Was ein Schüleraustauch bewirken kann
(Ein Bericht von Abdulrahman Al Daher)
Ein Schüleraustausch in Schweden kann eine unvergessliche Erfahrung sein. Die Schweden sind bekannt für ihre freundliche und offene Kultur, was es einfacher macht Freundschaften zu schließen. Außerdem unterscheidet sich Schweden sehr von Deutschland. Der größte Unterschied für mich war die Schule. Das Schulsystem unterscheidet sich sehr stark vom deutschen System.
In Schweden herrscht nur neun Jahre Schulpflicht und das Schüler-Lehrer Verhältnis ist auch anders: die Lehrer werden mit Vornamen angesprochen und man bekommt von jedem Lehrer die private Telefonnummer und E-Mail. Generell herrscht also eher ein freundschaftliches Klima zwischen Schülern und Lehrer. Die Lehrer sind sehr locker und humorvoll.
Die Schule in Schweden fängt später an als in Deutschland. Bei mir war es 8:10 Uhr. Eine Unterrichtsstunde ist immer unterschiedlich lang; die kürzeste Stunde war bei mir 30 Minuten und die längste 60 Minuten. Die Fächer waren den deutschen sehr ähnlich, doch der Unterricht ist anders aufgebaut. Es wird sehr viel Wert auf Gruppenarbeit gelegt. In meiner Klasse herrschte deswegen eine sehr gute Klassengemeinschaft, was es einfacher macht Freundschaften zu schließen. Die Schülerinnen und Schüler haben mit einem Laptop gearbeitet. Es gab zwei Pausen in der man kostenloses Mittagessen in der Schule bekommt. Es war sehr lecker.
Das Leben in der Gastfamilie war sehr schön, man hat sehr viel gelacht und geredet. Meine Gastfamilie hat mich wirklich sehr gut aufgenommen. Wir haben viele Aktivitäten außerhalb der Schule unternommen, wie zum Beispiel Boot fahren, angeln, Kino, Joggen, Fußball, Wandern, Sehenswürdigkeiten ansehen und viele weitere Aktivitäten.
Es war eine Woche voller schöner, spannender Momente und unvergesslicher Erinnerungen. Wer die Chance hat an einer Austauschfahrt teilzunehmen, sollte es tun! Anfangs war ich sehr unsicher, doch ich bin wirklich sehr glücklich, dass ich daran teilgenommen habe. Ich habe neue Eindrücke gesammelt und auch andere Personen aus der OPG kennengelernt, mit den ich in der Schule nie was zu tun hatte. Ich habe mich definitiv weiterentwickelt. Außerdem bin ich viel besser in Englisch geworden :)
The trip to A promising Nordic country
On the brink of dawn, the students and the teachers from our school woke up at an unusual time. At 6 a.m., all of us were still sleepwalking while we gathered in front of the school, where the bus was waiting to pick us up. After the short goodbyes were said to the family, the bus drove away and we were on our way to Sweden.
Some of us plucked earphones in, while others were booting up their portables to watch a movie. After all, the trip was very long, so preparation was necessary for a 12-hour bus ride. There was always a good mood on the bus. The students, a mix of grades 8 and 9, got to know each other and some even built friendships before the arrival. Of course, most of the time during the ride was slept through to pass time and to possibly relieve some stress that students might have had before meeting their exchange families. “What should I expect from my family?”, they all asked themselves. The euphoric thoughts while driving past buildings in an entirely different country brought a form of peace to some, but soon they were about to get off and meet the people they are going to be staying with for the next six days.
Escaping A mobile prison
Arriving in Kungälv, the Swedish destination, later than expected. We got out of the bus at around 8 p.m. The families were waiting for us in the school canteen. Each one of us had to introduce themselves to their respective families. The tension was abnormally high, so at least that is what I felt. After everyone got paired up with their families one by one, the hall emptied out slowly and everybody was on their way to their temporary home.
Many only drove a little bit because they lived in the city. On the other hand, some had to drive to a remote forest or a farm that was as far as 30 km from school.
We were hungry, despite eating on the way, we were not properly nourished. Everybody was craving for real food and not just snacks and edible junk, so once everyone arrived, they got to eat fresh and real homemade food.
The food was different. From my point of view, the Swedish cuisine is nothing like the one in Germany. Most notably, some traditional families ate solid food without using plates. The consume took place on the table, not even a napkin was laid out under the food. Once done eating, the table was cleaned and brushed off, and you could just start eating again. No, I was not the only one experiencing this eating habit.
There were some food you may have never even heard of. Nevertheless, there was also the most popular Köttbullar, a Swedish meatball dish, often combined and eaten with mashed potatoes and peas. Räkmacka is a Swedish sandwich with cheese, different salads, and shrimps.
A Sunday meant for “growing closer”
The families made special occasions just for the arrival of the exchange students to get to know them more. The families that lived near the forest went hiking, the city folk visited the mall or went out to get food in a restaurant or stand. Thanks to these little interactions and activities, the families got to “grow closer” to each one of us.
Most students who lived in the north-west of the school were taken to Marstrand, a small city on an island on the west coast of Sweden. Landscapes that are rare in Germany can be seen there. Cold geological formations with a chilly weather and cloudy sky.
Whoever happened to be brought to the south got to see beautiful taiga forests. These taigas were overgrown with moss and huge ravines were erupting out of the ground. We even ate freshly harvested mushrooms that we cooked on the spot on a flat pan above a fire!
A few of the students stayed in the city center and they went to the newly renovated mall. Its name is Konghälla and it is a main attraction found in the center of Kungälv that can be seen from the highway when driving through the town.
“Misconception” of reality between A culturally differentiating family
Our habits as foreigners differed to those of the Swedish families and we really wanted to fit in, but these small cultural differences made the experience even better. We are used to seeing the same world around us, in the same country, in the same house and with the same people. At first, this was a scary thought, but we were aware of the fact that we are going to be stationed at families whose priority is to give us a warm welcome. They want us to experience the everyday life in their environment. It is truly intriguing, especially if you have a dynamic bond with your guest family.
At first, the language was completely incomprehensible unless you spoke it. However, from time to time, you could figure out the context from a few words, but do not expect to understand much. Most of the people considering an exchange are repelled by this. From our experience, we might have stood out by not being able to communicate with everyone, and despite this, we tried to be inventive. Unexpectedly, it was fun to say and move in a way the person opposite of you got what you were trying to tell him or her, often bringing each other to laugh in the process.
A school week too blissful
For us, the lessons were very easy, so that we got an idea of their school system and lessons. While the students there were studying, we were trying to comprehend the contents, talking and playing with them. They also interacted with us curiously, just like we did.
The school system is much more flexible. No schedule has a set duration, so it starts or ends at various times. You might also notice that the students learn with their own pace in these lessons, and they have a plan that is more spontaneous. If some finish earlier than the others, they get supplementary work. In more theory-based subjects, they work like this, but it is different in other subjects like music or German. In these, they work in groups and sing songs, learn tracks, or play instruments together. The class sticks together as they should.
Even outside of classes, students meet up in the music rooms for practicing and performing for school concerts in the lobby. These concerts are held every second or third week, and everybody can perform if they choose to do so! In Germany, we have never heard of this concept, but this has huge potential to bring the students a little closer.
On the third day of being in Sweden, both the German and Swedish exchange students spent the afternoon in the school kitchens. The program included baking special Swedish cinnamon rolls: Kanelbullar. Some were borderline burnt, some were baked to perfection. Despite their quality, they were all eaten.
In the heart of A metropolis
Near Kungälv is the second biggest city of Sweden. It is Gothenburg, an economically strong port city. We and our exchange partners spent a Wednesday exploring the city, the big malls and the sights. The tasks that were given to us allowed us to freely roam and explore the city. Can you imagine a city like Gothenburg? Whenever you hear “metropolis”, you think of NYC or Paris, don’t you?
A deep breath in this city, the air that breezes through the Atlantic enters your body. Why does the city smell so fresh? As if you were standing on a ship that was moving at a speed of 50 km/h. I felt cleansed after only inhaling and exhaling once we got out of the bus for the first time to the city.
Think of Gothenburg as London with its unique architecture, varying cultures and statues - lots of statues. Running over the bridges and through the alleyways is something you will never experience anywhere else.
The memories from a week out like this leave an impact
Nobody would have thought that this exchange would be the way it was. We did not expect as much as we got from a single week. The joy, the people, the experiences and most importantly, the memories it has given us is indescribable. You really must experience it for yourself to know what it was like. Throw away all your doubts and look at the positives and I can guarantee you, you will not regret your decision if you get the opportunity for an exchange.
The final days sadly darkened, all because we were aware that we were leaving soon. The students just welcomed us in, and we are already heading out? It felt like a blow to the neck. Why did time speed up? Time always goes by quicker if you are having fun. A prime example of this is… exactly this. When you are enjoying every day in school. Something that many would say never happens, but it is how it should be. When you are getting more attention from an entire school than ever. A new face admired curiously and listening to a language that is not familiar to you? Of course, you will be looked at in the school. It is as if someone started speaking Urdu in a German school. Still, it was funny explaining to clueless students who we were and why we were here.
Feeling very saddened, we said goodbye to our exchange families and to many friends we have made at school. It went by very quick, but we were already on our way heading home.
Left to tell a story
On our way home, both feeling down and excited at the same time. Did we want to go back? No! Did we want to see and tell our families about the excursion? Most definitely! I always kept thinking to myself: “Will I ever meet the people I met this week again?”. The fairy tale cannot just end there, can it? I am staying hopeful, maybe one day I get to go back. Not to that school, it would be too late for that, but the town, the family, and all the other places.
There is not one person who felt ecstatic about coming back, so I am not the only one who had made lasting memories. They will tell their point of view in their stories.
The distinct feeling when arriving in Germany stayed with me. A quick evaluation of where we just came back from, cut short by the scent of German air, followed by the feeling missing Sweden again.
A quote that stayed with me:
“No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.”