German foreign student Mara Fuchs did not know her destination was Monticello, MN until she arrived.
She had wanted to come from abroad for a long time. She studied abroad for three years with her family at the age of nine. After that, she always wanted to go to another English speaking country. She chose America because she always saw movies about it and wanted to see what the spirit of high school was all about.
Last December she had her first meetings and filled out all her paperwork in the spring and after that it was just a game of waiting until Fuchs could find a foster family.
During a physical education class in Germany, she finally got the call: âI’ve been waiting for about two or three months. During my physical education lesson in Germany, I received an email saying that we had your host family and that I was like panicking. I was screaming at everyone, âFuchs said.
She didn’t know where she was going because she just wanted to make sure she had a good host family rather than choosing any state in the United States to stay.
Fuchs is a big fan of winter, so she was happy to arrive in the land of 10,000 lakes, known for its winters and snowy weather.
She video chatted with her foster family a few times before meeting them, and then flew on September 2 from Frankfurt to Chicago and Chicago to Minneapolis.
The international student struggled a bit to make the transition to the US at first, as many do, but has settled in well. She was nervous at first and felt overwhelmed the first few days.
âI went to Costco and was like oh wow, this store is so big, okay,â Fuchs said.
After that however, the excitement started to set in and felt better in a daily setting.
âIt’s really good,â Fuchs said. âWhen you start making friends and they start inviting you to do things, it gets a lot easier,â she added.
One thing that helps is the lack of a language barrier as Fuchs speaks English. Fuchs cited Germany’s strong language program at the school as an explanation of why she is able to speak English effectively.
She also likes the difference in schools between Germany and Minnesota and thinks the school here is pretty cool because it feels like part of the Monticello community.
âIn Germany, it’s just school. There is only the learning part and you do all your activities outside of school in clubs. Here, everything is very concentrated in the school. I like it because you have a more sense of community. You kind of identify with the school you’re from, so that’s really cool. And of course you have different sports that we don’t have, like soccer. We don’t have big football matches where everyone comes, âFuchs explained.
When you go to school abroad, it is mentioned that it will be like a roller coaster throughout the stay. You arrive and there is a feeling of excitement and then you realize that you have been away from home for a while. Then you feel like you’re on your feet again as you enjoy the time spent, and then come back down as you get ready to leave because you don’t want to.
Fuchs says that she’s still happy to be here, but that she’s starting to feel the first downward slope of being a bit homesick.
Her foster family, Mark and Kelli LaVoie, were great in helping her not to feel alone. Living with the LaVoie family has been an enjoyable experience as Fuchs continues to get to know the community. She also made friends who recently took her on a trip to Top Golf.
In Germany, Fuchs played field hockey and tennis and plays tennis for the Magic here in Monticello. She is very happy to play tennis here in Monticello. It was her very first tennis practice on her first day at school after arriving the day before.
Tennis is a little different here in Minnesota than in Germany. In Germany there are only four players in the children’s sections and six for the adults and you play both singles and doubles. Here there are four singles players, then six doubles players, so you don’t play both like you do in Germany.
In Germany they only play around four or five matches in their season and they also play on a different pitch. Monticello has a hard court while in Germany they play on red ash pitches. The courts there you can slide a lot more and you can’t do that much on the hard courts so you have to run a little more, something that Fuchs had to change a bit in his game when he got there.
Otherwise, technically speaking, everything else is pretty much the same. The notable difference that Fuchs explained was that here tennis players are taught a jump serve, which is not something she was taught in Germany.
While she’s nervous about the potential difference in competitive level, she’s settled down quite well playing mostly second doubles with teammate Katelyn Lindberg and is happy to play at college level.
Although she has played both singles and doubles in Germany, she says she is a team player and therefore enjoys playing doubles with Lindberg.
This pair played a key role in Monticello’s first-round sectional playoff against Robbinsdale Armstrong. With the teams tied 3-3, it was Fuchs and Lindberg who took the win by winning their match 7-5, 4-6, 6-2, which moved them to the next round against Orono.
Head tennis coach Katy Horgen really enjoys having Fuchs with him too, “Mara is a wonderful kid,” said Horgen. âShe is a motivated, hard-working tennis player. It has been fun watching her get more aggressive at net this season, âadded Horgen.
She ended by saying: âMara has added a competitive advantage to our team because she outperforms her opponents. It has been fun getting to know her and watching her grow as a tennis player.
She misses German cuisine, especially bread and other traditional German dishes, but she is also excited about the holidays ahead. They don’t have Thanksgiving and they celebrate Christmas a day earlier. Halloween is also not as important in Germany as it is in the United States.
Having played field hockey in Germany, Fuchs plans to try lacrosse in the spring because of their similarities, even though it’s a junior college, just so she can have that experience.
“I would love to play lacrosse in the spring because I think it’s kind of like tactics and stuff like that in field hockey and just because it’s not really big in Germany either, just to experience, âFuchs said.
She enjoys living in Monticello and looks forward to the rest of her time in the city before returning to Germany in a few months.