Pippenger returns from study abroad in Germany

Ellie Pippenger Study Abroad in Germany


Photo by: Ellie Pipenger

Ellie Pippenger (center left) and the scholarship winners in front of Germany’s Reichstag Building.

Throughout 2021, Ellie Pippenger, 12, spent her junior year of high school abroad in a quaint, German village in the town of Lemgo, Germany.  She was lucky enough to receive a scholarship from the Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) program, which is funded by the  United States Congress and the German Bundestag (The German Government).

Ellie Pippenger (Far right) and her German friends in front of the all famous Brandenburg Gate.

“I was one of 250 high school students to receive this scholarship,” Pippenger said.

She applied to the program in 2019 with intentions to study abroad in fall of 2020, however with new concerns of COVID, Pippenger was forced to postpone her trip.  Her determination to study and practice the German language didn’t stop there. Pippenger, along with the other scholarship winners, began attending virtual German classes on Zoom.

Then in August of 2021, Pippenger flew to Frankfurt, Germany where she met her new host family. “We lived in Lemgo, in North Rhine Westphalen,” Pippenger said. “I lived in a very small village with only about 800 people, so the drive to school was about 25 minutes along farmland.”

In Pippenger’s village, she was able to travel freely along the public transportation including the trains and buses.  In her free time, she was able to visit new places like Cologne, Berlin, Bielefeld, and Hannover.  “The best part of my year was bonding with my fellow 249 scholarship winners and being able to relate [to them],” Pippenger said.

“I attended German high school at Engelbert Kämpfer Gymnasium.”  In Germany, a “Gymnasium” is a state-maintained secondary school, meant for students with intent on going to college.


Ellie Pippenger attended classes at Engelbert Kämpfer Gymnasium in Germany.

Pippenger’s school offered grades 5-13, with an enrollment of 600 total students.  Her 10th grade class consisted of only 50 students.  “I was placed in tenth grade for ease, and we took classes like Music, pedagogy and political knowledge.” said Pippenger.

As soon as Pippenger set foot in Germany, she was immediately welcomed by her German host family. Pippenger lived with a host mother and father, along with a younger host sister and two host grandparents all in one home.

“I had a host sister who’s 12 and it was fun to be the big sister for once!” Pippenger said. “They were a first-time host family, so we learned from each other throughout the year in more ways than one, because they couldn’t speak English.”

“I arrived in Germany in August 2021 and it was pretty stressful at first to start at school with very little German knowledge and make friends with the language barrier.” Pippenger said.

“Most of my friends couldn’t speak English, so it helped me learn a lot faster because I wanted to be able to communicate with them.”

“COVID shut a lot of things down in November into the winter, so I wasn’t able to attend Oktoberfest or Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas markets). I’d say the most lasting impact Germany has had on me is the ability to adapt to foreign environments and shaped my world view.”