At the close of my sophomore year I sat eagerly in Northampton High School’s auditorium listening closely to the details of the 2012 GAPP trip. My brother, Philip, sitting next to me was nearly as excited as I was. In the upcoming fall we would be able to apply for the opportunity of a lifetime. GAPP is short for German American Partnership Program, in which Northampton High School is partnered with a school in Gladenbach, Germany. Every two years a group of interested students is selected to be a part of the GAPP program, but only after submitting a letter written in German, an essay in English, and receiving recommendations from two teachers. Students accepted also are required to have a specified GPA and no disciplinary record. As a part of the GAPP program, students host a German student in the spring and travel to Germany to live with their partners’ family in the summer.During the month of October I held my breath, anxious to discover if I had been accepted into the program. Finally, on a Monday morning after a very restless weekend, I learned that not only was I accepted, but my brother was as well. We were given the names and information of our partners and a list of dates when meetings would be held. In that moment, I could not have been any happier.
Throughout the year, I attended meetings, saved money, and eventually prepared my house to host two guests. On March 23, 2012 I stood outside of the high school waiting for a Trans Bridge bus to arrive, carrying 24 German students, two of whom would be living with me for the next 19 days. My partner Sina and I had chatted via e-mail for the past few months, but I still was unsure while scanning the crowd who exactly she was. It didn’t take long for us to find each other. All around, students were greeting each other, meeting for the first time. Philip found his partner, also named Philipp, and we departed the school with my parents, a family of six. Over the next few weeks, we learned a lot about each other; we shared a similar taste in music, I was more outgoing than she was, we both liked the same movies. And Philip and Philipp could have been twins, they are so similar.
On April 11, 2012 the German students departed for New York City where they would spend three nights before flying home. Although it was sad to see them go, we knew it wasn’t the last goodbye, and we would be seeing them again soon. By June I wanted nothing more than for school to end, because within a week of school ending I would be flying to Frankfurt, Germany. Before the trip, I had never been on a plane, let alone leaving the country. Although the thought of being on a plane, 30,000 feet above the ground, terrified me, my excitement to leave the country cast my fear into the shadows. After taking off I discovered that flying is nothing to get worked up about, and I actually found sleeping for the majority of the ride to be quite simple. I was in Germany in no time, and during the course of three weeks, I would live with a German family, attend German school, and travel Southern Germany and Northern Austria. Along the way I created many memories, which I will be sharing with you.
My name is Chrissy, the summer intern at The T&C Gazette. During the remaining week of July and the month of August, I will be taking you along on my journey as an exchange student in a six part series. I have so many stories about what it was like to live in a household that spoke a different language and had a different culture, the differences between the German and American school system, and I also want to share my memories from the five day tour I took around southern Germany with 23 other American students. You can follow my journey, beginning with German family life and culture, in the next Town & Country Gazette.
If you have any thoughts or questions about my trip or involvement in the GAPP program, feel free to contact me at Chrissy@homenewspa.com.