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Lake Orion goes around the world

From left: Desiree Lennermark, Vanessa Limmer, Julia Grut, Anne Schnurpfeil, Otto Kaijala and Emilia Talvitie,. Photo by O. Shumaker (click for larger version)
January 16, 2013 - By Olivia Shumaker

Review Staff Writer

Lake Orion High School has welcomed six new student perspectives, in the form of exchange students, Julia Grut, Desiree Lennermark, Vanessa Limmer, Otto Kaijala, Anne Schnurpfeil and Emilia Talvitie.

Schnurpfeil and Limmer both come to Lake Orion by way of Germany, Schnurpfeil from the city of Wolfen and Limmer from Haar, a small town near Munich.

Both are juniors, and agree that the schooling experience at home is very different than Lake Orion. In fact, the German high school experience bears more similarity to American colleges than high schools.

They have different classes every day on a weekly cycle that lasts the full year, which are run much like college courses—the teachers rarely rehash old material and students rarely if ever receive a copy of the content they discuss.

Schnurpfeil, for one, was inspired to try being an exchange student by the stories of former exchange students, and the desire to try stepping out of her everyday life at home. She has done just that since coming to the U.S. She has joined the cross country team, attended Homecoming, went Black Friday shopping, had her first Thanksgiving, and has a laundry list of other experiences.

"I only hoped that my family would be one with a horse," Schnurpfeil said. "Although they don't have a horse I am very happy to have two dogs."

Limmer, too, had many great American experiences, including eating barbecue, visiting Chicago and watching football games. She hopes to walk away from the experience with better English skills and a greater knowledge of American history and culture. She is a self-described history and politics fan, but also wanted to visit the U.S. for another reason.

"I wanted to go to the country of Broadway," Limmer said. "I love musicals."

Lennermark and Grut, both juniors from Sweden, have had similar schooling experiences at home in Orebro and Lidingö (an island near Stockholm) respectively.

In Sweden, Lennermark explained, high school is called gymnasium and consists of only 10th through 12th grade, with different classes every day.

At Grut's school, students picked a program connected to what they plan to do as adults, such as a food program, a social science program, a music program, and others.

Grut was inspired by her mother and grandmother to try the exchange student experience, as both women were exchange students in the U.S.

Since arriving in the U.S., Grut has visited New York and Florida, and has taken part in a Halloween party and joined the ski team, continuing the sport she practiced back home. Above all, though, Grut hopes "to experience one of the best times of my life."

Lennermark, too, has had her fair share of American moments, such as going to Greenfield Village and traveling to Pennsylvania.

Lake Orion bears some resemblance to her home in Orebro. Her hope is that living in the U.S. will give her more curiosity about the rest of the world.

"It seemed like a great experience—to meet new people, see a new culture and a different place on Earth," Lennermark said.

Finnish students Kaijala and Talvitie share similar backgrounds with the other exchange students, and like the others, their native schools do not offer sports and they are enjoying playing sports here.

Kaijalachose to come to the U.S. because his father and brother were both exchange students here and suggested that he try it.

These students will in our midst for the next few months. Let's make them feel welcome

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