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AMERICAN VOICES
EXCHANGE STUDENTS IN GERMANY

In the spring of 2000, the TAK facilitated and hosted a virtual exchange between American exchange students in Germany (mostly "Experiment"-Students of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange program) and Bozeman High School German students. 

Exchange students were invited to send letters of introduction to a bulletin board and students in Bozeman were given access to that board to post their questions. Replies from the exchange students were also posted there.

Thank you, Chris Junghans, BHS teacher, Volker Kreutzer, "Experiment e.V.", and participating students!!!
 
 
Jill (Bozeman, Montana) writes from Oldenburg:

As far as the food is concerned, I'm a vegetarian, so I don't eat too much Wienerschnitzel or Leberkäse. My host family though, is a big fan of the bratwurst, and they eat immense amounts of the stuff. One thing that I noticed at first was how much bread they eat here. You eat bread, jam, cheese, wurst, etc... for breakfast, take a "Käsebrot" with you to school, and then eat some more bread for dinner. Thankfully, the bread tastes really good here.
/.../
The people here are pretty much the same as those at Bozeman High. Yes, there are still cliques and people aren't always nice to each other. One thing that I really notice, is that the people who are my age here seem quite a bit younger than me and my friends back in America. 

They dress like Europeans over here (not suprising considering it's Europe). No one has ever heard of Abercrombie & Fitch, but they do have the GAP. Levi 501 jeans are the coolest thing to wear, and cost at least $75 (150DM). 

School here is different than in America. I don't know if I would say that it's harder or better, but just different. There are no multiple choice tests. Everything is essay form. 50% of your grade comes from "Muendliche  Noten" and the other half from tests. They only take two test ("Klausuren") per semester, so you have to do really well on them to get a good grade.

In my freetime I go swimming with handicapped children, learn how to dance, and tutor English. On the weekends, my friends and I either go to a Disco or a Kneipe. I live in Oldenburg, which is only an hour from the North Sea and only two hours from Holland. It is so flat here! In Bozeman, I would go skiing every weekend. My dad is a ski patrolman, so I've been skiing since I was two years old. Unfortunately, there is absolutely no possiblity to ski where I am. I miss it so much, but my mom is coming to visit me in April, and we're planning a trip to Garmisch (in the Alps) to go skiing. The weather here is very grey, rainy, and windy most of the time. Today, however, is a beautiful Spring day and the sun is shining.

Well, I think that's enough for now. You have to excuse my English mistakes, but just remember that I've pretty much functioned "auf Deutsch" for the past seven months. Let me know what other questions I can answer.

Jill 



 
Rocio (Miami, Florida) writes from Trier:

I would usually be found sprawled on the beach in Miami, which is where I live with my parents and four brothers. Yet, for the last 6 months, I have been living in Trier, Germany, with an absolutely wonderful host family. Sure, I have lost my tan and have not run into any palm trees lately, but I am nevertheless in heaven!
I am a 17 year old female who is in Germany thanks to the Congress-Bundestag scholarship, which allows American students to travel to Germany, and German students to travel to the United States, all in an effort to improve the relationship between these two countries. 

Life in Trier is too cool, and I only wish that I could lengthen my stay here. We just finished with Karneval, which was the absolute awesomest experience ever. I was very involved in this festivity and enjoyed being a "Garde Mädchen", which is a group of girls that perform dances throughout Karneval. There is a Karneval prince and princess and we spend our time performing for them and drinking "sekt". It was a wonderful atmosphere to be in, because everyone was so jubilant and it is truly a great aspect of German culture. 

School in Germany always proves to be lots of fun for me. My classmates were extremely supportive from day one, and I have made amazing friends! My classmates and I enjoy our inside jokes about our different teachers and can often be found chatting about what happened in "bio" or "franz" class. I am in the 11th grade, but take English with the 13th grade. Getting to befriend two grade levels has been a great experience as well. 

I arrived in Germany knowing practically no German (I could say what my name is and where I come from....fascinating), and am now truly comfortable with the language. I do not even really remember learning German here, it kind of just happened one day. Weird! I have to go work in my city's theatre now, because I am assistant director and a fairy in our production of a Sommernachtstraum (A Midsummer Night's Dream).
tschüs!!!!
Rocio

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Questions to Rocio from students in the U.S.
 

Hello, my name is Joe; I am one of the members of Mr. Junghans class. We are from, Bozeman Montana, which has a much colder climate than Miami, and most likely colder than Germany. Our class read your letter and I had one question, in your letter you said that you knew very little German when you arrived to Germany, I wondered how much German did you actually know, and how long did it take you to learn the language? Hope you have fun in Germany, Joe.
 
Hey Joe!
I knew very little German when I got here and it took me about a month and a half to feel fairly comfortable with the German language. By very little German I mean that I could say my name and where I come from and I could also count auf deutsch. I didn't understand most of what people said to me during the first month here and I used to just say "ja, ja" and pretend that I could understand. It feels good to finally be able to understand all the jokes and have a vocabulary thats includes more than the word "ja".
  alles liebe,
  Rocio

 
Hey there!
My name is Lindsay.  I am a High school student at Bozeman Senior High.  My
class got an E-mail from you off some bulletin you had posted.  So from your
letter it sounds like you are really having fun in Europe!  I am in German I right now and although it is amusing at times I'm sure it doesn't even compare to the kind of culture and knowledge that you are getting there!  Do you miss your family and friends? Was it weird getting used to the culture and the way people act compared to the U.S?  well, if you want write me back! 
 later-  Lindsay
Hallo Lindsay!
No, I don't really miss my family that much. "Heimweh" (homesickness) is not something that I have experienced in Germany. I guess that I am soooo busy here, that I just don't have time to sit around and think about all the people that I haven't seen in quite a while. I email my family weekly, so they constantly have the pleasure of hearing about all my adventures abroad!

It wasn't weird for me to get used to the people and the customs, but that is probably do to the fact that I spend all my summers in Spain. I have always been exposed to European culture, therefore sparing me the intital culture shock that most Americans in Germany experience. I absolutely adore the people here, so there was no problem with getting used to them!!!!
alles liebe,
  Rocio 

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Dear Rocio,
    Hi my name is Ethan. I'm a freshman at Bozeman High. When I heard that I could write you and find out more about Germany, I came up with some questions.The first question that I thought I would ask is, how do you as an American get along with the kids there?
    Also another question that came up in my class was, when you are buying fruit or vegetables are you allowed to touch and feel the food like we do here?
    Another question that I personally am interested is how much is the gas price in Germany? See I'm interested in this because I recently got my drivers license so I have been burning up the gas here at 1 dollar and 59 cents a gallon.
    I would very much appreciate it if you would answer my questions. 
Thanks, Ethan
 
Hey Ethan!
Cool that you just got your license! The price for gas is pretty expensive in Germany, but rather cheap in Luxembourg. I live 30 minutes from Luxembourg, so we always drive there to get gas. Yes, you can touch the fruit and vegetables. That is a pretty trippy question to ask!!! Getting along with the students as an American was not difficult for me at all. They did have the impression that American students are airheads, but as soon as I was able to answer more history questions than they could and get a perfect score on my French exam, there presumptions became altered for the better!
  Rocio
 
Dear Rocio,

Thanks for returning my last letter. I enjoyed it. Here in Montana, we are enjoying some nice spring weather. I was wondering what the weather was like in Germany right now. What part of Germany are you in? Are there mountains or is the land flat where you are staying? I was also wondering if you played any sports and if so, what are they? Have you been to any professional soccer games, because I know it's got a big following of fans over there.

Sincerely,
Ethan

 

Hey Ethan!
    The weather right now is great! We have finally moved out of the grey chilly weather and into sunny cool days. I have spent my first week of spring vacation sprawled on the lawn with my host sisters attempting to add some color to my ultra pale skin tone.
    I play American football, basketball, hockey, and run in Miami, here in Germany I have played handball, basketball, soccer, and continued my long distance running.
     Yeah, the people here are CRAZY about soccer, but I have not gone to any
soccer games. I have been exposed to the insane fans who take trains to the different games and spend the ENTIRE train ride chanting soccer songs and painting each other's faces. Fascinating!
    ROCIO

 
Dear Rocio,
    How are things going over there? What city are you staying at? Do you have a cool host family? What's it like in Germany? Are there lots of hot guys, over there? How old are you? What is the city like, are there lots of shopping mall?
    So do you miss everybody in America? I heard that you don't like the food over there? My mom cooks alot of German food. My favorite foods are potato dumplings, red cabbage and deer meat. You might want to try it.
    Is it true that you can smoke and drink at the age of 16.  Do you go to the clubs to dance?  That would be so much fun! I hope you continue to have fun, and make lots of new friends.
  Yours,
Betsi
Hey Betsy!!!
Things are awesome here, but I am sad because I have just three months left! I live in the city of Trier, which is actually the oldest city in Germany. My host family kicks ass and I am going to miss them terribly next year!!!!!! 
     I don't know who told you that I don't like the food here, but you are terribly misinformed!!!!!!! I love German food and have never tasted anything here that I didn't like!!!! Americans tend to think that Germans eat just potatoes and dear meat......SOOOO WRONG!!!!!! geez I despise generalisations!!!!!! We eat all types of scrumptious food here and that is definitely something that I will miss when I return to the fast food meca (a.k.a. USA). 
    Sure we are allowed to drink alcohol at age 16, but that is because we drink more responsively than 21 year old Americans. At 21 in America people go crazy because they are not used to alcohol, in Gemany they've had a looong time to experience it and learn what their limit is! I can always be found letting loose at clubs and truly enjoy the night life here.
Rocio

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Dear Rocio,
My name is Cale. Iím from Bozeman MT and I was given this opportunity to write you from my German teacher.  I was considering taking part in an exchange program, such as you have done.
    I was wondering if there was any advice youíd give to a highschool student going to Europe for his first time.  Or how I might get the ball rolling.  I also wondered was it a tough transition to move to Germany? Was it hard to leave your friends?
    I know soccer is a big thing in Europe, have you ever gone to seeone ?  What do you usually do in your spare time there.  Do you have very much spare time? Iíve been told that the schools there are very demanding.  What are they like compared to our school systen in America?
    I hope to here from you soon !  Thanks for your time!
Sincerely,
Cale 
 

Wuz up Cale!?!
Cool that you are interested in being an exchande student! I won a scholarship to go to Germany so I can't really tell you much about exchange programs, except that they are rather expensive (usually).
Advice that I would give to an American going to Europe for the first time is ro be OPENMINDED!!!!!! Experience everything because you may never get another chance!
    I have gone to soccer games in spain and they are awesome!!! In my spare time I babysit, do yoga, run, hang out with friends, go to clubs, read, study, play handball and basketball, and do an internship as assistant director and an actress in my city´s theatre. 
    The school system in Europe has always been much better then that in America. In Miami I go to a European school, so I didn't find any differences between my school back home and my school in Germay. You would find the school here to be extremely demanding, this is why German universities will not accept American students until they have completed 2 years of college in America (and is then at a german student's level.)
   Rocio

 
Angela (Cherry Hill, New Jersey) writes from Sigmaringen:

Hallo!
Ich heisse Angela und ich bin 17 Jahre alt. Ich komme aus New Jersey aber dieses Jahr wohne ich in Sigmaringen- Laiz (in Deutschland).
Ich wohne seit August in Deutschland und fahre wieder in Juli nach Hause. Ich wohne mit einer Familie und gehe und besuche einem Gymnasium. Dieses Austausch macht echt sehr viel Spass. Ich habe neue Leute kennengelernt, und ich habe sehr viel von Deutschland gesehen. Ich finde es schade dass nur 3 Monate übrig bleiben bis ich wieder nach Hause muss!!
Naja, ich weiss gar nicht was ich schreiben soll, so wenn jemand Frage hat...... Lass es mir wissen!
 So, Ciao!!
 Angela
 
Hello,
My name is Joseph; I am from  in Bozeman Montana. How much German schooling did you have before you came to Germany? I mean about how many years of German did you take in school before you went to Germany. Also when you got there you probably werenít all that fluent, so how long did it take you to master the language, if you have. 

Thanks,
Joseph 

Hi Joe!
Thanks for the response. I will try to answer your questions.
I could speak ok German when I got here. I had four years of German in High school, and German was my favorite subject. Don't get me wrong, though, I still had trouble speaking and understanding , when it got to really complex topics. It took a couple of months to become really immersed in German. It is really weird- When you do nothing but speak German for the whole day, it starts to become more and more difficult to switch to English. What is really cool is that I sometimes dream and think in German!!!
Well, If I can answer more questions, let me know.
 Tschüs!
 Angela

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