|Seven foreign exchange students new to Holyoke High|
|Written by Jes-c Brandt|
After a drop in the hosting of foreign exchange students last year, Holyoke High School’s number of visiting students is up again this year to seven.
Students from four different European countries have moved in with Holyoke host families and have been busy starting school and a whole slew of American activities. Here they share a little about themselves and their first impressions of life as an exchange student.
Enrolled as a junior at HHS, Philip Buck will be spending the next year away from his home in Hamburg, Germany to be an exchange student.
Buck is staying with host family Jeff and Laura Roll and their children Alyssa, Zach and Emma. At home he has one brother, and Buck said it has been fun staying with the Rolls.
While this is not Buck’s first time in the United States, it’s certain to be a different experience than before. Previous visits have included New York and Florida for vacation.
In his short time as an exchange student, Buck has already noticed a number of differences from life in Germany. Holyoke’s much smaller than he is used to, but he said it’s been nice so far. The school also offers many new experiences. Where his home classes would include world and German history, at HHS he is taking a course in American history.
Noting other differences between the school systems, Buck said at home, students stay in one classroom, while teachers move. He’s been getting used to changing rooms for each class. He also said in Germany there are just general mathematics classes, so it’s been interesting to see how math classes here are divided into more specific areas. Other classes specific to his year abroad are weights and carpentry and mechanics.
After completing the school day, Buck has been spending his afternoons playing football, a change from his usual sport of choice, soccer.
Buck looks forward to a good year in Holyoke, learning about a new culture. He hopes to spend some time seeing Colorado and would like to ski in the Rocky Mountains.
Ilse Kamstra will be spending one semester at Holyoke High School as a senior. Originally from Sleeuwijk, a small village in the Netherlands, she says that Holyoke is even smaller than her home town.
One of the most striking differences Kamstra has noticed since moving to Holyoke is that everything is very far away. Even though she lives in a small town in Holland, big cities are not far away.
While in Holyoke, Kamstra is living with Phil and Susie Vasa and their children Marci, Jacob and Jesse.
Already Kamstra has been immersing herself in the local culture. Although she has never played before, she joined the HHS softball team. It’s been very hard, she said, practicing every day and learning all the rules, but it’s been fun.
At home, she noted, there is a different mindset about sports. They aren’t school sponsored, and practices would often be held only once a week.
Within the school as well, Kamstra commented, there are many differences she has noticed. While HHS seems to be more lax about having food and drinks in class, the policies for being late are much more strict than what she’s used to.
Kamstra is excited for the time she gets to spend in the United States. She’s interested in the whole country, she said, and looks forward to spending time in Colorado, an area she has never been to before. Kamstra has previously been to California and Nevada on vacation, and before coming to Holyoke, she was in New York for STS prep.
New to Holyoke this year is HHS senior Trixi Presich. Presich is from Eisenstadt, Austria, but for the next year, she will be living with Corey and Tammy Zeiler and their children Jordan and Logan Zeiler and Cody Fricke. With four siblings at home, Presich is accustomed to a full house.
Although she’s been here for a short time, Presich already likes it here. Her hometown is large, so the small town dynamic is a new experience. On the other hand, Presich attends a private Catholic school in Austria, so she is familiar with a small school setting and likes it.
Despite the similarities between HHS and Presich’s home school, she noted there are some classes here she’s excited to take that she couldn’t take at home. One such class is government, where she will learn about how United States government differs from Austrian practices.
In addition to school, Presich has been learning new things by joining softball. It’s hard to remember everything, she said, but she’s enjoying the challenge.
Between school and softball, she has already met many people. Presich added she hopes to join other organizations while in Holyoke, but she doesn’t know what yet.
In the past, Presich vacationed in the New England states. She enjoyed her time there, and noted that is part of the reason she chose to be an exchange student. While here, Presich hopes to see more of Colorado.
Choosing Holyoke specifically for his year as an exchange student, Emanuel Rapp is excited to be enrolled as a sophomore at HHS.
For the 2007-08 school year, Emanuel’s sister Viktoria Rapp stayed with Randy and Karin Kramer as an exchange student. Based on his sister’s experience, Rapp chose Holyoke, where he is staying with the Kramers.
Rapp comes from Germany, in a town near Bielefeld. As the city has a population of about 50,000, Holyoke offers an opportunity for Rapp to experience life in a rural community.
Holyoke is really small, Rapp commented, but he thinks it’s really cool that everybody knows everybody else.
In school, Rapp is excited to be in band. He is playing in the percussion section, where he’s enjoyed meeting other students.
During the winter season Rapp is considering joining the basketball team. He has never played before, but thinks it would be fun to give it a try while he is in the United States.
In addition to learning about the culture through everyday life at school and in other activities, Rapp looks forward to seeing more of the country. Soon he has plans to visit Mount Rushmore. He would also like to visit Washington D.C. at some point.
Already Rapp has experienced a new and exciting way of life in Holyoke. Before coming here, he commented, you can never imagine how it’s actually going to be once you arrive.
Hailing from Turku, Finland, Pekka Roivas joined the senior class for their final year at Holyoke High School.
This year Roivas is living with Del and Jen Struckmeyer and their children. He commented with a grin that it’s been cool to live in the country.
Roivas made the decision to study in the United States as an exchange student so he could improve his English. He has been learning the language for seven years now, and noted he is comfortable writing and hearing English, but wants some more practice speaking.
Additionally, Roivas looks forward to learning about American culture. This is the first time he has been to the United States, and wants to take in all that he can. Seeing some of the famous American landmarks would be an added bonus, he said.
In his classes Roivas will be taking some subjects he wouldn’t be offered in Finland, including weights and government. In government, he noted, he anticipates learning the nuances of the American government in contrast to his home system.
Running and swimming are two extracurricular activities Roivas enjoys at home and hopes to participate in while in Holyoke.
Staying with Linda and Dave Williamson this year is Julian Titze from near Frankfurt, Germany. He is a junior at Holyoke High School.
So far Titze said he has really liked things in Holyoke. It is small, he commented, but all the people have been nice.
While he is an exchange student in the United States, Titze really looks forward to playing basketball with the Dragons. Basketball is one of the reasons he wanted to come to the States.
He started playing basketball at the age of 5 and enjoys playing often in Germany. One big difference, however, is that sports aren’t in school there. He noted that basketball is played in clubs outside of school. Weights class is another new opportunity that wouldn’t be offered at his home school.
Titze has previously been to the United States during a trip to New York, but studying at HHS is his first opportunity to visit this part of the country. He looks forward to traveling within Colorado and has plans already for a weekend in the Rocky Mountains.
The difference between two million and two thousand people is a big one, exchange student Gabi Pascua noted. Originally from Vienna, the capital of Austria, Pascua will be spending the year with host family Bret and Lori Kramer and their children Eva and Charlotte.
Joining the junior class at HHS, Pascua has enjoyed her experiences so far. She has also noticed many differences between her home school and Holyoke.
Size, for one, makes a big difference. In Holyoke, she commented, teachers are more familiar to the students. She’s also observed a noticeable level of respect for teachers from students.
Speaking on the difference between Vienna and Holyoke, Pascua said people seem much nicer in a smaller town.
In addition to her time spent in the classroom, Pascua has been playing on the softball team. Although she had never played before, she is thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity. The girls are really nice, she said, and the sport is fun.
In Austria, Pascua plays rugby. She commented that it is different in the United States in that sports are part of the school and not outside clubs. The number of games on the softball schedule is another aspect of the sport Pascua appreciates. Where she had only a couple competitions a month at home, there are games every week for the HHS team.
Pascua embraced the chance to come to the United States for the first time as an opportunity to learn about American culture and to become fluent in the English language. She really wants to get out and see the country, and is looking forward to an upcoming trip to Mount Rushmore with her host family.