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Letter: Wrestling, winter, holidays stand out for German student

By Lars Opaczek, Crailsheim exchange student to Worthington

“Hallo” says your German exchange student, Lars Opaczek. It’s almost half a year ago since I left Germany and came to the U.S. with great expectations and goals like meeting a bunch of new friends here, learning something about a different culture, trying out American sports and improving my English. Most of them are already fulfilled, and time is really starting to fly by. But let’s go back to November, so I can tell you about the last few months.

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The winter has been a little bit colder than I expected. People had warned me that it could get down to negative 10 degrees — which didn’t seem that cold — but then I realized that Americans use Fahrenheit, not Celsius. Let me assure you: it’s been cold out. So I was a little bit surprised how cold it would be.

In November, I started a new sport: Wrestling. It’s definitely the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but that’s what makes it so fun: facing another kid on the mat to see who the better wrestler is. In wrestling practice there’s no “Coach, I need a break.” It’s two hours of intensive work, and after that you just want to plop down on the coach, eat something and relax for the rest of the night.

I also moved on to another family, the Wietzemas, so I could live together with my football buddy Trevor. They are also a little bit closer to town, so I can hang out more with my friends.

My Thanksgiving and Christmas were really fun. Thanksgiving was also something special for me because in Germany, we don’t really celebrate it. So we went to both sides of Trevor’s grandparents, ate a lot, had a lot of fun, and I also got a few Christmas presents. It was really nice to see how Christmas is celebrated in another culture, and I figured out that it’s not that different from the way we do things in Germany. The most important part stays the family, either in Germany or in America.

I talked to my family a little bit over Christmas break, and everything is going fine. They already booked their flight to the United States to visit me and also to meet all the nice people I have had the pleasure to meet. I’m looking forward to the warmer weather and to the spring, so I can spend more time outside and enjoy the great nature of Minnesota.