ST. MARYS — It’s Florian Hau’s first time in the United States and the teen is soaking up his experience in America.
The 15-year-old German exchange student has been learning English since he was 8. Ever since his older sister, Julia, returned from her exchange trip to St. Marys, Hau said he knew he wanted his own American experience.
Hau is from a small town outside Essen, in western Germany. It is a lot like St. Marys in size, he said, but the people are different.
“In Germany, the people don’t go to someone and say, ‘Hey,’” he said. “They’re not so open with other people.”
Although he has traveled within Europe, this trip was Hau’s first time on an airplane. He flew from Frankfurt to Chicago with one other exchange student, but for the flight from Chicago to Columbus, he was alone. Hau admitted to being a little nervous before the plane took off, but said it was fine once they took off.
Hau is staying with Jeff and Linell Hertenstein, parents of Megan Hertenstein, who attends Memorial High School. He Skyped once with them before leaving Germany, and said although he was nervous to meet them, they were nice when they picked him up at the airport.
He will be attending Memorial High School for the 2013-2014 school year, and is taking classes at the junior level even though he is the same age as most freshmen. The classes he is taking in St. Marys are similar to what he would be studying in Germany, he said. One main difference is in Germany, students have different classes each day.
His favorite class is government, where they are currently studying the four types of governments. He also enjoys math. He said he thinks academically, school is a lot easier here, but it is a challenge for him because of the language barrier.
“I think it’s easier but at this moment it’s, for me, hard because now I’m (still learning) the English language,” Hau said. “But I think after three months, it’s easier.”
He has made plenty of friends already through his classes and soccer, and likes the friendliness at MHS. His sister, Hau said, came home with all kinds of pictures from her time here, and Florian was especially interested in the athletics. His sister did track and swimming at MHS, which is a big deal because students in Germany can only do one sport per school year.
Hau has already joined the JV soccer team as a midfielder and plans on playing basketball and tennis.
“I play soccer in Germany but in my free time, I love to play basketball and tennis,” Hau said.
Hau said he is also excited to go to football games, which is a sport they don’t have in Germany.
Before Hau leaves, he hopes to see an NBA game.
“My dad and I love basketball, and the NBA is the best league in the world,” he said.
His favorite player is Kobe Bryant.