After a much needed night’s rest in the homes of our new host families, we all arrived at school bright and early. The sun had just come up as students filed into our room for our Ashford group morning meeting. Since Rheda-Wiedenbrück is a little further north than Ashford (Ashford is about 41 degrees North while Rheda is 51 degrees North), the sun rises a little bit later- around 7:30 in the morning. Sunset, however, is around the exact same time: 4:30. Even though we are further north here in Germany, the weather has been a bit warmer: it got to be 17 degrees C!
This brings us to one of our cultural difference- in the United States, everything is measured in the Imperial system. This means that we measure temperature in fahrenheit, distance in feet or miles, and weight in pounds. In Germany, everything is measured on the metric system. This means that temperature is measured in Celsius, distance in meters or kilometers (kilometre in German), and weight in kilograms. 17 degrees C is roughly 63 degrees F.
We talked about what we were experiencing with our host families and what our first impressions of Germany were. Students noted all of the recycling and green energy, as well as some difference in the doors and light switches. We also took some time to journal our thoughts in our German notebooks, have a snack, and take a little rest.
Then, we got to take a tour of the Rathaus, or town hall. We were met by the Mayor, who formally welcomed us to Rheda-Wiedenbruck and spoke about the importance of international collaboration. We then received a guided tour of the Rathaus and even got to go up to the roof- the highest point in town, where we could see the castle as well as lots of windmills in the distance. All of our students felt very honored to have been welcomed so warmly.
After our tour, we stopped quickly for some German pasteries, soft pretzels, and chocolate bread. Then it was on to Schloss Rheda or Rheda Castle. That’s right- our town has its own working castle! One of the families of the Einstein students lives there- they are the Duke and Duchess. We began our learning by seeing the grounds and carriage house, which still has working carriages. They had beautiful coaches.
Next it was onto the castle which has a real moat around it!
We walked over the castle grounds. to the castle chapel. The chapel at Schloss Rheda was built over 1,000 years ago! We were treated to some traditional German fairy tales and legends about the castle. Inside the chapel, we even saw a sword fight and a trapdoor! Then we went into the old living quarters, which had many important historical artifacts, including historical clothing and furniture! Students wandered the rooms wide-eyed.
It was an incredible day filled with amazing learning- there is so much to see and do, and our hosts are being just wonderful. If you want to see more, check out the slideshow below: