Home away from home

Marian Schnell and Line Juulsmore.

Tracy suits exchange students just fine

By Per Peterson

Within a few weeks of settling into her new American surroundings, Line Juulsmore, a NACEL exchange student from Odense, Denmark, attending Tracy Area High School, went back home.
She wasn’t homesick, and there was no family emergency. No, Juulsmore had to dig out her visa so she could return home to get her dislocated knee cap looked at.
“I got to cheerlead for one game, was on crutches for a few months and was back home in Denmark to have it all looked at for a week, “ said Juulsmore, describing her plight after she hurt her knee. “I was hoping I could (cheer) again, but … I’m here now, and it’s all good.”
That rather inauspicious beginning to her school year in Tracy has done nothing to dampen her spirits, however. While the injury has prevented Juulsmore from cheerleading and being an active part of the dance team, the 17-year-old with near perfect English is making the most of her time here.
“Going home for that one week was weird,” she said. “I got homesick while being home — as soon as I left (here) I was homesick for this part of my home.”
That connection with her new home, she said, was mostly a result of how the people who surround her — her host family and her friends — accepted her.
“Family members here are really close — you see family all the time,” she said. “We don’t really have time at home to spend that much time together, and I have a really small family. For people here, they get to see all their cousins all the time, so that’s really, really nice.”
Juulsmore, whose host family is the Shannon and Roger Benson family, said getting used to her host family didn’t take long at all, because she felt right away that she fit in.
“We have more time to spend together, because everyone’s work is done about the same time,” she said. “We can all do stuff together as a family. And Kallie, my host sister, is in dance, and watching her do her dance routines at home, asking me for advice, is so fun. I really wish I could dance with her.”
Juulsmore is joined at TAHS by AFS exchange student Marian Schnell, a 16-year-old from Kiel, Germany, who is staying with the Diane and Stephen Ferrazzano family. Like Juulsmore, Schnell is also staying busy. He said one thing he will miss when he returns home will be the variety of things to do. At home, he was done with school by 1:30 p.m. and then went to a sports club twice a week. At TAHS, he is involved in basketball, which is part of his daily routine, as well as speech and FCCLA.
“I like that you have stuff to do,” he said.
Schnell admits he’s no Steph Curry, but he enjoys playing basketball nonetheless.
“I’ve never played it before, so I’m not very good; I’m pretty bad,” he said, laughing. “But I like it. It’s fun. I actually like the practices better. I actually do stuff there because I’m not that good.”

For more on this article, see this week’s Headlight-Herald.