November 8, 2010

David, Our German Exchange Student: Part 4



To read David, Our German Exchange Student Part 1, click on David, Our German Exchange Student: Part 1.

     I interviewed David at the end of his year 2000 stay as an exchange student from Germany.

     “My reason for coming to the United States was to learn the language, to speak it fluently. I think I met that goal,” David said. “I also came to get to know a different people and their culture.

     “My biggest impression is that the United States is big. I didn’t really expect it. You can drive twenty hours in one direction and still be in the same country with the same language. In the same driving time in Germany you would pass through four to five countries.”

     There are not so many churches in Germany as there are here, “where on one street there are ten churches and two are the United Methodist. Church…People go to church in Germany but not really that often like here.”

     According to David, almost everyone in Germany is in the church, “I am, but I go once a year, on Christmas Eve.” He said he is still at work at 10:00 a.m., or he doesn’t go because “I am just tired.”

     “Here, Sunday is just about church. In Germany, Sunday is to sleep and relax. That doesn’t mean we don’t believe in Jesus.”

     We learn religion in school, not in church. Religion classes are required every year in school. There are three classes: Catholic (Bavaria is mostly Catholic), Protestant, and one class is for different religions, or for those who believe nothing. “They do not do anything during that time.”

     Here, it is a melting pot culture, people from every religion—in Germany it is always Catholic and Protestant.

     “It doesn’t make any sense here that In God We Trust is on the coins, but in school you can’t teach religion.”

     David commented about Monte, who was an active United Methodist Pastor at the time.

     “Monte makes it more funnier, like. You want to listen to him more than the preachers in Germany, where it is boring and ready to sleep. At Christmas the pastor talked about stupid stuff. My brother and I would be ready to take a CD player, but mother would have killed us. It was my brother’s idea.”

     According to David, Germans are taxed 49% of their income. Seven percent of  that (3.4 % of their income) goes to the churches.

     “To give extra money to the church, no way. The church in Germany has enough money.”

     He sees American laziness. “At the bank, Americans drive in to get money. They don’t have that in Germany.”

     He sees that Americans like “comfortable” things.” He mentioned that Americans like big cars, because gas is real cheap.

     “In Germany, there are small cars, because the gas price is higher—four dollars  a gallon. When gas prices go up, Americans get mean and angry because the price is getting higher, in Germany we would celebrate two dollars a gallon.”

     School, a whole different country and culture

     “High school—it is like a place to hang out all day. In Germany we don’t hang out. We don’t have sports, lunch, homeroom or study hall. We have half a day of school. I like it in Germany. Those things are a waste of time. I’d rather sleep longer than go to homeroom. You have difficult classes but some are a little bit easier. They gave me problems of democracy, stuff I already learned in Germany.

     “My advice to future exchange students is to play as many sports as you can, because this is how you get around to different, schools, different people, and new friends. Tennis was the best experience for me.” 

     When teenagers turn 16 in Germany, they can fly to Spain, to vacation with friends, without adults and vacation with friends.

     “If I go on vacation with my parents, they pay. But if I go with friends, I pay for the trip. I am a student, not rich, and use less expensive hotels. My parents go to five star hotels I couldn’t afford.”

     “Rene is the same as my mother, clean room etc. But my mom is different.

     “Here you have a curfew. In Germany, at my age, there is none. You are almost an adult. Friends in Germany will be most interested in the rules for people buying beer in the United States. Here you must be 21. In Germany, it is 16, but it really doesn’t matter.

     “Food is fat and good here—that is the reason I gained fifteen pounds. My favorite United States restaurants are the Italian Oven or the Chinese Buffet. There are no buffets in Germany—they are awesome and cool. You can eat so much of what you want.

     “Clothes are pretty much the same. In the US there is a dress code, but in Germany we can wear anything. The Jesus skateboard, gets people here upset.

     “Piercing of the body, they don’t like it here. It is no problem in Germany, but what I realize is here it is OK also. I see people in school with piercing all over. Different parts of the country, like Texas, they don’t like it.

     “My worst experience was not having a real host family in the beginning, when I pais almost $600.00 bucks. Also, I came late, and that made me even more mad.”





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David, Our German Exchange Student: Part 3

Stockings for Jesus

Hats Make a Statement

River Song: Part 1

Blogging: Does it Have Value? Part 1

Laurel Mountain Borough, Pennsylvania: Quaint


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