This semester, junior Caroline Creidenberg will be traveling with American Field Services to Duisburg, Germany. Creidenberg, who was born in Switzerland, had been wanting to go to Europe as a part of an exchange student program.
Creidenberg has hosted two other exchange students from Germany at her house in the past, which has helped her to understand how the exchange process works and has also made her want to become an exchange student herself.
“I’ve grown up in Kansas my whole life and I wanted to go explore other places,” Creidenberg said. “I really wanted to go to Switzerland, but their program is a year long, and Germany was only one semester. My mom didn’t want me gone for a whole year.”
Even though Creidenberg doesn’t leave until Sept. 8, she has already had a chance to get to know her host family. They have two kids, a son, 13, and a daughter her age.
“I already know the daughter pretty well, she was in the exchange program and I’ve talked to her over the phone,” Creidenberg said.
Additionally, Creidenberg and her host family both share a common bond of enjoying the great outdoors.
“I’m going to be living the average teenage life over there, I’ll be going to school, I’ll have a host family,” Creidenberg said. “But they don’t want you to feel like a tourist, they want you to feel like you’re from there.”
Even though she’s a little nervous, Creidenberg has been using Rosetta Stone to try and work on her German skills before leaving for Duisburg.
“[By the end of the semester] I want to be fluent in German,” Creidenberg said. “Other than that, I just want to have a good experience.”
Junior Caroline Dickens is going to be spending the entire school year abroad in the city of Solothurn, Switzerland. As a member of the Rotary Youth Exchange, Dickens is going to be staying with three different families during her time in Solothurn.
“My first family is really nice,” Dickens said. “The dad owns an international company so he’s gone a lot, the mom is really sweet, and they have three siblings, one which just left for Washington. I’ll go to my second family after Christmas.”
While she’s there, Dickens is going to be taking typical high school classes, such as physics and chemistry–except they’ll be in German. The language barrier will be one of the biggest obstacles that Dickens has to face.
“It’s pretty difficult, every state or canton speaks their own dialect,” Dickens said.
In order to work on learning German, Dickens has been going to special classes where she can work on learning the basics of the language.
“My four week long German camp is like German kindergarten because you’re learning all of these basic things that you would learn in kindergarten,” Dickens said. “They’re things that I know are so easy in English so you feel like you should immediately know what it is, but you don’t. You have to start from somewhere and the fundamentals are important.”
Along with Dickens, there are seven other students, including another student from the U.S., that are working on learning the language. She hopes to be able to understand German by the third month and then be fluent by the sixth month.
Dickens is ready and excited to experience the culture and life of a person living in Switzerland.
“It’s something different, something fun, I want the experience, to learn the language, to meet new people,” Dickens said.
Junior Isabella Weindling is going to be spending the semester in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana with 16 other girls from around the world. The girls, along with four teachers and a driver, are going to be camping and backpacking around the countries together. The only time that she will be spending time with a host family is when the group stops in Cape Town for a week.
Isabella is already in South Africa, and has already began her classes with the other girls. Communication between Isabella and the U.S. is going to be mainly limited to a phone call back home every couple weeks or so.
“They are in a lot of areas where communication can be very difficult. The girls are not allowed to have cell phones or Internet,” Ariana Weindling, Isabella’s mom, said. “This program is all about getting in touch with people, nature and awareness. Technology can often conflict with these lessons.”
Although Isabella is traveling abroad, she is not considered an exchange student. Even though she will be going to school, it will be completely different from the kind that most students know.Isabella is going to be taking classes on the go, meaning that she won’t be limited to just the four walls of a classroom.
The classes are going to be taught by American teachers that are going to travel around Africa with the girls. Apart from African History and Travel Journalism, Isabella is going to be taking a regular curriculum.
“She was looking for something a little bit different and to be able to meet new people, learn about different countries and cultures,” Ariana said. “She was ready to do something outside of the box.”
In addition to working on her studies and learning about the different countries she’ll visit, Isabella is going to be taking part in community service projects.
“Hopefully she can touch someone’s life as I am sure her life will be enriched from the people she meets,” Ariana said.