Marcel P., 16 years old
Type of holiday: School exchange, year 11
Destination: Preston, Idaho (USA)
Population: approx. 5,000
Duration: 3 weeks

Marcel, what really made a lasting impression on you during your exchange?
Marcel: It was interesting that the whole region is completely run by the Mormons, who were very keen to introduce us to their religion. That was very memorable. We went to church every Sunday. But it didn’t last an hour like at home, but rather three hours. There was also an extra service for young people. We also went on a trip to a temple. Standing in front of such a huge building with all of the people in awe around you was pretty impressive. They just wanted to show us the temple, but they didn’t pressure us, they were very tolerant.

And what did you do during the day?
Marcel: During the day we just went to the high school as normal. It was really interesting to see how their school system is. There are some very big differences to our curriculum.

What did you enjoy most during your holiday?
Marcel: Oh, I can’t say exactly. We did so much. We started off in New York walking through the narrow alleys between the buildings, then went to Yellowstone National Park, got to know the Mormon culture and watched evening American football games. One true highlight was having a huge paintball battle for the first time with the whole group.

And how was the food? As unhealthy as you had expected?
Marcel: Funnily enough it was just as you see in American high school movies. We always drove to a fast food restaurant right next to the school with five people in an old VW van. Everyone at the school played either American football or baseball. As the smallest and skinniest I then always had to sit in the middle, while to my left and right there were always two boys with very broad shoulders taking up all the space.

Did you do or see anything extraordinary?
Marcel: We went hunting once. We weren’t allowed to shoot of course, but my exchange partner was allowed to. We hid in the reeds and then stalked about to shoot ducks. Unfortunately (or thank God) we didn’t shoot any. Our exchange partners had all been driving for a while already, that was completely normal.

And did the exchange help with your English?
Marcel: Quite honestly, yes, of course it was useful, but it hasn’t helped so much with school English. We always had a lot of contact with the other Germans while we were there and never had to just speak English. But the exchange was a very positive experience for the group dynamic. I would definitely recommend doing it!