Exchange students get to know Grandview
High schoolers from Germany, Spain say going to class is much different here
It didn't take too long for the foreign-exchange students spending the year at Grandview Heights High School to notice the differences in the school day between America and their home countries.
"We have nine different classes and we have a longer lunch period in Spain," said Daniel Picazo, who lives in Barcelona. "It makes for a longer day. I don't get home from school in Spain until 5 p.m."
Although Barcelona is Spain's second-largest city, Grandview High School is "a lot larger than my home school," he said.
Picazo said he wants to improve his English-speaking skills.
"I'm interested in working someday in tourism, and knowing different languages is really important," he said.
German is one of the languages Picazo can speak, which might be helpful in making Jannick Hiltrop and Celina Breitenborn feel more at home during their year in Grandview.
Both Hiltrop and Breitenborn are from Germany.
Hiltrop said he wanted to spend a year in America to improve his English and "because I wanted to learn about other countries and cultures.
"Being an exchange student is a good way to learn about other people and about yourself," he said.
At his school in Dortmund, classes are not all held every day. Three days a week, the school day ends at 1 p.m; the other two days, school lasts until about 3:40 p.m.
"In Grandview, there's more homework and not so much free time," Hiltrop said. "It's not so bad."
One of the things he likes best about Grandview is the number of stores and restaurants in the community.
"Here, everything you need is close enough to walk to," he said. "Back home, when we need something at the store, we have to drive 15 or 20 minutes."
Celina Breitenborn, who lives in Bremen, is not so fond of the American school day, where students attend the same set of classes every day.
"I like it more in Germany, where you don't have the same schedule every day. You know what day it is," she said. "Here, you have the same classes and the same studies every day -- you start to lose track of what day it is."
Breitenborn has visited America before, including a family vacation and to visit her sister, who also spent a year as an exchange student.
"I want to get to know more about the culture and way of life in America," she said. "I've never been to the Midwest before. I've been to New York, Miami and Los Angeles, so it's good to see another part of the country."
She said she plans to participate in as many activities as possible at the high school, including the soccer team and the fall play.
"I want to have all those kind of experiences while I'm here," Breitenborn said.
A fourth exchange student spending the year at the high school, Jacob Hamilton of Sweden, was not able to attend the interview session with ThisWeek Tri-Village News.