SHS hosts world travelers
Spencer High School welcomed five foreign exchange students at the start of this school year, each bringing a unique perspective and background to the northwest Iowa community. The students include Shen Kuan-Jung, of Taiwan; Moritz Schneidewind, of Germany; Eduardo Molet, of Spain; Anton Wetterquist, of Sweden; and Didrik Krog Olsen, of Norway.
This is not Schneidewind's first time in America.
"I wanted to improve my English. Me and my family visited America like every year. We rented an RV and drove through states so I wanted to experience what it was like to live here," Schneidewind said.
"I decided to come here because I wanted a new experience and I wanted to improve my English, too," Molet said.
Kuan-Jung, who is participating in Spencerís football program, said he came to America because he wanted to "experience real American life to see if it is like an American movie."
He has noticed how people treat each other in America.
"People's attitudes, everyone is nice. It is not like my imagination. Before I went to America I think that not everyone would want to talk to an Asian," Kuan-Jung said. "His English is not very well and I think that not everyone would want to talk to him. I think my image was wrong because everyone I talk to is nice."
Molet said he was surprised by how nice people are here and how much people speak to each other.
Olsen has noticed the openness of the American people.
"In Norway, the people are not very into small talk. They usually care more about themselves than all the other people," Olsen said. "When I arrived here I was shocked how people approached me and talked to me and were very open with who they were."
Wetterquist, who came to the U.S. because his mother came here in college and because he wanted to improve his English, admitted he was surprised to see people travel two hours to cheer and support their school's football team and was also surprised with how many students are involved in after school activities.
Olsen said the most surprising thing for him was the "school spirit and the community around the school."
Schneidewing, a soccer player in his home country, has taken up football this fall in Spencer. He suggested Americans engage in more small talk than Germans, and while he likes Spencer, it is a little smaller than what he is use to. His hometown of Dusseldorf is a city of 800,000 people.
Wetterquist agreed, "I like Spencer but it is a bit small. It is good because it is small and you can go walk almost everywhere. My hometown (Stockholm) has a population of 1 million people."
Unlike the other exchange students, Olsen did not find Spencer too small when he got here. He is from a town of 700 people in Norway. In his free time, Olsen likes to play football and indoor soccer.
Kuan-Jung said the biggest difference between his home country and America is the school system. He said in Taiwan he stays at school for at least 14 hours a day having every meal there and sleeping at school.
Wetterquist, who was involved in cross-country in Sweden, but had surgery before coming to the U.S., said in Sweden, he only has math class three times a week for an hour and a half, but here he has it everyday for 50 minutes.
Schneidewing said the biggest difference between his home country and America so far is the food. He said in Germany they eat healthier food and that most meals have many vegetables.
Molet, who is active in club soccer and enjoys going to the gym in his spare time, said life is "easier" in the U.S. than in his home country. He said things are more convenient in America but food is healthier in his home country.
"Back in Norway I always got help from my parents. I was very attached to them and they always helped me out with almost everything," Olsen said. "I am trying to grow out of that habit and try to show I can influence my life by myself. I don't need them around me to support me all the time. So I entered the exchange program and try to show them I can do this by myself."