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New country, new experiences

Peanut butter, skiing and anatomy class add up to a fun year for German exchange student

February 16, 2011
By CLAIRE ABENT Journal Staff WriterMARQUETTE — Leaving home, heading across the globe and going to high school in a completely

MARQUETTE - Leaving home, heading across the globe and going to high school in a completely different country could seem daunting for many students, but not for Viktoria Bauer-Hack.

The 16-year-old hails from Oldenburg, Germany, which is located in the northern part of the country. She has been studying at Marquette Senior High School since August and will finish up her time here in June, then return home.

So far, she is enjoying everything about her stay.

Article Photos

German foreign exchange student Viktoria Bauer-Hack, who is spending the school year in Marquette, studies with fellow students at Marquette Senior High School. (Journal photo by Claire Abent)

"I love the high school and I love Marquette," she said. "It is beautiful and it is awesome."

Studying abroad was something that she always saw herself doing.

"It was like a dream when I was young because of all the movies, seeing the American high schools," Bauer-Hack said.

School in the United States functions differently than her school back home. Here she can pick the classes that she takes and she has the same classes every day.

At home, some days she would have six classes a day and other days she would have eight classes a day. They didn't have one lunch break, only 20 minute breaks after each two hour block of class. And instead of having specific math classes like geometry or algebra, they just have math, where they learn all of the different types of math.

All of the same people are in all of the same classes in Germany and there were also no lockers her school there. All students are required to take French, Latin and English.

So which type of school does she prefer?

"Here it's easier, so it's nicer. The classes are more interesting because you can choose what you like," she said.

She is considered a senior at MSHS, but when she returns home to Germany she will have to complete two more years of high school. After that, she would like to study medicine, although she hasn't decided whether it will be human or animal medicine.

Since she has been in the Upper Peninsula she has visited Lake Superior, Presque Isle, Sugar Loaf Mountain, skied at Marquette Mountain and gone to Winter Carnival in Houghton. Bauer-Hack said she really likes the weather here and also loves skiing.

"I love the snow and I'm glad I'm in the north and not in the south," she said. "I couldn't stand the heat."

Missing her family and being homesick aren't things that distract Bauer-Hack from learning about the U.S. or having a good time while she is here.

"I was really surprised that I wasn't homesick when I came here," she said.

She did miss having the holidays with her family, but her host family in Marquette, the Jensens, helped her through it and through all her transitions here.

"It (the holidays) was pretty tough, but when you don't think about it you do other stuff, then it is pretty easy," she said. "To live somewhere else is always difficult, but my host family, they're great and I love them. They help me a lot."

Although she does long for some of the cuisine of her home country, she has some interesting things to say about American food.

"I really miss the German bread," she said. "You can get everything in powder form here and you just add water and get a meal."

She did add that she now likes peanut butter after not having much exposure to it before coming here.

Claire Abent can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her e-mail address is



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