A Long Way From Home


Photo by Lauren

Senior Maria Schnitzer, a foreign exchange students from Germany.

Senior Maria Schnitzer, is a German exchange student here at Casa Grande High School. She is staying with Julie and Jeff Sharman here in America. Coming to America has been a friendly experience. She feels that everyone here is more open and friendly.

Ever since Schnitzer was ten years old she has been thinking about coming here to America. After seeing America on the news and on Instagram, she became interested in visiting. She says it has been her dream and is happy to have this opportunity.

Schnitzer said that there have been many surprises transitioning from living in Germany to living in the United States.

“It was really surprising how big everything is like the supermarkets and like schools and stuff. Everything is so big and in Germany everything is smaller… I was, like, amazed by the size of everything,” said Schnitzer.

Coming from Germany to America has been a once in a lifetime opportunity for Schnitzer. She has been planning this trip for quite some time. Although she has been living here for six months, she is still learning as she tries to adapt to new and different everyday problems.

Six months ago when Schnitzer first arrived in the United States, she did not know that her German iphone charger would not fit into an American outlet.

¨I packed like my charger things but you have different plugs, so like, they´re useless and I had to buy new ones and now they’re just sitting on my bed and I don’t know what to do with them,¨ said Schnitzer.

One of her favorite classes is drama. At her school in Germany, they only offered core classes. Drama is completely new to her. In that class, she enjoys playing games and practicing improvisations. This is all new to her because it was never offered in her German schools.

She has been learning English since she was in kindergarten and still continues to build her English skills. Understanding English was not very hard for her since she has been learning it since a very young age in Germany. She took “Step by Step,” an English language learning tool, to learn the English vocabulary, so overall she is very good at understanding and somewhat speaks english. 

Since arriving in the United States, it has been challenging for Schnitzer to speak conversational English because in Germany they spoke “school English” or a more formal style of speaking. Moreover, it was hard for her to understand the math vocabulary because they did not teach math vocabulary in Germany. 

A favorite English phrase Schnitzer likes is “get out.” This is a new phrase for Schnitzer and she tries to use it with others. Furthermore, in her perspective it is a pretty cool word to say. 

When it came to trying food from the United States, there was a major difference from her experience with German food. Schnitzer said that America serves much larger portions compared to Germany. Additionally, in Germany it is not typical to take food home from a restaurant, especially since they give the right amount to eat. 

“I was like amazed when I went to a restaurant for breakfast and I ordered scrambled egg and though that it would be small, but it was just the whole plate filled with scrambled eggs and they put like different stuff and I was just sitting there like that’s not what I wanted and this is so big?!!” said Schnitzer.

New foods that Schnitzer has been trying include pumpkin flavored food, especially during this time of season. A food that she still wants to try is pie since in Germany that food item is not available. Additionally, she really wants to try chicken and waffles since she has heard that it is very good.     

Since the start of the school year, Schnitzer has become involved in the school by joining a few clubs, doing a fall play in her class, helping out teachers, and becoming familiar with the Casa school environment. She wants to continue to get more involved while she is here.

Schnitzer is able to stay in touch with her family, but it has not been easy. Although she can Facetime her parents, there is a six hour time difference between Petaluma, CA and Germany. 

So the only way she is able to contact her family is by Facetimeing them late at night, which for them is the morning. When they would contact her, she would have to wake up really early on the weekends to answer their Facetime calls.

Overall, Schnitzer is having a wonderful experience as a Foreign Exchange student.

“It’s different, but it’s great,” said Schnitzer.