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Schmidt comes from German town of 230,000

By Staff | Nov 9, 2014

Several families in the United South Central school district have welcomed exchange students into their homes this school year.

One student was not sure if she would find a family to stay with at all, but now, she will end up having two host families by the end of the school year.

Lea Schmidt, of Germany, found out on a Monday that she had a family to stay with while she participated in the exchange program. She flew out the next day.

“They were in need of places,” Ruth Heggen, Schmidt’s host parent, says.

When Heggen found out, she decided to participate.

“This was a week and a half before she arrived,”?she adds.

Schmidt admits she was beginning to get a little worried, and was relieved when she got the last minute call that she finally had a place to stay while she studied in America.

However, Heggen, who spends the Minnesota winters in a warmer area was to serve only as, what the exchange program calls, a Welcome Plan.

She would host Schmidt until another family in the school district became available.

“The family I?will stay with is the leader of the church youth group I go to,”?Schmidt says. “So I know the family already.”

Her new host family will be Dean and Sandy Youngbloom, who live in the same neighborhood as Heggen.

“She walks to school a lot and can walk to her piano lessons from here,”?Heggen explains. “So, it is nice that her new family is in the same area and Lea can continue to do those things.”

Schmidt is from Magdeburg, which is in the eastern part of Germany.

“The town is not too big,”?she says.

But, in comparison to Wells it is a much bigger city. In fact it is much bigger than anywhere around here.

“The population is around 230,000 people,”?she says.

Despite the huge difference in population, she does not think it has been too hard to adjust to living in a rural community.

“When I was little, we learned about English school systems,”?Schmidt says. “I have always been interested in how that works.”

This made her very curious to spend a year in an American school system to experience what she learned firsthand.

“I also wanted to improve my English,” she adds.

Schmidt thinks the classes are pretty similar to what she had to take at her school in Germany. But, the main difference is that here she can take more specific courses.

“Like here we have anatomy, but in Germany we would just cover that in an overall biology class,”?she explains. “Other than that, it’s pretty much the same.”

This has made it pretty easy for her to transition to Minnesota living.

She also spent three days in New York in an orientation camp which helped her learn a little more about what to expect and what not to expect while she studied in the United States.

While she was in New York, she met many other students who would be experiencing similar things this school year. In fact, some would have more similar experiences than she had expected.

“I met three German boys who I found out would also be going to a school in Minnesota,”?Schmidt says.

Then, on the first day of school at USC she met some of those German students again.

“I saw them at the office on the first day,”?Schmidt adds.

In Germany, she participated on a competitive cheerleading team which kept her really busy most of the time. When she wasn’t busy with that, she was spending time with her parents, Sven and Corinna.

“We just hang out, visit other family members,” she says. “I don’t have any siblings so it’s just us.”

And while she misses her parents, she admits she really hasn’t felt homesick.

“I’m just trying to enjoy my time here,” Schmidt says. “And, it wouldn’t make it any better to feel homesick if I was.”

The fact that she stays so busy while she’s at USC?probably helps her keep from missing home too much.

Aside from youth group, piano and homework, Schmidt has participated in and tried as many new things as she can.

“I?was in tennis,”?she says. “In Germany, we don’t have things outside of school like that so we just go home.”

She wants to try basketball and plans to participate in track during the spring.

In the meantime, she is helping with USC’s fall play The Addam’s Family.

“A girl I?played tennis with asked if I wanted to help with the play,” Schmidt adds. “It sounded fun so I thought I would try it.”

And she has been enjoying that experience, so she stuck with it. She is part of the stage crew and helps with backstage with set and props.

“I like helping with the play,” she says.

Overall, she has been doing her best to make the most of every second she gets to spend at USC.

“It is an exciting experience,”?she says. “I can’t really pick one thing, it’s the experience in general that has been so much fun.”

Schmidt will stay with Heggen until December when she will move in with her new host family. But, until then, she will stay plenty busy with all of her activities at USC.