He stepped out from the airport, to be greeted by a family he’s never even met. To go to a school he knew nothing about in a country he’s never been to before.
This is the reality for many students around the world who visit countries as foreign exchange students.
“It was completely different culture wise than German school, I really liked American food too!” Leo Hoess said when asked about living in America.
Lincoln High school in Sioux Falls holds an exchange program with Humbolt Gymnasium in Potsdam, Germany. Potsdam is a town outside of Berlin, which acts as a suburb.
A transition that gets you into “The American Lifestyle.”
Both Leo and Basti Kuhn had elected to stay with my family during their exchange trips to America because they saw the Midwestern lifestyle as something uniquely American. Life in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by farms and all of the small town activities that go with it.
“Guns are cool, the food is great, and honestly it’s a really good experience living in America even if it is for a short time. I really liked shooting guns and going to classes! The classes were different but still super nice.” Basti said when asked about the major differences in living in Germany and the United States.
Both noted being overwhelmed right away, being thrown into a foreign country with English being their second language left them open to slang.
“It’s like, listening to something and getting only part of what is told. Like a puzzle” Leo compared the language barrier.
With German being my second language, I was able to help break the barrier for them and that is why we elected to host exchange students.
Basti is a major fan of American football and he really wanted that experience when he came here. We were able to take him to practice and give him an American football experience. He even got to experience his first Friday night lights.
Leo was unable, but was able to watch an NFL game later in the year!
“They were both incredible to learn about and get a good view on America from a German perspective as well as learn about German culture.” Jim Murphy stated, one of my parents who agreed to host the student.
Exchange students are a great way to sample a culture and to get to see the world through another point of view.