A new way of living: Foreign exchange student settles in

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Photo by Carlie Clem

Junior Simon Kallee is foreign exchange student from Rheinfelden, Germany.

Story by Ashley Tyson, Staff Writer

He digs into his first ever Chocolate Xtreme Blizzard, arms resting against the sticky laminate table. Kids are screaming in the corner, old people filtering in and out for their afternoon ice cream. Junior Simon Kallee begins to tell about his new life in America.

Originally from Rheinfelden, Germany, the foreign exchange student is adjusting well to his new surroundings. Making his arrival to the states on August 22, he had only four days to acquaint himself with his new host-family and home, before embarking on his adventure at Texas High.

To get here, Simon filled out several applications to become a foreign exchange student. Then he received an invitation to a meeting, was accepted, and filled out an endless amount of paperwork. The final step was spending a weekend learning about America. Then he could finally pack up and fly over.

His flights started in Frankfurt, and went to Houston. From Houston he flew to Dallas, where he had to stay the night due to a delayed flight, before finally hitting the Texarkana runway.

There his host family, Stephanie and Cris Anderson, and new little brother Connor Anderson, met him for the first time.

“You can’t really describe it, it was a mixture of many good feelings,” Kallee said with a smile.

Simon will be living with his new parents and little brother until June of 2013, when he’ll return to Germany.

Simon’s thoughts about Texas High are a lot more positive and uplifting than most.

“It’s a really nice and big school, with really nice and helpful people.”

His first day was similar to many new students, feeling lost on such a big campus with so many strange people, alone due to the lack of friends. But unlike a majority of students, Kallee got to see the positive and polite side of Texas High. He was shown where his classes were by a few helpful students.

The most common question Kallee gets asked, of course, is where he’s from. He’s also been asked where Germany is located and if he’s a Nazi. He takes it all in stride, laughing and asking if they know any history.

When he compares Germany and America, there are some surprises and a few expected differences. He says America has more fatty and unhealthy foods, along with more fast food restaurants, rather than sit in eateries.

In Germany, you can only get your drivers license at 18, versus 16 here in the states. Even though Kallee will be turning 16 while he is here, he isn’t permitted to get his license.

“It’s so strange seeing people my age driving; I’m not used to that!”

Here, there are fewer people, but they’re much friendlier.

“People here are much nicer than in Germany.”

Classes are longer here, and more controlled. Back home, if a teacher doesn’t show up for class, students can sleep or go back home. However, they do have more homework in Germany and twenty minute breaks between lessons, and twenty minutes for lunch. They have open campus, which allowed Kallee to walk home for lunch and then back to school.

Kallee is on the school’s soccer team, playing defense and middle. Back in Germany he skied, took piano lessons and swam for a few years. He also skateboards, swims, and plays Xbox in his free time.

Kallee hopes to improve his English, meet new people and get involved in activities before returning to Germany a week after school ends.

“I can’t really say right now, but I think leaving people here will be the worst part about leaving.”