From Jena to A2


At first, Caspar Laute seems like a typical high school student. However, upon getting to know him, you will find exactly the opposite to be true. He is an exchange student from Germany who traveled to the US for two weeks at the beginning of April.

Laute, 15, is from Jena, Germany, a city which has a population of about 110,000 and is located near the center of the country, in the state of Thuringia. He traveled to Ann Arbor with 14 other students through a program called USA For You, in which students travel to the United States and stay with host families. The students do community service and take English classes while visiting the US.

“What I’ve seen here is not the same, but it’s not really different,” Laute said, comparing similarities and differences of life in Germany versus in the US. “When you say ‘I want to do that,’ you can do that in my host family.”

“One big difference is the size, it’s way bigger here than the schools in Germany, and in our school, we are a big school, and we just have 300-400 people in one school,” Laute said, recalling a difference about education. “I don’t know what they are teaching here, but for example, we don’t have a school newspaper. [We don’t have] an official sports team, but you can play in the afternoon there. We don’t play against other schools, it’s just for us, when we want to. I like the computers, they are way better than ours. ”

USA For You is an exchange program that German students can apply to, and if they are accepted, they get the opportunity to travel to the United States in groups of 15. The students learn to speak English, live in host families, and they go sightseeing and take part in charitable projects. It costs nothing for students to apply to or take part in these trips.

At the end of a two-week trip to the United States, it feels good to be home. “I am looking forward to being home and to see my friends,” Laute said. “One day we are going to go with our class on a trip the whole week.”

However, it’s definitely not an experience to be forgotten. “I think I will miss everything here, and I will miss speaking English with everyone,” Laute said. “And I will miss my host family, of course. I’ve seen a lot of things here in Ann Arbor, it was fun.”