On Thursday 8th November, 11 boys and seven girls, full of nervous excitement, boarded a flight for Germany to take part in the annual Cologne Exchange.
We were met by the host families at the airport in Düsseldorf and were welcomed into their homes, which would be ours too for the next few days. It was nice to meet the people with whom we had been exchanging messages for the previous couple of weeks on the run up to the visit.
On Friday, we had a joint excursion to the nearby town of Königswinter, which is surrounded by 7 wooded hills and lies on the river Rhine. The sun shone brightly and the autumn colours of the trees were beautiful as we strode bravely up the hill to the ruined Drachenfels castle at the summit of one of the hills.
The weekend was spent with our new-found friends and many adventures were had, such as laser tag, bowling and Carnival celebrations.
On Monday, we accompanied our hosts to their lessons in school, which gave us an insight into German school inspections as well as everyday learning. We were all a little jealous to find out that they had free periods in years 10 and 11 when they didn't have to be in school and frequented the local cafes and bakeries. The afternoon saw the annual football match between the 2 schools. This is a much less intense affair than in the early years of the exchange and was a very good-natured match, which we won 4-3 thanks to a hat-trick from Isaac. The Baumsteiger Trophy is once again in Bury. The girls played a basketball match and that ended as a draw, with the Germans retaining the trophy as holders.
Tuesday was our final day and we spent the morning doing some last-minute shopping in Cologne and also went up a tower near the Rhine, which gave us fabulous views of the city. Then, before we all knew it, it was time to say goodbye to our new German friends and board the train for the airport.
The 2018 exchange visit was an immense success and we can't wait to welcome the German students to Bury next year and renew our friendships.