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Vivianne Reichertz (second to right) arrives in Houston and is greeted by the Pintar family. (Photo courtesy of Vivianne Reichertz)
The second week of school has come to a close, and a new grade of students has been introduced into the hectic world that is Bellaire High School. Among them is sophomore Vivianne Reichertz, an exchange student from Düsseldorf, Germany who is attending Bellaire High School for the fall semester. Vivi applied to be part of an exchange program and was randomly placed in Houston with a host family, the Pintars. “I’ve been to the U.S before and I really liked it. I wanted to see how life here is.”
To my surprise, her life in Houston is not shockingly different from life in Düsseldorf. The closest thing to culture shock she experienced was seeing firsthand the difference between American and German schools. “The teachers are so much nicer here. The school spirit is so much better.” Vivi told me, explaining that her school in Germany doesn’t have cheerleading and sports, which are staples of American high schools.
Studying here has its challenges too. Besides the universal struggle of finding one’s classes, studying in English has been a particularly tricky task. All assignments and classes are in English (well, except foreign languages), and translating information back to German is exhausting and time-consuming. This has yet to deter Vivi, however, who at the moment has decided that she would like to come back. “When I’m finished with school... I don’t want to study in the U.S - I just want to come to visit for a year. Maybe I’d want to do a road trip.”