During the weekend I attended my host Rotary District’s Inbound Rotary Youth Exchange Orientation. This was my second Orientation weekend since attending my first Orientation weekend in March. This weekend marked my 8 months in Germany as a Rotary Youth Exchange student. Now I’m an ‘Oldie’, so to speak, as I have been living in Germany as a Rotary Youth Exchange student for over half a year. Over the weekend I was able to welcome all the new Inbounds into our District who have only just arrived. It was heaps of fun meeting all of my ‘Newbies’ and becoming a part of another entirely new Rotary Youth Exchange family.
The Orientation was held in Heide which is located in central Schleswig-Holstein. On Friday afternoon everyone caught the train to the city where we met each other for the first time. The new group was so young and fresh, which reminded me of my first few months on exchange, and I reflected how much I’ve changed since then over the course of the year.
During the afternoon we spent time meeting everyone and mingling amongst the group. We all traded pins to decorate our blazers. My blazer is now looking very full and has become quite heavy. I look a little bit like a walking christmas tree but I love how much of a tribute it has become to my whole exchange. There are so many different memories displayed on my blazer.
After dinner everyone was given the chance to introduce themselves in German and we then went through the Dos and Don’ts of exchange with Rotex, a group of rebound exchange students.
On Saturday we took a group day trip to Helgoland, an island off the coast of Germany located on the North Sea. The ferry took two and a half hours to reach the island, the perfect opportunity to continue chatting and getting to know one another. At around midday we arrived at the Helgoland Düne, a small sandy island neighbouring the main island. We were met by representatives of the Rotary Club of Helgoland who had hired a guide to take us the main beach where many grey seals can be sighted laying on the sand bank. The whole day was shrouded in dense fog so unfortunately there weren’t so many seals to be seen. Most of them were frolicking about in the water instead of laying on the sand.
After having spotted the seals, we walked along the pebbled coastline until we reached a restaurant where everyone enjoyed a warm meal together. Another ferry departing from the dock from where we arrived took us to the main Island where we had just 45 minutes of free time. Mei (Japan) and I bought pins for our blazers and then went for a walk together to get a feel for the island. We climbed the stairs to the raised section where some stunning cliff faces can be seen. I took some photos of the foggy harbour before buying an ice cream to eat on the way down to meet the rest of the group and board our ferry back to mainland Germany. The ride back was similar to on the way there except that some students were utterly exhausted from the big day out.
Dinner was served on our second evening, and afterwards every country group was expected to present a performance encapsulating typical music from their countries. The two other Aussies and I sang “Land Down Under” by Men at Work for the group. Our special guest was the inflatable Kangaroo my brother sent me during my first months in Germany. Everyone’s presentation was fantastic. We are a very international group with as many as 14 countries represented.
Our last morning together was spent taking groups photos of everyone wearing their blazers and then going through an overview of the upcoming exchange year. It was another successful orientation weekend, where I formed my latest international friendships. Exchange students are some of the best friends one can have, and I’m so glad that we will all have further opportunities to meet together throughout the coming months!