Kathinka Nagel attending school in Morenci 2011.12.07

Written by David Green.

kathinkaThere’s an easy way to get a strong reaction from a German exchange student. Ask one simple question: “Do you miss good bread?”

“Yes, I do!” answered Kathinka Nagel of Germany. “Nobody knows what I’m talking about.”

There’s plenty of bread in American society, but the packaged U.S. varieties just aren’t the same as the dark, whole-grain breads common in Europe.

Aside from the bread, she’s enjoying the meals at her American home for the school year and life, overall, isn’t much different.

Kathinka is from the northern city of Bremen, with a population of half a million, but she lives on the edge of the city and farmland soon takes over the countryside. She attends a small, private school with about 90 students in a class.

Aside from her biology/physiology class in Morenci, she finds school work here easier than back home. Many of the terms she encounters in her science class would be challenging enough in German, she said, but they pose even more of an obstacle in another language.

Her year in the United States doesn’t count toward her schooling in Germany and she will have two additional years of study when she returns home.

When Kathinka decided to become an exchange student, she thought it would be wonderful to be assigned to a family in California or Boston, but instead she’s somewhere in between.

She might make up for that in the spring by joining a group of other exchange students on a trip to Los Angeles and the Grand Canyon. She’s also hoping that her family can join her in June to visit friends in New York City.

In the meantime, she’s thinking about a trip to Indianapolis to visit another German exchange student. That visitor happens to live near a German food store.

“Bread and chocolate,” Kathinka said. “And carbonated water.”

If she could stock up on those items, she would be all set for a Michigan winter.

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