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First American Christmas for exchange student

ana anthony/ Daily Globe Sarah Meiser is shown at the Weterings' home during the holiday season this year.

WORTHINGTON -- Sarah Meiser experienced two "firsts" this holiday season -- her first American Christmas and also her first celebration without her family.

Meiser, Crailsheim's ambassador to Worthington, arrived July 27 to live with her first host family -- the Janssens -- in Bigelow.

"My family hosted Nicole Janssen and that gave me the idea to come here," she said, adding that four other students had applied for the exchange student program.

In November, she moved in with the Weterings, where she spent Christmas this year.

As the spirit of festivity filled the air, Meiser admitted to pangs of homesickness -- something she had not felt in the five months she'd been here.

"I miss home because I've always been home for Christmas," Meiser said in early December. "But I think it will be cool to celebrate Christmas here.

"Our family celebrates Christmas twice -- one time with my mom's family and one time with my dad's family. We sit all together -- talking and singing."

A Christmas meal at her Crailsheim home usually involves a "good, roasted meat" and Raclette -- a type of melted cheese Meiser and her family enjoys with bread and sweet corn.

Apart from the holidays, Meiser said she has been adjusting well to life in the U.S. With the short time of summer vacation she had before starting her sophomore year, Meiser and the Janssens visited the Black Hills, S.D.

"I didn't have much time this summer because in Germany, school ended July 25 th," she added. "I only missed the last day of school."

After several months at Worthington High School, she's noticed the difference in academic emphasis.

"I really like school here because we can choose our classes," she explained. "In Germany, you have one art and one sports class, so that's all you have for fun classes. We do sports just once a week and it's not through school, it's through Crailsheim."

She has also taken a dive into sports she's never played before.

"I've never played tennis in Germany so I'm not that good but I like it," she said, adding she started tennis this summer. "I'm also on the swim team now."

Meiser has been compiling a picture-filled journal, documenting her time here. After her year-long stay in Worthington, she will return to Crailsheim to continue her last two years of high school.

"For sure I will visit Worthington again," she said.