GAPP-Exchange 2011/12 Urbandale: The Diary

This year 16 pupils and two teachers, Miss Hasselbeck and Miss Walter, had tons of fun in Urbandale, Iowa:

Wednesday, October 12th

We arrived at the airport at 9:21 pm, where our hostfamilies gave us a warm welcome with posters, flowers and presents and took us to our new homes for the following 3 weeks.

Thursday, October 13th

On Thursday we had our first day at Urbandale High School and went to classes with our exchange partners. In the afternoon at 5 pm there was the homecomig parade in which all the German students took part.

Friday, October 14th

On Friday there was another regular school day. After school all students spent time with their families and in the evening everyone watched the homecoming football game at 7:30 pm. It was very cold but interesting to see the marching band and the cheerleaders and of course the Hawks winning.

Saturday, October 15th

On Saturday we had time to gain experience in our families and to do different things with them. We had taken photos with our exchange partners and had lunch before we all went to the homecoming ball at 8:30 pm in the school auditorium. Everybody was dressed up and it seemed to be a big occasion for them. After three hours of dancing, the homecoming ball was over at 11:30 pm and some of the students had some fun bowling.

Sunday, October 16th

On Sunday there was the Welcome Potluck, at 6:30 pm, where every family was supposed to bring a dish and then everything was shared and arranged at a big buffet. This gave us and the Americans the chance to get to know each other better. Furthermore, some German students did presentations about the "Allgäu" and our culture.

Monday, October 17th; Tuesday, 18th; Wednesday, 19th

On these days nothing was scheduled, so the students had the opportunity to spend some time with their host families and gain some great experiences.

Thursday, October 20th

On Thursday we met at UHS at 9:30 to go to the Science Center of Iowa, we were taken there by some of the American exchange students, who have all got their own cars. At the Science Center we saw an exhibition by Gunter van Hagen about the human body, which was very interesting, but also a little bit strange for some of us because everything you got to see was taken from a real human body (for example a heart or a whole body). After the exhibition we had lunch at the Science Center and afterwards we watched an IMAX-Movie about the human body, which was also a great experience. In the end we went to a planetarium and learned something about the star constellations and planets.

Friday, October 21st

No special things were planned for that day. We were all excited to have our first weekend just with our families.

Saturday, October 22nd

On Saturday no program was planned, but two of our exchange partners celebrated their 18th birthday and we were all invited and most of us went to the party.

Sunday, October 23rd

All students spent their time with their families.

Monday, October 24th

We created our own schedule at school for the rest of our exchange. Everybody chose their favorite subjects and was there with some other Germans.

Tuesday, October 25th

This was no normal day at school! We all went with some of the American exchange partners to the Living History Farms! This is like a museum, where you can learn something about farm life in 1900 and 1850. It was interesting to see.

Wednesday, October 26th

Marissa´s mother works at Pump it Up in Urbandale and invited us to come there for free. There are a couple of inflatable "houses", normally for children's birthdays, but we had a lot of fun there. It wasn't a mandatory activity, but most of us went and it was a nice evening! After that some of us went to the football game at school, which is always fun and the others went to Buffalo Wild Wings to have a nice dinner!

Thursday, October 27th

It was a normal day at school and in the evening we all bought a pumpkin to carve that for Halloween. We met each other at a supermarket and then drove to school, where we carved them all together. It was a nice evening!

Friday, October 28th

It was just a normal day at school, but most of us were in Des Moines for Laser Tag. It is something like Paintball only with laser and it was a lot of fun! After that we drove together with our exchange partners to eat frozen yoghurt, which is like ice cream. Then Claire invited us to come to her house to have a nice evening. We grilled marshmallows and some were dancing to music. It was a very interesting and funny day!

Saturday, 29.10.2011

This morning we went shopping in De Moines for Halloween costumes. We ate lunch in subway and later we also shopped for clothes. In the evening we went to a haunted house, which was very scary because you couldn't see and hear anything apart from other people screaming and the walls were so narrow that you sometimes had to crawl. After this we went home and watched a movie.

Sunday, 30.10.2011

This day was the farewell lunch. Everyone was supposed to bring food and our host mom made cupcakes, so we had lunch and then we thanked all our host families with a presentation with pictures of them and us. In the afternoon we listened to the choir practice and in the evening we went trick or treating for canned food for the homeless shelter.

Monday, 31.10.2011

On Monday we did nothing special, went to school and to a small shopping mall. And in the evening we saw our last football game.

Tuesday, 01.11.2011

This was our last evening in Urbandale, so at first we went out for dinner with our host family and after that we had a farewell party at our house with a bonfire and marshmallows. It was very sad because it was our last evening together!

Wednesday, 02.11.2011

We had to say bye to everyone in school, and right after a small lunch we drove with our host families to the airport. After one hour we arrived in Chicago and took the commuter railway system to get to our hotel, the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza. Then we went to a supermarket to buy food for dinner and breakfast. Chicago at night is so beautiful!

Thursday, 03.11.2011

Actually, we wanted to make a hop-on-hop-off bus tour, but it rained so badly that we went to the Art Institute. We had lunch in the Navy Pier and after this we took the bus to the Hancock tower. It's the 4th highest building in Chicago. For dinner our whole group went to a restaurant, where we ate pizza. We wanted to see the millennium park at night, but it was closed.

Friday, 04.10.2011

On Friday we had breakfast at the buffet in the hotel, then we had to pack our suitcases again. Then we went to the Willis Tower the 5 highest building in the world with 527m. After that we actually went to the Millennium Park to see the giant bean of Chicago. Then we could walk through the city on our own until we had to be at the airport at 5. After another 9 hour flight back to Germany we were happy to see our families again. We were very thankful that we had the chance for such a great experience!!!