In my World Schooling Round 1  blog, I explained what world schooling is and our adventures in New Zealand.  Well, round 2 was Germany.  This trip was different than New Zealand.  New Zealand was a full family adventure.  Germany was just my son and I going to visit our friends who moved to Germany at the end of last summer.  In addition, Germany has personal connections as it is one of our ancestral countries.  My husband has 100% German heritage.  I have German as the majority but I have lots of other stuff too.  So for us, Germany was a chance to understand our heritage while enjoying it with our friends.

Thanks to our friends, Germany was extremely fun and educational for us.  In addition, we even crossed the border to Austria.  Given we live in hot and steamy Texas it was fun experiencing Germany’s winter spring and playing in the snow.  Although a couple times it was so cold, my son called it “hurting cold.”  Sadly, 1 week was not enough time.  The boys were sad when our final day came because they enjoyed their time playing together.  Us moms were sad as we had so much fun and knew it’s back to the grind.  But since our friends are still there, we know we will be back.  And next time, we’ll explore places we missed.

It was extremely beneficial to have German friends as we had personal translators and guides. Here is what we experienced with our son thanks to our friends:

  • Schorndorf
  • Lorsch Kloster
  • Schwabisch Gmund
  • Fellbach
  • Swiss International School Science Fair (my son’s friends’ school)
  • Commuter train ride
  • Remshalden
  • Evang. Kirchengemeinde Grunbach (church & bell tower tour)
  • Schillers Geburtshaus
  • Marbach
  • Ludwigsburg
  • Bluehendes Baroque (palace & park)
  • Porsche Museum
  • Neighborhood pub or restaurant
  • Mercedes-Benz Museum
  • Grabkapelle auf dem Wurttemberg
  • Stuttgart
  • Jahre Markthalle
  • Landesmuseum Wurttemberg
  • Stuttgart’s main train station
  • Aldi (Aldi started in Germany and is now also found in the US, but the German ones are bigger and nicer)
  • Hohenschwangau Castle
  • Neuschwanstein Castles
  • Walderlebniszentrum
  • Lech Zahlen Falls
  • Austria border checkpoint
  • Musau, Austria
  • Ulm
  • Ulm Munster Cathedral
  • Romanian restaurant
  • Evang. Kirchengemeinde
  • Weingut W. Hafner vineyard
  • Museum Remshalden
  • Buoch
  • Pfarrkirche St. Sebastian
  • Musikverein Buoch EV
  • Hofweg in several towns
  • Essinglen
  • Borg
  • EV Frauenkirche Gemeinde
  • Kessler
  • Nikolaus-Kapelle
  • Stadtkirche St. Dionys
  • EV Gemeindehaus Kelter
  • XXXL store
  • Local bakeries, hardware stores, shoemaker, and hat making shops
  • Old cemeteries when found

Although our friends were our translators, we attempted to learn some basic German phrases.  I must admit, German is a hard language to learn.  Due to my prior knowledge of Spanish, it was hard to not speak in Spanish when I knew I didn’t understand the German being spoken.  Thankfully, our friends could explain anything for us.  And, my son picked up the accent and articulation of the few phrase we were learning much better than I.  It was also so nice of the boys to reassure my son that they could translate for him too.  We know we definitely need to practice our German!  Here are the phrases we tried to learn before arriving to Germany:

  • Ich spreche Englisch.     I speak English.
  • Ich spreche kein Deutsch.    I don’t speak German
  • Wo sind die Toiletten?    Where are the toilets? (We learned once we were there that they call bathrooms water closets.)
  • Guten tag.    Good day. (We learned this was too formal.)
  • Sie haben sie glutenfrie?     Do you have gluten-free? (Thanks to my friend, being Celiac was no issue.  Restaurants/pubs were very accommodating and stores were easy to navigate.  German food labeling is better than here in the US.)
  • Nein.     No.
  • Nein danke.     No thank you. (My son needed lots of reminders to say this phrase and not just no.)
  • Danke.      Thank you. (We even learned how to use this phrase when tipping and that Cheers is another good phrase.)
  • Ich komme aus Texas/Amerika.      I am from Texas/America.
  • Bitte.     Please.

Just like New Zealand, international travel to Germany also allowed our son to experience some frustrations: lack of free wifi everywhere (our friends had high quality so it helped), different food choices, long travel times, not understanding what was being said until it was translated, seeing the refugee situation first hand, and different operating hours for businesses.  Germany is similar to New Zealand in that many businesses were closed on Sunday’s.  What was different is that in Germany many places close in the middle of the day.  I had experienced this years ago when I traveled to France, but this was the first time experiencing this for my son.  So if something was closed, we viewed it as “new plans” and would move on to another location.  Another difference with Germany is the amount of walking and ease of mass transportation.  My son has never walked that much every day.  He had his very first experience with trains and loved it.  Travel to Germany was a great way to physically experience and learn about: hemispheres, time changes, metric system, climate, continents, geography, German culture, foreign language, family heritage, historical sites, medieval history, WWII history, refugees, different signs, mass transit, accents, vineyard, customs, passports, rules of international travel, foreign currency, currency exchange, and much more.

Like I have said before, travel is a great educational tool.   And, travel could be local, regional, your own country, or foreign countries.  If you can not physically leave, travel can via “arm chair” with the use of books, videos, and computers.  Traveling is a great educational experience and exposure to the world is so important for children.  Be inspired and go explore!