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Exchange students Higor de Resende from Barretos, Brazil; Rodrigo Cardoso from Goiania, Brazil; and Silke Lührs from Hannover, Germany, talk over pizza about their experiences in Door County. / Heidi Hodges/For the Door County Advocate
Rodrigo Cardoso from Goiania, Brazil; Higor de Resende, Barretos, Brazil; Silke Lührs, Hannover, Germany; Long 'Odelia' Yixuan, Shenyang, China; and Celina Reinhold, Frankfurt, Germany are Sturgeon Bay High School's foreign exchange students this year. / Heidi Hodges/For the Door County Advocate
Southern Door exchange student Lea Bürger from Hannover, Germany, listens to her fellow exchange student Lara Wagner from Osterwieck, Germany, talk about her experiences in Door County.

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This school year Sturgeon Bay and Southern Door high schools are hosting nine foreign exchange students.

As in past years the Door County Advocate sat down with the students to talk about their classes, the holidays, homesickness and overall experiences in Door County.

Sturgeon Bay

This year Sturgeon Bay is hosting five exchange students: Higor de Resende, a senior, from Barretos, Brazil; Rodrigo Cardoso, senior, Goiania, Brazil; Silke Lührs, junior, Hannover, Germany; Celina Reinhold, junior, Frankfurt, Germany, and Long “Odelia” Yixuan, Shenyang, China.

Reinhold, Lührs, Long and Cardoso came to the United States through the International Student Exchange.

De Resende is part of the Rotary International Youth Exchange.

Holidays

For some of the students the holidays brought new experiences.

“I stay here for the holidays ... For New Year’s I went to the Polar Bear Club and jumped in the lake,” de Resende said. He dunked his entire body in and couldn’t feel his hands and feet for a while after the plunge, he said. De Resende is staying with Shaun and Susan Melarvie.

Cardoso went to his host mother’s parent’s house in Ohio for Thanksgiving. He is staying with Steve and Ashley Schink.

“It was funny. A very flat region,” he said of Ohio.

Lührs and Long, who share host parents, Lori and Steve Nelson, stayed in Sturgeon Bay for Christmas.

For Long Christmas and Thanksgiving were uncharted territories in many respects.

“In China we don’t have Christmas or Thanksgiving either. I just know a little bit ... you guys always eat turkey for Thanksgiving and always do Christmas presents,” Long said. “This is the first time that I do real Christmas. Yeah, it was awesome. Everything is new for me.”

Opening presents was the best part for Long.

She and Lührs received clothes and handmade quilts representing Door County and Wisconsin.

“New Year’s Eve was a little different,” Lührs said. People will go out into the streets and set off fireworks in Germany.

Both Lührs and Reinhold noted that they celebrate Christmas on Dec. 24 in Germany.

School

Some of the classes and extracurricular activities are new.

“We have lots of classes here that we don’t have at home. I wanted to try something new so I took psychology and sociology,” Reinhold said.

She also is taking Spanish, which is not offered back home.

“Math and science are super easy” at Sturgeon Bay, Long said. She joined the swim team in the fall and now is part of the math team.

In China, students can take a volleyball class but they do not compete against other schools, she said.

De Resende said at his school in Brazil they don’t have lockers and they cannot choose any of their 14 classes. In Brazil, he also takes exams every Saturday.

Southern Door

Southern Door High School is hosting four exchange students this year: Lara Wagner, sophomore, from Osterwieck, Germany, World Heritage International Student Exchange Program; Lea Bürger, junior, Hannover, Germany, International Student Exchange; Hye Rin Na, junior, Seocheon, South Korea, Rotary International Youth Exchange and Marcela Fernández, senior, Monterrey, Mexico, Northwest Student Exchange.

Wagner is hosted by Jim and Dawn Englebert, Bürger is staying with Chris and Lori Sampo, Na is hosted by Douglas and Liane Quakkelaar and Fernández is staying with Connie and Mike Baudhuin.

The four young women have delved into life at Southern Door taking part in school plays, classes and sports.

Bürger played volleyball in the fall.

“Well, I tried basketball, (but) it wasn’t something for me,” she said.

Wagner took show choir and participated in “Oklahoma.”

“I had so much fun,” she said.

Last semester Fernández took a food prep class.

“Because we don’t do that type of classes in Mexico and I think I learned a lot,” she said.

American history “is pretty hard for me,” Fernández said.

“I really like the gym class because in Korea we have a gym class once a month ... We are studying all the day so we don’t have enough time to exercise,” Na said.

English

Speaking English has become easier over time.

“Now sometimes when I Skype with my family I start to speak in English or I don’t remember German words,” Wagner said.

Some Southern Door students are very interested in learning some key words from their foreign classmates’ countries.

“Students especially want to know swear words,” Wagner said.

Homesickness

Sometimes homesickness hits them hard.

“Especially when I’m sick, I miss my family so much,” Na said. Her mother was very ill last year and Na wanted to go home to South Korea “so much” to be with her.

Bürger didn’t miss her family much in the beginning because there was a lot to take in. Once the holidays rolled around so did the homesickness.

“For me when you came here it was so hard because you have to start out by yourself,” Fernández said.

She appreciates her family a lot more.

Wagner is probably the most familiar with Door County since her sister, Sina Wagner, came here as an exchange student here three years ago.

“For me it wasn’t a really a big surprise (coming to Wisconsin),” Wagner said, because she and her parents visited Sina when she was an exchange student.

Sina stayed with Jim and Dawn Englebert, the same couple who are hosting her sister.

Wagner had a surprise earlier this year when Sina came to visit.

“I was watching the basketball game of my host brother and suddenly she sat down next to me,” Wagner said. Only her host mother knew Sina was coming for a two-week visit.

Contact Samantha Hernandez at svhernande@doorcountyadvocate.com or (920) 743-3321, Ext. 112.

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