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In their own words: life as an exchange student

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Hendrick from Germany

My name is Hendrick and I’m a 16-year-old exchange student from Hamburg, Germany. With a population of 1.8 million people, Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany. Now I live in South Jordan with my host family. Back in Germany, my mom is a chemist by training but works for the city of Hamburg while my dad is an office administrator. I also have two sisters, one of whom happens to be my twin and is also in the states on an exchange program. My other sister is three years older than me and has just finished school.

The school I went to in Germany is called Klosteschule. It has about 800 students and is in the middle of the city. School is very different here compared to Germany. German schools don’t have any school spirit unlike here. German schools also don’t have school teams. So when I was in Germany I was sailing with a sail club and not the school sail team. Sailing has been my favorite hobby since I was four years old.

My experience in America started with the flight from Germany to New York. I spent three days in New York with my exchange student organization and after that I was flying to the Denver International Airport. The first few days that I was here I was super tired and because of the elevation, couldn’t run more than 50 yards. Due to some issues with the exchange student organization I had to switch host families after just one month. I moved to the neighbors which turned out to be very good so I’m pretty happy about it.

One of the best parts of my exchange year so far is being on the football team. It’s really fun and I enjoy the exercise. My experience here so far has been wonderful and I hope it continues to stay that way.

Amalie from Norway

Hey! My name is Amalie. I am a 17-year-old exchange student from Norway. Back in Norway I lived in a town which consists of four islands and has a population of 25,000 people. I live in two different houses there, one with my mom on a farm and the other with my dad in the city. I have four little sisters: Lianna, Sdma, Bertine and Oline.

My school in Norway is called Atlanten Vicleregainde Skole. It has grades 11-13 and consists of about 500 students. Starting in 12th grade we have to choose if we want to study scientific courses or social studies courses. Compared to the Norwegian school I think American school is very easy and way more fun! My favorite class here is weights class.

The Family I’m living with here is amazing. They take very good care of me and make me feel right at home. My host dad Mike is 37 years old and my host mom, Kaitie, is 27 years old. I also have a cute little sister here named Cece and she is two years old. We are all getting along perfectly together and I am already dreading going home.

At home I did gymnastics and crossfit and those are actually the things I miss the most. I miss having sports to do after school. Now I am trying to find a sport to do here. Aside from gymnastics and crossfit, I love to ski, walk in the mountains and dive. I brought my skis here and I have already bought a season pass for Park City. Now I’m ready for the winter! The only thing I need is new friends to go with.

Finding friends has been the most challenging part of being here so far but I’m working on it. I think everything else so far has worked out really well and I am having a really good time here! I am so grateful for having the opportunity to stay here for ten months even though I wish it was going to last longer. I love the people here, I love my new family, I love the weather and I love the school!

Manoela from Brazil

My name is Manoela Monteiro Gagliotto. I’m a 15-year-old exchange student from Brazil. I was born in Florianopolis, the capital of the state of Santa Catarina. My mom was born in Rio de Janeiro and my dad was born in Francisco Beltrao, a small city in the state of Parana. Francisco Beltrao is where we have lived since I was little.

I don’t have any siblings and I live with my parents. My mom is a university professor and my dad is a dentist at a local health clinic. My city’s population is almost one hundred thousand people.  We live very close to the border with Argentina. My School, Allianca, is very small. We have less than 300 students and it houses both middle school and high school students.

I’ll be living here until the end of the school year. Since I got here I’ve missed a lot of things about my home country. The experience has been good thus far, but I can’t wait to go back home. I don’t really like the food here and the dry climate is really hard to get used to. People are nice but it’s hard to make friends. Some days I get really homesick but most of the time I feel excited and happy for this opportunity. My family, boyfriend and friends back home are very supportive of me. I’m so grateful for having them, and also for those who are taking care of me here in Utah.

I’ll have three host families while I’m here, all of them seem to be very excited to be having me. These 11 months are going to change me forever. When you leave your comfort zone you grow so much faster. You learn a lot about the country you’re living in but you also learn a lot about your own country, yourself and those who you love. The distance improves relationships and makes them stronger. When you go through an exchange program you learn that your family, your country and the moments with people that you love are absolutely priceless.

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The student news site of Herriman High School
In their own words: life as an exchange student