Meet the European Foreign Exchange Students at NHS

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(Left to Right) Sidsel Bach, Matthias Haarbeck, and Elisa Pepe, NHS’s European Exchange Students. (PHOTO, Bonomi)

Newnan High School welcomed three guests from Europe at the beginning of Fall semester. Each of the foreign exchange students crossed the Atlantic and began classes in August, and since then, they have become honorary members of the Cougar Nation.

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Sidsel Bach smiling just outside her American History classroom. (PHOTO, Smith)

Profile – Sidsel Bach (Denmark)

By: Loren Mccall

About four weeks ago Sidsel Bach came to the US to participate in the Newnan lifestyle.

Born in Copenhagen, Denmark but living in Stolkholm, Sweden, Bach said she spent most of her time at school and with friends while there.

She stated she had a couple of hobbies while in Stolkholm, “I practices gymnastics, piano, although I wasn’t very good, and I hung out with friends a lot. I love to be with friends.”

Bach expressed the feelings she had before leaving, “I knew about a month or so before that I was coming, so I was excited, but like the week before I started to get nervous.”

She also said her parents were very supportive in her moving here and gave her words of advice.

“My parents told me: ‘You only have ten months to be out there, so enjoy these ten months because odds are you will never go back to the [United States],’ so I always try to keep that in mind,” Bach commented.

When asked if she had any influence in her decision to come here, Bach stated she did not.

“They decided what station that I would be going to and like the month before I got all of my information, where I was going, family I was staying with,” she said. “I rode this huge [bus] to the station, and a family had to pick me [up].”

Bach stated she really likes her host family she lives with. 

“They are really nice and supportive. They have rules, of course,” she said. “I really like them. They are always asking if I need anything or need help.”

When asked about her daily routine in Newnan, Bach said she was always doing something.

“I wake up, I eat my breakfast, I go to school then school till 3:30, of course. I go to cross country, like, I don’t know one and a half hours then I go home, I eat dinner and I sleep! It’s like that every day,” Bach explained.

Bach also mentioned that she notices how friendly people are in Newnan and how she feels welcomed by the people around her.

“People here are friendlier, like more open. In Denmark, if you were an exchange student, you would be special for like a week, and then it would fade, but here you are constantly said ‘hi’ to. I think people are more outgoing here.”

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Matthias Haarbeck in the hallway. (PHOTO, Bonomi)

Profile – Matthias Haarbeck (Germany)

By: Sophia Bonomi

Haarbeck is from West Germany, and came to America to learn English and to experience a new culture.

“America is different from everywhere else. I’ve heard you are really strange and I wanted to see what all is true,” Haarbeck commented.

When asked what the big differences between Georgia and Germany are he responded, “The streets, the people and all the fast food here.”

He explained that our food is more sugary than he expected, but the majority of people he has met do not reflect the stereotypes back home.

Haarbeck noted that he was so surprised at how nice everyone is here.

“When I was getting off the plane, the stewardess called me ‘honey!’ It was so strange. I don’t even know her!”

He told me that Americans would be surprised to see how rude the people are in Germany. Haarbeck, however, has fielded some interesting questions since he has arrived in America.

“There was a guy on my bus and he asked me if we still had a dictatorship in Germany. I said no, obviously.”

Back home, Haarbeck goes to school for only five hours a day. School starts at 7:45 and ends at 1:45. He has a new subject every hour, with a 25 minute break after the first two hours. He participated in fencing and horseback riding in Germany, and is interested in joining the drama club at NHS.

Haarbeck is enrolled in Henderson’s WWll class and commented that he enjoys both the class and the teacher.

“Henderson is my favorite teacher,” he says, “He is so funny and we have such different views of the war which is interesting.”

When explaining the differences in transportation, Haarbeck mentioned how Americans use their cars much more than they do in his home.

“Here,” he stated, “You have to go everywhere with a car, but back home, I use my bicycle to go to the store and to the city.”

He explained that everyone in his family has a bike, maybe more than one, “My dad has 4 bikes. A work bike, a normal bike, a mountain bike and a race bike.”

Haarbeck will be attending Newnan High School, for the entire year, and when he leaves, he hopes to be fluent in English and to be the same size he was when he left.

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Elisa Pope standing in the Media Center. (PHOTO, Bode)

Profile – Elisa Pepe (Italy)

By: Seth Bode

Elisa is Newnan’s new Exchange student from Italy.

Her favorite thing so far at our school is that “everyone’s so nice to me” she said.

Her favorite subjects here are Art and American History.

Elisa likes American music, rock being her favorite genre. In Italy, some people listen to traditional Italian music, while younger people listen to a lot of international stuff.  

While here, Elisa is interested in joining the swim team as well as joining the basketball cheerleading team. She commented that she loves going to our football games and getting all dressed up for them. Her favorite sport, however, is ice skating.

When describing the application process for the exchange student program, she mentioned it involved a presentation and photo collage about herself. Coming here, as she put it, was “exciting, but scary.”

She was never nervous about her host family though.

“I was sure they were good people”, she explained, and now that she’s lived with them for a little over a month, she said that “ I love them” and that “they are really nice.”

On the recent three day weekend, Elisa’s host family took a trip to New Orleans. The trip was one of her favorite things she has done since coming here. She commented that “it was really, really cool!”

Her favorite American foods are biscuits and hashbrowns.

When asked about “real” Italian food, Elisa explained that “it’s completely different” from the Italian food on this side of the ocean.

“It’s really healthy, and there are a lot of vegetables and carbohydrates,” she said. Italians eat a lot of pastas, breads and pizzas in Italy, “We don’t eat a lot of meat [just] fish, cow, or pork.” Elisa’s favorite Italian dish is Pasta alla carbonara, a pasta dish containing bacon and eggs.

Elisa has been learning english since age six, as it’s required in Italy. In italian high schools students choose learning pathways, “every person after middle school has to choose one,” Elisa explained. She chose a language pathway and is familiar with English, Spanish, and French.

Elisa grew up in a small village outside of Milan. She described her small village, “it’s really small, few houses” with “a school, and parks, and stuff like that.”

Elisa’s high school is in the city of Milan, so she takes the bus everyday running between the two. She explained that Milan is a big city “compared to Newnan, it’s really big.”  Elisa also mentioned that Milan is a typical city, full of shops and plenty of things to do.