German student will have a hard time saying goodbye
Fabian Hahn came to the United States from Dormagen, Germany a suburb 15 minutes from Cologne not knowing exactly which host family he would be living with.
Scheduled to stay with one family, his plans fell through while he was in New York City, only one day before his tentative arrival in Faribault County.
However, after a little persuading, the Schimek family, of Easton, agreed to host Hahn for the first few weeks of his stay.
“Our daycare provider asked us because she knew our son was the same age as Fabian,” says Theresa Schimek, Hahn’s host mother. “We knew we weren’t going to be busy with harvest yet, so we agreed to be his Welcome Family.”
That said, when the time came for Hahn to move in with his new host family, he did not want to leave the Schimeks.
“I had never lived on a farm before and I had never lived with a brother before,” Hahn says.
Lukas Schimek, 15, is the oldest child in his family; that is, until Hahn, who is three days older, moved in.
The two boys are in 10th grade at United South Central in Wells. Although they only have one class together, physical education, it is apparent that they are inseparable.
Last weekend, Nov. 22-23, the boys helped Dean Schimek, Hahn’s host father, clean out a barn that houses more than 400 cattle.
“It is very exciting to do something completely new,” Hahn says of his time living on a farm. “I’m out there with my host brother and we have so much fun.”
Hahn and Lukas continued to joke about all of the things they had done together. The list includes pulling one another on a sled using an ATV, watching movies together in the ‘man-cave,’ and last weekend, they even made a catapult.
It is the small adventures that Hahn has taken while living with the Schimeks that he will miss the most when he leaves in early January.
“I will just miss the funny stuff that I?do with the host brother and dad,” Hahn says with a grin.
“They really like to tease each other,” Theresa adds with a smile.
His host sisters, Claire, 6, Sophia, 3, and Josette, 1, will also be sad to see him leave especially Josette, who wants to sit with Hahn whenever he is around.
Hahn signed up to take part in the exchange program for only five months. He wanted to come to America, but he did not want to miss 10th grade in Germany.
“Tenth grade is not required in Germany, but I did not want to get behind while I was over here,” Hahn explains.
Luckily, Hahn’s teachers have agreed to let him work on his German while his peers work on the material taught at USC.
“I’m glad to do my German homework though. The 10th grade geometry here is like sixth grade in?Germany,” he adds.
Although Hahn will only be in the United States for a short stay, his primary intention for coming to America was to familiarize himself with the language and culture.
In the future, he hopes to become a pilot for the Lufthansa airline in Germany.
“That’s why I wanted to come to America in the first place,” he explains. “I?can say to the airline that I have learned to take care of myself and I don’t need as much help as the others.”
Hahn later adds that out of everything he has learned while living on a rural, southern Minnesota farm, he most treasures his new sense of independence.
“When they are out in the barn or farming, we make our meals and clean up afterward,” Hahn says. “Instead of having my parents do those things, I’ve learned to take care of myself.”
Hahn will be returning home to his mother, Petra, father, Hermann and his older sister, Elisa, 21.
He will also be returning to his favorite sport, fencing. In fact, Hahn holds a national title he is ranked third for fencing in the 14-year-old age group in Germany.
Because there are a lack of fencing opportunities in the U.S., he decided to find out how well he could compete in traditional American sports.
“I?wanted to see how the sports are different,” he says. “I’ve learned that here, everyone is more serious; they listen so close and pay attention.”
Hahn was a kicker for the USC Rebels JV team last fall.
“Of course that didn’t put me in the game very often, only in the last 10 minutes if it’s clear we will win or lose,” Hahn says. “But it was very exciting to go out there.”
He enjoyed playing football, but he is most looking forward to basketball season.
“I?thought I would like football more, but so far, I like basketball more,” says Hahn, after only a week of practice.
He will not be able to play a full season, but he is glad to have the opportunity to try American sports.
“It is just very different here; the sports are different and so is the lifestyle. There is so much space like, I wouldn’t be able to use a catapult in Germany,” says Hahn, while laughing with his host brother a sight that has become all too common between the best friends.