Here in my second home – all about Meridian’s exchange student
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Senior Sophie Fiebig is the first foreign exchange student to Meridian in about five years. Fiebig was born in Berlin, Germany and came to America early August 2016.
“I didn’t get to decide which state or area of America I wanted to go to. Basically, you apply for an exchange year with your responsible organization, and as soon as all the applications are filled out and processed, they start looking for a host family that would be good for you and wants to take you in. Really, I could have ended up anywhere in the United States. I had another host family wanting to take me in in Minnesota, but for various reasons, I had to decline and kept waiting for another four months until the end of July when I received my final host family, the Thompsons. It is really just coincidence where you end up and I am lucky I got to live here,” tells Fiebig.
Fiebig had to adapt to being in a new place and away from home. “I have adapted really well, I think. I was already good with speaking English when I came here, so that wasn’t hard for me. The hardest part about adapting is that most people here have known each other since grade school and have established friendship groups, so it is really hard to get into it without feeling like an intruder,” said Fiebig.
Although establishing friendships isn’t that easy with being the “intruder,” Fiebig still made tons of friends, including Sydney Moore. “She always makes me feel better and is there for me. She listens to all my weird stories and doesn’t get weirded out,” says Moore.
Fiebig not only had to leave her parents in Germany, she also has to share host parents with eighth grader, Hailey Thompson. “It can be good to have someone to talk to and have a fun time with. But sometimes it’s just hard to share your parents and of course, there is fighting sometimes, but all in all it is great having her,” Thompson states.
Overall, America and Germany are different and Fiebig had to adapt to that big change. “Just about everything about America is different. School, rules, behavior and the lifestyle in general. One of my favorite examples is the school spirit. Many Americans would be confused by German schools. We don’t really have that many after-school activities, no real sports teams, a school mascot or even school colors. Our school is simply about learning, which I am not a big fan of looking back at it now. But it is small things that are different too, like eating habits, the driving age, and everyday expressions.”
She will be leaving July 7, 2017, but will be coming back to visit friends and her host family during the summer and maybe even visit other places in America. She is also considering going to college here.
“My year here has been simply incredible. I have met so many great people, have seen so many great things and made unforgettable experiences. I will always look back at this year as the most adventurous, amazing year of my life, here in my second home,” adds Fiebig.