Earlier this year, my son Nathaniel visited Hamburg Germany as part of an exchange program between his school and their sister school there. I know that THOUSANDS of parents send their children off without them daily, but I was a bit sad about my oldest heartbeat leaving me AND the country for an extended amount of time. However, I’m SO glad that he had the experience to leave the country without us. He’s already traveled without us all over the US, but this here was a learning point for both of us. We made sure to go through a checklist of things that he needed before leaving, and we made SURE that he packed lightly so that it wasn’t a pain to travel in general. I mean, have you ever traveled overseas and seen the amount of luggage that some people bring with them?! I managed to spend a little over two weeks in Malawi and only packed a backpack. I was determined!
I will say that I spoke with my quiet teen more while he was gone than I normally do when he’s residing under my roof. He checked in daily via Facebook Messenger (the video app is awesome!) and sent photos of his ventures around the city. His host brother and his family were the epitome of hospitality, and we can’t wait to host them this fall!
I was told that he liked his trip to Berlin the most, but that Hamburg was full of things to do, and a great city with reliable transportation and many places to eat and shop. You know, the things important to teenagers. He did visit quite a few museums, and official buildings, including churches. Being a church kid himself, he was intrigued by the fact that most German people, as told to him, don’t really attend services regularly, but more for special occasions. One of the churches that he photographed was St. Michael’s in Hamburg, and the edifice was absolutely gorgeous. I noticed that red brick and copper were very popular throughout the country, and it created a uniform look.
He did visit Berlin as well, and visited one of many Holocaust Memorial Sites, and I was pleased to hear that no one took any inappropriate photos like the ones being posted on Instagram these days. I think that Nathaniel’s understanding of mass genocide in general provided a sobering reality when he stepped onto the site where so much tragedy took place.
I will have more to share about his solo trip in the coming days, but wanted to start of with the highlights, or the ones that really resonated with me.
Have you ever sent your child overseas without you for an exchange program? How did you fare? Let me know in the comments!