The CB campus was infused with a little bit of fresh European flavor at the start of the school year. It is always interesting to get a fresh, new perspective on what is normal, daily life for us. I recently had my very good friend come all the way from Austria and visit me for […]
The CB campus was infused with a little bit of fresh European flavor at the start of the school year.
It is always interesting to get a fresh, new perspective on what is normal, daily life for us.
I recently had my very good friend come all the way from Austria and visit me for three weeks in August.
Caro Obermüller and I have been friends for as long as we can remember. Our friendship began with a foreign exchange program that our parents took part in when they were in high school. So I guess you could say we have known each other for quite a while.
Last summer, I spent a week in Austria and this year it was her turn to come to the US.
We spent a lot of our time together comparing and contrasting our worlds. A major difference comes with schooling.
“School is very different from home because you have only seven classes with different people while I have about 13 classes with the same people,” she explained. “Plus, it is very serious. You have seven hours of school on the first day and test the first week and we don’t have that.”
However, she noticed some interesting and positive aspects of our schooling as well.
“I think its cool that you can concentrate on what you like when you choose your classes even though it is really hard when you are on a high level,” Caro expressed.
She also found it interesting that Christian Brothers makes use of a dress code. At her school, students are allowed to wear whatever they want, so she had to adjust to the new required attire.
“I think its good there are a lot of different shirts so you can at least have some freedom in choosing your outfits,” my Austrian friend reflected. “I really like to see how different people style the shirts they have to wear in unique ways and how everyone looks different, even though there is a uniform.”
In conversation I asked her what her favorite class of mine was, and she replied the Writing For Publications class — aka the Talon.
“Last week you were talking about how to write a good article and make a good newspaper and we want to form a school newspaper at home next year,” Caro explained. “So it was good to see how the newspaper works at another school.”
She went on to discuss the similarities between CB and how high school is portrayed in American cinema.
“Some things are just like in the movies, which I find really weird because you expect it to be one way or look a certain way and in some ways it is but you just get the feeling,” she described.
Coming to a new country on your own can be quite scary, but Caro felt very prepared and at home.
“It was frightening to come here alone by plane because it was the first time [I flew alone], but I didn’t have very many difficulties with the language and culture,” she articulated. This was simply because she already knew my family.
And then of course, we had to discuss the food.
“The food is really good. You have a lot of products we don’t have at home,” she says. “What I love most at the moment are Skinny Cows — I’m addicted,” Caro says about the delicious ice cream sandwiches.
But she did not stop there with her list of prized American specialties.
“I also like mac and cheese from the Spaghetti Factory, Cheez-its, and the cookies from Cookie Connection. I didn’t have anything I didn’t like.”
She also bought four packs of Oreos for her friends. Who knew we had Birthday Cake and Cookie Dough flavored Oreos? Oh yeah, we are pretty proud of our American food.
No problems with the food. No problems with fitting in either.
“I’m five years older and my language has improved a lot. I can talk without any problems.”
Even though we could converse in both English and German, her English was excellent, so we mostly kept with that.
The average American daily life was another feature of her visit she found intriguing.
“Last time I came here with my family and we traveled around more, but I’m still just as fascinated [with America] as I was at 11 years old,” she states. “Staying with a host family helps you to get to know the daily life here which I find very interesting.”
One thing she found particularly interesting was how busy everything is.
“I feel like it is so much more competitive in the way that nearly everyone I got to know does a lot with school and sports. Everything is really busy because of that. Life is much busier than at home.”
She made a point of saying it is not like they don’t do anything in Austria, it is just a little more hectic here. Maybe taking it down a notch might be helpful. Less stress for the best.
But she found the overall atmosphere of this foreign environment inviting and welcoming.
“I really like how most people are really open and friendly.”
Even though she was only here for a few weeks, she gave me the chance to look at my average day through new eyes. What we take for granted everyday, our schedule, our school, and our extracurricular activities, other people can find so exciting. Bonding globally is a perfect way to infuse our lives with a little bit of spice.