German foreign exchange student experiences cultural differences


Virginia Morgan

Lukas Merz and his host brother Charlie Morgan (12) pose on their porch in front of Pikes Peak.

Katelyn Fonkert, Reporter

Foreign exchange student, Lukas Merz, is a junior at Manitou Springs High School. Merz is from Germany and will be at MSHS for all of his junior year.

This is Merz’s first time going to school in a foreign country and he has noticed some difference between the schools in Germany and United States. “In Germany, you’re together with your classmates all the time. You have a room and the teachers switch rooms and here it’s the other way around,” Merz said.

When it comes to homework it’s very different in Germany. “The homework here gets graded,” Merz said. “In Germany it’s not, so you can do the homework but you don’t have to, Because no one sees it.” 

Along with school, Merz is also on the MSHS varsity soccer team. So far, He has really enjoyed being a part of the team. “I enjoy the bus rides with the soccer team very much, like on away games when we have like three or four hour bus rides. It’s pretty fun,” Merz said. “Just vibing to music and singing, and talking about anything.”

There’s more than just the school environment that’s different for Merz. “In America, you can drive at 16, but in Germany you have to be 17 to drive with your parents and 18 to drive alone,” Merz said.

Even though you can’t drive alone until you’re 18 in Germany, the public transportation system is a lot better. “The towns in Germany are pretty bike able,” Merz said. It’s also easier to get around in Germany than here because we have trains and buses.” 

Merz is staying with Charlie Morgan, a senior at MSHS. Morgan has noticed some cultural differences between here and Germany. “There’s a lot of huge social changes. For instance, in Germany, people will put up with a lot less than they do here. Here you can yell something in their face and they’re not going to do anything about it. Whereas in Germany it’s an argument and it’s like fists immediately,” Morgan said.

Morgan is looking forward to going snowboarding with Merz. “They don’t have mountains and stuff like that where he is from, so I’m excited for the winter to come and to show him snow and all that, and be able to go snowboarding and teach him the stuff that I like to do,” Morgan said.

Merz is also excited to learn how to ski and snowboard. “I’ve never been skiing or snowboarding before. Charlie said he wants to take me there. I guess we will spend some nights camping or something,” Merz said.

Morgan is planning to teach Merz in Breckenridge. They have already visited there this year and went mountain biking. “We actually were in Breckinridge like I think two weeks ago when we had that Monday off,” Merz said. “There was no snow there so we couldn’t ski, but we just went to town and went mountain biking.” 

Along with excitement about learning to ski and snowboard, Merz is also excited about attending school events here that aren’t in Germany. “I think the school events like homecoming or prom, because we don’t have those in Germany,” Merz said.

Merz has really been able to immerse himself into the U.S. culture and what high school is in the U.S. Not everyone can experience what he can, but there are other ways to immerse yourself in other cultures and get some different experiences in your life. “There’s always going to be cultural differences no matter where you are. So if you can’t travel or anything like that, you can always do research and learn about other cultures. You can indulge yourself in other ways other than being slapped right in the middle of it,” Morgan said.