A Life in a Year: Anika Dittmar

A photo of Anika

A photo of Anika

Caroline Hsu, Feature Editor

          “Exchange isn’t a year in your life; it’s a life in a year.”

For the past few months, junior Anika Dittmar has been studying at Middletown High School as part of an exchange student program. She was born and raised in Germany and, as you can imagine, living in the U.S. has been a new and exciting experience for her. Learning about American culture first-hand has made her worldlier and more knowledgeable, and she has formed friendships with fellow classmates that she will cherish for the rest of her life. Anika shared with us the details of her memorable experience as a foreign exchange student.

What is a memorable experience you had when you first arrived in the U.S.?

  • When I first arrived in America I was very excited and also nervous to meet my new family at the airport. I remember when we were driving on a giant highway for the first time, I saw my new life and it was awesome!

How are your classmates here different from those in your other school?

  •  The people in Germany are just so much different in many ways. American people are very outgoing and friendly in general but it’s not easy to figure out who you can trust. You can make a lot of friends here; otherwise it is hard to find very good friends.

Are Americans different from what you thought they would be?

  • The exchange program told us not to have any expectations about America because it’s better to make your own experiences than pre-judging people. Americans are just like I expected them to be. They are nice and friendly.

What do you think of the food?

  •  I like the food here, but it is a lot sweeter and has more fat. In Germany the people eat less prepared food out of a box. It’s more basic with one hot meal a day (typically lunch). They wouldn’t serve pizza in school everyday.

What is one thing that surprised you about the U.S.?

  •  It surprised me that so many people have school spirit and patriotism and that they all cheer during the football games. In Germany we have soccer instead of football, but in school it’s not a big event because we don’t have any school teams.

How is High School South different from your old school? How is it similar?

  • South is much bigger than my school in Germany. In Germany they have 3 different types of school which have different levels. Here they have different levels of classes but all in one school. There we have one group of students, they stay together all day and the different teachers come in the classroom and teach different subjects. Here you get to know different people in different classes and for every subject you have to move to another classroom.

What is your favorite American food?

  •  I really enjoyed the pumpkin food (pumpkin bread, pie, butter, coffee…) during the fall season and I love Oreos.

How is American fashion different from German fashion?

  •  I can’t see a big difference, but a lot of people in school like the clothes I bought in Germany. In Germany the student’s wouldn’t wear sweatpants to school that often.

What is your favorite American movie?

  •  I haven’t seen a lot of movies yet. I liked the movie “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”

How do you communicate with your friends back home?

  •  I send them e-mails sometimes and share my experiences with them. Also we skype, but not that often, because of the 6 hour time difference.

How does Eurovision compare with American singing/talent shows like American Idol, The X Factor, etc.?

  • We also have different singing and talent shows but just once a week. In America they have it more often. Eurovision song contest is a competition once a year, where different singers from countries in Europe compete against each other.

What do you think of American music?

  • A lot of songs they play in the radio are the same. Many girls here like Taylor Swift, but I don’t!

Is the weather very different? Or is it similar?

  • It is colder in Germany. The area where I live (near the Alps) has a lot of snow in winter (October –April). You can go snow skiing and snowboarding everyday.

Do you enjoy your classes?

  •  Yes, I like all of them; especially cooking and drama.

What will you miss the most when you go back home?

  • I will miss my family, friends, and South. I will also miss the lax, easygoing way of life.