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Photo by Jackie Grumish German student Julia Rehbein, 16, is studying one year in New Richmond as part of a foreign exchange program. Rehbein said she decided to come to America to better her English, which is required for graduation in Germany.

German exchange student enjoys high school facility

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German Julia Rehbein decided she wanted to study abroad after bonding with a foreign exchange student from New Zealand.

"She told us how fun it was and got us excited about it," she said.

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That's when Rehbein, 16, and her friends decided they wanted to come to America for a year of schooling.

"My father didn't want me to go," she said. "I got all the information and gave it to him, but when I asked him if he read it, he never did. Finally he did."

Rehbein's father wasn't against his daughter leaving the country, he was against any negative impact the year abroad would have on her grades in Germany.

"My dad wants me to graduate with good grades," she said.

He changed his mind when he found out the program wouldn't negatively impact Rehbein's schooling.

When Rehbein found out she was assigned to a school in New Richmond, Wis., she didn't know what to think.

"I had never heard of Wisconsin before," she said with a laugh.

The Lower Saxony, Germany resident said she suspected she'd be placed in a small town, but was hoping for Chicago or Seattle.

"I'm just glad it wasn't really, really little," she said of New Richmond's size. "I knew it was big enough to have a McDonald's."

New Richmond is very different than what she's used to, she said.

"Here it's wide and open," she said. "In my city it's very crowded. We have nature, but it's more crowded."

There are advantages to both, she said.

Back home in Germany, it's easier to get around, she said.

"You have to be 18 to get your license, but you can do a lot without a car. We use public transportation," she said. "Here everyone has a car because you have to drive. I can't drive so I have to get picked up all the time."

Rehbein said it really didn't matter how big the city was because her main goal was to better her English.

"We learn it in school, but mine was really bad and we need it for graduation," she said. "I've been learning it since fourth grade, but it's easier to learn it here where everyone is speaking it."

Rehbein said she was most excited to hear about New Richmond's new high school, but had trouble finding information about it online.

"The school is so cool!" she said. "My school in Germany sucks."

It's the cutting edge technology in school that Rehbein isn't used to, she said. Her school uses chalkboards instead of SMART Boards and in the German school none of the walls house 16-panel video screens.

Rehbein isn't limited to using technology in school. It's also how she stays in contact with her friends and family.

Rehbein said she talks to her parents and friends as often as she can, but it's difficult because of the dramatic time difference.

"They're usually sleeping when I'm on the Internet," she explained. "We mostly talk on the weekends."

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Jackie Grumish
Jackie Grumish has been a reporter with the New Richmond News since 2008. She holds degrees in journalism and fine art from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill. Before coming to New Richmond, Jackie worked as the city government reporter at a daily newspaper in Aberdeen, S.D. 
(715) 243-7767 x243
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