Foreign Exchange Student From Germany Enjoying His Time in the U.S.


Judith Boyadjian

Henrik Ronneberger is a senior German exchange student that came to Bullard High School for the 2022-23 school year. He describes himself as a bright person, expressing that he is “Awake, always curious, interested to learn and explore new, and welcoming but also just a bit clever.” The Bullard Charger had the opportunity to interview Henrik and get great insight into his experiences, old and new!

To start, Henriks mother saw an article in the newspaper about this exchange program and applied only a week later.  He decided that “If I don’t even try my chances here, I am going to regret this decision forever!” – I mean, I had nothing to lose; only to gain.“ He luckily made it in and got to engage in the opportunity. He seeks to bring diverse cultures closer together. Creating awareness is key to showing his culture to others – and he has already learned so much about others.

Regarding the US, it is quick to notice how fundamentally different their school system is from ours. Henrik expressed how “It is hard to compare them. There are so many differences on every level that one just must experience both.” In the US we work on a 6-7 period system, meanwhile, in Germany, they work on block schedules. Because of this, Henrik feels that it can get quite boring, but on the other hand, each teacher having their classroom is pleasant to him.

“The United States of America is known as the new world. And I wanted to see the new world. Experiencing something other than your own culture is never bad for your personal development.” Henrik expressed. He understood how being around strangers for an entire year could change you as a person and held onto his dream of seeing LA, The Golden Gate Bridge, and eating burgers on the Pacific Coast. Taking on the exchange program in the US would provide these experiences.

Henrik is from Flensburg, on the Baltic Sea coast with a population of 100,000. Their beautiful harbor has played a significant role in their history since 1284. If he had to show us one place it would be the old city center with very narrow streets and houses that he would hit his head every time he would walk through their doors.  There are also wonderful restaurants with local seafood.

He proclaimed, “While already being at our harbor we would need to see our maritime museum. I am also very proud of my school, which has been around since 1875 and sits on top of a hill in a beautiful old building overlooking our city center. However, we cannot forget the most important thing – going to all our fantastic beaches of which we have a ton!”

Before this year he had only traveled within Europe, like Austria, France, Denmark, and mostly Sweden. Henrik had also not flown (apart from one time) so, it was quite an adventure for him. Traveling out of Europe, and across the Atlantic for the first time, then three separate flights alone just for America.

Happily, he expressed, “Nonetheless, I made it! As part of my English, Geography, and History classes we learn a lot about the US since 5th grade. However, before my exchange year started, I had to participate in a weeklong seminar to prepare for this year, including lessons about the United States.”

When asked what part of American culture he wanted to experience he expressed his love for the friendliness and easy solutions to everyday problems, stating, “I remember that it took only about 30 minutes after I entered the US for some stranger at the airport to ask me how my day was and where I was going. I am 90 percent sure that you would never see anything like that in Germany anywhere.”

Moving to a foreign country is no simple feat, your personal life also comes along the journey. Living with a host family is an inevitable part of an exchange year. Henrik professed, “First, you cannot just take everyone in your family with you. But most importantly, this is exactly what this experience is all about – getting fully immersed in a different culture. And to leave your family and everything you know (friends, places, language, routines, etc.) behind is extremely scary.” Henrik did point out though how it would be scarier bringing a stranger into your family. He respects every host family for taking this step and is grateful to every one of them since without a host family there is no exchange in the first place.

Even after only half a year, he would already consider his host family his second family. He expressed how “It is incredible how quickly bonds can be made and how quickly everything just becomes normal. I want to keep those connections even after I left for Germany again. And I do not think there is any way that would not work because they are part of my life now.”

His favorite subject to study is physics, which he plans on pursuing, but here at Bullard, he stated that his favorite subject must be cinematography (“Knight Watch”). He finds the class to be so much fun working with the team and Mrs. Quiring. While the workload changes in each of his classes he explained how in this class, “Of course, you need to know how to edit and edit fast because we are always on a time crunch. But it is so different from my other classes and therefore so worth working for.”

After school, most of his time is spent with his host family. He expressed how “In such a short time we already accumulated so many fun memories that will last forever! Especially on the weekends when we explore California together. And I am fortunate to have already seen so many amazing cities, and landscapes and get to experience these wonderful adventures and experiences.” And with a new world comes traveling

“Of course, I would still like to see a lot of California. Just last weekend my host dad and I traveled up to San Francisco for a day – and it was beautiful. But apart from weekend trips I just want to continue to spend more time together and live together like a family. And I am so thankful that we can do exactly that because I believe I have the best host family I could have! I am not saying that would be true for everyone. But for me it is – we could not fit together better!”

We here at the Charger hope to see Henrik get the best out of his experience in the US and with us at Bullard!