The Patriot In-Depth: Translating facts about German exchange


The German exchange students and their hosts enjoy canoeing on Lake Bird.

“You’re a sucker.”

“I’m going to throw you out a window, but there are no windows.”

Immediately upon getting in their shared canoe, junior Dani Long and her German exchange student junior Ingalisa Singewald began bickering like real sisters.

“It started off as soon as they got in the water. It took them about 20 minutes to get the hang of [the canoe],” German teacher Ashleigh Stall, who witnessed the bickering, said.

The canoe trip was organized by Stall as an activity for the German exchange students and their hosts. It took place on Sept. 29, and for Stall, it was “her favorite day hands down” with “perfect weather” as an added bonus.

Those who attended saw wildlife like bald eagles, watched some other JC students catch fish, and canoed up the Bird River in Gunpowder State Park for three miles.

According to Long, “Ingalisa was claiming she was telling me what to do, but she was telling me the wrong thing.”

However, Singewald claims that Long didn’t do what she told her to do.

“I told [Long] three times. I was always right,” Singewald said. “The teacher had to make us stop fighting.”

The two had problems maneuvering their canoe in the right direction, and at one point, they got stuck in a marsh.

This is just one example of the two girls’ quarreling. Both Long and Singewald openly admitted that they “fight a lot,” but mostly in a sisterly and teasing manner.

The two girls met last year when Long traveled to Germany over summer vacation and Singewald was her host. Despite the bickering, the two girls consider themselves good friends. This is something Stall has found to happen throughout her years working with the exchange.

“The friendships seem to be almost instantaneous, strong, and long-lasting,” Stall said.

Looking at the German Exchange Program

The German exchange has been an ongoing tradition at JC for the past 20 years according to Stall. It was one of the first exchange programs at JC. The German exchange does only one exchange per year with the German school. The exchange students this year are from the school the Gymnasium Josephinum. This year, 2013, the German students are here, and next year, in the summer of 2014, JC students will visit Germany.

“I just love everything,” Stall said in regard to the exchange. “Seeing my students using German is fantastic from a teacher’s standpoint.”

While the exchange is here, German classes get to converse with German exchange students and practice the language with people who speak it as their native language.

“I love seeing my students’ reactions and seeing the Germans’ reactions to things in America,” Stall said.

This year, there are 16 German exchange students visiting America.

For exchange student and sophomore Lina Ellert, her reason for visiting America is “to see America and how Americans live and to improve my English.”

The exchange students’ first trip was to visit New York City, where they saw attractions like the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, and Times Square.

Ellert described New York as “amazing” and said that “everything was huge and fast.”

Then, the students arrived in Maryland by train on Sept. 23 in the evening and met with their host students for the first time. Many JC students made signs to hold to welcome their exchange students when they got off the train.

During their stay here, they will visit a number of American tourist destinations including Lancaster, Philadelphia, Washington DC, and Annapolis. They will also visit Vice Principal for Academics Gary Scholl’s house for a lesson on Native Americans. The students will be in America for Oktoberfest and the Day of German Unity, which are both national holidays, as well as for Alumni Weekend here at JC.

Spending time together


One of the largest parts of the exchange is the time exchange students spend with their host families.

Senior Jessica Clingerman and Ellert spend time together as exchange partners painting their nails, going to events like the Fellowship of Christian Atheletes’ corn maze and visiting the waterfall at Rocks State Park.

Long and Singewald have also enjoyed themselves by going to the FCA corn maze. According to Singewald, “it was fun for the first half an hour in the maze, and then, it was scary, and not fun.”

In addition to the canoe trip and the corn maze, Long and Singewald attended Fallston High School’s Homecoming Dance together with a group of Long’s girl friends.According to Singewald, while they have dances in Germany, Americans dancing is very different and there is less food in Germany.

Other exchange students are busy doing other things. Senior Alex Kane and her exchange student and sophomore Jennifer Wojtala are busy going to the beach, shopping, and eating at Sweet Frog.

“I thought [having an exchange student] was going to be awkward, but … It’s just like having a friend stay over for a long period of time,” Kane said. “We like to play Yatzee and Scrabble together, and we both love watching Grey’s Anatomy and Revenge.”

Despite having exchange students, all students are still responsible for keeping up with their school work and normal responsibilities academically. This does have some downsides.

“I have to do my homework at night and she doesn’t have anything to do,” Clingerman said.

She also found that it is stressful having a student while also needing to work on college applications and other work during her senior year.


Learning cultural lessons

One of the challenges of being in a foreign country is adjusting to the culture.

For German exchange students, they said that everything in America is bigger. Other differences are that in Germany most people rarely use credit cards, most of their clubs are not held at school but at the local community centers, and that Americans tend to drive more than Germans, who have more access to public transportation.

For Clingerman and Ellert, this difference was as simple as how they eat pizza.

“It was really weird when she started eating pizza with a fork and knife,” Clingerman said.

Food was also a popular topic among the exchange students. Pop tarts and pretzel dogs were two of the favorite foods among exchange students. In fact, food is so important that Long and Singewald said eating is one of their favorite activities to do together.

In addition, one of the most obvious challenges is the language barrier.

According to Stall, the German exchange students’ English “is very good,” and “they are eager to learn,” but it is still a foreign language.

“Sometimes I can’t tell if she understands me because she speaks English very well, but I can’t always tell,” Clingerman said.

According to Singewald, American students trying to speak German “know what they want to say and can actually say it, but they sound English.”

Plans for the future

The exchange students will leave JC on Oct. 8 at 1:30 p.m. after a farewell dinner the night before. But this will not be the end. The relationships created during the exchange are often long lasting beyond the few weeks the students spend together.

According to Singewald, she doesn’t want to leave. However this summer, Long plans to visit Singewald for four weeks, not as part of the German exchange, but on her own.

Other students who can’t go back are still look forward to returning to Germany in some way in the future.

“I am hoping to visit Germany through a study abroad program in college. I wouldn’t go on the exchange this year because I know there are better study abroad programs in college, but if I had the money, I would definitely go again,” Clingerman said. “It’s a wonderful program.”

Caitlin Wolfarth is a Lifestyles Editor and Hope Kelly is the Editor in Chief for The Patriot and