Exchange students share American experiences

As German exchange students get ready to pack up and head home, many said they plan to take one American recipe back to share with their own families — macaroni and cheese.
Eight German exchange students from Lengerich and Lienen have been staying in Wapakoneta with host families as part of the Wapakoneta Sister Cities program.
The high school-aged students arrived on July 30, and will be departing to go back home on Saturday. They said they enjoyed their time in the United States, with favorite activities including white water rafting in West Virginia, riding roller coasters at Cedar Point, and eating their new favorite American meal of macaroni and cheese.
“I like it very much,” 16-year-old Theresa Banning said of her new favorite cuisine. “I will go home and make it for my family.”
Magdalena Alting, 16, agreed and said her favorite meal she had here so far is also macaroni and cheese.
“This was my first time having it,” Alting said.
Alting said that its something that people in Germany do not make.
She said she enjoyed most of the meals that she tried here, and said compared to Germany, American meals are much sweeter and she ate more desserts here than she does at home in Lengerich.
“My favorite is swirl cake, with marshmallows and chocolate,” Banning said.
It was something she also hadn’t had before.
Sixteen-year-old Carina Jente, who is staying with host parents Carolyn and Kevin Holtzapple, said she enjoys “monster cookies,” because they have both M&M’s and chocolate chips.
“We have almost the same food, besides macaroni and cheese,” Jente said, comparing American food with what she eats in Germany.
Of course not everyone was a fan of the cheesy pasta dish.
“I like cheese and I like macaroni, but I don’t like them together,” said 16-year-old Lena Fuchs. She said she was much more excited about Rice Krispies.
Fuchs also noticed that people eat more fast food here than in Germany.
Another difference regarding meal time that Banning noticed is that the whole family does not eat together like she does with her family in Germany.
“This is time to talk with family,” she said of sharing meals together.
Banning said she sits down with her whole family and eats breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.
Also, 17-year-old Laura Fiegemeaum said Americans do not use knives when they eat.
“I always use a knife, all of the time,” she said.
Another difference that Jente picked up was that kids talk more on their cell phones here, than she does in Germany.
“Communication by kids by cell phone is much more than in Germany,” Jente said. “Teens use it very often. In Germany, it is more expensive (to use).”
A neat perk the German exchange students also noticed was the legal driving age of 16-years-old in the United States, compared to 18-years-old in Germany.
“It’s cool because you can go everywhere with a 16-year-old,” Alting said.
The weather was a big transition for the students, because in Germany they have colder temperatures, and it took some time for a few of the students to adjust.
“When we arrived, it was too hot for me,” Fiegemeaum said, “but I adjusted, and now it’s OK. It’s hotter here than in Germany.”
Fiegemeaum said she likes the warmer weather better here than at home.
She also observed differences in personalities of Americans compared to Germans. “I will tell my family that people are much more open minded here,” Fiegemeaum said of what she plans to talk to them about upon her return home.
The students unanimously said clothes are cheaper here than in Germany, and that no one wears tie-dyed t-shirts, like they have been seeing here, in Germany.
Banning said the dress code for school is a major difference, because it is much stricter in the United States.
“Here, they aren’t allowed to wear low cut shirts,” Banning said. “The dress code is stricter. You can wear lower cut shirts in Germany for school.”
A few of the female exchange students noticed that boys in Germany have longer hair, compared to American boys, who have shorter hair, and they said that people overall seem friendlier here.
Seventeen-year-old Felix Exner said he wanted to be a part of this opportunity, to see the culture and every day life of Americans and is having a fun experience.
“I like America very much,” Exner said.
“My favorite thing was paintball,” he said. “We’re not allowed to play it in Germany under the age of 18.”
Moritz Rethschulte, who is staying with the Holtzapples, had a special opportunity to visit with local residents Joyce and Dudley Schuler, who hosted his grandmother several years ago.
After the Schulers hosted his grandmother, they traveled to Germany, where his grandmother then hosted them, and they had a chance to meet Rethschulte, when he was just a baby.
During Rethschulte’s stay, he had a reunion with the Schulers this week.
When Rethschulte was reunited with the Schulers, he gave them a gift, which was a plate that included an old photo of the city of Lengerich.
“It was neat,” Rethschulte said of the reunion.
“I heard stories (of them),” he said.
“They (the Schulers) were one of the first people that started the Sister Cities program,” Carolyn Holtzapple said. “It’s neat how bonds continue over time.”
In addition, four German exchange students stayed with host families in St. Marys, through their Sister Cities program, and took part in some of the same activities as the eight students who stayed in Wapakoneta.