German students come to Minnesota

Exchange shows differences in culture

German+students+meet+in+German+teacher+Shari+Fox%27s+room+Feb.+8.+The+students+received+handbooks+and+ID+badges+from+the+school.+
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German students come to Minnesota

German students meet in German teacher Shari Fox's room Feb. 8. The students received handbooks and ID badges from the school.

German students meet in German teacher Shari Fox's room Feb. 8. The students received handbooks and ID badges from the school.

Jayne Stevenson

German students meet in German teacher Shari Fox's room Feb. 8. The students received handbooks and ID badges from the school.

Jayne Stevenson

Jayne Stevenson

German students meet in German teacher Shari Fox's room Feb. 8. The students received handbooks and ID badges from the school.

Jayne Stevenson

Although German exchange student Natalie Piras previously stayed with a host family in England, her visit to Minnesota along with 10 other students and two teachers is her first time stepping foot in the United States.

Piras said she enjoys the aspects of Minneapolis because it provides a different experience than cities in Germany.

“It’s very cold here, but it’s a really cool city,” Piras said. “And also downtown with the skywalks—we don’t have something like this—all these small stores—it’s really cool.”

German teacher Shari Fox said school provides a way to learn about the culture of different places.

“(The Park and German students) all go to school, but school isn’t the same everywhere and the way school is set up is a pretty clear reflection of cultural ideals and norms and expectations,” Fox said. “(The German kids) go into our classes and they don’t have the same classes here as they do in Germany. I think the classes that we do offer and the classes that are considered electives say a lot about cultural values.”

Junior Kim Brandt said she has various responsibilities while hosting a German student.

“I have to take (Laura) and pick her up from everywhere. I have my car and stuff so it’s not that bad, but I have to keep an eye on her because she doesn’t really know the area at all so I have to make sure I know where she is all the time. I feel like I always have to have something planned for her,” Brandt said.

German exchange student René Schäfer said many differences exist between Minnesota and Germany.

“Of course the school (is different), because we don’t have something like the Echo you have here, because no one signed up for it,” Schäfer said. “We don’t have any other social stuff. Of course the weather, the food, traffic—almost everything is different.”

Brandt said the location of the German student’s visit caused her to feel nervous.

“I was just nervous that it wasn’t going to be fun because Minnesota isn’t really a great place in the winter,” Brandt said.

Fox said knowing someone personally allows for a better understanding of their culture compared to receiving information from the media.

“All Germans know something about America but what they know is usually derived from media representations. The same goes for Americans,” Fox said. “You don’t really see a whole lot but when you know somebody personally you start to understand their culture and you understand their value system better, and then you understand yourself better.”

According to Fox, the German students arrived in Minnesota Feb. 7 and will leave Feb. 20.

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