Got your high school freshman Friday

My exchange year in Ohio - an eventful time in the USA

  • WORLD CITIZEN donors:Carl Duisberg Centers
  • Program: Student exchange
  • Country: United States
  • Duration: 10 months
  • Surname: Jessica

School system, host family life and homecoming

Almost 3 months ago the probably greatest experience of my life so far began for me at Hannover Airport. I said goodbye to my family so I could embark on something completely new: a year of high school in the United States. Even in the time before my departure, but also when saying goodbye to my family and the subsequent trip, many thoughts crossed my mind: I was always a little worried about what it would be like to travel without my parents for the first time or without they get along. I have often heard from other exchange students how great a year abroad is and how well they got on with their host families. I always wondered what would happen if it wasn't for me. When my host family is rude or I just can't get along. To summarize briefly in advance: Fortunately, my doubts have not been confirmed!

After the flight from Hanover via Frankfurt and Newark to Dayton, Ohio, my family gave me a very warm welcome at the airport. My host family consists of my host mother, my host father and my 18-year-old host sister. Since I was on my feet for almost 24 hours and also very tired at the time, it was relatively difficult for me at that moment to understand what they were telling me. After the very nice greeting we drove about 1 hour to Greenville, Ohio, a small town with about 13,000 inhabitants, which I have been living near for 3 months now.

The first positive impression at the airport did not disappoint: my family is really great here! I get along very well with them, even if I personally needed a little time to thaw properly at first. But with the necessary will and conviction you can quickly settle in here. You should make an active effort to get involved in the family, to participate in family life and to adhere to the existing rules, then the host family will make it easy for you to settle in. And you can actually get by without your parents if you organize things yourself that your parents did at home.

My new home is very rural. It takes about 10 minutes by car to go to Greenville, where my high school is located. The next largest city is Dayton with almost 150,000 inhabitants, as already mentioned approx. 1 hour from Greenville, and Columbus, the capital of the state of Ohio, with a good 800,000 inhabitants, approx. 2 hours away by car. My new family also includes 2 dogs and a cat and a 23-year-old host sister who is already married and no longer lives at home.

On the second day I met a few friends of my host sister who play soccer just like me. I always had a lot of fun playing soccer and was happy that I could choose this as a sports course in high school. I arrived in mid-August and had another 3 weeks vacation, but luckily the soccer training started during the vacation, in which my host sister and her friends also took part. That is why I already knew a few girls during my first soccer training session and was able to make new friends even before school started.

In the 2nd week after my arrival in Greenville, the "Great Darke County Fair" took place. The fair is a kind of annual market / folk festival / fair. There are rides, exhibitions, food stalls, horse races, various animals and other things that you could buy e.g. for the house and garden. All of this took place on the so-called fairgrounds, a large, open area on the outskirts of the city. The fair lasted 1 week and included an open air concert. My host family and I went to the fair almost every day to enjoy the many interesting things and also the delicious food such as Deep Fried Oreos. It was a lot of fun.

School started a week later. Since my senior host sister is still in the senior class of high school, she can always take me to school by car. I had already chosen my courses with my host parents at school 1 week before the start of school. I had clearly imagined my first day in high school to be worse. I am someone who thinks about everything and must have thought everything through carefully in advance. So at first I was unsure what to do on the first day and how to behave. When I was creating my schedule, I was told that I had to go to the so-called home room on the first day, which was announced again over the loudspeaker at school in the morning. The Homeroom is a classroom where you generally do all the formalities, receive important documents or the like (in Germany this is done by the respective class teacher).

In contrast to Germany, the subject teachers here at the high school have their fixed rooms, so that as a student you have to change rooms after each lesson and go to the respective teacher. During the lunch break I asked a few girls I already knew from football and who are also in my Spanish class if I could sit with them, which of course wasn't a problem. That showed again that you have to approach people, even if it took a bit of effort for me, but as a rule I was always received in a very open and friendly manner. On the whole, my first day went very well, even if I sometimes did not understand various tasks due to language problems. The teachers were always ready to help and always offered support.

First of all, I had to find my way around the school system here, because here you have the same hours every day in the same chronological order, which is organized completely differently in Germany. I was allowed to choose my own schedule except for 2 subjects. At the moment I have Civics, US History, Geometry, Spanish 3, Lunch, Studio Art, Study Hall (a kind of self-study), English 10. I had to choose US History and English because it is compulsory for my exchange organization. At first I had biology instead of civics, but the topics were largely known to me from Germany. In Civics you learn a lot about democracy, civil society, and civics, and I found it exciting to deal with this subject from an American perspective. Geometry and Spanish are sometimes very easy, as I already had most of them in class in Germany. In addition, the teachers sometimes deal with the same topic over a longer period of time, so that sometimes it bores me after a while.

When comparing the requirements of the high school and my grammar school in Germany one has to say quite frankly that the grammar school has a much higher level and that the lessons at the high school are much more relaxed. At my school there are only grades 9-12, with each grade having its own name: 9th grade - freshmen, 10th grade - sophomore, 11th grade - junior and 12th grade - senior. In mid-September, Heather, my ISE representative, invited all the exchange students she looks after to an autumn festival where everyone should bring a dish from their home country. I made a Black Forest cherry cake that, amazingly, tasted really good. However, my host mother and I had problems getting all the ingredients, as e.g. vanilla sugar and pickled cherries are not available in every shop. The autumn festival was a very nice idea because I only knew the exchange students from my school and so I was able to get to know the others who are staying near Greenville. In total we were 10 exchange students with families.

An "important" event for most American students is homecoming. There is Homecoming Week and the Homecoming Dance, which usually takes place on a Saturday. In Homecoming Week there was a different topic every day. For us the topics were: Hat Day, #TBT, USA Day, Class Colors (Freshmen: Pink, Sophomores: Yellow, Juniors: Blue and Seniors: Green) and last but not least, Green / White (the colors of our school). Every day after school there were also various activities, such as challenges and games, which I couldn't take part in because of my soccer training. Then on Thursday was the Homecoming Parade, which essentially consisted of different parade floats, e.g. for the different school years, for the football players, cheerleaders and many more. At the beginning of the parade is the Homecoming Court. These are the people who are eligible for election to the Homecoming King or Queen. The parade ended at the school, where the Homecoming King was first crowned. Then the Powderpuff game took place, which is a kind of football for girls. Just watching was a lot of fun. On Friday after school there was a pep assembly: all students went to the sports hall, the school band played and the cheerleaders did some cheers.

In the evening there was the Homecoming Football game, where the Homecoming Queen was crowned. The atmosphere at football games is basically great and it is a lot of fun to go there. On Saturday the Homecoming Dance took place, where everyone dressed up. Some of the girls wear extreme high heels, while others also wear Vans or Converse. A dress is a must for the girls and a suit for the boys. I was out with my host sister and a few other people. We first took photos at different locations and then went out to eat. Then it went to school. The dance took place in the sports hall and lasted 3 hours. Since no music with swear words is allowed to be played in school, many popular songs were not played. The next big event of this kind is the prom shortly before the end of the school year, which is supposed to be a step up from the homecoming dance.

On the Thursday before Halloween there was a Halloween Parade Downtown, which was quite short, but still nice to watch. After the parade, the young children went to the shops in downtown and got sweets there. I also followed a Halloween tradition and carved a Batman pumpkin, which was a lot of fun and I did really well. In the meantime, however, it has unfortunately shrunk and is no longer as handsome. Basically, I can say that the first 3 months were a very exciting, exciting time, in which I got to know a lot of new things and had to get used to many new situations. I am very much looking forward to the coming time and the many wonderful events that I will surely experience here!

Basketball, holidays and trips

It has been 6 months since I arrived in Ohio. Time actually goes by very quickly. There are still times when you long for home and want to see your family and friends again as soon as possible. But the next moment you realize that this is exactly what you have always wanted here and that you won't get such a chance again. I think it is clear to everyone that things don't always go according to plan or differently from what you imagined. But that's also the case at home. You have to adapt to the situation and, if something doesn't work, just think of an alternative. You shouldn't give up if you can't do something very well or if it doesn't work the first time. Just keep trying until you can. It was the same with me when I played basketball.

At the end of October the football season had unfortunately ended again. Since I only arrived in Ohio in mid-August, I only had soccer in my high school for just under 2 months. The sports courses at the high schools are organized according to the seasons. There are sports that are offered in autumn, others in winter and still others only in spring. On the one hand, of course, you have a larger offer overall, on the other hand, it's a shame if you have a great team and would have liked to have played the sport for longer. For example, I would have liked to continue playing soccer, but then I would have had to do so in a club in another city.

When the time came to decide on a new “winter sport”, I didn't really know what to do at first. I had a choice of basketball, swimming, and bowling. When swimming you sometimes have to get up at 5 a.m. to go to training and since I'm not really an early riser and I didn't want to do that to my host family either, this alternative was canceled from the start. Regarding bowling, I was told that you need your own bowling ball, which is also quite expensive. In addition, I honestly don't see bowling as a real sport, as it involves little physical exertion. I rather wanted to choose a sport that required a lot of activity and where you get stamina.

Since my host sister has been playing basketball for a long time, she suggested that I try this out too, so that we could drive to training with her car. I had great doubts whether this was really a good idea, as I'd never played basketball before and American kids kind of grew up playing basketball. So most of the girls who are on the basketball team here in high school have been playing for at least 3 years. I thought back and forth, but then decided 3-4 days before the first training session to just give it a try, knowing that I would be the worst. The first training session was really exhausting and I quickly realized that basketball training is being taken much more seriously than soccer training. At first it was incredibly difficult to understand what I was supposed to be doing, as I didn't even know all the technical terms such as wing, post, pointguard, lay-up or charge. Just like in football, there are also specific names for the different areas of the playing field and of course I didn't know them either. But over time you learn and with the help and support of my team-mates, I slowly understood the whole principle.

The girls' basketball team has three different teams: Freshmen (9th grade), Junior Varsity (JV) and Varsity, with Varsity being the best team in high school. Most of our players play in one team as well as the other because we didn't have enough players to fill every team. Although I'm actually a sophomore (10th grade), I played in the Freshmen team because I had no experience with basketball and was therefore not good enough for JV and varsity. We had training 5 times a week for 2 hours each time and I got a little bit better with each training. I knew I wasn't playing really well, but I still had one goal for the whole season: I wanted to get a point at least once! And what should I say? In our very last game of the season I finally got a 2-point throw! We lost the game overall, but I was still very happy. The whole thing was worth it for that alone: ​​Don't be discouraged if you are not particularly good at something, but keep going and in the end it is worthwhile in many cases! The basketball season has been over since the end of January, because contrary to the initial doubts I would have liked to continue playing.

Thanksgiving is celebrated in the United States on the 4th Thursday in November. Thanksgiving is considered one of the most important holidays in the United States and corresponds to our Thanksgiving Day. The holiday dates back to 1621 when the Pilgrim Fathers celebrated the first and very successful harvest after colonizing New England. Today, Thanksgiving is considered a celebration of family and food, and millions of Americans travel home for this purpose. On Wednesday and Friday, in addition to the actual holiday, we had no school. Everyone always raved about Thanksgiving to me because they said it was a holiday where you only eat…. and they were right about that. On Wednesday morning we had a Thanksgiving dinner at Greenville Township Rescue, the local rescue station where my host father is the chief. On Thursday we had a Thanksgiving dinner here at home with the whole family of my host mother and on Friday we were invited to dinner with my host father's family. On the whole, there was the same thing for every Thanksgiving meal: turkey, mashed potatoes, corn casserole, green bean casserole, gravy and much more. I liked Thanksgiving because you just sat with the whole family, had a nice chat and enjoyed the days off.

The Friday after Thanksgiving is also known as “Black Friday”. Most stores have very strong sales that day, so you can get most of it for less than half the price.Meanwhile, Black Friday starts on Thursday evening and we also took our chance and drove to Walmart on Thursday. There was an incredible number of people there, all looking for that special bargain. I was told that in the last few years it was sometimes very chaotic due to the crowds and that this year it was much more organized, as the local police also took care of a lot. All in all, my first Thanksgiving experience was very nice and I will always remember it fondly.

The American partner organization of the Carl Duisberg Centers, ISE, offered various trips over the course of the year, which are chargeable, i.e. not part of the normal exchange. My parents gave me permission to go on a holiday trip and I decided to go to New York City. The trip ran from Friday, December 11th to the following Wednesday and, to anticipate it, it was a wonderful time I spent there. In addition to me, there were 5 other exchange students of different nationalities at my school, two of whom unfortunately only did a six-month exchange. The Belgian exchange student at my high school, with whom I got along very well, also decided to go to New York. Unfortunately, she had only booked the trip at short notice, so we got different flights and didn't stay in the same hotel room. However, I was in a room with two other Germans and a Spanish woman who were also pretty nice.

Our whole group consisted of about 85 students from all over the world such as New Zealand, Brazil, Russia, Spain and many more. It was incredibly interesting to deal with so many people of different nationalities at the same time. We only spent 5 days together, but we grew together as a group and we all got on really well. Unfortunately, it is questionable whether I will ever see all of them again, but luckily we have formed a WhatsApp group through which we are still in contact. But of course it would be much nicer to meet everyone again in person.

In New York we had a very diverse and varied program, which led us to all the major sights of the city, such as Central Park, Grand Central Station, the Empire State Building, Times Square and much more. The city is simply impressive: the street canyons, the crowds, the shops ... you feel pretty small there! I've been to New York when I was younger, but the city fascinated me again the second time. A highlight of our stay was the visit to the Broadway show Matilda with great actors and a great set. Definitely worth mentioning is the Rockefeller Center with the ice rink and the famous giant Christmas tree, which you really should have seen. We also had a nice experience there, because the Rockefeller Center is a popular place to propose marriage and we were actually able to see a man get on his knees in front of his girlfriend and ask for her hand in front of a large audience . All in all, New York was a special highlight in my time in the USA, because the city is just incredibly exciting and diverse.

After I came back from New York, I had to go to school for 2 more days and then we already had Christmas vacation. After New York I had a short period where I was a little depressed. I didn't want to go to school anymore, I just wanted to go back to New York and turn back time. I think it was the same with the others, because we had such a great time together that we will never forget the days we spent together in New York. Fortunately, I quickly settled into everyday life again, especially since I really feel at home with my host family and at my high school.

Already at the beginning of my stay I had told my host parents about our Christmas markets at home in Germany and they said that they had never visited one. My host mother then googled and found out that there is a German “Christkindlmarket” in Chicago for 5 weeks in November / December. We often talked about whether we might be able to go there, but we had to wait a few more appointments because my host mother is on duty every now and then on weekends. In addition, Chicago is 400 km away from where we live, which means more extensive planning.

On the last day of school before the Christmas holidays, my host mother told me that everything was sorted and that we could actually go to Chicago spontaneously for 2 days the next day, December 19th, which made me very happy. I have to add that one of my best friends from Germany was an exchange student near Chicago at the same time as me and I had always thought how nice it would be to meet her there. With the consent of my host parents, I immediately wrote to my friend's host mother and asked her if we could possibly arrange a meeting in Chicago to surprise my friend. Fortunately, she thought the idea was great and then discussed the more precise “plan” with my host mother. When I was writing with my girlfriend via WhatsApp in the evening, I had to hold back very much so as not to tell her about our plan.

We started on Saturday morning and the journey took about 5 hours. We arrived in Chicago around noon, went to Navy Pier, a pier with shops, restaurants and museums and then ate at Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder, which offer a very tasty, very special pizza. Then we went to the hotel and met my host father's brother, who lives in Chicago. We then went to the Christkindlmarket with him and I have to say, you almost felt like you were at a German Christmas market. The stands, the food and the drinks were very similar to the original. The Christkindlmarket wasn't particularly big, but it had a great atmosphere. Then the day was already over and I was getting more and more excited because we wanted to surprise my girlfriend on Sunday in the John Hancock Building, currently the eighth tallest building in the USA, where the 94th floor is the observation deck.

Before the meeting, I had a lot of thoughts going through my head: How will my girlfriend react? How will I react to our meeting? Do I get homesick all of a sudden? Do I want to go home too, because my girlfriend would be flying back in January? At the agreed time, I stayed in the entrance hall until my friend and her host family arrived. My friend first had to realize who was standing in front of her, and then we just hugged each other for a long time. My host mother recorded the moment of reunion on video so that we could share this experience with our families and friends. After spending about 2 hours together in the John Hancock Building, it was time to say goodbye and just like the greeting we had to shed a tear or two. It was just nice to see someone you know very well after such a long time. Fortunately, my fear that our meeting made me homesick did not materialize! I just really enjoyed the time with my girlfriend and still fondly think back to Chicago.

The winter vacation was 2 weeks long, but in contrast to Germany we still had basketball training and games at our high school. Unfortunately, we didn't have any snow during the entire holiday season, which I found a bit of a shame. In the US, Christmas Eve is not a special day; it is usually on December 25th. unpacked the presents in the morning. However, since my host mother was on duty on the 25th, we just celebrated on the 24th. Around noon the grandparents and my other host sister, who no longer lives at home, came with her husband and we unpacked the presents around 2 p.m. On this occasion I learned about a tradition that supposedly comes from Germany: A Christmas tree decoration made of glass in the form of a pickle, the so-called “Christmas Pickle”, is hidden in the Christmas tree and whoever finds it first gets an extra one Gift. Unfortunately I wasn't the first to find the cucumber. Neither I nor my German family knew about the pickled cucumber tradition and apparently the origin of this tradition is not at all clear. But the Americans consider this to be a typical German custom and my host family was amazed that I didn't know it. At the end of the day we went to church for the Christmas service.

On the 25th we went to see our maternal grandparents here in Greenville for a Christmas dinner together. On the 26th we went about 20 km north to the mother of my host father to meet with his brothers and their families and to unwrap presents again. Since not everyone should give something to everyone, we drew a name before the holidays and then bought a gift for the person, in a way like elves. In the evening I went to my friend's farewell party, the Belgian exchange student with whom I was in New York. Unfortunately, she had only completed a 5-month exchange and had to fly home 2 days later. It was a very nice evening, but of course we were all sad that we had to say goodbye.

At the beginning of January we visited our great-grandfather and met my host mother's family there, where we received presents from great-grandfather again. In Germany I am used to receiving all gifts on Christmas Eve, even from those people who cannot be there in person that evening. The reciprocal gift giving goes on over a longer period of time, but I thought it was great that you can enjoy the holidays with all family members one after the other and so more intensely. All in all, American Christmas was a very nice experience.

On New Year's Eve I went to one of her friends with my host sister, where we celebrated with about 8 people. First we played Bean Boozled: Jelly Beans are sweets in the form of kidney beans made of jelly covered in a different colored sugar crust. One after the other you turn a small wheel and you have to eat the jelly bean pointed to by the arrow. The only "problem" is that the game contains jelly beans of eight different colors and sixteen different flavors. Therefore, two jelly beans look the same, but taste VERY different. So it can happen that you get the taste of skunk spray or canned dog food, if you are lucky, licorice, which I don't find much better, or chocolate pudding. Then we went to a neighbor, where we celebrated the turn of the year. By the way, private fireworks or bangs as usual in Germany are prohibited here on New Year's Eve. Fireworks in the United States usually only happen on July 4th, Independence Day. Last but not least, we watched films until the early hours of the morning, so of course I was pretty tired the next day. But at least in this respect the American New Year's Eve is no different from the German New Year's Eve.

I go to the Methodist Church in Greenville with my host family every Sunday. The service here is much more modern than in Germany, e.g. there is a band that generally plays music at the beginning of the service. The church also looks very modern and does little to resemble a traditional church with a steeple, mosaic windows and bells that ring at a specific time. In our church there is a “coffee bar” where you can choose coffee, cappuccino and lattes with different flavors, which I think is a great idea. My host family is very socially committed, so we have already served coffee every Saturday evening before the evening service. Right now there is an action in the church called “Pocket Change”. If you want, you can throw your change into a collecting box before the service.

Since our church is very well attended and many people take advantage of this opportunity, considerable amounts are collected there. The collected money is then given to different people as part of special campaigns. A few weeks ago, for example, the pastor ordered pizza during a church service and had it delivered to the stage. He then gave the pizza delivery boy a “tip” of $ 800 with the help of the money he had collected! You can imagine how happy the man was about the unexpected windfall. I really like the close cohesion and social commitment here in the parish, as many people lend a hand and ultimately support a specific good cause.

Spring season, prom and homecoming to Germany

At the beginning of spring - the spring season - you had to choose a new sport and I decided on track (athletics). The choice was not very difficult for me, as many of my friends were also there and we were able to do and experience more together. The whole track team was generally very nice. We had a very large team that consisted of around 120 students. From the different track disciplines I did long jump and 100 m sprint. Training was from Monday to Friday directly after school for about 1 ½ hours. We either did strength training, went running or did sprints. The training was sometimes very exhausting, but on the other hand we always had a lot of fun. We had regular competitions against other high schools, sometimes several in a week, which often lasted for a few hours. The season was over again in mid-May, but I'm really happy about my decision to join the track team.

In mid-March I went to Los Angeles for 5 days. Like the trip to New York in December, this was an offer from a partner company of my exchange organization. On a Wednesday I left very early in the morning, had to change trains in Dallas after a 3-hour flight and then reached Los Angeles after another 5 hours of flight time. At the airport in LA, more exchange students from all over the USA arrived and we were brought to our accommodation “La Quinta” with the hotel's airport shuttle. I shared a room there with a German and a Spanish woman. There was a program for every day of our stay, which led us to many sights of the city.

On the first day we visited Knott’s Berry Farm Amusement Park in Buena Park, a town southeast of LA. The amusement park is considered one of the first theme parks in America and offers 9 giant roller coasters alone. The next day, the beach was all the rage: First we paid a short visit to Manhattan Beach, before we went on to Venice Beach. At Venice Beach I rented a bike with some other exchange students and we explored the famous beach. In the afternoon we went to Beverly Hills - including the famous Rodeo Drive - and visited the Farmers ’Market, a very well-known market where many stars shop. In the evening we went to an improvisational theater, which was incredibly funny and entertaining.

The next day was all about Hollywood, especially of course the Walk of Fames, where many street artists performed. We spent our last day at Universal Studios, where we suddenly ran into Kylie Jenner and her boyfriend, the rapper Tyga. Both were surrounded by security men so that we could only take photos. All in all, the stay in Los Angeles was wonderful and I would definitely like to go back because we couldn't see everything and there is still so much to discover.

On the return flight I was lucky that one of my friends had the same final airport and we could fly together. Unfortunately, our first flight was delayed, so that we barely made it to our connecting flight in Dallas - in contrast to our luggage! We got our suitcases back a few days later. I would recommend every exchange student to go on such a trip, as you experience a lot there and also meet many new friends from all over the world who are in the same situation as you are. I have met many nice people with whom I have met to this day still in contact.

The so-called Prom was due towards the end of April. Prom is the end of the high school year prom for eleventh and twelfth graders and is considered one of the most important events of the school year. Tenth graders are invited to attend the prom at the invitation of an older student and exchange students are generally allowed to take part without an invitation and even take a friend with them. I asked my best friend Maddie if she would like to go there with me. The prom took place in a location rented by the school.Before the prom, I took a lot of photos with my girlfriend and her senior brother, and we had a lot of fun.

We started at around half past five and on arrival they took pictures of us again. Then we were shown to our tables that we had already reserved at school when we bought the prom tickets. At first there was a buffet that you could help yourself to. After that there was only one dance until it finally came to the election of the Prom King and the Prom Queen. The eleventh and twelfth graders were allowed to choose a boy and a girl from the senior year, who were then elected king and queen, respectively. My friend's brother was elected Prom King and - like the Prom Queen - even received a crown. We were of course very happy with him about that. Then it went back to dancing.

In between you could also take photos with a self-timer at a photo station - the so-called Flashbox - and the results were really great. All in all, the prom was a great experience and I liked it even better than the Homecoming Ball because everything is even more festive and the atmosphere was just impressive. I would recommend everyone - who gets the chance - to take part because it is a great experience!

Since my school allows all exchange students, regardless of age group, to take part in the graduation ceremony, we have also been viewed as seniors in the past few weeks. This meant, among other things, that we took the final exams of our class 1 week before everyone else and could take part in the Senior Send Off. The Senior Send Off is a ceremony in the last week of school where the whole school gathers in the sports hall and speeches are given about the senior year. A slide show was also shown with pictures of babies and current pictures of the twelfth graders, but also of us exchange students. It was a lot of fun to be part of it and to be able to witness this special event.

The seniors did not have to go to school for the last week due to the exams they had already taken, so I had no school. On the last official day of school we had graduation practice, an exercise for the graduation ceremony, so to speak. Depending on the weather, the graduation ceremony takes place either in the sports hall or on the football field. Therefore we practiced the process of the graduation ceremony for inside and outside. Unfortunately, it actually rained on Saturday, the day of graduation, so that the graduation ceremony had to be held in the sports hall. The ceremony began at about 6:30 in the evening and we had to wear our cap and gown: the girls wore a white robe with a corresponding cap, the boys a corresponding green costume. Under the robe all the girls wore a white dress. At the ceremony, some speeches were given first and the school choir performed. Then we were all called to the front individually to pick up the diploma or the certificate for the exchange students. In total, the ceremony lasted about 2 hours.

Then we went out to eat with the family. It was really very interesting to be able to attend the graduation ceremony, because in Germany the dismissal is nowhere near as festive. However, it was at this point that I really realized that the time in America was slowly coming to an end. I still had 1 week until my return flight, but school was officially over and my host sister left for the Army basic training in South Carolina the following week. One is shocked to see how quickly the time in the USA had passed.