Coming all the way from Germany, senior exchange student Matthias Rycerz has adjusted to American culture.
Originally from Poland, Rycerz moved to a small town just South of Stuttgart, Germany, when he was around two months old.
Staying in Missouri wasn’t quite his choice. Rycerz said, “My exchange program just kind of like put me somewhere in Missouri. ‘They said, ‘Okay, you’re going somewhere in Missouri.’ I didn’t know exactly where. I was hoping for St. Louis because it’s one of the bigger cities here in Missouri.”
Rycerz described his host family, saying, “My current host family is very nice. They have two children. They go to Avery (Elementary). They’re nice, they spend time with me.”
Rycerz’s exchange program has it where they change host families throughout the year. Usually the exchange students would have three separate host families, but Rycerz said he arrived late, so he’ll only have to do one switch between two families. He will change host families soon.
Rycerz said, “The first three days were kind of hard. I didn’t know anybody; I didn’t know school; I didn’t know the area. It was just hard to get along. Everything was new, so it was kind of scary sometimes, but I think I did pretty well.”
However, Rycerz said he adapted fairly easily due to his good English skills.
Rycerz said, “It wasn’t so hard because I had some better English skills compared to other exchange students. I could like talk to everybody.”
About why he could understand and speak English so well, Rycerz responded, “Because English is just a universal language, it is mandatory to learn English, and I traveled a lot as a kid, so I had to speak English with all the kids.”
Rycerz added he became friends quickly with senior Dani Llompart, who is an exchange student from Spain. This friendship helped with his adjustment, and Rycerz said they are now in the same friend group.
One aspect of America that Rycerz dislikes is the guns. He said, “Shooter warnings and drills like lockout, lock down, it’s kinda annoying. Scared that someone could actually come into school with a gun and shoot you in the head or something and you like die.”
Despite the guns, Rycerz said compared to his hometown, he found it’s more fun here, and the teenage life is better. He said, “I think there’s more stuff to do in America as a teenager. Also, with teenagers like being able to drive at 16. We don’t have that in Germany. It’s more fun I’d say.”
Along with teenage life, Rycerz also enjoys the American traditions that he’s been able to experience such as Halloween and Christmas which are both bigger events here than they are in Germany, Rycerz said.
He said, “Halloween is much like bigger here than in Europe. Like all the decorations and stuff. Also Christmas, like you have so many Christmas decorations.”
Lastly, Rycerz said the things he enjoys most are the people, the sports games and Chic-fil-A.
This will be Eleanor Kanerva’s first year on ECHO staff. They also made several contributions while taking journalism class their junior year.