Foreign exchange students reflect on time in America

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Trisha Dasgupta

End of the school year means going back to their hometowns for many foreign exchange students. Reasons for seeking out the foreign exchange program is different between students.

A year away from home is almost over for this year’s group of foreign exchange students who will be heading back to places such as Germany and France.

“I’ve always loved a good adventure! So I was thinking about what I could do as a 16-year-old who loves to travel,” German exchange student Vivien Kutscha said. “Back in Germany I’m really involved in politics and I found the opportunity for an exchange year through the government, which is for young students that are interested in experiencing the American way of life.”

French exchange student Sarah Aubertin sought out a foreign exchange program for a variety of different reasons.

I wanted to learn how to speak English fluently, discover a new culture and a new country, and also wanted to meet new people,”

— French exchange student Sarah Aubertin

“I wanted to learn how to speak English fluently, discover a new culture and a new country, and also wanted to meet new people,” Aubertin said.

That’s been a highlight for German exchange student Berit Binding who has enjoyed the experience of staying with her host family.

“Before I met my host family for the first time I was so excited and of course nervous as well, but as soon as I got to know them all the nervousness was gone,” Binding said. “They welcomed me so kind-hearted and I really found a wonderful second family here which I’m so thankful for. I‘ll miss them so much.”

For Binding, living in Frisco is different compared to her life in Germany.

“You can’t even compare it to each other,” Binding said. “My life here is, in every aspect, a huge contrast to my life in Germany. I‘m living in a new family here, having new friends, eating food I’ve never eaten before in my entire life, I‘m doing different things in my leisure time and mostly school is just totally different. I practically built up a whole new life in the past months and I indeed love it.”

My life here is, in every aspect, a huge contrast to my life in Germany.”

— German exchange student Berit Binding

As far as school and education goes, it’s a much different vibe for Kutscha.

“I think schools in the U.S. care more about you as an individual than just about your education,” Kutscha said. “Teachers care about you and especially through all the different electives students get to express themselves more. School in Germany is definitely stricter in every possible way. Teachers here have a better relationship with their students and even though there is a dress code at liberty, students here can wear more comfortable things than we have to in my school in Germany.”

There are bittersweet feelings about the school year coming to an end. Some are excited to go home, but at the same time, they are sad to leave their friends and host family.

“I always read phrases like “An exchange year is not a year in a life, it’s a life in a year“ and yeah, that’s really what it is like,” Binding said. “During the past months I built up a whole new life here and leaving all that behind is going to be really hard, because I’m going to miss literally everything here so so much. These 6 months were definitely the best time of my life and I’m so so thankful that I got to experience that!!”