High School Abroad in Germany: Living and Learning
All Pan Atlantic Foundation host families are carefully selected and spread out over Germany. Although their backgrounds, economic means and lifestyles differ, host families all share an interest in learning about another culture.
Germany is a modern, open- minded society and although almost everybody speaks English, you’ll still have an opportunity to practice your German daily. Family life is important in Germany, and so is independence. In your host family, you’ll be expected to keep your own bedroom tidy and help with household tasks like keeping the bathroom clean, or vacuuming. Everyone does their share to keep the house clean and in good order. Many Germans like to discuss politics, sports, culture, or the environment, so be prepared to share your opinion.
During your free time, immerse yourself in a culture where hiking, cycling, palaces, and festivals are abundant.
Pan Atlantic Foundation will connect you with your host family prior to departing the U.S. so you’ll have a chance to “meet” before arriving in your new host country.
Schools in Germany offer all kinds of extra-curricular activities; however, students tend to participate in sports and other events in local clubs and associations. Most German students belong to sports clubs or attend music or dancing schools during their free time. The most popular sport is soccer, but other common weekend activities include hiking, cycling, taking part in community events and festivals or going to the movies or markets with your new German friends.
School life in Germany:
You’ll most likely be placed in either a Gymnasium (college prep school) or a Gesamtschule (comprehensive public school). The Gymnasium leads to a diploma called the Abitur and prepares students for university study or for a dual academic and vocational credential. The Gesamtschule combines elements from the Hauptschule/Realschule and the Gymnasium. Students usually spend six years at the Gesamtschule and obtain a leaving certificate after 10th grade. Students wishing to sit the Abitur attend the school for another three years.
Curricula differ from school to school, but generally include German, mathematics, computer science, physics, chemistry, biology, geography, art (as well as crafts and design), music, history, philosophy, civics, social studies, and several foreign languages. German secondary schools have a class schedule with different classes offered each day. Some subjects are taught three days per week, with others taught only twice a week. There are also break periods, usually a short and a long break, during the school day. Although there is some physical education, German schools are more academic in nature. Competitive sporting events between schools are rare. Athletics is usually done outside of school by belonging to a sports club.
Regardless of the school, students generally have to take a range of compulsory subjects, including mathematics, German, English, history/geography, physics/chemistry/biology, religion/philosophy, sports, music/art and a second foreign language (e.g. Latin, French or Spanish). Elective subjects will vary depending on the school; not every school will offer all subjects. Students will participate in around 10 to 12 subjects whilst they are attending school. It might not be possible for a student to do every subject they want to, it will require some flexibility.