Nettleton Welcomes Foreign Exchange Student

Kimberly Peralta and Alyssa Richey

This year Nettleton has received two foreign exchange students and one of them is Tobias Wonka! The foreign exchange student program is a program designed to help high school or college students travel to a new country. This allows them to study abroad. Tobias is in his junior year coming from a small village near Bölingen, Germany. The United States has always been Tobias’ first choice to study abroad for its culture and lifestyle. It had been quite rough adjusting the first few days, but with time he quickly accommodated to his new life in America.

It’s easy to think that other schools are just like Nettleton, but the hard truth is that each school is different. In Germany, most schools do not allow the students to change their schedule to their liking. According to Tobias, his old village did not offer a school baseball team, but rather a community team. Having the opportunity to be a part of the NHS Baseball team, Tobias has met very “interesting” people. Tobias’ life in Germany differs greatly from his new life.  America has a lot to offer, both in learning and experiences. Tobias came here in hopes to learn more about the culture and to learn fluent English. He found America a “classic” and wanted the true American high school experience shown in movies. So far, Tobias doesn’t find any of it realistic. In the movies, it appears that the students have longer times in between classes and are able to have conversations with their classmates. However, at Nettleton, we are only given four minutes to get to our other classes. He was very disappointed about this. 

The United States can be a fascinating place for people who’ve never been. One of the oddest things Tobias has experienced so far was his first trip to an American cinema. The first big difference he noticed was the popcorn. In Germany, popcorn is a treat rather than a snack so it’s sweet. After Tobias received his popcorn, he was confused on why there was a drinking station separated from the rest. Turns out it was butter! “I was really really shocked! Popcorn is basically fried fat, and you’re putting fat on fat. Like liquid fat on fat. After I saw this, I really knew I was in America.” Back in Germany, Tobias’ favorite meal is Pilz-Rahm- Geschnetzeltes with spätzle and German Schnitlzel. He describes it as a kind of pasta.

This has been an experience for Tobias in just the first weeks of school at Nettleton. He says, “I’m basically open to anything. That’s the reason I came here. Please correct me if I’m wrong, because otherwise I won’t learn it. Just talk to me normally. Say “Hello” and I’ll talk to you back.”  Even though Tobias is only staying in America for a year, he is thrilled to see and grasp the American charm. Besides the United States, Tobias has traveled to four different countries, including Spain, France, Portugal, and Russia. If Tobias had not chosen the United States as his first choice to study abroad, it would’ve been Australia. 

In just these few weeks, Tobias has learned about American culture, and is excited to fulfill his experience here in America by making new memories. That’s the beauty of the Foreign Exchange Student. It allows the students to create memories that will last a lifetime, and it’s a great opportunity to see how different each country is.