Humans of Blair: A guest for a whole year

Sept. 19, 2014, 11 p.m. | By Harini Salgado | 6 years, 6 months ago

"We visited Washington, D.C. It was awesome. You could see all the monuments!"

Tall and blonde, Julia Spies seems like a fairly typical Blair sophomore—except for her German accent. Spies is a German exchange student who will be attending Blair for a whole year. She is studying in America through AFS, an organization which has been coordinating exchanges for over 65 years.

Photo: Julia Spies has a year to explore the halls of Blair and American culture.

Coming to the U.S. has been an exciting but strange experience for Spies. One thing that overwhelmed her was the size of Blair. "My school in Germany is a lot smaller. I got lost [at Blair] the first few weeks, every day," she remembers. Not only does Spies have to deal with a completely new place, she also has to get used to a different education system. "We have a different schedule every day and our classes are only 45 minutes long," she says of her school in Germany. The school day is a lot shorter in Germany as well. "We only have school in the afternoon once or twice a week. Usually school starts at 7:45 and usually ends at 1," she says. "But," she adds, "We have a lot of homework." She also gets to meet a lot more people at Blair. "We have class with the same people every day for the whole year," she says.

Spies has been able to experience American culture through her interests. "I really like sports and I hope I can see a bit of what sports are like here," she states. She plays handball in Germany but is not on the team at Blair. She does run cross country, though. "I think I came a few days after tryouts [for handball] and I went jogging on my own in Germany so I really wanted to try cross country," she explains. She has also noticed a difference in how much school itself is involved in activities. "In the U.S., sports are more a school kind of thing and in Germany, it's more outside of school," she reveals. She says the same thing happens with other activities as well.

Other than attending school, Spies also has had the opportunity to play the typical tourist. "I love traveling and everything so it was a great idea to come here!" she says. "We visited Washington DC. It was awesome. You could see all the monuments!"

Blazers interested in studying abroad can visit the AFS website to find opportunities. There are several local scholarships available, and there are several full paid scholarships available through the Department of State, such as the Congress-Bundestag, YES Kennedy-Lugar and NSLI-Y scholarships.

Tags: foreign-exchange students Julia Spies

Harini Salgado. Hi! My name's Harini Salgado. My family is originally from Sri Lanka and I lived in Singapore for three years when I was younger. I'm really excited to be one of the Online Entertainment Editors this year because I love keeping up to date on … More »

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