Time seemed to stand still as I anxiously awaited Ellie’s return from her class trip. Standing on the platform, I was thrilled to see the train emerge in the distance. When she finally stepped out of the car, pulling her suitcase behind her, she somehow looked older than the 9-year-old I brought to the Bahnhof (train station) just a few days before. Ellie carried herself with a new confidence, one she had acquired upon completing this big adventure.
But when she shouted “Mommy!" after spotting me, I saw a flash of the toddler who ran to me when I picked her up from daycare so many years ago. Plus, her hair looked similar to that toddler, unbrushed and showing the tale-tell signs of a grand day of fun.
We went to our favorite American-themed restaurant, Burger Haus, to share a burger and a milkshake. I told Ellie that stories are best shared over good food and I couldn’t wait to hear all about her adventure. She told me about riding the trains, and how they switched trains in Trier. This was something she had been nervous about; she worried she might miss the train or get separated from her class. She delightfully informed me that she was the first one on the second train!
She said she loved sharing a room with three other girls, and that they were responsible for managing their time. Ellie told me about hikes in the woods, playing games, a disco party, and how good the food was that was served in the mensa, the German word for cafeteria.
I didn’t want our lunch to end; I was enjoying each detail she shared with me. But, of course, we eventually ate the last French fry and scooped up the last sweet spoonful of milkshake. Before we left, I told Ellie I was so proud of her and I knew she was ready to start middle school next fall. Yes, secondary school starts in 5th grade in Germany. Not only has that been a surprise, but students, teachers, and families select which secondary path students take.
Stay connected with my blog as our family embarks on preparing for and navigating secondary education in Germany!