Willkommen!  MHS families host German students 

Amelia Knopp, Senior Staff Writer

Manhattan High School students hosted 12 German students and two teachers from Gesamtschule Ebsdorfergrund — a school just outside of Marburg, Hessen, Germany — during a two-week visit in Manhattan. 

MHS students introduced the visitors to various aspects of life and culture in the United States. The German students spent some days shadowing their host students through the halls of MHS and other days taking trips to local attractions, such as Sunset Zoo and Fort Riley. 

Sophomore Sam Spiegel, a German 2 student at MHS, opened his family’s home to Jonas Geltner. 

“We [hosted] just because we’ve heard from other friends that it’s been such a good experience hosting students from other places,” Spiegel said. “And I thought it would help me in German class.”

Geltner said he was most surprised by the friendliness of American people, in addition to the many stark differences between his home country and the United States. 

“[In the US], the food is sweeter than in Germany, here you can drive [at an earlier age] than in Germany, and most Americans put ice cubes in every drink and in Germany we don’t do this as much,” Geltner said. 

Geltner’s favorite experiences in Manhattan included an outing to the Midwest Dream Car Collection Museum and an opportunity to eat Chick-fil-A food. 

Junior Connor Buchanan also hosted a German student, Luisa Gruen. 

Gruen enjoyed many aspects of her time in the United States, particularly school spirit and new culinary experiences. The American tendency to snack in between meals shocked Gruen, as this habit is uncommon in Germany. 

“I really liked football games and the school supporting the football team because in Germany the sports teams are independent from school,” Gruen said. “I also really like the prairie landscape and all the fast food shops…which is maybe normal for you, but we don’t have it in Germany.”

Gruen shared that the hardest part of her experience in Manhattan was waking up a couple of hours earlier than usual to get ready for school. However, the schedule isn’t the only difference between American and German schools. According to Gruen, the German education system is split into elementary school, fifth through 10th grade and 11th through 13th grade.

The German students departed for the next leg of their trip on October 15. They planned to spend several days sightseeing in New York, then embark on what Gruen estimated to be a 24+ hour journey back to Germany. 

According to Buchanan, MHS students will receive the opportunity to spend two weeks living in Germany with their host families in May 2023. 

Buchanan now has experienced both the visitor and host perspectives of the foreign exchange experience, as he spent two and a half weeks in Bad Reichenhall, Germany this summer.

Buchanan received the opportunity to travel to Germany at no cost as a reward for his success on the National German Exam and additional rounds of qualification. 

According to Buchanan, the experience improved his German speaking skills and cultural knowledge. 

“It’s a great experience, being forced to speak a language [in a foreign country],” Buchanan said. “So I learned a lot about German everyday expressions and how they actually talk with people instead of just in a classroom [setting].”

Buchanan plans to return to Germany with the MHS group in May and stay with Gruen and her family. 

“It is just cool to experience the German schools and the German atmosphere,” Buchanan said. “[Traveling abroad] is just a great opportunity and I would encourage anybody to take it.”