By Shannon McCarthy, staff writer
Jakob Winkler has come from Stuttgart, a city in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany to join us at River Hill for the 2017-2018 school year. He is here to be introduced to a new culture and learn in a new environment.
The foreign exchange student program brings students out of their home country to study abroad for a semester or a full school year. The program provides the student with the ability to learn more about the world and other people in a way that remaining in their home country and textbooks are unable to offer.
“I graduated from high school last year and I didn’t want to start an apprenticeship right away. I wanted to see the world, do something uncommon, make international friends, improve my English, and see how people live in the US,” states Winkler. He chose America because he says “you hear so much about American especially in TV or movies so I want to see how it is in reality. Also, it is very interesting to see how people live in another part of the world what their culture is and what is important to them. America has a lot of nice places and it is very different from Germany.”
Winkler has left his comfort zone to experience America firsthand. To become a part of the school community he has joined FBLA and says he plans to join the ping pong club and try out for the basketball team. Along with doing activities, he has also gone to try new foods “I like the food here a lot, but at home, it’s always the best. And it’s also not very healthy. We have in Germany some fast food shops from here too but here I really miss Kebabs,” says Winkler.
“I have needed to integrate into a new family and learn their culture and habits and learn my new surroundings.”
He has had to adapt to the culture he says that “the biggest changes are the school and the new people.” Another struggle he faces is constantly speaking a different language “sometimes in the evening I’m so exhausted that I don’t want to hear English anymore. But it’s getting better every day.”
Leaving your home country and starting a new lifestyle with a completely different group of people is not an easy thing to do. The River Hill community has been very welcoming and helpful to Winkler “The students are very helpful, they helped me find my classroom or helped me in a subject. They are very interested and ask questions or invite me to their lunch table. Also, my guidance counselor made me a good schedule and was there for me when I had questions.”
Winkler is highly intelligent and doesn’t need much help adapting. His friend Elijah Taylor states that “Jacob normally knows everything pretty well and normally doesn’t need to get help from other people.”
English, not being Winkler’s foreign language, is a class he struggles with most. Mr. Tromble, Winkler’s English teacher, states that ”There are challenges for Jakob, especially in English class, especially with idioms and other things that are culturally germane to the United States.” Although he struggles in certain aspects he is still very successful in the class. “ he
works really hard and his English is very good, so he is doing well in class,” Mr. Tromble continued.
“I have always been fascinated by America,” says Winkler, and we are happy to welcome him in the River Hill community and give him an amazing experience.