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Foreign exchange student living with Winnebago family

By Staff | Nov 5, 2017

Blue Earth Area junior Alexander Reese spending quality time with his host family, Scott and Katie Reisenbigler of Winnebago on Saturday, Oct, 28. Already getting indoctrinated into American culture, Reese displays a very special baseball that was autographed by Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven. The adventurous exchange student has plans to visit Target Field next season.

Winnebago residents Scott and Katie Reisenbigler recently welcomed the first child into their lives. Interestingly enough, that child is not one of their own.

The newest addition to their family, Alexander Reese, happens to be an 11th grade foreign exchange student from Gttingen, Germany. Reese is current attending Blue Earth Area High School.

Looking into future adoption and foster care options, Katie Reisenbiglers believes hosting an exchange student for the first time would be a great learning experience.

“We don’t have any kids of our own, so he’s the first human we ever had to take care of,” quipped Reisenbigler, an avid dog lover. “It’s been very good. Alexander has a great personality and he’s really outgoing, funny and smart, and he’s very kind and delightful.”

Reese has been very eager to show his American host family some of the nuances of German culture. Knowing a thing or two about cooking, he tried his hand at creating a traditional German cake for the Reisenbiglers.

The name of the dessert Reese had in mind is called the schwrzwalder kirschtorte, or black forest cake. This tasty treat consists of several layers of chocolate sponge cake combined with whipped cream and cherries.

While his intentions were good, Reese admits he has some flaws as a culinary artist.

“I’m not a very good cook, but I try my best,” Reese laughed. “In the end, the cake didn’t turn out as planned, but it still had a good taste to it.”

Speaking of food, the exchange student is beginning to notice the wide variety of foods that are available within the American culture. Treats such as Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and chocolate milk, things many Americans take for granted, are not available in Germany according to Reese.

Another major cultural difference he has discovered during his United States adventure has been witnessing the incredible sense of pride most Americans have for their country. While it is very common to see United States citizens hanging the American flag outside of their home, this is a phenomenon that does not exist in Germany.

Furthermore, the playing of the Star Spangled Banner at sporting events has morphed into a nationwide controversy. From Reese’s unique perspective, these strong displays of American patriotism provide intrigue and excitement. In Germany, there is typically no pre-game sporting ceremony that involves the singing of a national anthem.

“I think there’s a different form of pride in this country. It’s really cool that they play the Star Spangled Banner and everybody sings before every football game.”

Despite all of the excitement that comes with studying abroad, foreign exchange students sometimes struggle with being so far away from home. For the precocious young German, this is not his first rodeo. Reese has already traveled to other parts of the world such as Great Britain, Spain, Italy, and Poland.

Interestingly enough, all of Reese’s three siblings, along with his mother Angelika, have all traveled to study abroad as well. As the young traveler explains, he was encouraged to explore the world by everyone in his immediate family.

“My mom traveled to Indiana for a year back when she was a sophomore in high school. She liked it very much and wanted me to try something like that as well.”

While Reese admits he misses home sometimes, he says the incredible opportunity to study abroad greatly outweighs the negatives of being away from his family.

“I miss my parents, but it’s not that bad, I thought it would be worse than it actually is,” Reese said. “I haven’t had any days where I’ve been super sad because I can still call them and I talk to them at least once a week.”

As fate would have it, Blue Earth Area High School has another German exchange student, Julius Holzer, currently enrolled in classes this fall. And wouldn’t you know it, both students have taken a liking to American football and both have found their niche as field goal kickers for the maroon and gold.

While both Germans had never played American football before, Holzer finds football to be far more exciting than the more internationally popular game of soccer. Reese however, holds a different opinion.

“I don’t think you can really compare the two. Both sports have aspects that I enjoy, so I like playing both sports,” Reese said.