student experienced life in Germany


Austin Walton (last to the right) with other foreign exchange students.

Austin Walton is a senior here at SHS. However, he has not completed all of his schooling here, or even in the U.S. Walton completed a whole year of schooling in Germany last year. He became a foreign exchange student hoping to educate himself in the culture, language, and history of Germany. It turns out he was more successful than he thought he would be.

According to Walton, it was a rocky start in Germany. Walton says he did not make many friends for the first few months due to the bad reputation of foreign exchange students before him, and the language differences. Although the vocabulary and grammar he learned in German class within U.S. was helpful, he was not quite prepared to speak with his peers about pop culture or use the slang terms.


Culture is a big part of everyday life and Walton immersed himself in a new one. The German culture is very different from America’s. Sports are a very big deal here in the U.S, however in Germany sports aren’t that big of a deal, said Walton. People there also dress more professionally than in America, even high school students.


“I wore sweatpants to school one day and everyone gave me weird looks,” Walton said.


Living in Germany for 12 months means Walton had to spend many holidays without his family from U.S. He says he celebrated holidays with his host family like a normal holiday in America. In Germany, the government made many holidays,  but don’t seem to put as much emphasis on them as Americans do on their holidays.  


Although the main focus of Walton’s adventure was to speak German, he also spoke English while he was there. Many germans were afraid to speak to Walton because they did not think their lingual abilities were good enough to speak with a native. However, after a while people started to communicate with him and he made friends. Along with going to school in my Germany, Walton also acted as a teacher, he would help the kids in fifth grade with their English.


According to Walton, schooling in Germany was very different from schooling in the United States. Walton says in 5th grade through 10th grade students take 14 different subjects, and they don’t choose classes based on what they want to do in the future, sort of like elementary school in America. However, grades 11th and 12th are much like Southport. One of the biggest differences is there are no sports or extracurricular activities that go along with school.


Walton says he really enjoyed Germany, so much so that he plans on going back next summer to meet up with his host family.


“My favorite memory with my host family was when we went on vacation in Denmark. We went on a six-mile hike and did a lot of bonding and talking along the way,” Walton said.


He also wants to go to college in Germany, said Walton. Due to the fact he completed 10th grade there, it should help him get into school with less expensive cost. Walton suggests being a foreign exchange student to everyone. Walton learned a lot from this experience but what he learned in school wasn’t what left the biggest impression on him.


“One of the biggest thing about my experience was the opportunity to look at my country from an outsider’s view,” Walton said.