Eigentlich wäre Sofie jetzt in der 10. Klasse des Lessing-Gymnasiums. Doch stattdessen hat sich Sofie für einen Auslandsaufenthalt in den USA entschieden. Sie war so nett und hat für alle Daheimgebliebenen einen Bericht verfasst. Vielen Dank! Den Bericht aus Bloomington finden diese hier.

My exchange year

My name is Sofie and I should be spending this year at Lessing. But I decided not to spend my tenth year school in my hometown in Germany. Instead, I am spending about ten months in the US, living wirh an American host family and going to an American high school.

Growing up, my parents always told stories about their trips to the US before my brother and I were born. I was so fascinated by these stories that I wanted to experience such stories on my own in this huge country. When I found out about the possibility of going on an exhange year, I knew that this would be the right thing for me. I was able to convince my parents surprisingly fast and soon we settled down on EF - Education First (Anmerkung der "Redaktion": keine Werbung, sondern nur zur Information. Es gibt viele weitere Organisationen, die bei einem Auslandsaufenthalt weiterhelfen...) - an organisation that helps you at arranging your exhange year, e.g. at finding a host family, booking your flight, or just making sure that you’re okay.

EF found a perfect host family for me that is placed in Bloomington, Illinois. My two host parents have three daughters of which two already moved out to go to college and one which is about my age. Two host dogs- Bandit and Oliver- are completing the picture. The town right next to Bloomington is called Normal, but because they work so close together, they are often just referred as Bloomington-Normal.

The school I attend is called Normal Community High School, or just NCHS, and has over 2200 students, which makes it probably one of the biggest high schools in the whole state and a lot more different than Lessing. At NCHS, I am a sophomore, which is just the general name of tenth grade. In the beginning of the year I could pick the classes I wanted to take. After a while, I settled down on following schedule for my first semster in school:

1st period - Honors Chemistry
2nd period - English II
3rd period - Yearbook
4th period - Lunch/ Homeroom
5th period - Honors Algebra II
6th period - P.E.
7th period - US History
8th period - Culinary Arts

after School - (Cross Country, Basketball, Model UN, ...)

One period lasts 51 minutes and in between we have four minutes to change classrooms, which sometimes can be really challenging if you have to go all across the building.

Yearbook is a fun class, because not only I get to go take pictures of a lot of school events and go there for free, but I also get to talk to a lot of people and write texts about what’s happening at our school right now and can influence the content of the Yearbook.

Homeroom are just 15 minutes of my Lunch, where I can do whatever I want: read, do homework, study, talk with others, etc. Culinary Class is another fun class I took this semester where we mainly just cook or bake. Next Semester, I substitute this class with Psychology, which I am very excited about and looking forward to.

“Honors”-classes are usually more challenging than regular classes. Because this usually is the first year of chemistry for students and I already had two years, it is mostly (but not all) review for me. Honors Algebra is probably the most challenging class on my schedule and even out of all high school classes you can take.

I would say school in the US can be very easy if you take easy classes, but most of my friends take at least one of the “Honors”-classes, I even know some that take those classes in Math, Chemistry AND English. I am able to keep an A in all of my classes except for my math class, where I currently have a low-B, but it is still technically an A, because it is a harder class (the system gets very confusing very fast).

After School, you can join different sport teams and clubs. For fall season, I joined the Cross Country team. We train to run 3-mile races (~4.8 km) and compete regularly against other high schools. Practice was after school every day and on saturdays, if we didn’t have a race to run at. For winter season, I joined the Basketball team as a team manager. The standards for sport teams in the US are very high, because students often start doing a certain sport at a very young age. The coach of the team was very nice and gave me the opportunity to workout with the team and get all of the experiences and go to all the games, but not having to feel the pressure of having to play. One of the other clubs I joined is Model UN. Each person gets assigned a group and country and you have to do research on a certain topic. At summits, we debate about those topics and try to write a resolution, just like at the real United Nations.

Last week, I only had two days of school. That is because on Thursday, November 28th, was Thanksgiving. I spent the day with my host family’s family in St. Louis, Missouri. It was one of the holidays I was most looking forward to and it was definitely fun to play games and try typical Thanksgiving foods and pies. The following day, Black Friday, I went shppoing with my host mom and sisters and we made some really good deals. It was a good opportunity for me to buy most of my christmas presents for my host family.

After four months I can say that I absolutely love living here. I was able to find friends very quickly who help and support me no matter what. I make small progress speaking english every single day. I was surprised by how quickly I started to think in English. This week was actually the first time I ever consciously dreamed in English. Living abroad is not always as easy and fun as it might seem, but if you stick with it you’ll definitely get rewarded. I wouldn’t trade the experiences I made so far for a single thing. I wanted to go on a different adventure that makes me face different challenges and let me put a different view on things and I definitely did.