From Germany to Georgia: 4,898 miles away from home


Isabella Keaton

Embarking on her new journey, sophomore Clara Smit traveled 4,898 miles away from home in Germany for new learning experiences and enrichment opportunities in Kennesaw, Georgia. Smit will return back to Germany after this spring semester ends.

Isabella Keaton, Reporter, Photographer

Traveling 4,898 miles away from home for five months seems like an impossible feat, but sophomore Clara Smit enthusiastically took this incredible learning opportunity. Eager to dive into the American culture, Smit traveled from Mainz, Germany and arrived in Kennesaw, Georgia on January 2.

“I want to learn about the American culture, improve my English—of course— and just try new things and have fun,” Smit said.

Undergoing the complicated process to become a foreign exchange student, Smit chose the foreign exchange student company Stepin. Not choosing a specific location, Smit landed in Kennesaw, GA.

Originally pitching the idea to her parents, they supported her decision and wanted her to experience new ideas and customs. Although the cost first triggered a hesitant response, Smit gladly volunteered to put up part of the total cost herself.

“My mom thought is was a great idea for me to learn new things, but the first problem was how much it would cost, so my father at first said no it was impossible. But then we talked more about it, and I said that I could help pay for it with my own money,” Smit said.

With curiosity running through her veins, Smit participates in Geometry, health, World Literature, and theatre this semester. Her favorite class, theatre, adds an exciting end to her “American day.” She loves how the class makes students connect and physically move around rather than just sitting around and studying.

Learning new things every second, she notices different characteristics present in everyone she meets. While attention does fall on new students, people seem incredibly enthusiastic about meeting Smit. She loves meeting new people and the new attitudes she attracts.

“I think it’s typical [for an] American to be like ‘Hi, how are you!’ all the time, and I guess a typical German wouldn’t be so enthusiastic,” Smit said.

Not feeling homesick quite yet, Smit communicates weekly with her mom, Christine Smit, dad, Wim Smit, and little brother, Ole Smit. She keeps up with her friends daily through social media apps like Snapchat and Instagram.

The Smit family encouraged Clara to experience a new “American” lifestyle. With time, Clara knows she will miss her family, but she talks with them each week explaining all of her new experiences.

“One of my other friends is a foreign exchange student also, she is in Canada right now, so we both wanted to do it together. My other friends were really supportive and excited for us,” Smit said.

While navigating through the halls of NC, Smit notices one major difference from school back home and school here in Georgia. At Smit’s school in Germany, one teacher switches from subject to subject with the same group of students all day and all year. Learning different subjects on specific days, Smit switched to a schedule that does not change daily.

“We have one class and we stay in that same class all day day with our teacher, and I think it’s better because you know that people a lot better,” Smit said.

With theatre as her favorite class, Smit loves the amount of creative classes available for students. NC allow its students freedom to choose which classed they would like to take, and Smit appreciates this privilege since her school does not offer these classes.

“I think a lot of things are really cool here, you can do a lot of different subjects and a lot of creative stuff, but in Germany we have to take math and science and literature, so here you just have so much more freedom,” Smit said.

Photo courtesy of Clara Smit
Both foreign exchange students and tennis players, Smit (left) and her friend traveled away from home for new life experiences. Wanting to participate in new activities, Smit also anticipates to join the Lady Warrior Tennis team this spring to remind her more of home.

Missing some of her favorite things from Germany, Smit craves her favorite food: pretzels. Bigger and fluffier in Germany, Smit claims the normal packaged American pretzels do not compete with her favorite snack back home.

“I love pretzels very much, but the ones here aren’t typical German pretzels. They are more soft and just better,” Smit said.

Returning to Germany after this semester ends, Smit cannot wait for the rest of her American experience. She looks forward to having tons of fun and making new English-speaking friends.