Throwing Up Abroad: Little Frau in Germany

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On the far left is Frau Manicke’s Host Mom. Frau is the blonde in between her two Host Sisters.

Caitlynn Goppert

Lisa “Frau” Manicke, the German teacher at Deforest Area High School, and is a GAPP alumni. This is the story of her trip abroad. In June, 11 students will be spending 3-1/2 weeks in our sister city Greven and throughout the country. Many of the students going on the trip this year have a numerous amount of questions, and who better to ask than Frau herself? 

Frau said that when she went, she was 17. This year, the youngest students going will be 14, and the oldest is 17. When asked about when she decided to go on the trip, she said that at first, she didn’t really think that she would be able to go on the trip, only because it was too expensive for her family. Eventually though, her mom convinced her to go to the informational meeting just to see what it was, which is where they decided that it would be something that they could make work. So in the summer of 1999, she somberly got on the bus, thinking about how much she’d miss her then boyfriend and family while she was away, but looking forward to finally meeting the person she’d been hand-writing letters to for the last six months. 

As she arrived in Germany, she was filled with excitement and awe, intrigued by the unfamiliar things and places that she was seeing. She told me that when she was a teenager, there were far more differences between here and Germany than now, the biggest differences including Fanta, Nutella, and Milka chocolate, and the biggest differences between herself as an American teenager than a German teenager were, “German teenagers have more freedom and are more independent in some ways”. By living alongside a local and experiencing Germany without her family, she said that she felt so much more independent and confident.

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On the far left is Frau Manicke’s Host Mom. Frau is the blonde in between her two Host Sisters.

Living with her host family was truly like being at a second home, where she felt cared for and happy. In fact, one of the most memorable things about the trip happened in the home – “I got sick in the middle of the night and ended up puking in the sink. I woke up my host sister for help and in my broken German said ‘I was sick and must make it clean’. I like this story not because I enjoy puking and showing people, but because I used the language I had to get my point across, and although it wasn’t perfect, it worked. She got me the help I needed”. 

Overall, this trip helped shaped who she is today. It gave her the confidence to continue learning German, eventually deciding in college that teaching was the right direction to go in and that she was determined to visit again, which she has now done 13 times. 

In June, 11 students including myself will be going, also a part of the program. We will be eleven of over 200,000 students traveling through the program since its introduction in 1977 according to the Goethe Institute’s  website about the program. Deforest’s sister school is Greven, a town with a population of about 36,000 just outside of Münster (Wikipedia). We are all anxiously awaiting the trip, and I hope that it’s everything that Frau had and more. Except the puking part.