Archive for Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Student gains perspective on U.S.

May 15, 2002

Whether a student is in Germany or the United States, chances are the youth prefers some classes to others.

And so it goes for Joerg Langguth, a foreign exchange student from Germany enrolled at Tonganoxie High School this semester.

"I like writing," Langguth said. "I'm always good in that. On the other side, I hate science and math."

Langguth, though, does have subjects he's interested in journalism and politics.

The 17-year-old, who lives with Gordon and Terri Brest near Tonganoxie, would like to work the communication field.

"I just like to have conversations," Langguth said. "I think I'm very interested in history."

Langguth's host mother has enjoyed his conversations and viewpoints as well.

"We love to hear him talk," Terri said.

Langguth lives with Gordon and Terri and their two sons Ben, a sophomore, and Corey, an eighth-grader.

Langguth is the Brest family's first exchange student. The family got interested in the exchange program last summer because Gordon and Terri's daughter, Katie, met someone from Oskaloosa whose family had an exchange student. Katie is now a sophomore at Kansas City Kansas Community College.

"He just fits with our boys," Terri said. "He runs around with them. It's been kind of cool."

Terri said it's been interesting hearing Langguth's perspectives on issues and observing his mannerisms. Learning about Langguth's cuisine has also been fun, Terri said.

In Germany, Langguth normally eats pasta throughout the week and then has meat and potatoes on Sunday. He also eats food with utensils in both hands.

"He loves coffee," Terri said. "Whenever he asks to make it, it's very dark and very strong."

He also loves ice cream, but other foods are new to Langguth.

Corn dogs and Pop Tarts were a discovery in the United States for the 17-year-old from Germany.

Although some foods are foreign to Langguth, a wide range of languages is not.

Along with German and English, Langguth also speaks Spanish, French and Latin. He's even taking a Spanish course at THS.

Most Americans only speak English, but the idea that many Americans aren't bilingual doesn't bother Langguth.

"Actually, I believe that English is the number one business language of the world," he said. "Everything is English. It is the most common. It is understandable that people here don't think of other languages much."

Education and extra-curricular activities don't go hand-in-hand in Germany. School days usually run from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., with course times rotating each day.

Athletics and other activities aren't school-sponsored in Germany. Instead, students join athletics clubs.

Langguth likes the system in the United States.

"It's kind of different," Langguth said. "I really like it. "Here you have the full day where you can do things. In Germany, many people just hang around on the street."

Soccer is the main sport for high school students. Because Langguth came to Tonganoxie in January, he missed the high school's fall soccer season. He did participate in basketball.

Langguth compared the sport between the countries.

"It's very much better than in Germany," he said. "The first time I played basketball here, it was so fast."

School, meanwhile, also differs in Langguth's eyes. Although homework loads are heavier here, Langguth said schooling is more difficult in Germany. His tests in Germany don't involve multiple-choice questions, either. Instead, most are essay-style.

Although Langguth enjoys politics and history, he has another talents.

"He's had 11 years of piano," she said. "He plays beautifully."

Terri said her family may host another exchange student in the fall. She said a semester isn't quite long enough to get to know a student.

"It absolutely caused us to be out of our comfort zone," Terri said. "It's hard to treat him as one of my own instead of a guest. That was a real hurdle for me, but I think we've overcome that."

An only child, Langguth also had to adjust to a larger family.

Langguth will leave his American family June 14. He will still have two years of schooling before he decides on attending college in Germany.

Whether he will pursue a career in journalism or politics will also be decided at that time. For now, Langguth simply offered his view of his possible future profession.

"It's kind of really free in writing about what they want," he said about German journalism. "As long as you stay neutral on politics, I think it's no problem."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.