Jack Belcher, Contributing writer
Germany can be a wonderful place. It’s an old country with older cities, good weather and of course, Oktoberfest.
One of those cities is Bamberg. Recently, it was the home of the smallest U.S. base in Europe.
It was also the home of student Shanelle Ruffin for five years.
Before Germany, Ruffin lived in Puyallup, Wash.. She moved to Warner Barracks military base with her family when her step-dad was assigned to this post in 2008.
When Ruffin first heard that she and her family were moving, she wasn’t happy about it, as she had friends and family in Washington.
She arrived to Germany in the summer.
“For the first few months I was depressed,” Ruffin said. “I didn’t know anyone and there was nothing for me to do.”
Once school started, she started to meet new friends and see how much fun Germany could be.
“Oh my God, I loved it,” Ruffin said. “It’s the best place ever.”
The 10th century city has medieval architecture, making every building look like a castle.
Warner Barracks was no more than a few square miles. Ruffin said she went to school there and because of this, never learned much German. English is a universal language in the city. It was also spoken at the base.
The schooling is like any other school, except smaller. A graduating class can account for 12 students with no more than 30 students in the school.
The base has been torn down since Ruffin and her family left, but she still wishes she could go back and visit the city.
What made Germany fun was the freedom of the city. The crime rate was low, so Ruffin had no trouble taking a bus from school with some friends and heading into the city.
She misses the 12th century bridges over the rivers and places to explore. The weather was nice all year, not because it was always sunny, but because all the seasons came to Bamberg. It’d snow in the winter while sunshine and thunderstorms arrived in the summer.
Oktoberfest is a big deal in Germany. More than just different types of alcohol, there’s also games and rides all over town. It’s as if the entire city had turned into one giant carnival.
Because the drinking age in Germany is 16, Ruffin was able to sample some of the different wines around town, although her parents only let her have a small taste.
Now that Ruffin’s back in Washington, she says that while it’s nice, she’d much rather be in Germany.
“It was like a big family over there,” Ruffin said. “Everyone knew each other.”
Ruffin has lived in Washington for the last three years, although she’s been taking online classes during high school.
She hadn’t been in an actual classroom since her freshman year, so it was an adjustment to start at Pierce.
The classes are bigger than the ones at Warner and she’s not used to so many people walking around.
“I want to go back,” Ruffin said.
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