NORTH BRUNSWICK – One of the most shocking moments German foreign exchange students had during their visit to the United States was getting free water at a restaurant.
They were just as surprised as free bread on the table as well.
Fifteen students, chaperoned by Anika Metz and Lena Hoerger from the Theodor-Heuss Gymnasium in Pforzheim, are visiting the area. They arrived on Oct. 19 and will stay until Nov. 9. The program has been ongoing at North Brunswick Township High School (NBTHS) since at least 2002.
Ben Schmoll, a teacher at NBTHS. Schmoll was born in the United States but lived in Germany from age six to college. His parents still live in Germany, his wife is German and his children speak the native language.
The students’ trip included visits to the beach, the Statue of Liberty, as well as the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
“It’s great. But it’s totally different than Germany. It’s bigger. The food is different. And the water is free,” Carolin Grausam said.
“It’s my first time in America. I love it. It’s very different compared to Germany. The houses look just like America – and the streets,” Toni Nguyen Huy said, specifically mentioning stops at Taco Bell and Chipotle.
Pia Damiani speaks German, English, Italian, Spanish and French, and because of her experience in The States, is considering studying here.
“I improved my English a lot from the exchange. I got to know America. I love America,” she said.
Earlier this year, 15 NBTHS students traveled to the Pforzheim from June 26 to July 18. Any student who was studying German was eligible to partake in the travel.
“I made some pretty good friendships with the Germans and strengthened my friendships with the Americans,” Robert Neumann said.
The group attended school in Germany, which Aarushi Rathaur said included math, history, English, French and Spanish classes. She said biology was taught in English. She said the scheduling blocks were different than American schools.
There school has about 1,000 students in grades 5-13. The day goes from 7:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. with an extra period at the end of the day for gym.
While staying with their host families, the students also visited historical sites and traveled to different countries in close proximity.
Karina Desai, said German varies from the United States, as does its own regions. Her mother is from Frankfurt so she has visited before, but said the food and culture vary in different regions.
Samantha Zielinski was most surprised by public bathrooms not being free, nor water or ice.
“I liked the connections I made with my host family. At first, it’s always kind of weird because you don’t know the person, they’re strangers, but then over the three weeks it’s really fun,” she said.
Jasmine Flanders said she was nervous to be away from home for so long, “but I learned I’m capable of being independent and forming connections with other people, and practicing my German, and putting myself out there and being outgoing.”
Contact Jennifer Amato at email@example.com.