(Photo by Nancy Hohbach)
Upon his arrival, Borngraeber first surprised was not to see more farmers than he did. He was surprised they were spread out so far. He also observed the popularity of eating Chinese food here.
"We eat pizza in Germany but we don't have all the many different types restaurants put out here. Clothing is cheaper here. Baggy jeans were going out of style at home but I see many wear them here. Another big change is paying $8 a gallon for gas at home when it's $2-$3 here. We also can't get driver's license until we are 18."
"I have enjoyed myself here learning about the U.S. I am busy taking algebra II, English, and American history. Algebra is much like I expected it to be but English is a little harder and history keeps me reading about unfamiliar events that I haven't learned about before. I'm not the best at science so I plan to take biology, chemistry and physics back home in Germany," said Borngraeber.
He explained their education system which has three types of education beginning at the fifth grade. At that tie, the parents and student can determine the level of difficulty they wish to study at. It is determine whether that student will go on to a higher education or learn a trade skill and begin work right after the 13th grade. Borngraeber is an 11th grader in Germany. He will complete his education upon his return. Borngraeber believes high school is easier here.
"Our grading system isn't letter grades but numerical from one to six with one being the top grade. I don't get too worried or excited about test grades as they are average together. We don't have ACT tests there," he explained.
Borngraeber is presently out for wrestling and band. He participated in football and plans to go out for track. I students participated in such activities in Germany it is accomplished by joining an activity club. There are no sport sponsored school teams.
Borngraeber said, "We attend school from 7:45 a.m. until 1 p.m. We do not eat lunch at school. Kids told me I wouldn't like school lunches here but I do. Another difference is that our schedules change from day to day. I am with most of the same students day to day and I have to carry many books to make sure I have everything I need each day. I definitely have more homework in Germany than I do here. This school is much smaller than what I am used to but I like it very much. The students are friendly and helpful."
Borngraeber has a 15 year-old sister in addition to his older brother. His father works at making labels for products while his mother leads discussion groups to gain feedback on many different type of products. They also own and operated small homes for travelers to stay in.
With the holidays upon us, Borngraeber isn't home-sick.
"I have not had time. I call my family once a month and I also e-mail them. The family I'm with is very nice. (Keith and Wendy Hauschildt of Marcus)," said Borngraeber. "I noticed that you decorate much more than we in our homes and outside. We open our gifts on Christmas eve at home. My family has already sent me gifts to open. We have first day of Christmas on the 25th when we open our gifts and then the 26th is the second day of Christmas when we visit family and friends. It has been a tradition of my family to take a holiday to Portugal to relax and swim. I will miss that this year."
When asked about support of the war in Iraq, he commented that most Germans support the U.S. but they are sensitive about fighting. Others question U.S. world policies as U.S. appears to get a big head about being the strongest country in the world.
Borngraeber will remain through May and is very positive about his experiences here.