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Anne Bade, center with her host parents, Annette and Mike Kratz

Exchange student has enjoyed first half of year in Hancock

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It has been just over four months since Anne Bade of Germany arrived in Hancock for the school year and she has already experienced more than she ever imagined when she decided to enter the exchange student program. Yet, there is so much more she wants to see and do in the months ahead.

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Anne is staying with Mike and Annette Kratz in Hancock. She is 16 years old and a junior this year in Hancock. At home in Lampertswalde, Germany she played the piano, was in the drama club and wrote for the school newspaper. In Hancock she has played volleyball, basketball, was in the school play and absolutely loves art class and choir.

She explained that in Germany schools do not have non-academic classes like art and music and any extra-curricular activities such as sports and drama were through city clubs that you had to pay to join. Choir was only part of church and to play an instrument meant going to music school after regular classes.

Therefore she is thoroughly enjoying these extra activities and especially the fact that they are part of the school system.

Anne decided to become an exchange student after talking to two of her cousins who had been in the program about six years ago. One of them had even lived in Minnesota during his year. They told her that it was fun and helpful toward future careers. With her good grades and being able to speak five languages, Anne had no problem being accepted despite the massive amount of paperwork.

She started the application process over a year ago and did not learn that she had a host family until her birthday in July of 2011.

Mike and Annette had discussed hosting an exchange student for several years but didn't take any action until after getting a call from the Aspect Foundation. Seeing it as a sign, they agreed to look at some names and stories emailed to them.

They immediately liked Anne's letter and agreed to host her if she was available. One week later they knew they would be hosting Anne and were given her email address so they could contact her. They sent an email on her birthday.

One of the first things Anne did was look for Mike and Annette on facebook. She found them when she saw all the dogs and then a picture of them from Halloween after winning a costume contest. She started laughing and her mom said "are you going to stay with freaks!" That was her first impression, which has changed a great deal.

After a terrible experience with airports, canceled flights and lost luggage, Anne arrived on Aug. 20. Her first impression of Hancock was that it was small but cute with lots of trees. She still thinks it is tiny but now enjoys the fact that people she doesn't even know smile and wave at her.

The school was also small to Anne but she quickly grew to enjoy the friendliness and the non-academic classes as well as extra-curriculars. She has fit in well with the students and Annette explains, is always busy doing something or going somewhere.

The Kratz' have been trying to give her a taste of Minnesota and America in as many ways as possible. They really enjoyed a trip to Duluth and to the Mall of America. They attended OctoberFest in New Ulm which seemed a bit "fake" to Anne. However, she liked talking German to some of the people there. In February they are planning a trip to Florida. She has also fallenl in love with horseback riding that she was able to do with Kim Wolf and Kaitlyn Koehl.

Anne has come to like American fast food but there are a few things that don't compare to the German counterparts. For example, American chocolate tastes almost "waxy or papery" compared to German chocolate. German bread is also better. However, the blueberry dessert pizza at Pizza Ranch is the best.

Anne is fitting in at the school and in the community. She skypes often with her parents which means she gets to talk German but quickly reverts back to English. She recently woke up and realized that the people in her dreams were talking in English instead of German. That was a sign to her, that she was adjusting well to the English language.

Anne has many things she hopes to do yet between now and June 1 when she returns to Germany. She is looking forward to prom, soaking in hot tubs, talking on her cell phone and spending time with her family and friends here. For Mike and Annette, they are thoroughly enjoying having a teenager in the house again and following her many activities.

"We are not going to be bored," they explained, "it has been lots of fun. It will also be very hard to say good-bye when the time comes."

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