Atlanta Blog 2022
Hello and welcome to our Atlanta blog of 2022!
After what felt like an eternity we are finally able to visit our beloved city again and have our students enjoy all kinds of exchange activities. We currently have 28 students with us, of which 12 are attending Cherokee Bluff High School (Q1 students) and 16 (Q2 students) that attend courses at Emory University, Georgia Tech University and do job shadowings in different companies in the Atlanta metropolitan area.
It is a special week for those attending CBHS since it is homecoming week, which means students and teachers get to dress up differently each day just for the fun of it, there is a pep rally, an important football game and a homecoming prom on Saturday. What more can you wish for in your true American high school experience!
I have just returned from CBHS to meet Mrs. Ramsey, the new prinicpal, and Mrs. Bretschneider, the English teacher that worked on getting the program started again with me. Both of them enjoyed our little present and send their warmest greetings to the THG community (see pictures).
In the course of the next two weeks every exchange student will blog about one of their days spent at school, in the host family and their free time activities. So, stay tuned for more exciting news from Atlanta!
It´s Sunday, the first real day in Atlanta, Georgia, America, and it was really fun, active and exciting. We were obviously still jetlagged from traveling over 20 hours the whole Saturday, so the call was sleeping in. We woke up at 10 am and the whole family ate breakfast together, hashbrowns, scrambled egg, English muffin, toast and some juice. It was really good.
After breakfast I tried on some of their old really nice homecoming dresses for the following homecoming on Saturday. I am really looking forward to experiencing such a typical American thing like homecoming, which will be much fun with dressing up and having the party at the big school gym. After all that we got ready because we were about to do our first big activity. My host family, Tally, my exchange student, her sister and her mum, I and the aunt and the four cousins, which I met the evening before at some dinner, went to a “fall fair in Duluth”, which is like half an hour car ride away from our city. They are all very open, kind and welcoming and easy to talk to and also very interested in our life back in Germany and the differences to their life.
The fair was very big and had many small shops and stores with handmade goods, bands and live music and a lot of food. AMERICAN FOOD. And I tried many different things and it all tasted different but good. We had some normal cheese fries, which are pretty common here, nachos with some sauce, blossoming onions, which I´ve never heard of before, but it was fun to eat. The onion was like cut so many times, that when it was fried in oil, it will open up and look like a blossoming flower. It was really good and crispy on the outside and the onion on the inside kind of like onion rings. We also tried a typical southern cheese and fried Oreos which was interesting, also haven’t tried that one before. And for drinks we had frozen lemonade which was fun and at a small store we tried many different handmade drinks, like special lemonades with all kinds of ingredients. The whole American food is very different from German food or even European food in general but fun to try out and my first cultural shock.
When we arrived home again we didn’t stay long because our next stop was the “Gwinnett County Fairgrounds” which was so much fun. We went as a huge group. Vikky, Johanna and their exchange student Kameron, Jannis and Mats with their exchange student Trê, Hennes and Brett, his exchange student, and some other American friends and obviously Tally and me. We walked around, talked and got to know each other a bit more, went for some fun rides, the fast-spinning thing was the worst, and I watched some live action tricks on bicycles and motorcycles. We even got the opportunity to pet a donkey, cows and some baby ducks and chicken. They were so tiny and soft. On our way back we stopped by “Colvers” which also is a common fast-food chain in America and ate all together as big group. At the end we were all tired and exhausted, but everybody was excited for the next day, MONDAY, the first day in high school. I was so excited, and I didn’t know what to expect, something like high school musical? But so far everything has been so much fun and such a new adventure with so many different things.
One prominent and important aspect in the exchange is the “communication with a native English speaker”, obviously the Americans, and learning about the American culture. After like one and a half days I`ve already seen so much and experienced some of the American culture. Culture shock wise I would say the food is the most obvious one, like Chick-Fil-A etc.. But there is also a difference how they spend their free time, often connected to school sports, like the football matches every Friday. And how open they are and the person alone in America acts completely different than in Germany. Another major point are the cars. Everybody has one and they drive everywhere with their big trucks.
The communication between everybody is pretty easy. We talk in the big group of friends and with the host family about all kinds of stuff, normal conversations with no big complication and if there are any, they are all understanding and there is no pressure. One part about the communication is that some of them have a strong southern accent and use some different words which is funny to listen to but doesn’t cause any trouble understanding them talk.
But all in all, I would say that everything has been pretty exciting so far. I have already learned many different things and it is fun to really see the typical American things and really talk and use English and not just in class.
It´s Monday, the second actual day in my host family starts, among that it´s the first day of school and I was pretty excited about that. I was looking forward to all the new impressions of the American school, I was also very excited to meet a lot of new people, to get to know them and like them.
I started the day very normal, I woke up at seven and took my shower. After that at about 7:50 we went off to school in Tre´s car, Tre is the son of my hosts John and Carolina. When we arrived there, the first thing we did was going to the principal’s office to get our student Id card which we have to wear at any time in school.
Then at 8.25 Tre, Jannis and me went to the first class, physics, with miss Carter.
After that we went to our second period “The history of Rock’n’roll”, we didn´t do a lot there except helping the teacher Miss Coon move some pianos. What was a lot fun about that class was that we were introduced as the ”German exchange students” and nearly everyone turned around and started asking questions, being excited and honestly interested. It was just so much fun talking to them. After that my excitement rose even more.
We headed off to math class, we entered the room and we got a very warm welcome, the boys and girls were applauding and cheering for us. A girl was saying pretty loudly “the Germans are so cute” and then the lesson started. Miss Johnson, a very nice teacher, had a hard time with a student, that´s something you´d see in Germany too. We did something in class that I should have known because we had done it in grade 8 or something and I had to solve an equation at the board. That was just funny listening to all the comments of the other students.
The 4th period we had was Economics with mister Jackson, you can compare that class to our SoWi class. At the half of the lesson the bell was ringing and we had lunch, I got salad with fries and a chicken sandwich. I didn´t really like the sandwich ‘cause it was a bit too spicy. We were sitting at a table with every exchange student, who had lunch at block C and with our host students and their friends. A guy just randomly had a microphone in his hand and everyone started to sing Happy Birthday for a friend of the guy on the microphone. He was so embarrassed, and everyone screamed and clapped their hands. When we got back to class, we weren´t doing work, we were just watching “Hells kitchen”, a popular cooking show here. The last special thing that happened for me was a letter for a date to the homecoming ball which will be on Saturday 1st October.
The 5th period was “Intro to drafting and design” with Mister Zuluaga. In that class we had a talk with two army soldiers which were there to promote the army to the students. Honestly, they were doing their talk very convincingly and were funny with it.
Then in period 6 we had multicultural ELA with miss Bretschneider, one of the teachers that picked us up from the airport. We were reading a book, it´s called “the house on Mango street”.
Our 7th period was health care with miss Wilson
School was over and we drove back home. I talked about my day with John, Carolina was preparing dinner and Tre was helping her. Then at about 4:30 pm we had dinner, we ate some delicious pasta and talked a lot again. When I´m just in a conversation I sometimes just listen and think “oh that’s very similar” or “oh you wouldn´t see that in Germany”. John and Carolina are very kind and nice people and we a had a lovely welcome in the family. John works in real estate and Carolina is a nurse. The three dogs they have are very cute and fun to play with. Back to the day, after dinner we just relaxed a bit and at about 7 pm we went off to the mall to go to an “escape room”. We went there with some friends of Tre. We didn´t solve it but it was a lot of fun still.
When we got home, I was full of new impressions and kinda tired so I went to bed with a wonderful feeling knowing that I had a great day.
Today I spent a few hours at Dunwoody High School with Marge Steinbrenner, Dunwoody’s longest serving German teacher, and Will Henderson (via Zoom), to catch up on the years we haven’t seen each other. In 2018 they visited THG with a delegation of their students for a week and had a really good time with us.
After its cancellation a few years ago, Marge has taken up the German program at DHS again and we were looking into the prospects of our schools having a true exchange program in the coming years. Maybe we can even start as early as the fall of 2023 with our first visit to Dunwoody!
It’s Tuesday, the third day at my host family and the second day at Cherokee Bluff High School. Yesterday I got some new impressions of an American high school, and everyone was so excited.
The started as the day before. I woke up and took a shower. Tre, our host student, drove us to school at 7:50 am. Mats and I are a junior, it means that we are in eleventh grade. In the US it’s kind of normal that the students drive to school with their own car.
The first lesson starts at 8:25 am. Our first class was Physics with Miss Carter. In Physics we learned something about vectors. The class size is very small compared to the class back home. We are like 20 students at Physics.
The next class was “History of Rock’n’roll” with Miss Coon. This class is bigger than I expected, we were about 25 students. Today we compared two different songs by Bill Haley. It was quite interesting to see how many different classes they have at an American High School and how special some of these are.
The third lesson was Mathematics with Miss Johnson. The class is the funniest class of the day. Mathematics is easier for me here in the US than back in Germany. The students ask us a lot of questions about Germany and what we like about the US. Miss Johnson is really relaxed with the class, it’s not strict like in Germany. In Mathematics there is also a comedian, who is the reason why we often have something to laugh.
After Mathematics we went to Economics. Our teacher Mister Jackson told us something about the inflation and the American economy. Economics is nearly the same as SoWi in Germany. The teaching style is way different in contrast to Germany. The students don’t have to raise their hands to say something. They can speak when they want to. One thing that Tre told me was that they often write a test on Friday. The test is about what they did in the week, but because of the test the oral contributions by students are not very frequent, and the lessons can be boring. Economics is the only lesson that is over two periods. Between these periods we had lunch. Today we had dumplings filled with cheese and a salad. The portions are kind of small, but the food is like the school food at our school. We sat together with the other exchange students and the host students. After lunch we went back to class. After Mister Jackson finished with what he planned for the lessons, the class watched the cooking show “Hell’s Kitchen”, which is a very popular cooking show with Gordon Ramsay.
The next class is “Intro to drafting and design”. Tre had warned us that this class could be boring because they must work on a project and Mats and I can’t really help him.
Next, we had multicultural ELA with Miss Bretschneider. In ELA we read the book “The house on Mango Street”. The last period was health care with Miss Wilson like the day before.
After school we drove back home and watched two episodes of “Cobra Kai”, a TV show about karate. At 6:30pm we went to a softball game because one of the group of friends plays for the school team. When we arrived, it looked like the school team had a chance, but at the end they lost 14:3. After the game we went to Shogun, which is an Asian restaurant where they cook in front of you. It was very delicious, but the portions were so big that we took half of the food with us. After dinner we went back home and straight to bed. This day was a nice experience. The school system is different than in Germany and the school sport teams are also new for me. These games are like a little event and there are some visitors. When I went to bed, I knew that I had learned something new and that this day was a great experience.
Today I visited Atlanta International School (AIS), a private school with a diverse language profile, and got to know Mrs. Marianne Robbiani who teaches German there. About 120 students have currently enrolled for German courses at AIS and the school already has an existing exchange program with a partner in Dresden. Nevertheless, Marianne was interested in the possibilities we can offer her students and wants to forward our program’s concept to her school’s administration. I’m looking forward to keeping contact and fostering THG’s transatlantic ties.
It is Wednesday, a good day to start into a normal week. Today the school day is not that long like on the other days. School first started at 8:40am and will end at 3:35pm. In the first lesson I attend physics. The stuff they do there is actually very easy because they are not so far with their school stuff like we in Germany are. After physics I go to an online class where everybody has the obligation to work on his or her own. In this case my host student works on his German skills. Then we have lifting as a subject. I am very stunned about what the other students are able to lift or how fast and how many pushups and pullups they can do. Next we go to the lunch break where we are eating together with most of my host students’ friends. They are all very friendly and funny and welcomed me at the first day. By the way the subject of humor differs from the German humor not that far, but it is built simpler. The people here are able to laugh about simple things and are making each other more compliments. The rest of my school day is divided into art, economics, US-history – film class and forensics.
After school my host student and me are driving to the gym and are working out for about one hour or sometimes even two. At the beginning it was very hard to keep up with him and his friends because their skills were very good. But I am improving myself slowly.
When we get back from gym we ate at Taco‘s Tacos. The food in the USA is not so healthy like in Germany but most meals and snacks you cannot get in Germany. In the USA Mexican food and burgers taste best.
In the evening we went to school again because the students and teachers organized a parade and a big bonfire. At the parade we met the other German exchange students and their host students. While the parade was taking place many cars drove through the parking area and the students on them threw candy to all the people. After the parade we moved on to the bonfire. It was actually just a big fire many people circled around. The atmosphere was very nice. The stars were shining in the sky, there was a big warm fire and everybody seemed to be happy.
Before it got too late we went to Dunkin‘ Donuts with some of the other exchange students. It is very cool to try so many different things in the USA because we do not have lots of things in Germany. Even the wildlife is very nice. When we went on a small hiking trip we saw lots of animals like deer, vultures and even a snake. The malls are even bigger too. There you have more different stores and a bigger selection.
To sum up, in the USA you experience many new things. You meet a culture where you have more possibilities than in Germany and meet many interesting people.
Today I spent some time at Emory University where Erik Riemer’s students attend all kinds of courses, are allowed to roam the campus freely and had their presentation on sustainability in Germany and at THG in front of Prof. Hieram Maxim’s German course. Enjoyed the discussions and the overall atmosphere!
Another interesting visit to one of Atlanta’s renowned educational institutions: Agnes Scott College. Got a campus tour – idyllic – and attended Mrs. Barbara Drescher’s German course where our students engaged in a lively interaction with the Scotties, that’s how ASC students are referred to:)
My experience in America was great so far. I have seen a lot of different new things everyday that are so different from Germany. My day usually starts at 7am when I wake up and get ready for the day. At 8am we leave the house, and my host student drives us to his precollege courses. These are either American history or political science, which is about how the political system has changed over time and how it is structured.
At around 10 am we are driving back to the school and have our lunch break. In fact, my host student doesn’t have a specific lunch break, but he usually eats at A lunch or B lunch and later goes into the library to do a bit of his college homework which is quite a lot. Our periods after lunch are Maths, Oceanography and American Lit. In Maths they do a lot of stuff which we did in 8th grade. However, Oceanography can be compared to the stud we do in geography and American Lit. is something completely different. In total, they also write a lot of smaller tests, which means that class participation isn’t that important.
After school we are going back home and chill for about an hour or two before we leave again. In that time we do something like going to the fair or watch the homecoming football game which was my first football game I have ever seen. After these events it is often around 8 to 9:30 pm. At this time, we either go to eat something at one of the fast food restaurants or we just go home. The best fast food here so far was from Chick-fil-A, which is a fast food restaurant which sells a lot of food made out of chicken. Also, a lot of students in America work to earn money for something like a car or just because a lot of things are more expensive here. At home we watch TV and go to bed afterwards.
In total, I have noticed a lot of differences compared to Germany. The first thin I noticed when I got to Atlanta is, besides the language, the traffic. In Atlanta downtown and in Flowery Branch way more people drive a car than in Germany. This can be seen on the highways which sometimes have 6 lanes or go over each other three times. However, if you go to the suburbs, you can see the reason for that. Atlanta is a huge city and everything is spread out a lot so that you have to have a car to go somewhere even if it is the next grocery store. The point that is different is that the grocery stores bot onyly have groceries but a lot of other stuff like costumes or school supplies. Nevertheless, schools are different. The Cherokee Bluff High School for example is compared to the THG more of a flat building with a bigger cafeteria in which every student has a lunch break, a huge library in which you can study and the many different sport fields for the school teams, which are pretty cool.
The language here is very different from what we learn in our school. In our school everyone has at least a bit of an accent which makes the American English a bit harder to comprehend. However, this changes over time and you get used to it. Another side effect of only talking to people that are native speakers is that your pronunciation of some words improves because of that. In my time here it also helped that my host family has spoken a bit louder to understand them easier because they usually don’t speak that loudly and clearly. This style of speaking is the major difference to the German accent. It can be reversed if Americans try to speak German words which results in them not stressing specific syllables as Germans do. To sum it up, I learned a lot of new slang words and was able to improve my English-speaking abilities which are way more important than just writing here. In a nutshell, the USA is very different from Germany however, you can still have a lot of fun despite these cultural and language differences.
Today is Friday, school starts at 8:20 am. Colin’s Mom drove us to school like every day. Interesting about this school is that students can buy an actual breakfast there. I got myself a spicy chicken sandwich. In the first period we had Biology where we learned about osmosis and did a little experiment with potatoes and water with sugar. We had to guess if the potatoes would gain weight or lose weight after this weekend. In the middle of the period there was suddenly a teacher with a real snake around his head. It was so cool to see that!
In the second period we had literature, but Colin wrote a test, so I had to stay at the student library. But at least Colin wrote a good test.
In the third period we had History where they wrote a test too, but this time I could stay in the class and watch them. It was weird because everyone could listen to music, and everyone wrote their test on a computer. I wish we could do this in our school.
In fourth period we had Engendering, which was my favorite subject because everyone is so nice!
While all the students hat to work on a project, I built a plane out of wood with the teacher.
After that he explained to me that the school also builds robots. Another interesting project was the electric car one class is building and planning.
Then we had lunch, we had a pizza with milk. The school lunch is ok but it’s better than nothing.
It’s always a great experience during lunch because there are so many people you can talk with in the cafeteria. I sat at Colin’s table with a part of the marching band.
After lunch we had math, but it wasn’t regular math, everyone had to present a passion or thing they learned in the last month, and we got everything, one guy programmed a game, 2 girls learned sign language and one guy learned Spanish!
The rest of the period we could work on stuff we had to do or on our “passion” that they can present next month. I personally worked on my school stuff from Germany.
In the last period we hat German, but they had no German teacher, so they learned German on their laptops. It was Interesting to see how fast a school could adapt to the situation because it was not a long time ago where the teacher was still in their school, they learn German on their school website. The website looked a bit like Duolingo (Language Learning-App). Colin worked on describing the way to locations. After school we waited in the cafeteria till his grandma brought Colin, Hailee (his little sister) and me home. At home we did a little house cleanup and after that we watched a movie together.
Later that day Carlotta, Estelle, Arisa and I went to the mall, which was a cool experience because the mall was giant, we went to many stores like Vans, Footlocker etc. At the end of the day, we ate Taco Beell for dinner, and it was so yummy! At 9 pm the host dad of Carlotta and Estelle drove us home.
My host family had friends over at their house and we all ate some smores. It was so cool to speak with them just to exchange information and some stories. Also, a crazy thing was that they had a flamethrower to light up the fire.
To sum up, the USA is a great place, everyone is so nice, and the schools are so modern. One downside of the American schools is that they have the same subjects every day and I think after a while this will get very boring. But in the end the USA is great!
It’s Saturday. We have been here for one week now and as you already know; it was homecoming week. So, the whole week was full of fun events such as theme days, a football game, and a bonfire. Today, this homecoming week ended with the actual homecoming dance. This was the day we all were most excited for!
This morning I woke up at 10 AM. I am in one host family with Vikky, so we both got ready and went down for breakfast. Kam, our host sister, introduced us to her friend Maddie and made cinnamon rolls for all four of us for breakfast. After that, Kam, her Mom and Maddie went to pick up flowers for our homecoming pictures. I used that time to call my best friend. Our call lasted two hours and after we hung up, it was already time to get ready. We listened to music, helped each other to do our hair, did our makeup and got dressed. In total the whole process took us two and a half hours. The mood was great and I had a lot of fun.
At 4:30 PM we took off to Sugar Hill, where we wanted to take our pictures. At first, I thought that it would be so unnecessary to drive to a photo spot and plan to spend there one hour, because I never did it before. It turns out that it is actually a pretty smart thing to do. We had a lot of time, beautiful surroundings and we got some pretty pictures. We missed our exit on the highway, so when we got there a little late everyone was already there. We met the homecoming dates of Kam and Maddie, who were John David and Nico. They brought their families and there were also a lot of other students who wanted to take pictures.
After everyone was happy with the number of pictures we made, John David drove us to an Italian restaurant, luckily he came with a big Land Rover so all six of us could fit in. We made our reservations at the wrong restaurant, so we had to wait a little bit, but the food was definitely worth the wait. We left the restaurant at 8 PM and drove to Cherokee Bluff High School, where the dance was. In the car we turned the music on full volume and sang along, to get in the right mood for the homecoming party. I think it’s so cool that almost everyone at the school, who is older than sixteen has their own car. It makes them so flexible and they can listen to the music they want. Also, our host sister has really cute decorations in her car.
When we arrived, we ran into some students who were about to leave because the dance was lame. Which was why I had low expectations when I walked in. We immediately spotted some of the other German students and the decoration was so cool! The music was good and there was one song where everyone started dancing a choreography, which I had never seen before. But it was easy, so we joined them and it was so fun!
At the dance there was also free food and drinks such as cookies, capri sun and lots of other candy. In one corner there was also a photo spot where you could take pictures and videos and send it to your phone afterwards. We all had a lot of fun tonight. We left the dance at 10:15 PM and drove to JDs house. I love American houses and how they are built by the way. They are all made out of wood with pretty colours and they all look different. The neighbourhoods are really lovely. JDs house has a pretty big basement with a table-tennis table, a kitchen, a couch, a TV and a bathroom. Vikky and I played table tennis for a little while and then we played card games and ate brownies. We had to be home by midnight so we said goodbye and left JDs house at 11:50 PM. At home we talked to our host mom for a little bit and then we went upstairs. Vikky and I share a bedroom and for the night Kam shared hers with her friend Maddie who was with us the whole day. We went to bed at 1 AM and I fell to sleep immediately. It was a great, adventurous and exhausting day.
Today has been an especially interesting day, as it was the night of homecoming. Per definition the day started precisely at 12 am and at that time we were impatiently waiting for our orders at an American restaurant chain called “Waffle House“.
Jackson, who is a friend of our host sister`s older brother, drove Arisa, Carlotta, and me to said Waffle House, since we had a long talk when we first met at our host family’s house and got along undisputedly well.
So, the four of us were hungrily waiting for our food after dancing all night, comfortably seated at a table near the bar at the 70´s style restaurant with tiled walls and a shining jukebox placed in a corner.
And as we waited, Jackson told us that he had spent a month of the previous summer break in Germany and that he has been learning German for four years already, so we continued the conversation while switching between German and English. I found that he is indeed fluid in German and doesn’t have much of a harsh American accent. Because he could understand everything that we said in German, I realized that Carlotta and I had previously been using German as a sort of secret language only we could understand to exchange information or thoughts that we would rather not share with everyone else present.
As we talked about our individual experiences in foreign countries, we came to a mutual understanding of the differences between Germany and the USA.
As it mainly concerns us teenagers, we talked about the fact that one is already allowed to drive at the age of 16 but may not drink until turning 21 in America and how, in contrast to the American law, the German law states that teenagers are allowed to drink specific alcoholic beverages at 16 but are not allowed to drive until they are 18 years old. We thought that it was interesting how the two states have such different priorities concerning their youth’s safety.
Furthermore, Carlotta and I also noticed that we are extremely dependent on our host parents to drive us around, since there is no public transportation outside of the bigger cities and the distance is usually too far to walk. However, this does not seem like a relevant issue to most American teenagers because most of them drive by themselves as soon as they turn 16.
Another thing that we noticed while comparing Jackson´s and our experiences is how Germans usually seem more reserved when talking to strangers and how a lot of Americans seem very outgoing and excessively friendly. This became particularly obvious to me when people addressed me as: “Hun”, “Honey” or “babe”. These nicknames felt very strange.
By the time our food finally arrived it was 12:40 am and we shared hashbrowns, waffles, toast, and eggs. When we finally wanted to pay, we realized that the waiters don’t earn nearly enough money for how stressful their job is and that they are dependent on tips, because the American system is just very different than the German one. Because of that we decided to tip 20%, even though we were waiting for a very long time. Finally, Jackson dropped us off at our host families house and we went straight to bed.
Everyone was extremely tired after the homecoming dance, so we got up around noon when lunch was ready. Our host mom had prepared a so called “Shepherd’s Pie”, which consists of baked lentils, vegetables, mashed potatoes, and cheese. She had also baked a truly delicious banana bread, which tasted more like cake than bread. For the rest of the day, we were just playing video games and hanging out with the family, because everyone was very sleepy.
today is Monday. First day of our second week in Georgia. Our first week of visiting Cherokee Bluff High School is over and a new week has begun. Now we are already used to our timetable and know the school building pretty well. I am not getting lost in the hallways anymore 😉 The American high schools have names for each grade. The 9th grade are freshmen, the 10th grade are sophomores, the 11th grade are juniors and the 12th grade are seniors. Johanna and I are juniors.
Our host sister Kamryn has the opportunity to do “work-based learning”. This is a chance for students to get work experience while going to school. Therefore, Kamryn only has 5 periods and works after school at chick-fil-a. She recently upgraded as a manager.
I think it is very intriguing how the whole school system is different. The school looks different, there are after school clubs that are school teams, some subjects are different, etc.. Along with the fact that the students get graded only on their school projects, quizzes and tests. Not on participation in class. One other thing is that the students are allowed to eat in class. Which was very unusual for me at first, but I thought I should take the opportunity to eat in class 😉
Our first period is healthcare, which is a super interesting subject. We do not have this subject in our school, unlike here where it is required to have it. It teaches you about the human body and also many different medical terms. When someone considers a medical career, this subject offers the needed basis for one’s future job! Our healthcare teacher is Mrs. Wilson and she is a very sweet lady. We even had a coffee and cookies period with her last Friday.
She has a fridge in her classroom, where we left our packed lunch because we forgot to bring ice packs for the day.. 🙂
After healthcare we walk to our next classroom in which we have maths. I always heard rumours about how Americans have multiple choice math tests and how their topics in math are not that difficult. I indeed can say that those rumours are true. Kamryn showed me her math test and it was almost all multiple choice! As well as the topic that they were working on in class, it was a topic that we had some years ago.
The math teacher explains the math problems in a very complicated way, so I always do it in a quicker and easier way and still get the right solution.
Our next period would have been English, where we were reading and watching “the Crucible”. However, in today’s English period we had a junior meeting in the theatre. The high school has a THEATRE! I was so surprised to see that. There were so many chairs like a real cinema. The juniors were gathered to get some information about a brand that makes custom rings. It is supposed to connect the students with each other forever. Something that has a meaning for each and every one. I thought that was a very lovely idea and I am thinking about getting such a ring with a meaning. Sadly, the rings are getting delivered in December and we won’t we here anymore.
Usually, our day would continue with government class then lunch and then finishing government class as the lunch time is divided into lunch A, B and C. We have our lunch usually at B time. Except today where we had first lunch and then government. The reason for this was a speaker visiting us. We were visited by the representative of the Georgia state house of district 29. He was there to inform us about his future plans and ideas, also explaining us the way his job works and why he does it.
He was very kind and was open for any questions. I was very interested in his presentation as he presented himself in a confident way and explained everything very easily, so everyone could understand.
Following, we had our last period, biology. The biology class writes a test tomorrow which is why we did only some repetition in class. Mr. Godfrey is a very funny and kind teacher. He loves to connect with his students, for example when he walked around and sat down at every table to talk to his students about their future profession. I think that was very sweet of him as he seemed very interested in his students’ interests.
In America one is allowed to drive a car at the age of 16, which leads to Kam driving a car. An additional unusual and different thing. This means that we drive to school and back from school by ourselves.
After school we drove through a drive through at Sonic’s where we got our real lunch and had some food that took our hunger away 🙂
The most important part of the day is a good afternoon nap, which we almost take every day XD
After a good nap Kamryn drove to work. While she started her work Johanna and I went over to the few famous shops that are close to Chick-fil-A. One of the most famous American stores is Target. I am sad that we do not have it in Germany. One can find anything one needs at Target!! I bought some American candy for my friends and family that I for sure know one can’t find in Germany.
After some shopping we walked over to Kam’s work and waited for her to finish. We as well grabbed some snack while we were already there. Kamryn recommended her favourite snack which was a brownie with ice cream on top. It was really good! I recommend trying it 😉
After a long day we all watched the movie Mean Girls and got ready for bed.
I have met so many people and have already seen so many things, I can’t wait for tomorrow and for what awaits me this next week! 🙂
I have just returned from a wonderful evening at the magnificent Halle Estate to which the board members of the Halle Foundation, Marshall Sanders and Anthony Pellingra, have invited everyone involved in THG’s Atlanta program.
Erik and I were able to address a few words to all the host families, students, corporate partners, teachers and friends to express our appreciation for what they did for the program. I’m sure Claus Halle would have loved to see all these young Germans here in his estate who profit from his generosity and commitment to German-American relations.
We would like to especially thank the Halle Foundation for their continuing support of our program and providing it with generous grants without which we wouldn’t be able to finance this endeavor. With their help we’re trying our best to keep the program alive, make it grow and flourish!
It’s Tuesday, another beautiful day in our second school week. Today I finally found my way to my classes. The hallways look so similar, and the school is so big, you easily get confused. I did it today.
But my normal day doesn’t start with the school bell. I wake up at 5:45. Well, my alarm is set for 5:45, I get up at around 6am. I share a bathroom with my host sister Brinleigh, so every morning we see each other being tired and looking like we haven’t slept in weeks. This morning, we weren’t as tired as the other days. After getting ready for school, I went downstairs and the first thing I did was saying good morning to their lovely, cute dog Holly. She is an old lady but still fit and often in the garden to run up and down. I opened the backdoor for her so she could go outside. After that I have a small breakfast, cereal, a very sweet but really delicious breakfast. Eventually Brinleigh came downstairs and Natalia, my other host sister joined us as well. Normally Danny, my host dad, would come downstairs at about 6:40 and drive to work. This morning, however, he stayed in bed because he is sick. I hope he gets better soon.
At about 6:50 Natalia, Brinleigh and I made our way to the car. Natalia’s driving, and Brinleigh and I have a duel -shotgun duel- every morning for the front seat. If this is not known: the first one to call „shotgun“ is allowed to sit in front. Brinleigh won this morning. At this time in the morning it is quite cold outside and it is also fresh in the car. After that, my day really starts. We drive about 15 minutes with loud music past the school and towards the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Because before school we go to a 40 minute seminary of the church. This morning we continued reading and talking about Isaiah. I’m not the most religious person, but I find these morning hours very interesting. It’s not just about God or Jesus, it’s about everyday things. We talked about our fears and desires and it’s always very entertaining. The boys and girls and the two teachers I have had so far are very nice and explain everything to me.
At 7:40 we meet Natalia outside. This morning we decided to have breakfast because Natalia hadn’t had breakfast yet. We then drove to McDonalds and got something to eat there and ate on the way to school.
School starts at 8:20 am. We were at school around 8:00 a.m. and sat down with our friends at a table and talked a bit there. When the bell rings, the rush of people in the corridors and the school day begins. I’m not going to explain all of the lessons again because that’s already been done enough, but I’ll list a few things that caught my eye.
1. My exchange student is very smart and really good at school and especially in math. She has not just one but 2 math courses a day, one of them at college level. In the math lessons I’ve had here so far, I’ve noticed that a few things are done a little differently here. That confused me a lot, but I tried to do my best.
2. In the third lesson we have German, not with a teacher, but online and Brinleigh actually managed to work 2 months ahead. We finished the entire semester today and no, I didn’t do everything for her.
3. The classes I look forward to the most are biology and band. In biology we are currently doing cell membrane and since we already had that in Germany, I can participate. It is very
exciting to learn all the technical terms in English.
Band is great because I love music and playing it with other people. Unfortunately, I can’t play because I play the violin and not a wind instrument, but it’s still fun to sit there.
After the 7 classes, marching band practice is on Tuesdays. For those who don’t know the Marching Bands: This is the wind ensemble with percussionists who create the great atmosphere at football games and deliver a 13-minute show before or after or during competitions, where they march in rank and file and have an intricate choreo. Before that we have a 30-dminute break where we chill and have very funny conversations. I met so many new people there in the band, who are all so nice and open and always welcome me. I feel very comfortable in this environment. First of all, they tuned ana rehearsed in the band room. After that we went to the football field and they practiced their performance there. I find it very impressive how important each individual is for the performance.
After the rehearsal, Natalia picked us up and we went to eat. We were at Culver and ate burgers there. I’m really jealous of one thing, the refill system. You get a cup and can refill a drink as often as you want. We should introduce that in Germany. Later, we went to Goodwill and Dollartree, two shops with cheap things. There we bought some American sweets, which I absolutely had to try, said natalia and Brinleigh.
Before getting ready for bed we drove to a nearby neighborhood to see their Halloween decorations. Some of them were pretty spooky and I was impressed by the amount of decorations.
At home, Brinleigh worked a little on her project and on her homework while I spent some time in Natalia’s room. Brinleigh also came around at some point and we listened to music and talked. Just before we went to sleep, Jaime, my host mom, came and we said a prayer and read a passage from the bible. Jaime asked me today if I would like to say the prayer in German and they were very happy about that. Then we fell into bed at 10, tired. I really enjoy my time here and I’m so happy for my great, lovely, caring family. I met so many new people and mad so many new experiences I will never forget.
It is Wednesday, which means we have a bit more than half a week left here in Atlanta. Even though it was my twelfth day here, it was the second time, Estelle and I joined Bella’s brother Will, who’s a senior, on a typical day in his high school.
Will’s school day is way more chill than Bella’s. His first class, which is a pre-college English class, usually starts at 10:50 am. So, we can sleep about two hours longer, when we go with Will. We would have left the house at 10:20 am. However, the teacher wasn’t there today, because he had to accompany his children on a school conference, which he told us on Monday. So, I could have slept even longer till about 11 am, still I woke up around 9 am. At about 11:30 am I went upstairs to the kitchen, made myself lunch and grabbed two water bottles.
Some advice for the USA: Never drink out of the tap. Except if you like either the taste of chloride or choking on pool water. You should rather drink purified water from bottles. It still tastes like chloride, but it is not nearly as nasty.
We left at 12:30 pm, Will drove us, but after 3 minutes Will noticed he left his Air Pods at home, so we drove back to get them. We arrived at Flowery Branch high school about 12:50 pm. Will doesn’t go to Cherokee Bluff, because all his friends are at Flowery Branch. I’m glad we already had lunch at home, cause the school lunch doesn’t look particularly more appetizing than at Cherokee Bluff, which is why I normally always grab a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a package of Dorito’s.
We went to the chorus room and chatted with a few of Will’s friends, trying to imitate the southern accent with them, before class started. When class began, we sat down next to Angela, who is one of Will’s friends. They started with some warmups, after which they sang Silent Night. I have no musical talent whatsoever, so I’m probably not the best to judge, but it sounded pretty good to me.
Afterwards we went to art class, the teacher asked everybody what their favorite fall activity was. While doing so, she gave us something to draw.
The last class was economics, the teacher talked about monetary policy. She explained it through memes and a clip from Despicable Me, which I found pretty amusing.
After the last lesson we picked up Lias from Cherokee Bluff, who asked us if we wanted to hang out. Normally we would have picked up Bella as well, but she needed to take photos with her volleyball team.
One huge downside of living in the USA is that, outside of big cities, you always need to depend on a car to get anywhere. So, if you are not old enough to drive, you need someone to drive you literally everywhere, which is basically my experience here. This is probably why you can drive at a younger age than in Germany.
Luckily for Estelle and me our host parents Al and Amy are willing to drive us all the time, if they don’t have to work. Today they had to work till 6 pm, which is why we couldn’t come to the Halle Foundation event, this afternoon.
Still, they agreed to take Estelle, Lias and me to the mall today. After we all chilled downstairs, we left for The Mall of Georgia at about 6pm. It is a 30-minute-drive to get there.
We managed to get through the whole mall and even though we were in many cool stores, I decided to get a pair of Vans while Estelle and Lias settled for a corn dog from Oh K-Dog. We were picked up in front of the mall at 8:30 pm and drove Lias to his house. Once back home, Estelle and I went downstairs and straight to bed. As I laid in my bed, I thought to myself how fast the time has passed already and the great time I had here.
Today I went to Georgia Tech with a group of Erik Riemer’s students and attended Dr. Hyoun-A Joo’s German course. Our students gave their presentation on sustainability in Germany and at THG and engaged in a discussion with the class members on differences in implementing sustainable concepts like recycling and public transportation in the US and Germany.
Afterwards we got a campus tour and were able to take pictures at some cool spots, like a roof terrace overlooking parts of the campus, a student invention studio and a famous staircase where parts of the movie „the internship“ were filmed.
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it
stands, one Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Most of you guys will probably not recognise these words, but American students learn them since
kindergarten: the Pledge of Allegiance. Every morning before class begins, they have to stand up,
turn to the flag – they have one Star-Spangled Banner in every classroom and one in front of the
school – and say these words with their right hand on their heart. Henri told me that in his class
most students do not stand up to say the Pledge because the government does not support the
LQBTQIA+-community. In my class, everybody stands up, but not everyone says the Pledge. I asked
one student who does not say the Pledge and she told me that she does not support the
First period is Biology. As my exchange student Anna Kate is in 10th grade, I am able to help her
with her assignments. The current topic is structure of the cell, in particular the cell membrane.
Today we get time to prepare for a mini-test tomorrow. I am still unsure about whether or not I am
going to take that test because content-wise it would not be a problem, but tomorrow is Friday
and our last day, so I might not get my grade.
Next period is American Literature. One might wonder: American Literature – does that mean they
have other literature as well? Yes, indeed, they do. The school offers BritLit (British Literature) and
World Literature. The current topic in American Literature is The Crucible by Arthur Miller which
tells the story of the Salem witch trials. Today, the students have time to work on their essays on a
current topic that relates to a theme in The Crucible. They can choose that topic themselves. One
example is bias conservative ideology in politics.
After American Literature we go to an online classroom. That just means we go to a classroom with
tables and chairs and a teacher at the front desk who checks attendance in the beginning and then
everyone gets to work on his or her online tasks. Anna Kate has her German classes online because
her teacher somehow disappeared and is not coming back. Other students take online Chinese
classes or Engineering, you can do pretty much every class online you want. And online class does
not mean Zoom conferences or anything similar, it just means that the students have to do tasks
they find on Canvas (the American Moodle).
Now it is time for my favourite subject of the day: Lunch. Today’s menu is tender chicken with
mashed potatoes. We always sit at the same table with Anna Kate’s friends, among others with
Hannah and her exchange student Brinleigh. I honestly have to say that I really like the cafeteria
food because it is always different and I got to try many different dishes like nachos, cheesy bites
and American pizza (which is more like a baguette with an insame amount of cheese). Some
students also bring their own lunch bags. After finishing our food, Hannah and I go visit the two
other German exchange student that are in our lunch group, Hennes and Henri.
Next up is Art. The students get a project in the beginning of the lesson and then time to work on
it. The project of this class is surrealistic collages. Henri and his exchange student are in that class
as well, so Henri and I usually talk and do stuff for our dear teachers in Germany.
My favourite real subject is Band. The teacher, Mister Cantrell, is very nice and told Anna Kate that
I could bring my flute and play with them in Band before I got here. The pieces are different to the
ones we play in our school orchestra in Germany, they are much more difficult and the sheer
number of different pieces of music is insane. Playing with them is so much fun and something
that I personally think is very cool is that the flute right next to me, Julia, does not only play flute,
but also piccolo and piano. It is like that with many Band kids and a great percentage of them is
self-taught since taking professional instrument classes is at least twice as expensive as in
Germany. Another difference between our THG orchestra and CBHS Band is the fact that we have
strings, like violin and guitar and piano players. CBHS Band is only winds and percussionists.
In Math, I watch the German news because it is 2 pm and with the time difference it is 8 pm in
Germany already. Their current topic is something different to what we do in Germany, which is
why I am not able to participate. The teacher Mister Rothschild sometimes puts on some music
while the students work on their tasks, and once he put on 99 Luftballons by Nena.
Last class of the day is US History. Other History classes you can choose are European History and
World History. I just realized that our History classes in Germany are only European History. CBHS
students have a greater variety of classes they may choose from, but they only have seven
different subjects and those every day.
After finishing normal school classes, Anna Kate and I go help a friend of hers take down the
American flag in front of the school. They do it to get extra credits. Other students put it up every
morning to get their extra credit.
Marching Band practice usually takes place on the field, where they actually march, but today we
stay inside and go through all the pieces they play. They have short ones to play after every Down
and long ones for quarter breaks. You might actually know some of them: Bad Guy (Billie Eilish),
Blinding Lights (Ellie Goulding) and Bare Necessities (The Jungle Book) are just some examples. I
really enjoy playing with them because there is some kind of magic in playing with like-minded
people that is impossible to describe, especially if you have quite the dominant percussionists as
Two and a half hours later, Anna Kate’s Dad picks us up and we stop at home to drop off our school
bags. Then we go to Target, which is a huuuge store where you can get literally anything between
clothes and groceries, to buy some books we saw the last time we were there. We left that store
with eight books in total…
As soon as we get home, we have soup for dinner. Anna Kate’s Mum cooked it herself, it is with
broccoli, chicken and cheddar. What might sound extraordinary is so delicious!!
To end the evening we do s’Mores, which is pretty much just a sandwich made of biscuits with
chocolate and roasted marshmallows. According to Anna Kate, there are two kinds of people when
it comes to doing your marshmallow: the ones who barely roast it and the ones who set it on fire.
Anna Kate and later me belong to the latter party…trust me, it might sound scary and even crazy
but it was so good that I ate four complete s’Mores!
Summing it up, going to America was and still is a great oppourtunity to learn about the cultural
differences that can be gigantic, even when you compare two Western countries like Germany and