Laura Kern’s foreign exchange student experience across the country


Photo by Emma Urban

Senior Laura Kern studies in her favorite class, history. Kern enjoys history and helps her learn more about the American culture.

Senior Laura Kern is from Hamburg, Germany, and is studying abroad her senior year. Kern wants to see what life is like outside of Germany. She decided it would be a good opportunity to travel to the United States and finish her high school career somewhere different.

Kern has enjoyed her time in the United States so far. She thinks that it was hard to adapt to at first, but is still enjoying the opportunity she was given.

“Laura has been open to doing anything ever since she arrived. She has adapted very smoothly to the culture shock, but still remains distinctly German in her personality. Sometimes I feel like Laura is more American than me,” sophomore Penelope Corbett said.

The classes in Germany are set up differently than they are in the United States. In Germany, she only has a couple classes a day and does not feel as challenged there as she does here.

Kern’s everyday life has changed drastically because of the new surroundings. She has had to change the way she gets to places, because of the different ways of transportation and there are many different ways of learning in new ways she has never been taught before.

“In Germany, I like that everything is really close to each other, There is no need to have a car because of all the different ways of transportation provided for us. In Minnesota everything is so spread out and you need to have your own car to get places because there is not many ways of pubic transportation available for people,” Kern said.

“Right now I am taking algebra two, psychology, astronomy, orchestra, English and world history. In Germany, I would have 14 subjects and would have them all spread out through different weeks,” Kern said.

I came to the United States not knowing what to expect. I have heard a lot of good things about it and was excited for the opportunity I was given.”

— Laura Kern

Kern had to learn how to adapt to the new culture she was surrounded by. Everything is different when moving to a new country for a long amount of time. Kern had to get used to the new styles of food, clothing styles and adjust her everyday life to try and adapt.

“I came to the United States not knowing what to expect. I have heard a lot of good things about it and was excited for the opportunity I was given. I knew going into this that I would have a lot of rough times throughout the process with the things I had to leave behind in Germany. Adapting to everything once I came here was hard, but it was doable. The students here were different and the whole environment was more complex compared to what I had in Germany,” Kern said.

It is a big commitment for a person this young to move across the country for almost a year. Kern wanted the experience of being in the United States. It was an opportunity she just couldn’t pass up.

“It has been hard adjusting to an new everyday routine and not having my friends and family from Germany in it. I was nervous going into the school year because I knew nobody other than my host family. It can get hard sometimes being so far away from my friends and family because the only way of communication I have with them is over the phone. My experience has been great so far here and even with missing everybody in Germany I do not regret taking this opportunity to come here,” Kern said.

Kerns’s host family has been a huge part of her success in America. They have made her feel welcomed and support the decisions she has made throughout the last few months of knowing her.

“I admire Laura for being open to doing anything, whether it be Nordic skiing or doing tech for theater. I think that Laura is enjoying her time in America, but I think being here makes her appreciate her home in Germany even more,” Corbett said.

Kern has not gone one day regretting her decisions to expand her horizons and travel to the United States for the school year. This opportunity has given her so much more experience in life and she will forever remember and cherish as one of her favorite things she ever did. It can be hard traveling across the country and leaving friends and family behind but she has been able to get through it by having the comfort of her host family and the new friends that she has met on this trip.