the cathedral and the museum island from the riverside. For dinner we had “curry wurst” what seems to be one of the most preferred meals for the young population. After trying them, most of us loved it and understood why this food is so popular among the German students. When we returned to the hotel, since we had some time for ourselves and our hotel was so close to the Berlin Wall, we decided to take a walk by the wall and take some pictures before going back to sleep.
Before the German classes started, we had to send the postcards we prepared the days before to our host families. We ate lunch at the hotel and then we went to the “Kurfürstendamm”, one of the most famous streets in Berlin, where some of the fanciest stores are. After shopping, we continued walking around the city center and visited the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, which history we also heard. We ate an ice cream, had dinner and then ended the day back at the hotel.
Thursday we had the last German class of the program, we learned a lot during the courses and we thanked the people of Aubiko for teaching us the basics. After lunch we had a guided tour through Checkpoint Charly, the Potsdammer Platz and the Jewish Memorial, we heard some stories and learned about the situation in and after the 2nd world war. For dinner we could choose either to eat curry wurst again, or try another typical meal in Berlin called “Döner”. We then visited the Wall again for the last time before going to sleep.
Friday, pretty much our last day together, we had breakfast together and then we had preparation courses as well, we practiced how not to behave confronting certain problems, with the host family and if so, how to change in a positive way. Then we prepared some activities for the “Goodbye Party” we were having at night. We had different stations and each one could decide where to go. Some wanted to teach the other groups how to write and pronounce their names and how to count in Taiwanese. Some of the girls decided to dance with the Colombian group and the rest decided to present about the places of interest, the food and some facts about Taiwan. After lunch, we went to “unter den Linden”, but instead of going to the Brandenburger Tor, we went to the “Bebelplatz”. We appreciated the State Opera building from outside on one side and the Humbolt University on the other side of the public square. We had some free time to take pictures and enjoy our last day in Berlin, before heading back to the Hotel. Back at the Hotel we had to pack our stuff since we were not going to have much time later or tomorrow before we left. After dinner we finished the decorations of the room where we were having the Goodbye party in a moment. The party was great, everyone had a lot of fun with the Colombian dance, the rest of the girls even learned the choreography after the dance. The presentations were really interesting, we learned a lot about Taiwan and different athletes from Colombia. The card games and the counting were also a success. After having so much fun, we were all tired so we went back to sleep for the last time in the hotel.
Breakfast was pretty early, because we had to check out and go to our respective transportation vehicles, like buses or trains to then go to our host families. The aubiko team was amazing for the whole three weeks, they also helped each one of us to get to the right place on the right train and when we arrived to our host families safely, they were notified.