Americans get a taste of Germany

When most students were trying to get used to being back at school in August, seniors Helene Schuck, Laurel Scott, and Nina Carlson were trying to get used to a new culture. On August 1st the three seniors left America for Wülfrath, Germany, a city of about 25,000. Schuck said that the language experience was one of the main reasons she wanted to go over to Germany. “Germany and the German language have always fascinated me,” she said. Another reason was that she wanted to experience another culture. Carlson and Scott said that it was a completely impulsive move. “I knew it was an incredible opportunity and really the only time to completely immerse myself in the culture by living with a host family and going to high school.” Carlson said. “Whenever my parents asked for a reason I would tell them that it was because I had always done well in my German class and that I liked the language… but really it was just that I wanted to go.” They said that the Germans had no problem with them being American, but there were stereotypes. “The most popular questions asked were if we ate McDonalds every day or if we liked Bush,” Carlson said. Some of the differences she noticed was that public transportation was much easier and that there was a lack of fast food restaurants. Also, they were more environmentally conservative; “The people there were very environmentally conscious,” Schuck said. “They would save energy and water constantly.” Scott noted that the lifestyle of a teenager was very different; “Their definition of what you do on a Friday or Saturday night is go out to a bar and have some drinks with your friends, or go to a disco and dance until 3 in the morning,” she said. All three agreed that school was much different. In the lower grades, students stayed in one classroom and the teachers moved around. As one got older, both students and teachers moved from classroom to classroom. She also noted that teachers didn’t really care if one was late to class, as it would only hurt that student in the long run. “If you were late to class and missed something, it was your own fault and next time you will learn to be on time,” Schuck said. “Teachers would even ask the students who didn’t finish their homework. And if you didn’t finish it, you would raise your hand and the teacher would deduct from your grade. It was a trust system.” Interestingly enough, no one lied about his or her homework. Schuck also stated that there was a lot more academic responsibility; “Students in the school I went to were given a lot more responsibility than I believe the students at Ames High School are given. I felt the students in Germany had a different level of maturity than the students here,” Carlson said. “There were no sports, activities, clubs, dances, or even a mascot for school, which seemed weird to us.“ Schuck and Carlson both said they plan on returning to Germany, possibly to study abroad. Scott said she would like to return someday, but has no set plans. “Things made sense there. Their rules, culture, and people. People weren’t as judgmental. And there were so many different cultures like Polish, Russian, Turkish, and Dutch.” Schuck said. “I also found that friendships were a lot deeper there. I liked that a lot. I believe I made true lifetime friends in Germany.”