Letter: Crailsheim exchange student looks forward to Christmas in Worthington

Hello Worthington, this is Johanna Andrejew, your Crailsheim Exchange Student 2016/2017. My last two months here in Worthington have been an adventure.

Hello Worthington, this is Johanna Andrejew, your Crailsheim Exchange Student 2016/2017. My last two months here in Worthington have been an adventure.

After the busy beginning of November with the fall play and hockey practice, I got to see real authentic Minnesotan snow in the middle of november (which is untypically for Crailsheim and so pretty cool for me), and I couldn’t help but run outside to just see it. On that evening, I witnessed the saving mission of a car that got stuck on a gravel road in the high snow and how my host family was saving them. It was incredibly exciting for me because I sat in the warm car, but probably not for the poor person that actually got stuck in the snow. In the end, we were successful and felt good.

The second quarter had just started and I loved my new subjects already. Newly added to my daily schedule besides band, Trojan Choir and U.S. history were English Composition and Literature and an art class. This class is all about stained glass, which is my secret favorite due to the simple fact that it is a good mixture between being creative and being patient and especially how to be that at the same time.

Time was running, and on Nov. 24 I visited Skyla’s big family to celebrate Thanksgiving. It was overwhelming. All the impressions and all that good food … I had turkey and stuffing and duck and corn and the “3-p- pies“ (pumpkin, pecan and peach pie) because I just could not say “no” to them. I watched the Thanksgiving Vikings football game with my American cousins and ate and ate. Before I came here to Minnesota, Thanksgiving was one of the most exciting events I could think of because I had no idea what to expect. Now I am really blessed that I got to spend it with this family and really felt that it was a family celebration. On that same night, my host sister Skyla, her friend Alyssa and I departed on a mission to Sioux Falls to give me the ultimate experience of Black Friday Shopping. Skyla said that she wanted me to see how crazy Americans go shopping, but when we arrived at the mall it was surprisingly empty so we had a great time doing relaxing shopping.

On that last November weekend it was time for me to move into a new host family. The first quarter of my year in Worthington was over, and I was sad to leave the one family that made it to something special. Yet I was thrilled to meet my new host family, the Shreiners. At the Shreiners I have two siblings -- Madisyn, who is a freshman at WHS and one of my teammates on the Trojan Hockey team, and Mitchell, who is a sophomore in college. My host parents, Melissa and Clifford Shreiner, run the Yourway Truck business in Worthington. Since the first day I really felt like a member of the family. Maybe it was because I had two siblings (like I have in Crailsheim), maybe it was because of the family dog named CJ (which reminds me of my dog in Germany) and maybe it was because we could talk and laugh and just have fun.


December started excitingly. I just had passed my written driving exam on the very last day of November, and on the following day I found myself sitting behind the wheel in the car of my host mum for the very first time. I had no idea what to press/push/do. But both of my host parents were very patient with me, and after a quick instruction from my host dad I started to drive on a gravel road behind the house. I was a little bit nervous, but once I got the feeling of the steering wheel it felt great!

On the first December weekend Worthington High School’s Concert Choir presented their Madrigal Dinner. It’s a Christmas show in the feeling of the Renaissance time paired with singing, acting and good food for the guests. I personally was part of the serving staff and it was a ton of fun, serving the good-smelling food while singing Christmas carols.
Hockey practice moved on and every day after school I experienced working out in the dryland room before going on the ice. The drills were tough, but everyday I get more confident about hockey, and that is definitively due to my great team that builds me up everytime time I fall.

On the December weekends I met with friends and teammates at the arena for the open skate to improve my skating skills and feel more comfortable with ice skates. In my art class in school, I learned a lot about patience. The long process from the start of a project until the very end of it teaches you a lot about seeing the goal and not giving up -- lessons that I personally consider as pretty precious.

To get the students all pumped up for Christmas, Worthington High School organized the Snowcoming Week for the first time ever. Similar to Homecoming, the Snowcoming had some nice Christmas activities during lunchtime (like Cookie Eating Contest or a Christmas Kahoot) and a full week of winter dress-up days (like an Ugly Christmas Sweater Day and Blizzard Day) and the week would end with the coronation of the Snowcoming King and Queen.

For a German Exchange Student like me, Snowcoming was another point I put on my list of “Crazy but Cool American Things“ because I never experienced something similar to Snowcoming (besides Homecoming at WHS, of course).

The Friday before Snowcoming started, the Royal Court members were announced to the student body. I personally was really impressed when my name was called to be among the nominated students. I did not expect that at all. What I did not know in that moment is that the following week would become an incredible week filled with extraordinary memories. As a Snowcoming royalty, I visited with the other court members Prairie Elementary School to explain the kids there what Snowcoming is all about, and we stopped by at the radio station to broadcast some information about the Snowcoming week. Just being able to spend this week as a nominee and visiting all those places I’ve never imagined to visiting (the radio station, for example) was great! But the highlight of the week was about to come on Friday afternoon. My host parents Melissa and Cliff both came to walk me down the red carpet, and I just felt honored being able to feel so lucky. Josh Dale crowned the first Snowcoming King Fraol Balda and as the students were stamping their feet on the ground and clapping their hands, Fraol crowned the first WHS Snowcoming Queen ever -- which was me. It was a pretty suspenseful moment. I was overwhelmed and surprised when I suddenly had the crown on my head. Representing Snowcoming as an exchange student for the first time was more than cool, it was unforgettable. I felt definitely honored.

In the afternoon the annual project of “Celebrations around the World“ in the Minnesota West College took place, and together with another exchange student I presented my country -- Germany, and in particular Crailsheim -- with its special story from the mid-ages. I had prepared special Crailsheim bread that was soon all eaten by the guests who listened to Crailsheim’s story. Some friends came along to visit and try the samples. I visited other stands from the other cultures and exchange students, and we had a great time. It was a very diverse and interesting afternoon shared with friends. But the day was not over yet. The “Meet the Trojans“ Boys hockey game was running and I did not want to miss it. The first December snow was falling, and it was the first time I drove on snow and by night in order to get to the arena. I drove safely so that everybody in the car survived, and I came just in time for the second period to see the Trojans score and finally win! First win of the season and in a long time. As a Trojan hockey girl I was especially proud and happy that they accomplished a victory at a home game. The following Meet the Trojans made the home victory perfect. It was a great start into a weekend full of snow and an exciting Christmas time. I am thankful for that.

Now, I am excited for Christmas in Minnesota. I mean, the snow is already here, so I’m pretty ready. I literally can not wait to celebrate it with my new host family, where I already feel like a family member. Pre-christmas greetings (how Germans like to say it) -- happy holidays and until next time, in 2017!

What To Read Next
We’ve jump-started projects across our state to replace outdated utilities systems, expand broadband, build electric vehicle charging stations, and rebuild roads and bridges.
Mikkel Pates reflects on his time as an ag journalist in a three-part series.