A Memorable Trip

Arlingtonian staff member recounts a memorable learning moment from the German exchange program.


For me, the German exchange program was one big learning experience. So going into the trip, I was expecting there to be a heavy learning curve, but my first big lesson was one I was not expecting. It all started in the City of Heidelberg, where the German exchange group spent the first few nights before meeting up with our exchange partners. This was a time to adjust to German culture and bond as
a group.

On our first night, a group of us went to dinner at a restaurant near our hotel. Honestly, except for our questionable German skills, the meal went surprisingly smoothly. Until the waiter presented us with the check. Now you might not know this, but water in Ger-many is not free like at restaurants in the United States, and there are no free refills. This was something our whole group was warned about, but honestly, I didn’t fully appreciate or realize what it meant. Throughout our dinner we all ordered water after water (which came with no ice I might add. This might have been my least favorite part of Germany). So when the bill came, we were shocked to see that our refreshing cups of lukewarm water cost more than all the food we had ordered! We all stared at the check in shock, not realizing why the bill was so high until we saw the price of the drinks — which to this day is the most I have and will ever spend on room temperature water.

It was the quickest lesson I learned in Germany. So, the advice I have for all of the students reading this is to never assume water is inexpensive or that there are free refills in other countries! Overall, though, I loved the Germany trip and have a ton of advice for people traveling abroad for the first time with a school group. It can feel nerve-racking but it will be an amazing experience you never forget.