QandA with new German exchange students

For the first time in the school’s history, kids enrolled in Ms. Wendy Creasy’s German class have gotten the opportunity to invite actual German students into their homes and to live with them in order to experience learning how english is spoken in a place that uses it natively as well as culture.  The visiting students are from Falkensee, Germany which is just out outside of Berlin, and attend Lise-Meintner-Gymnasium.


In order to learn more about them, I got the opportunity to sit down with two of the German exchange students, Soeren and Jonas.



So I have a little bit of background information about all of you guys and I was, for some reason, surprised that you are all from the same school.  Also, they’re called “Gymnasiums” and not “High Schools”?

[Soeren] Yea. Its, you know, you have one type of high school.  In Germany we have three type of high school and it depends on the level and difficulty, and gymnasium is the only one where you can graduate and go to university.


And all you guys are going to be here for two weeks, right?

[Jonas] Yea, Saturday?

[Soeren] Exactly, we came in here on Saturday night. So four days ago? And I think we’re leaving Saturday… in ten days.


And then I know that there are nine students from here who are hosting you guys and then you’re going to kind of flip roles and this summer they’re going to go live with you in Germany? Are yours?

[Soeren] No, No I don’t.  Mines not actually taking German classes, so he’s not able to.

[Jonas] Yea, Tanner Adams? He’s going.


Oh, so it wasn’t just German students who can do this? 

[Soeren] Actually yea.  Its a German/American partnership program and theres actually more Germans who want to go to the US than there are Americans who want to go to Europe.

Thats actually really surprising, because before you guys were here your host people were talking about you and they seemed really excited. 


And I know you guys have been learning English since like 2nd grade? Usually? 

[Soeren] I’v been learning English since… 5th grade? So I’v been learning english for 7 years.  But I also spent an exchange year in Italy where I got to meet a lot of American people and practice my english too.

When ever you guys where coming over here I heard that you were here to actually learn english, that you were actually taking it as a foreign language like we learn german or spanish here?

[Soeren] Do you think you’re doing better in english now?

[Jonas] Yea… I mean. yea.

So in the little while you’ve been here do you feel like you’ve improved your english?

[Jonas] Yea. With pronunciation.

[Soeren] Yea, because we were learning the British english. Not the American…

Yea I was wondering about that too, because you guys are in Arkansas now and we’re in the Midwest, and in the Midwest alone theres a large array of dialects and then theres even more when you branch out to the rest of the US.

[Soeren] Yea! We actually noticed that! Its all cool though. Our real purpose though is not to learn English, it’s to learn your culture and how you schools are different.


So what was the build-up of knowing you’re coming over here like? Because I talked to Ms. Creasy and she said you had to take some kind of personality test and thats how you were matched up?

[Soeren] Yea, kind of. Some days we had to write on little test. They were about what will you do with your American student?

[Jonas] No, one of the questions was “why should you go to the US” and “what makes you so special to go to the US”.

[Soeren] And we knew that there where 20 spots to come to the US and there were 40 students who wanted to go and it was a fifty-fifty chance.

And I know that this is run through the Government there, so did you have to pay for any of it?

[Soeren] We have to blog about it and that gives us financial support.  We payed for our flights and basically nothing else.


So how do you feel about being at Har-Ber? 

[Soeren] Amazing! Its pretty cool, because we’re pretty impressed by your school because of its size and resources.  Its just not the same as school’s in Germany.

[Jonas] Huge differences.  You have many opportunities here at Har-Ber high school so you just kind of do what you want and what you can do very well, and we (in germany) we just kind of do what the school tells us.  We just have physical education and not activities.

[Soeren] You have a lot of different subjects here that you can’t do in Germany.  Just the basic education with math and sciences and languages.

And then you pick more specific things in college?

[Soeren] Yea, basically.

Oh, college or university? What do you call it there?

[Soeren] Haha, university.


What about getting to meet your host family for the first time? How was that?

[Soeren] Oh, it was just awesome. After talking to them through email I was so looking forward to meeting them and that part at the airport was really cool.

And you’re all getting along?

[Soeren] I don’t have any problems. I love them and I couldn’t imagine leaving them right now.

Yea, that really does suck that you are all only staying here for two weeks.

[Soeren] Yea, its a really short period of time.



Have you had any fun experiences in the time you’ve been here already? Out side of school.

[Jonas] We played laser-tag! It was our first time!

Haha, thats cool. Locomotion or Fast Lanes?


[Soeren] That was actually our first day here, we went bowling and played laser tag. Really cool! Its all been fun. I really like driving around with people and hanging out… going to fast food stores because we don’t have those there.


Anything else you’re looking forward to doing while you’re here?

[Soeren] Well… um.. i’m really excited for all the other classes here. Next week we get to choose our own classes or some of them. But I’m choosing construction engineering and architecture because thats what I want to do after school, and we have no chance to do that in school right now in Germany.

[Jonas] I like psychology but I don’t really know what I’m going to choose yet.


Anything else you want to add?

[Soeren] I’m just happy to stay here and looking forward to the next ten days!


After they exchange students are done spending their days in Arkansas they will travel to Dallas, Texas to watch the Mavericks play before heading back to Germany.