Sharing thoughts on my first visit to Germany
I came to Marienstatt with a group of Russian exchange students.
Back in Saint-Petersburg I heard a lot of good about this program which is almost twenty years old. I also noticed that our students tend to return home from Germany changed. In my opinion, visiting the Gymnasium Marienstatt makes them more thoughtful, more insightful.
I decided that there had to be something about it.
After meeting with Mr. Heinrichs and his students, the exchange program participants, in the airport we were taken to the Marienstatt abbey where the host parents had been waiting to pick up all the children. I was fascinated by the beauty of the landscapes, the cleanness of the creek, magic looks of the forests. All our St. Petersburg kids were pleasantly surprised with the absolute absence of any litter; most of them made nice comments on it. Later the beauty of the country became hypnotic. I couldn´t stop getting amazed with how much taste there is in everything around, how pretty the houses with their small flowery gardens are. The medieval towns of this land, in my opinion, look just like a dream.
With my Russian colleague Anna we quickly came to conclusion that our students are being very well taken care of. It was very touching to hear them say something like “My host mama gave me these sandwiches” or “My host papa is taking us rock climbing”.
They liked the monastery and found the library exciting. Some lessons that we had attended at the gymnasium were similar to ours and some were very different. For example, the music class surprised us. We were amazed that students had studied scores, we were deeply impressed with the textbooks.
I just want to add few words on incredible hospitality of our German partners. The program was filled with all kinds of highlights – we were taken all over the local countryside, to Coblenz and Marksburg, to Koln and Limburg, so by now we had already done all kinds of things from hiking and sightseeing to excessive shopping in Köln.
The kindness and generousity of the host families just turned out to be much more than everybody expected. The host parents cooked special kinds of food on the first demand, constantly gently asked children about all their needs, invited them to different nice places for additional entertainment, and, overall, took great care of them.
Time flies and we are leaving soon. Everybody agrees that our group had great time in Germany. We are very grateful to our partners for their hard work and great planning.
The Gymnasium Marienstatt students will travel to Saint-Petersburg in April. We are looking forward towards it and hope they will feel as comfortable in Russia as we do here.