Semester in Cincinnati: Q&A with sophomore Sarah Hofmann on studying abroad

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Michael Scott Egan

Sophomore Sarah Hofmann rounds the corner to finish the St. Xavier Cross Country Invitational. Hofmann has been running with the team since she arrived two weeks before the start of school. “It definitely makes it easier to have people around you to help you in school and get into this completely different culture. They have helped me feel at home,” Hofmann said.

Tori Swart, Broadcast Editor-in-Chief

Students often travel for “broadening” reasons- either “broadening” their understanding of other cultures, “broadening” their knowledge base, or “broadening” their adventures.

The same goes for sophomore Sarah Hofmann, an exchange student from Stuttgart, Germany. She spoke on her experiences so far in the U.S.

Q: How did you first have the idea of studying abroad?

A: Lots of my friends in Germany did the same thing, so I thought it would be fun to do too. I looked at the hundreds of travel organizations and chose TravelWorks. Then they helped me to find my hosts, the Dobrozsi family.

Q: Why is studying abroad during sophomore year such a big trend in Germany?

A: When you are a junior, it’s just too hard to catch up on all of the things you missed while you were traveling. In senior year you are graduating, so you can’t go to another country during that year. As a freshman, you are too young to study abroad. Sophomore year is just the perfect time.

Q: What was your first reaction when you arrived?

A: I was like, “Woah, everything is so big!” The cars, the streets, the houses, everything is big. Even the pancakes- I had pancakes when I got here. But I was really happy because everyone was so nice.

Q: What was your first day at cross country like?

A: My first day at cross country was exhausting. I came home and was like, “how am I going to do this?” But you know, I got into a rhythm and it got to be a lot of fun. I love the team, and I love the girls. I’m really happy that I know all of them.

Q: What differences have you noticed in the weather here compared to Germany?

A: It’s a lot hotter and more humid here, which is hard when you run cross country. I kind of got used to it with running, but I’m glad that it’s fall now. We’re getting to a little colder season. But in Germany it doesn’t get as cold in the winter; our minimum temperature is 20 degrees. I’m a little nervous to experience the American winter.

Q: How was your first day of school?

A: It was really stressful because this school is really big. I had to find all my classes and there were so many people, but I liked it since it was really different.

Q: How did you learn English so well?

A: I have learned English in school from first grade on. In Germany, I go to a bilingual school, which means I have Biology, History, and Geography in English. The teachers are Germans who have learned English, but all of them have lived in America or England for a while, so their English is pretty good. I think it really has helped me now that I’m here. I’ve actually noticed that I think in English now. At the beginning, sometimes it was difficult, if you don’t know a term or word or something, but it’s okay now.

Q: How have your parents reacted to being away from you for so long?

A: My mom is really supportive because she did the same thing when she was my age. My dad is really sad, but he’s doing okay. I Skype with them every three weeks.

Q: What are some of the differences you have noticed between American and German culture?

A: In America, everything’s bigger, but also the people in America are a lot more open. Everybody’s really nice. For example, when you see someone here, you just greet them. That’s not something you do in Germany. I like that. In Germany, you can’t choose you subjects in school, and you don’t change classes- you always have the same people in your classes. You also have a different schedule every day. You have a lot more subjects, but it’s not as fun because you don’t have electives.

Q: What is the most important thing you have learned so far?

A: I’ve started to merge into American life and culture, which I think is really interesting. But I think I’ve learned to appreciate some things at home. When you don’t see your friends and family for a while, that’s when you actually start to appreciate them- I think that’s really important. It’s also really interesting to be so far away from home for so long and experience a completely different culture. I love it.