Exchange students experience new cultures

Tertzanlis discusses her impressions of America

Lauren Schutter, @schutterlauren

Foreign exchange student Ilyana Tertzanlis came to WHS from Dortmund, Germany. Illyana recently spoke to The Charger about the process of becoming a foreign exchange student, and her observations of school in the U.S.

Where are you originally from?

Dortmund, Germany. I live in a state called Nordrhein-Westfalen, on the Western side of Germany.

What made you decide to be a foreign exchange student?

Movies where you see high school life, and I wanted to improve my English and meet new people.

You mentioned movies where you see high school life, what movies? How does real high school live up to your expectations?

High School Musical is one, but it’s obviously not exactly like that. Most of it is the same, except for the singing. The cheerleaders also aren’t as much of a group as in the movie. There’s definitely a lot of gossip, like in the movie.

What type of music do you enjoy?

Rap, which I guess would be considered German rap to you guys. Juju, SXTM, and Nura are some of my favorites.

What sports do you play? And what activities do you enjoy?

I play volleyball here, but I didn’t play in Germany. I also play softball, and it’s my favorite sport. I can pitch and play second base, but I’d say that in-field is my strong suit. After doing volleyball and body fitness here, I want to work out more when I return to Germany. No one in Germany does any sports other than soccer.

What’s the process you go through to learn English and to come to America?

In Germany you start learning English in first grade where they just teach you colors, animals and stuff like that. Then in higher grades you learn grammar and how to build sentences. I went on a trip to England with my class in 8th grade, which is pretty common to practice speaking English. Coming to America is a long process and you have to apply about a year before you actually want to go. My teachers and my doctor both had to fill out papers and I had to write a letter to my host family.

Why Wabaunsee? Was it a choice, or did you get assigned our school?

My host family got to pick me so I didn’t get to choose my state or school.

What are some major differences between school in Germany and school in America?

The biggest difference is probably that you get to choose your classes and teachers. In Germany you get to choose some classes in 10th Grade. We don’t need to collect college credit. We do have to graduate with math, English, German and either another language or two sciences. Our teachers are way stricter and we have an extra pronoun to address them and other adults. Asking about their private life is disrespectful.

Our grades are different too. We have grades from 1 to 6, six being the worst. To actually go to university and study things like law or medical jobs, you need to have a perfect 1,0 or it’d be hard to even get into any class. Our college isn’t as expensive. In my school we don’t have lunch and you have to do sports outside of school. Most teachers grade in a way where you have to actually participate and answer questions during class and that makes up 50 percent of your grade.

Willier journeys to Costa Rica

Austin Henderson, @whscharger

Over the summer Falisha Willier traveled to Costa Rica as an exchange student. She is considered by the district as the first WHS student to go to a country as a foreign exchange student. Traveling to the country for an entire week, she visited many different locations and learned many new things about Costa Rica.

Why did you decide to study abroad/take the trip?

I wanted to learn a new culture.

What’s the process to study abroad?

You have to fill out grades, GPA, etc. You’ll also fill out health forms and parent consent forms and send it to the country you want to go to. (fundraising, how much). My program costs $3500. I had quite a few fundraisers. Spaghetti dinner and t shirt sales along with a dodgeball tournament gave quite a profit.

Why did you decide to go to Costa Rica?

It’s warm and I liked the way it looks with all the forests. (did you have any other options). Yes I could have gone to Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, New Zealand, Poland, Spain and a few other countries with the program I used.

What was your living situation?

We stayed at different hotels. My hotels were more culture based. We moved every day.

What did you like the most about the culture there?

I liked how the culture and the people are laid back.

What was your favorite thing to do while at Costa Rica?

Talking to the locals.

Did your opinions of America change because of your trip?

A little. I had a different viewpoint on American stereotypes.

What is your advice to people considering studying abroad?

If you’re considering it just go for it. Most programs will help fund it one way or another.

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