Visiting student hopes to return to U.S.
By EVAN REID
NIAGARA, Wis. – Since October, 16-year-old Saskia Ammon has been a member of the Hereau family of Niagara, Wis. while she attends Niagara High School as part of the International Experience exchange student program.
Saskia is from Stuttgart, the sixth-largest city in Germany with a population of more than 613,000. The greater Stuttgart Metropolitan Region has a population of more than five million.
Saskia’s parents are Anja and Michael Ammon. Anja sells health insurance and Michael owns a sauna factory. She also has a 20-year-old sister named Larissa.
“I miss my family and friends, and all the little things I never thought I would miss that much,” Saskia said.
However, she is glad she took the opportunity to see another part of the world.
“It’s a good time to gather new experiences because I’m still young,” she said.
She is adjusting well to small town life, which she described as “quiet,” and said she admires the nature on display in the region. The emphasis that local culture places on hunting initially surprised her, as hunting is not nearly as popular in Germany. Another difference she noted was the long, cold winter.
“We have all four seasons, but it is warmer than here,” she said.
Food in Germany is generally healthier than food in the United States, Saskia said, and fast food is definitely more popular here in the United States. Some options were entirely new to her.
“Arby’s? I had never heard of that before,” she said.
Some of her favorite American snacks are grilled cheese and Lucky Charms.
Her host parents are Tela Hereau, a gymnastics instructor at U.P. Dance Academy, and David Hereau, a field mechanic with M.J. Electric. This is their first time hosting an exchange student.
Saskia also has a host sister, 12-year-old Mickhaelia, and a host brother, 11-year-old Nick. She recently traveled to Chicago to watch them perform in a dance competition, and said she took “700 pictures” on the trip.
Saskia said that she loves to travel, and her host family has taken several trips since she arrived.
During their Chicago trip, the group also stopped at the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville, Ky. and in Nashville, Tenn. to visit relatives of the Hereaus.
They also went to see David Hereau while he was in Fargo, N.D. for work. Saskia has also been to the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minn. and the Albanese Candy Factory in Merrillville, Ind.
A trip to a Florida, which will include Disney World, has been planned for May, Tela Hereau said.
Saskia will be in the United States until June, and is currently a junior at Niagara High School.
She said that her teachers are “very nice,” adding that less individual attention was given to students at her high school in Germany. She also enjoyed being able to pick her own classes, an option she hadn’t had back home.
In Germany, Saskia played soccer and spent time horseback riding, which is a passion of hers.
During her time in the United States she has played tennis and basketball, and is planning on joining the softball team this spring.
Saskia explained that in Germany sports are not associated with high schools in the same way they are here in the United States, which creates a difference in the school atmosphere.
“The school spirit is way better here,” she said.
In 2013, Saskia graduated from high school in Germany, and will attend Gymnasium after she returns. Gymnasium is a form of secondary school comparable to prep schools here in the U.S., she explained
Saskia is undecided where she wants to go to attend college, but is considering studying architecture. She also plans to continue traveling.
“I hope I can move to America someday,” she said.
Evan Reid’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.