Metea invites German foreign-exchange students

Lindsey Hall, News Reporter

Students enrolled in German classes hosted German exchange students from a bilingual college prep school. Participants were assigned one student to live with for two weeks and had the opportunity of staying with that same student in Germany during the summer.

During their first week in the United States, German students spent time sightseeing in New York City. According to German teacher Elizabeth Hagen, this was considered the “travel” portion of their visit. The two weeks spent in Aurora are the “homestay portion,” where German students live with their host students and attend school with them. For foreign exchange student Helen Neissner, traveling to the United States helped her get a better understanding of the country.

“I have always wanted to go to the United States, so joining this program seemed like a good opportunity,” Neissner said. I also wanted to see what the experiences would feel like because in movies you get a certain idea, but it is very different.”

Along with attending school, the German department planned a variety of sightseeing activities. As a whole group, members of the exchange program visited the Cosley Zoo, Lake Shore Boat Ride, and took photos at the Bean. Bonding and informational activities were also planned, such as meeting Congressman Bill Foster and baking cookies after school.

“In New York City, my favorite part was seeing the Empire State Building. While I stayed here, I loved visiting Chicago,” Neissner said.

Students signed up to travel to Germany will follow a similar structure. There will be one week of traveling followed by two weeks of homestay with the same student. Combined with both trips, the paired students will have spent four weeks together.

Hagen believes that traveling to Germany through this program will allow students to see a new culture from a unique perspective.

Metea participates in the German Exchange program every other year, due to the small size of German classes. However, the program is well-loved by Metea and the schools in Germany. This year’s partner school was on the waitlist for ten years. According to junior Amisha Jain, hosting a foreign exchange student has been an amazing experience. 

“Even if you are not able to go to Germany, students should still host, because it is fun to meet people from a different country and become friends with them,” Jain said. “Plus, my German has improved.”

According to the University of Missouri, studying abroad can be life-changing for those involved. These programs provide a real-life application of new languages, introduce students to a wide range of people, and create long-lasting bonds. 

“This has been a great experience,” Neissner said. “It has been interesting to see the differences in not just school and hobbies, but also lifestyle. I definitely would love to do it again.”