The (Ger)many lessons of living abroad

Hannah Kim, Editorial Board Member

“Es tut mir leid, ich verstehe das nicht,” or “I’m sorry, I don’t understand,” is definitely a phrase many English speakers would cling to if ever given the chance to travel to Germany. For freshman Serena Lester, that phrase is all too familiar. 

That’s because for five years, Lester and her family lived in Auringen, Germany for her father’s job. Unbeknownst to Lester at the time, those five years would result in some of her most cherished memories. 

“There is so much about Germany that I love, too much to list. I spent most of my childhood there,” Lester said. “I left the United States freshly out of first grade, and came back as a middle schooler,” 

Daily life in Germany is similar to life in the United States. School, after school activities, bike rides on the weekends… But for Lester, there is a quality about Germany that she will always miss. 

“I remember how peaceful it felt. Here, before Covid-19, we would be running around finishing errands, school, homework, sports, etc. In Germany, I felt like daily life wasn’t as rushed,” Lester said. 

Throughout the five years they spent there, Lester and her family explored much of Germany, often visiting downtown Wiesbaden to shop and eat. And while the stores were exciting to window shop, even more exciting was the surprising number of castles scattered all around Germany. 

“My family would visit castles wherever we went and climb up to the top to see the view. It was always so breathtaking,” Lester said. “Sometimes the castles would be in the middle of nowhere and we would have to hike up to see them, while other times they would be in the middle of a city. Along the Rhein River, every hundred miles you would see another castle. They’re everywhere!”

While exploring castles never got old, neither did her unique learning experience. 

Lester attended an international school with students from many different backgrounds. Her second grade class alone had students from seventeen unique countries. 

“One of the best parts about living in Germany was the different cultures and languages I was introduced to through new friends,” Lester said. “I had never been exposed to so many different types of people before I went there, and it was an experience I’ll never forget.”

Cultural connection wasn’t the only learning experience Lester encountered during her time at an international school, however. 

“Something I had to learn while studying at this school was how to deal with loss. At least two of my friends left every year because most jobs kept families in one place for two to three years,” Lester said. “But I learned that every year more people came, and because of the small community, everyone was friends.” 

Although Lester and her family have been back in the States for three years now, Germany will always feel like home. “I’ll always miss Germany,” Lester said. “Sometimes I will say a German word without thinking about it, such as Nein, Ja, Danke schön, or Bitte.”