By Rebecca Kensil, Contributing Writer
Hudson??”Hudson High School student Zoe Moskowitz, 16, spent 10 days in April on an exchange trip to Germany. She wrote about her travels on a blog, digitally connecting with her friends and family back home.
The exchange trip was initiated by the Hudson High Librarian Deborah?Owen, who is from Konigsluter,?Germany, where Moskowitz stayed.
Last fall, Moskowitz's family hosted German student Jakob Drinhaus, now 16, and last spring, it was her turn to stay with his family. In both instances, the students experienced a new country.
A week before the trip, Moskowitz began the blog, sending links to family, who shared the stories on Facebook.
One topic Moskowitz blogged about was the cultural differences and similarities that she noticed.
“They are very, very similar to my family,” she said. “It was very interesting to see all of that. And to see the different things that he liked and that I liked. We had a lot in common. My mom made jokes that we were the same person pretty much.”
Moskowitz observed American influences on her German host family. While she was there, she watched “Germany's Next Top Model,” “The Big Bang Theory,” and “Ted.”
Writing about German cuisine was another focus of her blog.
“I wrote about food a lot, because I love cooking, and I love learning about different foods, and I think the food really shows what each country is proud of. Getting to go out to dinner with them and have real German Weiner Schnitzel and all the different types of food that they have.”
Moskowitz, who is Jewish, had an emotional experience learning about the Holocaust at a German museum.
“There was one video in particular, in the museum itself, that was extremely well done. The videos were from when the British army had liberated the camps. The videos started off not so bad, but then they got increasingly more graphic, and it was one of those moments where I just had to leave the room,” she recalled. “I couldn's believe what I was watching. They were taking a bulldozer and pushing dead bodies with the bulldozer. It was just so unbelievably graphic. I just had to leave the room.”
The experience inspired her to leave a rock at the Bergen–Belsen concentration camp, a sign of respect and remembrance in Judaism.
Moskowitz learned a great deal, adapted to the new country, and was enthusiastic about the exchange trip program.
“Being put into new situations is scary at first, but, of course, after a few days, you learn your routine and you get into it,” she said. “Having an open mind, and having open thoughts about everything, really, really helps when put into a new country, living with a family that you'se never met before.”
This was not her first time abroad. She spent last summer with her grandparents to Spain, Turkey, Bulgaria, and England. For five-and-a-half weeks this summer, she also stayed in Israel with her Jewish summer camp. Within the next year, she hopes to go to Costa Rica to help out in schools.
“I hope that I can keep writing or journaling about my trips, because it is something that I will be able to look back on in the future and something that I can show my kids someday when they travel to that country,” she said.
Visit Zoesfirsttriptogermany.blogspot.com to read more about her trip.