Mason Hicks

Germany

Hometown: St. Augustine, Florida
School: St. Augustine High School
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Coastal St. Johns County, Florida
Host District: 1930
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Coastal St. Johns


My Bio


Hallo! My name is Mason Hicks; I am 15 and currently a sophomore at St. Augustine High School. In school I am in the Cambridge AICE (Advanced International Certificate of Education) program, Interact Club, Marching Band, Concert Band, and Chamber Chorus. Outside of school I am involved with my church where I am the youth elder, which means that I help make decisions for my church and youth group. I also love hanging out with my friends, playing sports, and playing guitar and saxophone. I have played guitar since first grade and saxophone since sixth. I love to go to the beach and when it’s warm enough I go almost every day since I only live about five blocks away. I live in St. Augustine Beach, Florida with my mom, dad, younger brother, and two dogs. I love to travel but I have never left the country so I am ecstatic to be spending a year in Germany. I’m excited to be able to try so many new things, and to make new friends and new memories. I am also very excited to try new foods and immerse myself in the German culture. I am so thankful for my family for allowing me go on exchange and for RYE Florida for giving me this life changing opportunity. Tschüss!

Journals: Mason-Germany Blog 2018-19

  • Mason, Outbound to Germany

    Hallo! I've been in Germany for three months now and I still can’t believe it. So far my exchange has been so amazing and I am still in shock that I’m actually in Germany. I’ve been getting lots of questions from people back home so I decided that I’ll try to answer some of them here.

    My host family: My host families are so amazing! They’re all so helpful in teaching me German and I’ve done so many new things with them. I’ve already been to France and Switzerland. My next family is going to take me skiing almost every weekend once it starts to snow. I’m so lucky to have them!

    School: School in Germany is very different from school in the USA. Here I have one class and we go to all of our lessons together. Everything here is also way less competitive. In Germany we have no GPA or class rank, the students just try hard because they want to learn. In my school a normal day is from 7:50-1:05, which I love. Classes are in one hour periods and most of the time I have two periods of each class. Every Wednesday, I have an hour long break for the Mittagspause at 1:00 and then I have more classes after that until 5:00. On Thursdays I have band but it ends earlier. During the pause we’re allowed to go into the city and buy lunch. In Germany instead of only having one science class or one history class, we take a little of everything. Here I have English, Music, Latin, Math, Chemistry, Biology, German, Art, History, PE, Politics, Physics, Religion, and Ethic. I try my best to participate and I take all the tests, but obviously it’s very difficult. School is very different here but I like it a lot.

    Language: German is very difficult, but for only three months I think I’m doing alright. I’ve started a language course which is also helping a lot. In school, I only speak German, and at home I only use English if I really need to understand something important. It’s very hard but it definitely helps. It’s also very tiring; I don’t think I’ve slept more than I have since I’ve gotten here. If you’re reading this before your exchange: study as much as you can before you leave, it’ll make life so much easier.

    Friends: I‘m very lucky to have met the people that I have so far on exchange. My classmates are all super nice and they help me so much. I hear so many stories about exchange students having trouble making friends and it makes me so thankful for the friends I’ve made. A few tips I have for making friends on exchange are:

    1) Be able to laugh at yourself. When I first got here I wasn’t able to understand much so when people talked in groups I’d just say "genau“ which means "exactly“ and people would laugh.

    2) Be as outgoing as you can. In lots of European countries people are a little shy and won’t start conversations with you. Don’t worry! Once you start talking with new people almost everyone is nice and wants to be friends but they were just too shy to introduce themselves first.

    3) Make as many plans as possible. If you hear people talking about going to a party or a movie, ask if you can go too. If it feels too weird to invite yourself, try inviting people to do something. Once you start making plans you start getting invited to more things and you start making more friends. It’s also very helpful to go and find people to do things with once you start to feel a little homesick.

    4) The best way to make friends is when you meet new people, to say, "Hi, I need friends. Here’s my Instagram and Snapchat, let’s hangout soon.“ Or once you’re close with someone to tell them to introduce you to their friends. It might feel weird at first but it definitely works.

    Food: The food in Germany is amazing! I’m already trying to figure out how to start a restaurant with German food back home. For breakfast normally we have bread with butter and jam. In the US that’s not much, but German bread is so amazing and the jam is all homemade. After school I have lunch with my host mother and brother. We have anything from pasta to soup or schnitzel. On days where I have longer school, I eat in the city with my friends. There are lots of options, we have Chinese, Dönner (which is my favorite), we can also get pizza or curry wurst. For dinner most days we have bread with butter, wurst, and cheese. I think I’ve eaten more bread in these three months than I have in the past three years in the US.

    Differences in culture: I didn’t really experience much culture shock when I got here, but there are a lot of differences. First off, Germans are a lot healthier than Americans. Here they only use a car if it’s completely necessary. My five mile bike rode to the train station is considered nothing. Another big thing about Germany is that they don’t use ice. Iced coffee doesn’t exist here and it makes me very sad. Here we do have Eiskaffee and it‘s coffee with ice cream in it which makes the no ice thing a little better. A lot of the German stereotypes are true. They eat lots of pretzels and drink beer. Sausages are also eaten almost daily. There are also lots of things that are only here for tourists like Kookoo clocks and Lederhosen.

    Rotary: I’m in District 1930 and I love it. There are 15 of us, and we’re all a huge family. We met at our language camp a few days after I got here and we still meet up every few weeks. So far as a club we’ve had two trips. We were in the Black Forest a few weeks ago for the fall break and it was so amazing. We hiked, swam, ice skated, and the most important thing for a Florida boy: we saw snow! Last weekend we went to Ulm for a language test and to meet the future outbounds. We also went to the Christmas market which was beautiful and we climbed the tallest church in the world. It’s really important to be close with the other exchange students because they are going through the exact same things that you are. If I have any problems, I know I have so many other people that understand exactly what’s going on. My club is also great. My YEO got me a saxophone to use in band and he set me up in a language course so I can learn German faster. In a few months, we have a trip to Paris and after that we have our Deutschland tour.

    I wrote this journal sitting in my Latin class because I can’t understand anything that’s going on. Before I finish writing this already too long journal, I just want to say that if you’re thinking about going on exchange, please apply. Coming to Germany is probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Also if you have any questions you can always message me or any of the other exchange students because I don’t think we’ll ever get tired of talking about our exchanges. Okay, until next time,

    Tschüss!

    Click HERE to read more about Mason and all his blogs

  • Mason, Outbound to Germany

    Hallo! I can’t believe I’ve already been here for a month! Everything here is so amazing I don’t even know where to start.

    I got here a few days before I went to my language camp, so I got to meet my host family and a few people that live near me. Then I went to language camp and met all of the other exchange students in my district. They’re all so great and we’re all like one big family! Once I got back from language camp, I started school. School in Germany is very different than in the US but I like it a lot. Most days I get out at 1 and then I have the rest of the day to hangout with my classmates. In school I normally only have 3-4 classes a day which last for 2 hours each. We’re also allowed to leave the school during the big break and get food from any of the restaurants nearby. My classmates all help me so much with learning German and all of my teachers are very understanding and very helpful.

    My German is getting so much better and I’m already able to have some conversations in German. The culture is so interesting to learn about. Some of the German stereotypes are true, like I think I've eaten more bread this month than I have in the past two years back in the US. Another thing that I have to get used to is the fact that there’s actually a winter in Germany. Coming from Florida, I’ve only seen snow once and most years I can wear shorts and a t-shirt in the middle of December. It’s the beginning of October and every morning it’s already around 5°C.

    I keep falling more and more in love with Germany every day. Sometimes I’ll be walking with my friends around the city and I’ll see a huge cathedral or see a castle on a hill and like I just think like, “Wait a minute, I’m living in Germany, WHAT?” It’s just so crazy to think that I’m actually on exchange, I always hear stories about people doing this but I never imagined that I would actually be here.

    Although I love it here and I’m still in denial that I have to leave this summer, there are some things that are difficult. Things that I took for granted back home like being able to say anything that’s on my mind whenever I want to, are so difficult here. I also find myself missing my friends and family, and being able to go to Friday night football games or seeing all of my friends perform in the school musical; but every time I start to get homesick, I remember that I’m homesick in Germany and everything starts to feel better.

    Right now I am writing this journal on the train back from visiting some inbounds from my district in Karlsruhe which is a city a couple hours north of my city. If you told me two years ago that this would be my life, I never would have believed you.

    When I was applying for RYE last year, I read almost every journal on the RYE Florida website. So I just want to say, if you’re reading this considering going on exchange next year please do it. This was the best decision I have ever made. It’s only been one month and I have so many new friends and I am learning so many new things.

    Auf wiedersehen!!

    Click HERE to read more about Mason and all his blogs

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