Interview with an Exchange Student

Anja Vogt, Writer

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As you may know, we have several exchange students here at Obama this year. They come from all over the world just to get first-hand experience in a typical American school. Though this is an exciting time, it can also be very nerve wracking and scary. I got the opportunity to sit down and talk to one of our own exchange students, and gained a lot of insight about the topic.

 

Q: So, what is your name? Where to you come from originally?

A: My name is Franka Ferlemann, and I’m from Münster. It’s in the northwest of Germany.

 

Q: What grade are you in?

A: In Germany I’m in 10th grade, and here I’m in 11th grade.

 

Q: I don’t think a lot of people know there’s a difference! What is your school in Germany called?

A: It’s called the Pascal Gymnasium.

 

Q: How long are you staying here?

A: So, I came at the start of the second semester, and I’m staying until the end of the school year.

 

Q: What are some differences that you notice between Pittsburgh and Münster?

A: Let me think about that. I would say, everything is bigger here, and people are friendlier here. They’re more open. And the school is different, and the whole school system and how it works is just a big change. Also, milk cartons here, at the store, are giant! The ones in Germany are so much smaller, and I feel like the big ones will go bad because there’s so much milk to drink in a short time! In general, I prefer a lot of stuff about America, but some stuff is just a really big change and it’s weird to me.

 

Q: What are some things that you like or dislike about Pittsburgh or the US?

A: Well, Pittsburgh is really beautiful, the outdoor landscape is very pretty. Again, I really like that people are so friendly. What I don’t like is that the weather changes so much in this season. I don’t mind the cold, it’s just how it will be different the next day. I also hate how the school doesn’t have windows. But overall, I’m pretty happy here!

 

Q: How has the language difference been for you? You seem to have very good English.

A: Thank you! I mean, sometimes I can understand, but sometimes people talk very fast. Even some teachers speak so fast that I can’t understand at all what they’re saying. Kids will also use a lot of slang, which is hard to know.

 

Q: Why did you decide to come here?

A: Of course, I wanted to learn more English, and get to know the new culture, and see what people are like. You always see American high schools in movies, and I wanted to see if it was really like that. So far it’s been very different. But you guys really do use yellow school buses! We don’t really have those, and I was kind of excited when I first saw some.

 

Q: Yeah, most of the schools in the movies are in suburbs or small towns. What was the process of coming here like?

A: I used the program CIEE to be an exchange student. There was a lot of applications that I did, and I was so surprised that I had to get a student visa! Anyway, I flew to New York and stayed for two days with other students in the program, and then came here. As I was driving home from the airport, through Pittsburgh with my host family, I really saw that Pittsburgh is quite big. We drove across the Fort Pitt Bridge, and that was a really amazing view. Yeah, I got excited about the yellow school buses, and a lot of the houses were so nice, with their architecture and bricks. It was just so cool.

 

Q: Well, thanks for talking with me!

A: Yes, you’re welcome!

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