Traveling thousands of miles to experience something new

Foreign exchange students Gonzalo Bodemer of Madrid, Spain, and Yannik Kroeller- Fernandez of Dorsten, Germany, both arrived in the United States on September 4 as part of a nine-month stay in the country, specifically at the rural Badger home of Mitch and Carol Then. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

Foreign exchange students Gonzalo Bodemer of Madrid, Spain, and Yannik Kroeller- Fernandez of Dorsten, Germany, both arrived in the United States on September 4 as part of a nine-month stay in the country, specifically at the rural Badger home of Mitch and Carol Then. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

Gonzalo Bodemer hails from Madrid, Spain—the country’s capital city– a place historically averaging 51 degrees as a high and 32 degrees as a low in January. Yannik Kroeller- Fernandez hails from Dorsten, Germany—a city located on the western side of the country—a place historically averaging 39 degrees as a high and 32 degrees as a low in January, according to weather.com. So, when asked if they have ever experienced the cold weather like they have so far while living at Mitch and Carol Rhen’s home in rural Badger, Minn., they both instantly replied, “no.”

“Thirty-two (degrees) Fahrenheit for us is like really cold, jeepers,” Bodemer said. 

Experiencing the sub-zero winters wasn’t the only new thing these two young men have encountered since arriving in the states as foreign exchange students on September 4, meeting one another for the first time during the last leg of their travels—a flight from Minneapolis to Grand Forks. Both talked about why they decided to travel overseas and live in a place thousands of miles from home for nine months. They also mentioned some of the differences they’ve noticed between the U.S. and their home, and explained what they have enjoyed about the U.S. so far and why others should participate in such travel experiences.  

 

Both came to the U.S., not so much for academic reasons, but more so for cultural ones. Traveling through the foreign exchange program named CLS, 15-year old Bodemer came to Badger High School as a tenth grade student wanting to expand his English experience.  

“English is the most important language. So, I think the best way to learn English is to try to be English, like you know being with people who speak English,” Bodemer said. “And (then) you’re thinking English, dreaming in English, and studying in English, and I think that’s good for learning it.”

Living in Virginia for the first three and half years of his life before moving to Germany, Kroeller-Fernandez, a 16-year old junior student at Badger High School, wanted to experience this country for a prolonged period of time, but this time at an older age.

“I just always wanted to go forward and into the high school (here in the U.S.),” Kroeller-Fernandez said, traveling through the Global Youth Group of Germany and the International Student Exchange of the U.S. 

To see the complete story, read the January 18 issue of The Tribune in print or online.

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