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Letter: Grandparents' visit to Germany a March highlight

Hello Worthington. March was another exciting and full month! I can't wait for it to get a little warmer. We still have snow.

This month went really fast. To start off, I'll tell you about my new family and city. Everything's going great. I have one brother, Manuel, in this family, so it's a little quieter than my last seven months. My host mom, Gabi, is a dentist and Klaus, my host dad, is an engineer who manages the recycling and treatment of trash, which is quite a bit more complicated than in the States. Now I take the bus to and from school. Manuel and I leave about 6:45 a.m. and it takes about 20 minutes for us to get home from school. Ilshofen is about 11 kilometers from Crailsheim; about 6,000 live here. There are quite a few restaurants and grocery stores, so if you need something you don't have to go far. It's really a nice town.

We had our spring break during the last half of March and first week of April. My grandparents, Lyle and Judy Kuhns from Waseca, Minn., came to visit me. It was really a fun time. The first week I took them around Crailsheim and we met with the families and friends I've made here, saw the sites around the city and ate a lot of amazing German food. We were also lucky enough to get tours from two dairy farms in the area. My grandparents are dairy farmers, so I thought it would interest them. The dairies were quite impressive -- both were parlor-style, so the cows could walk around lay down where they wanted. Every cow carried a radio transmitter that tracked her activity, kept production records and managed her feed consumption. The tractors they use around the farm are smaller, but the basics are still the same.

The people of Crailsheim really rolled out the red carpet for us. The grandparents of my second host family invited us to fondue with beef, pork, chicken, turkey and even lamb. We also had Raclette, with my second host family. It's something the Swiss people do where you make your own little dish out of many different things, ranging from potatoes, peppers, and different meats and cheeses. It's really quite a large assortment, and you can pick whatever you like. Once everything is picked out and placed in the dish, it's toasted. It bakes slowly, and the meal lasts for about two hours or so.

One evening we were invited to one of my guest-grandma's. She has a fantastic restaurant and the food always tastes great! There we enjoyed a great traditional German Schwäbisch meal featuring spätzle and schnitzel as the main dishes. Followed up by fresh ice cream with a warm raspberry sauce, it was delicious. Toward the end of the week my current family, the Beezes, took us to Rothenberg -- one of the four must-see cities in all of Germany -- and hired an English-speaking tour guide to make things easier for my grandparents. It was super! The hospitality of the Germans just never stops. Everyone I know did something great for us.

In the second week, we took the train to Munich. This was the first time I'd been to Munich, and we really enjoyed it. We saw so many amazing things there including the Deutsches Museum, Munich's Frauenkirche and the Ratskeller restaurant. The Deutsches Museum is the world's largest museum of science and technology featuring more than 28,000 exhibits. Munich's Frauenkirche is a cathedral completed in 1494 featuring both Gothic and Renaissance styles. It has a capacity of 20,000 people. The Ratskeller restaurant is simply a very large restaurant that serves traditional German food. We also made a day trip to the Neuschwanstein Castle, which was built by King Ludwig II in the late 1800s. This was voted the "Worlds Most Beautiful Castle" and was the direct inspiration for Cinderella's Castle at Walt Disney World. More than 60 million people have visited this stunning fairytale castle.

We then hopped on the train to Stuttgart for a couple days to enjoy more great food and shopping. We met one day with the next exchange student's (Lars Opaczek) family. They took us to the fantastic Mercedes-Benz Museum, eight floors highlighting everything from the first motor to the cars that don't even exist yet. It was very well done, and my grandparents also enjoyed the English tour. English tours are available there because many Mercedes-Benz fans from America visit. For the rest of the day we explored the city of Stuttgart with its many shops and stores and enjoyed a Schwäbisch dinner of maultaschen, with beef roast and potato salad. Maultaschen are pockets of meat and vegetables wrapped in a noodle. They're really good, like all the German food.

On Monday, I had to go back to school. I'm looking forward to the next break at the end of May. At that time, I'll be going on a trip with my class to Berlin for four days, and then I'll be taking a vacation to Turkey with my host family!