By Lauren Krupnikov ’21
When Mr. Bird asked me to write an article about my exchange experience for the LCS eNews, the thought of it got me stressed. I knew it would be hard to put on paper how my two-month trip to Germany in the fall of 2018 really was. The raw emotions, the opportunities, the experiences, the memories, the people; this is all difficult to express on paper.
The school I went to was Stiftung Louisenlund in Guby, Germany. Louisenlund is a small school that is approximately two hours from the beautiful city of Hamburg. The campus reminded me a lot of Lakefield, in that there was a beautiful waterfront, many houses and lots of nature surrounding the campus.
Although the school resembled Lakefield—the language, people, education and culture were very different. When I came to the school, it was one of the most challenging things I had ever done in my life. I had a very rocky start because everything was different. To be honest, the minute I stepped foot in Louisenlund, I was ready to leave. It was arduous because the classes were different, the people were different and I didn’t know a single word in German. Going on an exchange had been my dream ever since I was in Grade 9, but now I regretted leaving Canada. But as that first week went by, I fell in love with Germany. I met the most incredible people and I soon realized how fortunate and grateful I was to have an opportunity to be there.
Participating in an exchange to Louisenlund, I thought that I would only stay in the area, but I got to see the small towns of Flensberg and Keele about 30 minutes from the school and a 20-minute drive to the border of Denmark. There, I would buy hot chocolate and tasty pastries and walk around the small Christmas markets. The people in the city were so kind and warm-hearted and I got to see a different aspect of Germany. I was also very lucky because I got the opportunity to see countries other than Germany. Some girls and I took a bus to Sweden to visit the beautiful town of Lund. Lund was very small but it had a very warm vibe to it. Another one of my highlights was my trip to Denmark. Copenhagen was absolutely lovely. I saw the fascinating Christmas markets, had late night walks in the beautiful city, and I got to see famous landmarks of Denmark with my friends. Every day during my exchange was a journey, whether it was finding my class or leaving the country, I got to learn not only about Europe but about me as a person.
Leaving Louisenlund was really hard for me. I still remember procrastinating, just so I wouldn't have to pack my suitcase, but too soon, the time arrived for me to go. I thought of how in that first week I had been so ready to leave, but towards the end, the idea of having to leave hit me hard. It was an emotion that really hurt my soul. I knew I would never forget the memories I had made and when I took a seat on the plane back to Canada I felt like a stronger, braver new version of myself. Going abroad on exchange was one of the best decisions I have ever made, and I want to say thank you to my parents, Mr. Bird, Louisenlund’s Round Square Rep, Ms. Donovan, and everyone else who helped me achieve my dream.
My advice to future LCS students who may be considering applying for the exchange program, but are having a hard time making the decision, is take a leap of faith and do it, because an experience like the one I was fortunate enough to have can change your whole life!