By Karen La Pierre
Travelling halfway around the world and settling into a stranger’s home is a challenging experience, but the five new Ellinwood High School exchange students have found fun along with it. They have interesting opinions on the new and different in the U.S. they have found the experience to be both good and challenging.
Learning about this country and being away from family and friends has been the most challenging part. Students here are more independent but hang out less with their friends and families. Families at home eat both lunch and dinner together.
In Germany, the students have to join clubs for sports and only practice a couple of days per week. In Italy, students go to school six days per week but only five hours per day.
Margot Van Leeuwen, the Netherlands, Detje Steiner, Germany, Sofia Pieroni, Cortona, Italy, Katharina Adler from Germany, and Maria Santos, Brazil.
“Not too hard,” was the agreement about school.
“In Germany, we have a break about every second hour of 20 to 25 minutes and then lunch break 45 minutes,” Steiner said.
Leeuwen said they only have six weeks off during the summer, but shorter school days.
The girls were all in agreement that America has the best junk food. Pieroni has developed a fondness for pop tarts, which they don’t have in Europe, and all of the girls thought Sonic was the best fast food place.
They also thought the U.S. had the best junk food overall. Pieroni had never had instant macaroni and cheese and definitely prefers the pizza from Italy.
“They use fake cheese here for everything,” Pieroni said. Her grandmother makes fresh pasta. She doesn’t eat meat but enjoys fish. Here, she cooks her own pasta.
“We need Sonic in Italy,” Pieroni said.
“I want Braums in my country,” Leeuwen said.
All of the Europeans miss the bread from home. Bread there is baked fresh daily and usually in brick ovens.
Santos misses rice and beans that aren’t sweet, but says the bread is similar to U.S.
Adler’s parents grew up in East Germany during the Soviet Union years. “They said it wasn’t as bad as people said,” Adler said.
The girls all agreed sports are different here. In Europe, they belong to clubs and only play a couple of days per week. Here, almost all of them play volleyball or tennis. Santos played soccer at home but is playing volleyball in Ellinwood.
There is definitely no football in Europe, and the fascination with the game here is somewhat surprising, the girls said. Soccer is played in their homes.
“American football—they don’t’ like it,” Cook said. “It takes too long.”
Americans drive everywhere they go and in their home countries, the girls walked more, including to and from school. Pieroni said people hang out more in the streets at home.
Principal Mark Cook thinks having the exchange students at the school is beneficial for the students here.
“They bring an understanding of something new or place that our kids have not been exposed to,” Cook said. “They bring a different outlook on things.
“They bring a lot.”