Archive for Thursday, November 29, 2001

Her choice for new discovery

German exchange student Simone Mihm adjusts to life and studies in Eudora

November 29, 2001

Of her choice of the English-speaking countries of England, Australia and the United States, Simone Mihm chose the latter.

"America is like the big, wide country with all the possibilities," said the Eudora High School senior. "You see it on TV all the time. I want to see the reality."

Mihm, an exchange student from Fulda, Germany, near Frankfurt, came to the United States in August, shortly before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. At first, Mihm said she wondered what was going on, and then realized how bad it was.

"Right after that my parents called to see if I was OK," she said. "They were more worried than people over here were."

Living as a teenager in the United States is somewhat different from living as a teenager in Germany, where youth clubs give students a place to gather and parties are a more common or at least out in the open occurrence.

"The first few weeks it's like, 'Oh my God, you're not going out. You're not going to clubs.' But now it's OK."

Mihm said she wanted to go one of Kansas' many German-themed festivals in the fall, but never made it. She finds it funny that at these festivals Americans eat sauerkraut and sausages.

"I say, 'They like that?'" Mihm said. "I don't like that. My parents tried to feed me that stuff."

Mihm has acquired a taste for American food (or American fast food, anyway) thanks to the presence of McDonald's and Burger King in Germany.

"I love American food, all the burgers and all the Mexican stuff mixed in," she said. "My mom was like, 'You will get tired of the burgers.'"

What she did get tired of was the hot, Kansas summer she found herself in the midst of when she came to Eudora in August. What made it worse, she said, was going from the hot outdoors to the ice-cold air conditioning and then back out again.

Mihm was also surprised one day to find her host family "building" the family's Christmas tree, an artificial decoration.

"That's a tradition (in Germany) you go out in the woods and bring it home," Mihm said.

But Mihm may find herself in the Kansas heat again next spring as she plans to try out for the softball team, although her sports experience is with tennis.

"I don't even know the rules, but it must be baseball," she said.

Aside from traditionally American sports, Mihm had to get used to the American way of speaking English, since in Germany she was taught the type of English spoken in Britain.

"They told us to chew gum in English lessons and that was like speaking American English," Mihm said, but she added that her teacher wasn't exactly thrilled when she tried that.

When Mihm gets back to Germany, she'll have three years of school left.

"I'll miss America, I think," she said. "But I've got a few more months, so I won't worry about that."

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