Two Worlds Collide: Adventure Comes to an End

May 17, 2017



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Sarah Schlappa (third from right) with friends she made while in New Mexico.


Catalyst staff member Sarah Schlappa is an exchange student from Germany who joined the ASK Academy for the 2016-2017 school year as a junior. The end of her exchange year approaches, Schlappa reflects on how the past year has changed her for the better. You can find the beginning of her adventure here.

By Sarah Schlappa

When Mrs. Del Curto assigned me this story I thought it would be a piece of cake. I mean, how hard can it be to summarize and reflect on your past school year, right? But then I started to think about it and realized that this might be harder than I expected.

Frankly, this whole last year was one big adventure, so much so that it didn’t even feel like “my real life” at first. Everything was new and exciting when I first came here. I met so many people at once, I got asked a bunch of questions I didn’t know how to answer, and of course, I also experienced being homesick.

Especially now, since my exchange year is almost over, people keep asking me how I changed as a result of this experience and this is probably the hardest question I get asked. How did I change? How was I before my exchange? Are people in Germany going to notice changes in my personality or behavior?

I am convinced that I especially grew throughout these past months. I am more tolerant towards other people but also towards myself. I learned that acceptance and respect are the most important characteristics of our society and goals we should try to pursue constantly.

I am sure people will notice I am not the same person I used to be, even if I don’t notice it myself. I guess I adapted to some American habits. For instance, I will do more casual small talk, which is very American and not so usual in Germany. I am actually looking forward to bringing that custom home since it is very nice and polite in my opinion and it will be very interesting for my friends to experience this cultural difference.

Other than that, I assume that I am still Sarah. Maybe more open and stronger, because I learned how to solve various kinds of problems by myself, but I am still just me.

Generally, I can say that I will miss New Mexico a lot. I am going to miss the weather, the beautiful skies, the food (especially tostadas, guys I love tostadas!!), but of course mostly the people I got to meet and learned to love. I am going to miss the diversity of this huge, amazing country and New Mexico’s expanse. I will miss my freedoms, my independence and the feeling of doing something special every day here in the US while my friends just live their normal lives in Germany. I will miss everything so much that I don’t even want to think about leaving yet.

All in all, I would describe this year as a great experience. It wasn’t always easy but coming here was definitely the best decision I made in my life so far. I am very proud to feel an emotional connection to this city, state, and country but in particular my beloved American family, including my friends and host family.

Although I am going back to my normal life in Germany, I will always consider Rio Rancho as my second home, as cheesy as that sounds. So now there is only one thing left to say: Thank you! Thank you so much to everybody who was part of my great adventure!

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