Visit from Beijing
by Helena Ager, 9D2
Chinese exchange students from Tsinghua High School immersed themselves in everyday life in Germany for ten days.

The sun had not yet fully risen when we Salem students joined our Chinese exchange students who had arrived on the school grounds during the night. The tiredness that plagued us all was wiped away from that moment, as we had all been looking forward to seeing each other and were eagerly awaiting our first face-to-face meeting. This marked the end of months of preparation for the visit, during which we had learned a lot about Chinese culture and made contact with our exchange partners. We had also discussed all the organizational work and collected ideas for our family weekend, during which each Salem resident takes their exchange partner to their home to introduce them to Western life. The welcome was very warm and the exchange partners, some of whom had already ‘met’ via many e-mails, quickly got to know each other. We immediately made our way to the dining hall so that we could start our lessons together straight afterwards.

After second breakfast and school assembly, the families set off together with the exchange students to start the first weekend together. Some spent it at home with their host family, others went to the countryside, the mountains or even the beach. In any case, we went to places where we were able to make unforgettable memories with our exchange students, learn and experience lots of new things about each other and have lots of fun. We discovered all the big and small differences between our cultures, which go far beyond eating habits. The most important realization of the weekend, however, was probably how little all these differences matter when two people get along well and develop a friendship. In this respect, you can say that we left Salem as strangers but returned as friends. The wonderful weekend, which was characterized by all the new impressions, laid the perfect foundation for another great week of the exchange, in which the Chinese students went on various excursions with teachers and organizers from Salem. The programme included trips to Konstanz, Freiburg and Überlingen, as well as visits to various sights and museums. On Saturday, our exchange students set off on the long journey home to Beijing.