German exchange student looks back on visit to Minnesota

Josefine Harms, Guest Writer

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Our group of German exchange students lived with their American host families in the Twin Cities from September 22 until October 7. All of us had junior or senior exchange partners that we followed around to classes, experiencing their American school life.  

German student Lisa Eriksen said, “Before I came to the USA, I felt kind of weird because I have never participated in an exchange before. But after their nice and open welcome, I felt better than I thought I would because I took enough time to unpack my stuff and to arrive, so I got used to live in another family very fast.”

Before I came to the USA, I felt kind of weird because I have never participated in an exchange before. But after their nice and open welcome, I felt better than I thought I would, because I took enough time to unpack my stuff and to arrive, so I got used to live in another family very fast.”

— Lisa Eriksen

Most of us felt the same as Eriksen. Before coming, we hadn’t talked to our host family, only texted. So meeting them in person for the first time was quite nervewracking and different then what we had expected – in a good way. The kindness of the students at SPA was shown as they bombarded us with many questions out of curiosity and gladly offered to show us many parts of their beautiful city. 

One huge difference we observed between German and American culture was driving. Although I was mostly taken around by my host’s parents, many other students had exchange partners who drove them. In Germany, driving is legally allowed starting at the age of 18, but there is a huge public transportation system that most students use. Commute distance between school and home is also shorter compared to most students here, which allows some people to just walk or bike to and from school. 

German student Helena Baltinowitz said, “I’d say that you need your driving license in the USA and especially in Minnesota very early. There are long distances to drive and often there is no public transportation, so many people need their cars to come to school. But personally, I’m in two minds about young drivers. On the one hand, they just took driving lessons so they remember all the rules and drive carefully, but on the other hand, they don’t have much experience, which worries me a bit.”

During one of the weeks that we visited,  SPA was commencing Homecoming week. In Germany, we don’t have events like homecoming, not even something similar. It was a great week for us to experience different activities and see the incredibly fascinating “sports” competitions like ping pong and dodgeball. Some of us even tried to dress-up accordingly to the daily Homecoming themes which we found really funny. 

In general, I can speak for all us German students when I say we had an unforgettable experience. We would like to give another special thanks to Mrs. Crowder for organizing such a wonderful two weeks in America and we feel very fortunate to be so welcomed at SPA. We are also looking forward to welcoming the American students in our hometown of Hamburg, Germany, next year in March 2020. 

 

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