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Letter: Two months in Crailsheim, exchange student shares stories from Volksfest, school and the language

I have made some amazing friends that have guided me through school and have been teaching me German.

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Nataly Najera Murillo (left) is shown with former exchange student to Worthington, Emelie Düll, in their traditional German attire.
Special to The Globe
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Dear friends,

I’m Nataly Najera Murillo, the Worthington 2022-23 Worthington-Crailsheim exchange student. In just one month after writing my last letter a lot of new, exciting things have happened!

It’s been officially two months since I arrived in Germany and let me just say that my experience abroad has just started. I am currently staying with the Dülls in Gründelhardt, Frankenhardt which is about 10 minutes away from Crailsheim. Their daughter, Emelie Düll, was Crailsheim's last exchange student before the pandemic halted the program for a couple of years. I am very happy and comfortable staying with them.

My first major event was my first day of school. I want to start off by saying that I enjoy school here much more. The reason for that is because everyone here is so nice to me and is willing to speak German and English with me to help me learn the language.

By the way, my German has improved a lot. Another thing I like about the school here is one of my culture shocks, that every day is something new. For example, in Worthington you’re used to having the same schedule that runs from 8:10 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. every day for three months or one quarter.

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Here in Crailsheim, every day is different, meaning you have different classes throughout the week and the timing always differs on when school is dismissed for the day. Some days I get out at 4:10 p.m. and others at 12:50 p.m. I really love my advisory class because they are all very nice to me, not to mention their English is pretty good, so I always feel like I’m part of the class.

Another thing that is very different is that you have the same people in all your classes, which is different from high school in Worthington, as you always have different people to meet in every class. I have made some amazing friends that have guided me through school and have been teaching me German. I must say that I actually enjoy school here and there hasn’t been a day where I didn’t want to go to school!

My next major event was Volksfest, which was held in the middle of September. I loved the Volksfest! I think it’s the best thing to ever exist in Germany. The food, the traditional dresses, the rides, everything! I went all four days with my host family and different friends. I’d say my favorite foods at Volksfest were Flammkuchen, Kartoffelchips and Schokoerdbeeren.

I also got to be in the Volksfest parade next to Emilie Düll as the Worthington-Crailsheim recent exchange-students, which I have a funny story about.

On Saturday, which was my first day in the parade, there was a man talking and “interviewing” the different people participating in the parade. He got to us and started talking to me and asking me the usual questions like “Do you like Crailsheim?” and “Is the language difficult for you?” etc. and he spoke to me in Spanish, which was really good. I was having a fun time until he took a one liter mug of beer and handed it over to me and told me “take a sip” and I just froze on the spot, confused.

I’m guessing he noticed my confused expression as he tells me it’s a tradition to drink at Volksfest, so without a choice I took a sip of beer and everyone around me started cheering. This was probably my most weirdest experience with my first time drinking beer. I would have expected my first time to be with friends or family, but no it was in front of many people that I didn’t even know. I thought it was really funny. Then I saw him again on Sunday since I was in the parade again and he asked me if I remembered him. I responded that of course I remembered him and when we left I heard him behind me saying “She’ll never forget me”. I thought to myself he was right because, you bet, I’ll never forget that moment! Overall I had an amazing experience at Volksfest with friends and I am definitely going to come back again in the future.

I wouldn’t say I have a lot of free time, but I definitely have some. In my free time I take part in some activities such as fencing and basketball. I must say that I really enjoy fencing and though I’m not the best at it, I’m learning and improving. As for basketball, I haven’t been able to go as I’ve been sick for the past couple of days. I do fencing on Thursdays and basketball on Fridays.

I have been enjoying my time here as now I feel like I am really starting to experience my exchange year. The German language isn’t that much of a problem now that I can understand mostly what people say to me and I’ve been learning the language with not only my friends, but my host family. I can now speak the language a bit more than I used to. It’s funny because now that I’m speaking three languages, it’s been a little hard because when I’ll be calling or texting my family, I’ll say some words in German without realizing it and when I’m talking to my friends in German, there will be times where I slip in some Spanish words, and when I speak to my friends back in Worthington, I’ll use this weird mixture of Spanish, English and German!

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I'm looking forward to going to a Merlins (professional basketball club) game, which will take place on Oct. 2. I’m also looking forward to the new experience that school brings!

I am very grateful to everyone that has been making my exchange year an amazing one. I am especially thankful for my new host family for taking me into their amazing family and for everything they’ve done for me. Thank you to everyone that has made this possible and for supporting me!

Sincerely,
Nataly Najera Murillo
2022-23 Worthington-Crailsheim exchange student

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