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The Student News Site of Tualatin High School

The Wolf

The Student News Site of Tualatin High School

The Wolf


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Juliana Villanueva
Juliana Villanueva
Sports Editor

German exchange student reflects on experience in U.S.

As the school year comes to an end, sophomore Paula Hermes reflected on her experience as an exchange student here at Tualatin High School. In an interview with The Wolf, Hermes shared about her life back home in Germany and here in America. 


What encouraged you to be an exchange student? 

“I lived in Florida for half a year when I was five and went to kindergarten there. Since then, I always wanted to come back to the States sometime and go to a high school here.  I would say it was kind of a childhood dream, and also it’s a great chance to get to know a different culture and improve my English.”


How has the transition to school here been like for you? 

“The transition has been pretty easy except for the first week because I didn’t know where to go for all my classes. For example,  I wasn’t used to the schedule yet, but once I adjusted to that, I didn’t have any problems anymore. Also, school here is a lot easier than in Germany, so there was no pressure because it’s very easy to get good grades.”


Did you speak English before coming here? If not, how did you adapt?

“I spoke English before I came here because in Germany you start learning English in third grade. I haven’t had any problems with the language, but I was still nervous  about speaking a different language every day because I didn’t actually practice speaking English much during class in Germany before.”


During your time here what is a lesson you have learned?

“I learned that sometimes you really have to go out of your comfort zone to experience new and great things even if it can take a lot of energy to do that. I also learned that the things you worry about beforehand won’t actually matter, and that often it’s not worth it to worry too much about certain things.”


Differences you have noticed between the U.S. and where you’re from?

“One big difference I’ve noticed is school. The teachers are so much less strict, and I feel like they expect less than what I was used to in Germany. Also, you have to do less to get good grades in your classes, and it’s more about showing up. Another big difference is sports because, in Germany, club sports and sports teams just aren’t that popular. I’ve also experienced that the people in the U.S. seem more open just to talk to others even if they don’t know them, and it seems more normal to talk to strangers and ask them things.” 


What advice would you give another student interested in being an exchange student?

“I would definitely recommend joining a club or sport because I met many amazing people through joining track and be open to try something new even if you’re nervous. Before I started track, I was worried because it was new for me, but it’s the best decision I could’ve  made. Also, I can say joining a sport or club helps you to not be homesick because you’re more busy, and if you don’t have a lot going on, you’ll maybe think about friends and family at home and what they’re doing instead of enjoying your time here.”

Hermes hasn’t just spent her time taking classes at TuHS. She has also made time to visit some American landmarks during her exchange.

“I came at the end of January, so I’ve only been here for a bit more than two months, but it has been really good so far. I’ve experienced a lot of things already and traveled to a few really pretty places like Zion National Park, the Redwoods and Las Vegas with my host family.” 

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Esmeralda De Leon Boyas, Staff Writer

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