Patrick Says “Hi”


Jesten Richardson

Junior Patrick Reichmann is spending a year in America before he returns to Germany.

Jesten Richardson, Editor-in-Chief

Facing the changes that a new school year brings can be difficult for any student, but imagine if that new school year was also in, not just a new school, not just a new state, but a new country; such is the life of junior Patrick Riechmann, an exchange student that came to Cabell Midland from Germany this year.
Riechmann’s journey started long before he set foot in Midland’s halls, and he tells the story with humor and honesty.
“Once upon a time, I was sitting in my room,” said Riechmann. “I was doing that what I mostly do: nothing. Then, suddenly, my mom appeared in my room, and she asked me ‘Hey, what about making an exchange year in the U.S.?’, and I said ‘Why not?’.”
However, the process was not as simple as that. Similarly to immigration, this was a tedious affair of shuffling through documents and making sure the right paperwork was handy.
“I had to get my visa and do all that paper stuff like that,” said Reichmann. “I had to go through a certain U. S. organization. They sent me a letter you have to fill out with some of that stuff. There was a lot of paper work.”
Other parts of the process included getting a destination and host family, yet those two things were assigned, with his location being randomly selected and his host family choosing him.
According to Riechmann, the next step was getting on the aircraft.
“I was on a plane with other foreign exchange students,” said Reichmann. “There were some from Sweden, some from China and other places. There were 12 from Germany, but I didn’t know them. I made some friends, and we had a soft landing around three p.m. in New York.”
Once in America, Reichmann got to meet and bond with his host family, which similarly to his own, had an older son and a younger daughter.
Fortunately for Riechmann, there was little language barrier to separate him from his host family, as he has an understanding of several languages.
“I took five years of English for school,” said Reichmann. “I also know Portuguese, because my mom is Brazilian. Though, I do know German best.”
His grasp of English may have helped him on his fist day in America, but his first day at Midland was slightly trickier.
“I felt like the Minotaur in the Labyrinth,” said Reichmann. “I didn’t know how to find my way around at all.”
According to Riechamnn, America is very different from his home country.
“In Germany the school system is very different,” said Riechmann. “It is is about three years ahead learning wise, and college is free. Also, politics are very different. There are multiple parties, and there are two different votes on each sheet: one which you give to the candidate and one which you give to the party.”
Along with the systems, Riechmann noted other differences.
“The hardest thing to get used to has been the distances between everything,” said Riechmann. “In Germany, you can walk to everything. From home to the closest Walmart-like store is only ten minutes by foot.”
The distance between places hasn’t been the only thing that Reichmann has had to get used to.
“The people are also different in Germany,” said Reichmann. “Americans are a little bit more aggressive than people in Germany.”
Riechmann had to learn the hard way that, in contrast to Germans, Americans are more concerned with personal space, when he reached out to grab someone’s necklace and compliment them on it. Despite his good intentions, Riechmann wasn’t met with good reception on this certain issue.
Fortunately for Reichmann, excepting this one encounter, he said that people in America have been pretty nice, that he’s gotten a pretty good reception and that his time here has already led to some personal growth.
“I have gained some better English,” said Reichmann. “I have also gained independence.”
Reichmann’s journey is far from over, as he still has the rest of the school year, so there’s no telling what else he will gain from this experience, as well as what Midland will gain from having him in the school.