Student returns from Germany


Emily Strenski, Features Editor

Over the course of nine months, junior Rachel Patterson prepared for traveling to Germany as a foreign exchange student Aug. 27.

Patterson said that the process of simply becoming an exchange student was a long and expensive one.

“It cost around $6,000, and I remember having to do a lot all the way back in November,” she said.

Patterson said that much of the work she had to do included paperwork and interviews.

“There were a lot of documents that I had to fill out and sign,” she said. “There was a lot that my parents and I had to sign. Then I had to attend a couple interviews to see if I was a good fit for the program.”

After the interviews, Patterson said that she had to attend orientations.

“I had to go to three meetings with my youth exchange officer ,” she said. “They helped me to prepare for Germany and get a better idea of where I was going.”

My grandparents have hosted at least 15 other exchange students from all over and it seemed like a really cool idea.”

— Rachel Patterson

Following the interviews and orientations came an outbound camp that Patterson and all the other foreign exchange students in the district attended.

“Leading up to the camp, I had to write at least six essays,” Patterson said. “They were mainly about certain things about Germany, and I even had to write a whole essay in German. The actual camp started June 27 and lasted until July 2.”

Patterson said that a main influence to become an exchange student came from her family.

“My mom was a foreign exchange student in Japan,” she said. “My grandparents have hosted at least 15 other exchange students from all over and it seemed like a really cool idea.”

Patterson said that her overall experience while in Germany was cold.

“It wasn’t very warm,” she said. “The whole time I was there in Lubeck, the hottest it got was around 70 degrees.”

She also said that the experience was kind of scary.

“Everything was new and unfamiliar, of course,” Patterson said. “I didn’t know that language that well, also, so I didn’t really have a good idea what anyone was saying unless they spoke English with me. I didn’t really have a real conversation with anyone.”

Patterson also said that her host family was strange.

“The kids were actually pretty cool,” she said. “My host mom, on the hand, was a bit weird. She was too affectionate for my liking.”

Patterson said that there were some pretty amazing things, from a big candy shop to old buildings.

“There was this huge candy shop where you can get samples of all the candies,” she said. “There was even a whole wall dedicated to licorice. My favorite candies were this chocolate bar called Milka and Marzipan. There were also tons of beautiful old buildings, which was cool to see because we don’t have very many of those here in town.”

Patterson said that she decided to return to Texas early because of family issues here.

“I heard that there were a lot of things happening at home, and I wanted to be there,” she said. “Plus, while Germany was really cool, I wasn’t really happy there. I just don’t think that the overall experience was right for me.”