Former exchange student returns to visit her American family

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 07/15/97.

Nina Otto

She attended school here two years ago and was even crowned the 1995-96 Sweet Fest Queen. Kristina (Nina) Otto, Germany, returned July 3 to spend more than a month visiting with her American family, Gerry and Mary Stock, Paynesville.

This spring Otto completed high school in Germany and her parents said she could visit the Stocks as part of her graduation present.

Otto said her German friends noticed an improvement in her English upon her return to Germany two years ago.

Since she spent a year attending school here, Otto had to make up that year plus complete another year before she could graduate from high school in her homeland.

In comparing her two schools, Otto said she likes the small town school better in many ways. By attending school in a small town, everybody knew her and the sports activities were part of the school day.

In Germany, her school day is through before noon on many days. Sometimes her day starts at 7:40 a.m. and on other days 9 a.m. The one thing she didnít like about our school was getting out at 3 p.m.

Otto said sports isnít a big school activity in Germany. A person goes to school to learn then goes home. To play sports in Germany, you have to be part of a club in a town. She enjoyed the atmosphere here of friends in school and sports. While here, Otto participated on the gymnastics team.

Otto said her school courses in Germany are more difficult as the schools are set up on different levels. The average and below average students attend school for 10 years while your above average students attend another school for 13 years.

ďStudents can pick and choose where they attend. Usually your elementary teacher recommends which school you attend. However, if you have problems keeping up or are too far ahead of your classmates, you can switch schools,Ē Otto said. ď Class work is accelerated to the students abilities. Here, teachers try to teach the classes so everybody understands the lesson. All ability levels are combined together in one school.Ē

Otto said what she learned here helped her a lot in Germany. ďI didnít have to study for my English final. I saw students making the same mistakes I did before my year in Paynesville.

ďI would recommend any student to spend a year somewhere else. You learn so much. It is a good experience to be away from home, meeting new friends and learning new ways of doing things. It helped me a lot that I had a nice family to live with. Other exchange students from my school didnít have it as nice as I did,Ē she stressed.

After touring Yellowstone National Park with the Stock family and getting reacquainted with her Paynesville school friends, Otto will return home on Aug. 13.

She plans on enrolling in school as a pharmacistís assistant which is a two-year program. Then work a half year in a drug store. Someday, she might consider returning to school to be a pharmacist.

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