Oct. 2, 2006

German student enjoys travel, Minnesota

By Linda Scherer
Staff Writer

Verena Krause, an AFS student from Mitterfelden, Germany, is enjoying her stay in Minnesota with her Cokato host family, Joel and JoEllen Fasching.

Krause, a senior, is attending Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School on a scholarship from the American Field Service (AFS), a school-sponsored program.

The AFS program is offered in more than 50 countries across the globe. It is for one academic year, a semester, or trimester.

AFS students live with a host family and attend a local secondary school as a full-time student at no cost to them or their family.

Because Krause is here on an AFS scholarship, there are certain obligations that she is required to fulfill.

An example was last Saturday, when she toured the State Capitol building, and visited Fort Snelling. At the end of the school year, she will go to Washington, D.C. with a group of 60 AFS scholarship recipients, and she is looking forward to a tour of the White House.

Krause’s trip to the United States began with a flyer she found at school with information about the AFS program. Her mom thought it was a wonderful opportunity for her daughter, and the paperwork was sent in. Krause was both surprised and very excited when she learned that she was coming to Minnesota.

“I wanted the experience; a chance to improve my English and see what the life of an American family is like,” Krause said.

She loves to travel and, although she is only 16 years old, has traveled to many countries including: England, France, Austria, Czech Republic, Italy, Tunisia, and Croatia.

Someday, her estimate is about four or five years from now, she would like to be a flight attendant so that she can travel even more.

Arriving in Minnesota in early August, this has been her longest trip away from home, and the one she has enjoyed the most.

“I like everything here. It is a lot like home, except for the mountains. There are no mountains. It is weird because at home, I look out the window and there are the Alps. The Alps are on three sides where I live,” Krause said.

One of the reasons she has enjoyed her stay in Minnesota is because the Faschings and their two children Keith, 19, and AJ, a junior at HLWW, have made her part of the family.

They have taken the time to share their interests, and given her lots of opportunities to experience what life in Minnesota is all about.

Krause has always loved horses, going back as far as she can remember. She went horseback riding for the first time at 7 years old, as part of a birthday present that her mother gave her that included 10 riding lessons.

Staying with the Faschings has given her the chance to get in a little horseback riding because JoEllen’s brother, Doug Sawatzke, and his wife, Janell, have a hobby farm in Annandale with a number of horses. Krause is always happy to spend time there.

Keith works on a dairy farm in Waverly, but Krause isn’t quite as excited to go there. “I like to see a few less cows and a lot more horses,” Krause said.

The Faschings took Krause to the state fair, where she worked with AJ, a member of FFA through HLWW School. Both worked with the “Little Farm Hands” to show children how the food from the farm comes to the table. Krause enjoyed FFA and decided to join, too.

Being a football cheerleader back home in Germany, Krause was at a loss for words in describing her visit to the Metrodome and being able to see the Vikings play. Even though they lost 19 - 16, she still enjoyed every minute of it.

One of the purposes of AFS is to gain the knowledge and understanding of different cultures in the world. Those comparisons are being made every day by Krause. She has noticed a number of major differences in her life now in Minnesota compared to her home.

In Germany, there are many clubs available where the younger set can hang out. Those clubs stay open until early morning. Here in Minnesota, Krause finds her evenings end much earlier with not as much to do.

Although students in Germany are allowed to begin drinking beer and wine at age 16, and alcohol is legal at age 18, they cannot get a license to drive a car until they are 18.

Differences in the school are very apparent. Last year Krause had a total of 18 subjects and her school day began at 8 a.m. and ended at 12:40 p.m. Also, the schedule rotated so that her classes were not the same each day. She graduated last year from her German school at the age of 16.

This year, at HLWW, she has six subjects and a study hall, with the same schedule every day.

Homecoming week was a new experience for Krause. She still can’t believe she wore pajamas to school for homecoming week, with a lot of coaxing, and was glad to share the tradition.

When she returns to Germany in June, she will begin working at a bank in Bad Reichenhall. She will work in the office four days and go to school, as part of her training, one day a week.

She is learning every day what it is like to live in Minnesota. The only thing that she really dislikes is the weather,

“It is rainy, sunny, rainy, sunny. Every day the weather changes,” Krause said.

She does miss her friends back home, who she has known since kindergarten. Also her mom, Inge, her older brother, Konstantin, whose birthday was Sept. 28 (he is now 21); and an older sister Anna who is 18.

Along with missing her grandparents, she is really hungry for her grandma’s cakes. According to Krause, her grandma makes the best strawberry and apple cakes ever.

She will leave to return home in June. However, she is looking forward to being a flight attendant so that she can return and visit the friends and family she has met here.

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