PLAISTOW— In her first week in the United States, there was one thing that stood out the most to Nicole Dietzel.
“The cars,” she said. “They’re so big here.”
Dietzel, 17, and 24 other German students arrived at Timberlane Regional High School as part of their German-American Partnership Program.
Since 1987, German students and their teachers have come to Timberlane every other year during the fall, with a group of Timberlane students going to Droyssig, Germany, the following spring.
The German students are staying at Timberlane students’ home for a month and they are shadowing their hosts during the school day at Timberlane.
“It’s great for our students to interview them and find out what life is like in Germany,” Timberlane German teacher Doug Madsen said.
It also gives the German students a chance to perfect their English.
“All of our students have been learning English for quite a while now,” teacher Matthias Pisch said. “They’re all interested in the language and this gives them a chance to see what they have learned.”
In addition to attending Timberlane classes, the German students will also take some field trips to explore the country. Last week, the group went to Boston and walked on the Freedom Trail and also went on a whale watch. This week, they’re scheduled to go back to Boston to visit the Museum of Science and Harvard University.
For most of the exchange students, it’s the first time they have visited the United States and they have been surprised it hasn’t been what they imagined.
“I thought people would be thicker,” Dietzel said.
“It feels like home here,” said Lukas Viehoefer, 16. “It’s different, but it still feels like we’re in Germany for some reason. All the people are nice and friendly to me.”
But some things are a little harder to get a grasp on.
“We went to the American football game (at Timberlane),” said Olivia Bornmann, 15. “I was so confused.”
Sophie Baierl, 16, said the United States is somewhere he’s been hoping to visit for a long time, and he’s pleased he’s not just here as a tourist.
“It’s an incredible opportunity,” she said. “If I was coming here on vacation, I wouldn’t get to see and learn as much about the culture than if I was living with the host family. In a hotel, I wouldn’t get to experience all the different food and habits.”
In addition to the German students, French students will be coming to Timberlane tomorrow as part of an exchange program. Timberlane students will go to France in the spring. The school also takes part in a Hawaiian exchange program in the spring.Timberlane is hosting 25 German students this month as part of an exchange program.