Archived Stories for Union County Public Schools
Montesclaros Shares German Experience
CHS is very proud of our senior student Sophie Montesclaros, who is participating in the Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange program (CIEE.org) in Grossenkneten, Germany. Sophie has been in Germany since mid-July, 2010. Sophie corresponded via email with CHS Media Coordinator Ms. White. The following article is what Sophie shared about her experiences.
â€˜I attend a Gymnasium, the school for the kids who want to attend university in the future. I am in 10th grade for some reason. My school is in the city of Oldenburg. My village called Grossenkneten does not have a Gymnasium. We do not have advanced technology like Smartboards. Tests are way different, there is no multiple choice. School is hard because of the language barrier and I try to not speak English as much as I can. Students can easily leave campus. You can go across the street to the Donner place in between class. My school has a cafeteria and you can get food there whenever. Donner is a Turkish dish. Donner is made out of lamb. Itâ€™s huge. There is a large Turkish population in Germany.
My family is nice. I have a mom and dad and a brother. Both of my parents work at home. I love it because we spend more time together. My brother is older and lives at Leipzig. In my free time, I go out with friends and make Oldenburg my playground. There are school clubs, but theyâ€™re not popular. I am a part of Model United Nations Oldenburg. I would say the popular clothing store is H&M. I go shopping often because I didnâ€™t bring a lot of clothes to Germany. Most of my clothes in the States were for warm weather. It is cold here. I shop at Zarahs and H&M. Things are highly priced because of the difference between the Euro and the Dollar.
My classmates are 15-17 years old. I stay with the same class all the time except for theater and 7th Klasse German. All my classes are in German except for English of course. I never took physics in the States so my physics teacher is required to speak English to me. I also have to read about physics on my own on the internet. I have different classes each day. I have 13 classes in all. I take 3 sciences: biology, chemistry, and physics. Each class lasts 90 minutes. We have pauses, which are breaks. They last about 25 minutes. I also take German, theater, gym, and a higher English class with the 12/13 grade. My school offers various languages like Dutch, but I only take German and English. For some of my classes I move and for the most part my teachers come into the classroom.
I took German 1-4 in high school. I learned the basics, but I could not speak German. I could not pronounce the words correctly. I recently showed my host family a video I made in German 3 and my German was very simple. I didn't have German junior year so I didn't remember much except for conjugating verbs and colors. The exchange program provided a language camp and once I arrived in Germany I headed to the camp for 3 weeks with 49 other teenagers from the southeastern US. I learned about German culture, reviewed the language, and prepared for the year ahead. I am more confident about being with a host family because of language camp. Every day I learn more German and lose some English.
I have been a vegetarian for four years now. German food is heavily influenced by meat, but I feel like I have more choices here. My host mom makes amazing soups, noodles, and more. There is a huge Turkish population in Germany and there are many Donner places. I usually purchase Vegetarian Falafel. The people eat french fries like they do in England with a mini fork. Germans love bread. There is a vast variety. For dinners we eat sandwiches. It's supposedly better for the digestive system to have the big meals for lunch. In the city of Oldenburg, they have Subway, McDonalds, and Burger King.
I have a bike. I bike around the village at least once a week. I also have a train station in my neighborhood. From my house it takes 3 minutes to get there. I have to take the train to school. It's about a 30 minute ride. After the train, I have to take the bus to school. That takes about 10 minutes. My family has cars. We take the car for grocery shopping and trips.
Some days I forget I am in Germany and think I am still in the US. A lot of the entertainment here, like music and movies, are American. I listen to more pop music here than in the US. Summer was perfect. The temperature was cool. The sun rose early and set late at the night. Fall was breathtaking with the changing of leaves, but it became cold quickly. Winter has been rough and it only snowed a few times. The first snowfall was Thanksgiving. I believe I had 2 snow days. Spring is soon approaching and I already see flowers blooming in the park.
I return to the U.S. June 19 which is unfortunately after graduation. This summer I plan on traveling around the States and enjoying the company of my friends and family. I plan on attending college in the fall. I still haven't decided on a college yet.'
Thank you for sharing your adventures and experiences with us, Sophie! We wish you the best as you continue your journey and we look forward to seeing you when you return!
Written by: Ms. Paula White
Posted: Mar 23, 2011 by Ms. Paula White