Catching some air
Max Iltzsche hasn’t used his translator app on his phone since the first week he arrived at United South Central.
He has learned to be more social and question people instead of instantly relying on his translator.
“I have learned lots of new American slang,” Iltzsche says.
He doesn’t feel like a foreign exchange student at USC anymore.
The German native admitted he was extremely overwhelmed at first, but settled in and feels like he belongs.
“People in Germany are nice, but nothing compared to the people I have met here,” Iltzsche says. “Everyone always asks me how I’m doing. The first day of school was better than I?thought it would be. I?didn’t know how people would react.”
At USC, Iltzsche has a 4.0 grade point average and is part of the choir, mainly because he wanted to go to New York City on the fine arts trip, and plays on the Rebels basketball team.
Iltzsche says Minnesota is quiet and relaxing compared to his hometown.
Dresden, Germany has about 500,000 people and is constantly loud and hectic, according to Iltzsche.
“There is so much pressure to do well in school back home,” Iltzsche explains. “It is nice to have relaxing days and be with friends all day and even after school with sports and other activities.”
Back home, Iltzsche lives with his mother, Katrin and sister, Nele, 15.
Iltzsche is extremely into being outside and being active any way he can.
He is also extremely into mountain biking, snowboarding and skimboarding.
“I really wish I brought my bike, but most people had cars and take the bus,” Iltzsche says. “I didn’t want to stick out.”
When Iltzsche is not in school he is on his bike or snowboard with his friends.
The parks he goes to have dirt jumps in an open field. Iltzsche and his biking group would race and practice new tricks about three of four times a week.
“The only thing I really miss about being home, other than my family, is going out with my friends and biking,” Iltzsche says. “I miss getting together with friends after seeing the Facebook posts about when they are meeting to race. Honestly, it’s not really dangerous, but not too safe.”
The Thomsen family in Wells, Iltzsche’s host family, didn’t even know what skimboarding was.
Paul and Mary Thomsen added another child to their already busy household. Iltsche joins Logan, 17, Tanner, 14 and Max, 5. The Thomsen’s also have two daughters named Lindsey and Brittany.
Iltzsche says he skimboards on holidays, mainly summer break.
“I have skimboarded in Norway, Croatia, France and Italy,” Iltzsche says. “You have to wait until the waves come in and the water is shallow. It is basically surfing on the beach sand.”
Iltzsche also enjoys editing his own videos which he records himself with friends and family.
He even bought a special camera to record some action shots in America.
“My host family and I have made some pretty neat videos,” he says. “I might want to look into editing videos as a possible career in the future.”
Iltzsche traveled to Kansas with his Mary and Max to see her relatives.
The German native admitted he prefers Minnesota to Kansas.
“It is great the Thomsen’s have such a large family,” Iltzsche explains. “There are always people to do something with and talk to.”
The biggest difference is being around a younger five-year-old, Iltzsche adds.
He says it was an adjustment at first.
“He has so much energy,” Iltzsche says. “I never had to play with preschoolers before.”
Iltzsche’s future is undecided. He might want to come back to America, but is not sure.
“I love my home, but I have had a great experience at USC,” Iltzsche says. “The school spirit and the activities make USC somewhere I want to be.”