Crier wants to know: what has ‘culture shocked’ our German exchange students?

On March 16, students from Germany flew into O’Hare airport to meet up with their American counterparts for the German-American exchange program—a program offered by some d211 schools for students taking German language classes. The exchange students, who have been learning English in school for years, attended Conant and lived with their exchange partners for the week before and during spring break, experiencing what life and school in the US is like, often for the first time. This summer, Conant students will do the same when they visit Germany and Austria. In order to get insight into their experience in a new country, Crier asked German exchange students about the biggest culture shocks they had at Conant or in America in general.

Sara Flach

“It would probably be that you have your logo everywhere and the flags. And the pledge…it’s something very unique in the US. And the school buses…they’re cool. There are school buses [in Germany] in more of the rural regions where the people have to ride further, but in the cities you just use public transport or your bike. Everything is very sweet and sugary [in the US], and the bread. We usually eat sourdough rye bread, you would say, and the bread you have is called white bread or toast.”

Zhaafar Shaik

“At Conant, [my biggest culture shock] was more, like, how school works because of surveillance. You have to have some kind of ID, and also there are cameras. We don’t have anything at all—anybody could just go into a school in Germany and no one would ask any questions. Here it’s more…it feels like a prison, kind of. There is also no public transport…I mean there is some, like a train, but not much. It feels like I’m in the 1930s. In Germany, every single train goes back to the main train station and you can get almost everywhere with the public transport. Most people don’t drive. They either walk because there is always a sidewalk no matter where you go or just take the train.”

Noah Hildebrandt

“One of my biggest culture shocks would be how [Americans] have so many periods in a day for school and how long school is for them.”

This summer, Conant students will visit their exchange partners in Germany and learn about different cultures themselves. We wish our German exchange students the best. Auf Wiedersehen!

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