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Letter: Murillo visits Italy, Austria during first month as exchange student to Crailsheim, Germany

Nataly Murillo is representing Worthington in the one-year exchange program.

Globe Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor
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Dear Friends,

My name is Nataly Najera Murillo and I was chosen as the 2022-23 representative for the Worthington-Crailsheim student exchange.

It’s officially been one month since I arrived in Germany as an exchange student. I can’t believe that one month has gone by so quickly. It feels like just two weeks ago I got to Germany.

Let’s start from the beginning, when I landed in Frankfurt. This was my first time on an airplane so I was really terrified and knowing I was going to be in the air for about 8 hours didn’t really help my fear go away, but in the end I had a pretty relaxing, but long, plane ride.

I arrived in Frankfurt, Germany on July 23rd. My anxiety came back to me when I landed in the airport because I was scared to get lost, and sure enough I did get lost! Here’s the really surprising part — a Spanish speaking couple actually helped me navigate around the airport up until the baggage claim. They were a very nice couple from Honduras, living in Berlin, which I found very surprising. After that, everything else was pretty calm and I joined my host family, the Herrmanns.

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Nataly Najera Murillo is shown during her visit to Austria.
Special to The Globe

Rupert Herrmann and his daughters, Noemi Herrmann and Rebecca Herrmann, were waiting to pick me up. We got into the car and even though I had a decent amount of sleep on the plane, I fell asleep the whole way to Crailsheim, which was about a three-hour drive.

When I arrived at Herrmann’s house, I received a very warm welcome from Brigit Herrmann. I must admit, my first week in a completely different environment was pretty overwhelming. On my first day, I went to see a German supermarket with Brigit and Noemi and I experienced some “culture shock” there. The temperature was very hot and when I was going into the supermarket, I was expecting the cold air of the air conditioning to hit me, but there wasn’t any air conditioning. I did see that coming since I’ve been told that most stores don’t have air conditioning. I also noticed people received Pfand (deposit money) for bringing back their empty glass and plastic bottles. I think this is really convenient as it helps the environment a lot.

I arrived in Crailsheim on Kulturwochenende (culture weekend), an annual festival that celebrates a variety of cultures with many activities and events. A few hours after our trip to the supermarket we went to the Kulturwochenende, which I thought was so interesting. There was just so much to see and, even though I understood nothing that was going on, it was still very enjoyable. Not only did I see a lot of stuff, but I met new people and reconnected with people that I had met in Worthington when the delegation group visited in June.

I also got to taste new foods and I would say my two favorite things I tried that day was Spezi, which is a mix of Coca Cola and Fanta, and a Schnitzelburger.

I had the opportunity to go to school for three days with Rebecca Herrmann, which brings me to my next “culture shock” because school in Germany ends much later in the year than school in the USA. Those three days were really great for me as I met a lot of people and made new friends. Every person I met was very nice and welcoming and everyone’s first question was what was my first culture shock to which I responded, “sparkling water”!

On the last day of school (Wednesday) my host family threw me a nice welcome party which was very lovely as I met some more people there and I also was able to meet Anica Bös; the Crailsheim exchange student traveling to Worthington. I will always be grateful to have stayed with the Herrmann family temporarily, because they have two daughters around my age and through them I’ve met a lot of people.

My first month here has just been the best. I’m really surprised that in this one month I’ve only gotten homesick two times, which surprised me because I’m really attached to my family and home. I have already traveled to new places in Germany, including Stuttgart, Heilbronn, Memmingen, Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Wackershofen. I also have been fortunate to go to Italy and Austria with the Hermann family where I am currently writing this!

What I’m really looking forward to is Volksfest, because everyone is pretty excited when they tell me about it! I have already purchased a traditional dress called a dirndl. I feel like the German language now isn’t really a problem to understand and already I can pick up some things in conversation. I still struggle with speaking it, although I’m sure with time I’ll get better at that too.

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I really have enjoyed my time in Germany and I’m so grateful that I was chosen to be the student representative for this exchange program. Everyone I’ve met is very nice to me and so welcoming! Even if the language is a bit of a problem, they are always still willing to involve me.

I am especially grateful to the Herrmanns for taking me into their amazing family. They’ve treated me like a member of their family — and not only them but their extended family too.

I am excited to see what the next month brings me as Volksfest and school are coming up soon! I will keep you posted in my next letter. Again, thank you to everyone who has supported this wonderful program that has allowed me to have this great experience.

Sincerely,
Nataly Najera Murillo
2022-23 Worthington-Crailsheim Student

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