Foreign Exchange Student Travels the World

Next Stop: Neenah
Foreign Exchange Student Travels the World
Photo by: Evan Olson
Photo by: Evan Olson

It is an aspiration of many to travel the world, but seldom are they given the opportunity to start as young as Pia Pellner. 

A foreign exchange student hailing from Hamburg, Germany, Pellner arrives in the states in August, set on immersing herself in a brand new culture. 

In truth, there is certainly some culture shock. Pellner is surprised by just how different things are in the states. From school life, food and the importance of public transportation seemingly taking the backseat in lieu of the heavy traffic-inducing culture of solo transportation.

One of the biggest changes in Pellner’s day-to-day routine is her school schedule. In Germany, 30 minute breaks and an hour long lunch are the norm, while here in Neenah, that 30 minute break is cut down to just 10 minutes to travel from one class to the next and the lunch period is cut in half. The adjustment to this new change in pace proves to be a hurdle she must overcome, but Pellner is beginning to adjust to The changes in her school days. 

Pellner mentions that, in the beginning, it was difficult to socialize. Initially feeling separated because the environment, a fact she fears may be given away by her accent, Pellner quickly begins to settle into the new setting.

“I need to get used to talking in English and talking with other people.”

She emphasized that, while it may have been hard to take that step, she finds that being able to be social in a new country is a skill that will help her fulfill her dreams in the future.

Wisconsin has German history in its roots. With Germans being the largest group of immigrants to settle in Wisconsin in the 19th Century, there are plenty of German traditions that Wisconsin strives to hold on to. According to Pellner, the state has some work to do. She articulates that many of the beliefs about German culture held in Wisconsin are, for the most part, untrue. Mentioning Wisconsin’s attempt at German cuisine is nearly a sore subject. It seems that the German state is a far cry from Pellner’s home country. 

Since coming to the states, Pellner is settling in with her host family, the Butlers. According to Pellner, the Butlers hosted a foreign exchange student before and were eager to take Pellner in. 

Pellner claims that it was simply the idea of traveling and exploring the world that led her to the foreign exchange program. Having older siblings that also participated in the program, Pellner follows in their footsteps, and begins her travels abroad. Her travels likely will not stop in the United States. Pellner expresses an interest in traveling to other countries that may often be overlooked in foreign exchange programs. 

Pia Pellner is taking a risk. She is stepping out of her comfort zone, flying to a new continent, and choosing to live a period of her life in an entirely new world.

“I want to see the world.” 


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