After a long flight and a short bus ride, the students arrive in the parking lot of the Krefeld Zoo. There, their host families will be waiting to take them home, and they will begin their amazing summer of living and learning German.
The first order of business to take care of before classes start is academic testing, which serves to separate the students into groups depending on their level of German knowledge. Once separated, the students will have classes with their group every school day while learning grammar, conversation skills, literature, and culture.
Students can choose between two additional classes that go along with school: theater and music. In the end, everything in these two classes is for the Abschiedsfest, or goodbye ceremony, at the end of the Program. In theater, the students will spend the entire summer preparing a play that they will present. In music, students learn songs that they will sing at the goodbye ceremony. Not only are these classes fun, but they also help you meet the other students who are not in your academic classes. I was in theatre, and I had so much fun while also learning more German.
The students are also provided with entertaining extracurricular activities. During my summer in Germany, we played softball and went bowling and paddle boating. These activities include all students and, like theater and music, are a wonderful chance to get to know everyone else in the Program. It is also a great way to be active. One day during the students' time in Germany, they attend a day of classes at a German school. This is one of the great cultural learning experiences that the students will have, since the German school system is dramatically different from the American one.
One group trip in Krefeld that I found especially enjoyable was to a castle called Burg Linn. Burg Linn is located in a beautiful area and is surrounded by a moat. Students take a tour through the castle and spend some time walking around it. Inside, the exhibits describe what the castle was like when it was built, and there is also a tower that students can climb. The view from the tower is amazing! It is not only a cool place to learn about, but is also a very pretty place to see.
On the Fourth of July, the students throw a party to celebrate with all the host families. Students spend a day preparing some form of entertainment for this event. The year I went, we prepared skits about German history and culture. It was so much fun and we had plenty of German food that the families provided. This party is a great bonding activity for the students and their families, and it also gives the host families a chance to see how their students are doing in the program. What a different way of celebrating an American holiday it was for us!
During the Program, the students take three trips to other German cities. One of those cities, Aachen, is both beautiful and historical, and famous for being the place that Charlemagne favored when he was alive, and where his remains now lay. It is also known as the city of water because of its hot springs, and has very good gingerbread!
The students will also visit Cologne (Köln). This lovely city, located right on the Rhine River, is famous for its enormous and elaborate Gothic cathedral. When I went to Cologne, we took a walking tour of the city and visited several museums. There are also plenty of shops where students can pick up souvenirs during the time given to them to explore the city.
The longest excursion of the summer is Berlin. Students spend three days there and get to experience spending the night in a youth hostel. They take a bus tour, which allows them to see the majority of Berlin. There is so much to see and do in Berlin! From the Holocaust Memorial to the Brandenburg Gate, there are many famous landmarks to see. I highly recommend that students take their cameras on this trip.
Overall, the IU Honors Program in Krefeld, Germany is a wonderful experience, and any student who participates in it will learn a great deal of German and become more culturally aware of the world around them. I can personally say that I learned a tremendous amount from the Program, that my language skills soared, and that I became much more self-sufficient. I made so many new friends who share my love of the German language and culture. I highly recommend this program to anyone who has a love of German and wants to learn and experience even more. This is truly an experience that all the students will never forget!