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German student tries American sports at SCC

Fabian Hagedorn is an exchange student from Hamburg, Germany attending St. Croix Central High School this year as a sophomore.

Fabian Hagedorn said one of his biggest surprises when arriving in America as an exchange student was the lack of public transportation. Hagedorn, a sophomore, comes from Hamburg, Germany, where he said there is always access to buses and trains.

"It's alright because everybody has a car," Hagedorn said. "I can get a ride from friends."

Hagedorn said temporarily moving from Hamburg, one of Germany's largest cities, to Hammond, population 1,922 (according to the U.S. Census bureau), was a big change. But he said he enjoys the small-town atmosphere.

"I think it's kind of cool, because everybody knows everybody," Hagedorn said. "So I kind of know everybody from the school."

Hagedorn said he began studying basic English in third grade. English class is a requirement in Germany, he said.

"They just start learning mouth and parts of your body and basic stuff," Hagedorn said. "But once you get in fifth grade it kind of gets more serious."

At St. Croix Central, Hagedorn said students often ask him to teach them words in German.

"Mostly swear words," Hagedorn said. "I don't really answer mostly, but it's pretty funny."

Hagedorn said he has wanted to be an exchange student since his sister spent a year in the U.S. four years ago.

"I just wanted to take the opportunity to learn about a different culture and improve my English skills," Hagedorn said.

One part of American culture Hagedorn said he's taking as much advantage of as he can is the McDonald's quarter-pounder.

"We don't have quarter-pounders in Germany," Hagedorn said. "So that's what I usually order over here."

Despite the lack of quarter-pounders, Germany does have McDonald's restaurants and many other foods typically eaten in America, like pizza and spaghetti.

In Germany, Hagedorn attended a Gymnasium, a secondary school with a college-preparatory focus that runs from fifth to 12th grade. He said the classes at St. Croix Central are fairly comparable to those at the Gymnasium, but St. Croix Central is higher-tech.

"Almost everybody's got a smart board here," Hagedorn said. "The classes in general are more on the computer."

Back in Germany, classes are mostly taught off the blackboard and with worksheets, Hagedorn said.

He said he does struggle with his Biology II class, but overall his classes are going fine.

Spanish is his favorite class.

"My teacher over here is better than back in Germany," Hagedorn said.

Hagedorn also was a kicker for the St. Croix Central football team in fall and is now a wrestler.

"I've never really wrestled before, so I'm kind of learning the technique and stuff," Hagedorn said.

He said sports in Germany are not affiliated with school, but instead are separate clubs.

Hagedorn said being an exchange student has taught him more than just academic lessons. Staying with his host father Tim Scott, Hagedorn said he's had to learn to do some things for himself that his mother had done for him at home.

"Now I've got to do all my laundry and make food and help with the car and stuff," Hagedorn said.

Hagedorn said he gets along well with Scott, who is fluent in German, and will often take him out to eat or to see a movie. Hagedorn said he and Scott are also planning a trip to Arizona.

At the end of the school year, Hagedorn's parents are coming to pick him up and bring him back to Germany. He said they plan to do some sight-seeing when they get here.

"We're thinking about visiting several places," Hagedorn said, "and travelling around the U.S."

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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