Foreign Exchange students make the most of their American year of COVID

CJ Miller and Jenna Torline, Staff Writers

 This year and the last have provided us with many many tail spins and life changing events. For the four foreign exchange students at South, Rasmus Shultz and Philp Nolte from Germany, Reinoud Duinker from the Netherlands, Andoni Alonso from Spain, the school year has been even more challenging. For COVID social distancing reasons CJ MIller and Jenna Torline’s interviews had to be divided. Miller interviewed Schulz and Duinker while Torline interviewed Alonso and Nolte.

OPTIMIST: How are you in all of this?

The first response came from Duinker saying, “I’m great, I’m not sick.”

Shultz simply replied “I’m good too.” Miller asked about their home countries and how they were doing in general and with the pandemic. This sparked a bit of laughter as it has become a bit of a running joke that Europeans make fun of America for numerous political and social issues. Duinker talked about how stringent the lockdowns were at home saying “people went crazy.”  Shultz agreed saying, “Germany is fine,” but “people get tired of it,” referring to the lockdowns.

Nolte and Alonso both agreed, “It’s pretty cool here” while also acknowledging that it was “weird with COVID.” 

“Lockdowns are less strict in America” Nolte replied, he cited that it almost didn’t feel like a lockdown in comparison. Alonso agreed,  “People take things more seriously back home.”

OPTIMIST: Do you want to go back home?

Shultz said “no,” which promptly sparked laughter.

Duinker piggybacked on that saying, “here we have so much more freedom.” 

“I have a good life at home, but right now I don’t really want to go back,” Nolte said. Alonso nodded in agreement 

“It’s a different culture, and there’s a lot of new experiences,” Alonso added. “I hope to experience growth as a person” To this, Nolte agreed. 

What have the German students observed about their time in the U.S.?

 “People act very differently here then in Germany,” Schultz said, even joking that “people don’t smile in Germany.”

He went on to talk about voting and how it’s quite different here then in Germany, as in Germany “You vote what you vote for and that’s your private thing and you don’t tell anyone.”

 He continued, “I don’t know how my parents vote and they will never tell me.” 

OPTIMIST: What do you hope to gain from all of this? 

Shultz said he hoped to “gain an experience out of it,” so that he could have “something to take home.” 

Rein continued, and agreed about the experience and meeting new people was something that he had hoped to gain.  All four said they were happy with their host family situation in Bloomington.