The Hamburg Exhange 2015 Report

Halfway through the October half term, a small group of UCS Remove students gathered outside Luton Airport, ready to embark for Hamburg as part of the annual UCS/Heinrich-Heine exchange. Having checked in our luggage and grabbed something quick to eat, we boarded the plane, eagerly waiting to meet our partners for the second time. As we had already got to know them during the first leg of the exchange, we felt very comfortable upon arrival. Soon enough, we were warmly greeted by our host families and ushered home, having said goodbye to Mr Underwood, Dr Colwell and my fellow English friends, for a delicious evening meal of Schnitzel and potatoes with the family. After being kindly shown around the house and a fun yet frustrating game of FIFA, I felt it was time to go to bed in order to make the most out of the upcoming events and days in Germany.

The next morning, following a breakfast consisting of Weißwurst served with a variation of different German breads, my exchange partner, Daniel, and I rushed to the Poppenbüttel train station where we were scheduled to meet before heading to Lübeck, a northern city of Germany, renowned for its gothic architecture and its marzipan industry. Once we had arrived, we spent a few hours sightseeing before a short lunch break. We were then given time to buy some souvenirs and visit the wide variety of shops on the high street. I’d also like to mention Mr Underwood’s shopping challenge which involved finding a few items from a list for which we were provided with, purchasing them, and bringing them back in the shortest amount of time. It also gave us a chance to speak and communicate with the local people, not to mention the strange and confused looks we were given.

After an enjoyable day out it was time to return to Poppenbüttel where we were to meet our exchanges and say goodbye to our teachers as we weren’t going to see them until Monday. As a group, some partners decided to spend the rest of the evening at a local indoor waterpark which, in my opinion was a major highlight of the exchange and cemented a real bond between the two groups.

To start off the weekend, Daniel and I visited the well known ‘Miniatur Wunderland’, the world’s largest model railway exhibition, covering 4 floors and incorporating an array of different transport related scenes, such as an airport, a train station and the HSV stadium, all in immense detail. We then, surprised at how quickly the time had passed and feeling very hungry, took a bus to central Hamburg in order to find something to eat. We finally decided on Jim Block, a famous fast-food restaurant serving delicious hamburgers and salads. Having had our lunch, Daniel and I took the train home from ‘Rathaus’ station, located next to the city hall, as we had planned to meet the rest of the group at his house before going out.

On Sunday, Daniel and his family kindly took me to The Hamburg Dungeons, situated next to the harbour, which he was very excited to take me to. The experience consisted of 11 rooms and a surprise ride at the end of the tour which reenacted the drop a hanged person would encounter known as the “Death Drop”. With Daniel beside me, I had no difficulty understanding what was going on in each sector of the show. It was not only fun but gave me an idea of what Hamburg was like throughout the previous centuries. Later that evening, we travelled to the official HSV stadium to see Hamburg play Hannover. Hamburg started off the game with an early goal, putting them in a comfortable position. Unfortunately, however a penalty was conceded just before halftime and later on in the last ten minutes, Hannover scored another goal to give them the lead with a final score of 2-1. Although the game didn’t have a positive result, the atmosphere was great and I enjoyed going to a football match in a foreign country.

Once the weekend was over, our group of UCS students along with Dr Colwell and Mr Underwood met yet again, at Poppenbüttel train station for our longed for trip to Berlin. Although it being early in the morning, we were all excited for the fun day ahead as we got on the train. Having visited, amongst others, the Brandenburg Gate, the Jewish Memorial, Potsdamer Platz, Bebelplatz and Berlin’s Olympic stadium (which is currently used as the home venue for the Fußball-Bundesliga's Hertha BSC), we walked around the city centre, taking in the beautiful sights before having lunch in a nearby shopping centre. Later on, we passed by one of the world’s biggest electronic stores (covering 4 floors), by the name of Saturn, where I, amongst others, bought something with the remainder of our money. Sadly, by then it was time to return home.

The following day, we spent the morning at Heinrich Heine Gymnasium, the school of our exchanges, where for half the day we were given the opportunity to take part in our exchanges lessons, followed by a day trip to the city, but this time with other UCS students. The group enjoyed the photo challenge that our teachers had set up in the main city square! Later that day we all gathered at the school for a farewell English Evening.. It consisted of many different presentations by the German students, a quiz on England, and finally, a short stand up comedy show which ended the exchange with many laughs and smiles.

Overall, my time in Hamburg not only improved my spoken German but gave me the opportunity to make new friends who I will hopefully see in the foreseeing future! We are all very grateful to our host families for their hospitality and comfort and on behalf of myself and the other UCS exchanges, we’d like to thank Mr Underwood and Dr Colwell for organizing such a fun and educational experience.

Maximilian Rouse