A Timber Creek junior has gone nearly 120 days without seeing his family. Although foreign exchange student, Benedikt Roeth, goes home every night, his real home is over 5,000 miles away in Germany.
With an ever growing populace of now over 3,000 students walking the halls of Timber Creek, it’s seemingly difficult for students to remind themselves of the thousands of stories every single one of them holds. With finals growing nearer and the end of the first semester, it is often forgotten that these students are creating a legacy of what Timber Creek stands for; a family, each from a different culture, with different goals and a different definition of “home”. In the minds of half of the students, moving hundreds of miles away from all they’ve ever known seems almost unimaginable; even being separated from their closest friends during a school lunch period is difficult. Yet, for Roeth, his move to Texas for the year has become an opportunity for learning, rather than a hindrance to his existence.
Now starting his junior year at Timber Creek, both programs, CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange) and Xplore, have given Roeth the insight to the daily lives of Americans. Leaving behind his friends and family in Duesseldorf, Germany, the exchange program has shown him the differences in the two countries, shaping his views.
“I [wanted] to know how the people in the U.S live besides the view that [I got] from the news,” Roeth commented, “It is very different from Germany. My school was way smaller and [didn’t have] any school teams. Although my school in Germany has [around] 300 students, and I thought that was a lot [until] I came to Timber Creek with over 3,000 students.”
Supported by his family as well as the two exchange programs, CIEE and Xplore, Roeth has been staying with a host family over his year spent in Texas, helping him to further his understanding of English, and the contributing factors that define students daily.
“My host family is alright. I [definitely] miss my friends and family, I was always pretty close to them and [they support] me completely in my wish to [come] to the U.S. My mom did [when] she was my age, and my brother did it last year,” said Roeth
Roeth got to be apart of his first thanksgiving experience and how the holidays are celebrated in the United States this year. Christmas in Germany is celebrated on Dec. 24 in the evening unlike Dec 25. in the morning for americans.
“[A tradition] for some families in Germany are hiding fake pickles in the Christmas tree and the kids have to find it and the kid who found it first gets an extra present,” explained Roeth.
Not only differing in the amount of students at Timber Creek or holiday traditions, Roeth also noticed a few other differences between the school systems. Each day is unique in that their schedule consist of a variety of different days, and it’s not unlikely to have the same class twice in a row. On Monday Wednesday and Thursday for Roeth he attended school until 4 o’clock, however on Tuesday and Thursday he would get out at 2 o’clock. In Germany he tended to have math class after math class for his Tuesday schedule. However adjusting to the block schedule at Timber Creek wasn’t difficult for him.
“My first day here was actually good and weird at the same time. I knew some of the people from the day before [during New Student Orientation], but I wasn’t in any classes with any of them,” said Roeth, “I was pretty quiet in my first class until they found out that I was an exchange student, [but after that] everything was easy.”
With the multiplying new students each year at Timber Creek, they become part of a legacy, no matter the factors that create them or brought them to the school. Walking in, they don’t become defined by their similarities, but their differences; creating an entire picture, regardless of where they call “home”. There is longevity in their memory, becoming a movement and belief that no matter where they come from, they will each become part of the entire Falcon family; even if only for a seemingly short year.
“I’m happy about [coming here] because through [it] I have found some awesome friends and [learned] a lot of the education in this country. It’s hard sometimes with the language [barrier], but [my host family] drives me around and helps me with the language. The most challenging part was [learning more of] the language, but with time you know what you can say and what not [to],” said Roeth, “I will be both sad and excited to go home because, I miss my friends and my family and can’t wait to see them again, but on the other hand I found awesome friends here who I don’t want to lose and I don’t know when I will come back to see them.”