Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 8.13.37 AMGerman and Scottish students explore academics and culture of UAHS

By Ellise Shafer, ’17

Every year, UAHS hosts multiple foreign exchange programs. Those most recently in the building were 26 German and 17 Scottish students during the month of October. They were quick to recognize the differences– and similarities– between their towns and Upper Arlington.

“It’s amazing [in America],” Johanna Lang, a German student from Rhineland Palatinate said. “[America is] so huge. Your school is bigger, the cars, the streets… I mean the streets are so big that your cars [look] so small.”

However, it’s not just the size of UAHS that the exchange students found different, but the academic structure. In Germany, 15-year-olds and older partake in vocational training, where they take classes that lead to the career they want to pursue, forgoing the steady curriculum of math, history, language arts and science seen in America.

“[In Germany] we have ten subjects and three of them are advanced,” Lang said. “You can choose what subjects you want to do more and the level is harder. For example, I [chose] English, French, and Geography [as my advanced subjects].”

Lang also added that she only has afternoon classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as compared to the typical American seven-hour school day.

Eva Primmer, a Scottish exchange student from St. Andrews, noticed this difference as well.

“[At UAHS] you’ve got more classes and longer days,” Primmer said. “But, [UAHS] has nicer facilities [than my school].”

Scottish exchange student Cameron Gray agreed with Primmer, stating that he too noticed the size and the quality of UAHS and its sports facilities. Another aspect Gray enjoyed was that he was not required to wear a uniform of a dress pants and a blazer.

However, the most surprising cultural difference to Gray and Primmer was the amount of students at UAHS who drive. Although in Scotland a license can be obtained at age 17, teenage driving is not as popular there.

“Nobody my age really drives in Scotland, there’s one person,” Primmer said. “Everybody drives [if they are 16 in UA], so that’s really different.”

Although general differences were abundant, exchange students did find similarities. For example, class size.

“The number of students [in the classes] is nearly the same,” Lang said. “A little more than 20 students, so 20 to 30 students in one class.”

Exchange students were also able to find common interests with their student hosts. Lang and junior Ellie Auch attended the Paul McCartney concert, while senior Colette Young took Primmer for a day of shopping at Easton Town Center.

Overall, both UAHS and exchange students have nothing but praise for the program, saying that it’s an experience they will never forget.

“It’s changed my life forever,” Primmer said. “I want to move [to America] now.”

As for seeing their international friends again, UAHS students will travel to Scotland in March and Germany in June to experience a new culture themselves.

Graphic by: Sarah Martin