Tag Archives: Reese’s peanut butter cups

Home away from home: German student attends MHS to improve language and gain new experiences

picking-jenny-up-at-the-airportBy Jacki Wood for the Nodaway News Leader

Jenny Ahlgrimm describes her hometown of Hamburg, Germany, as “ big, modern and busy.”

With a population of 1.7 million, it’s sure to be a bit different from Maryville, where she is living during the 2016-17 school year as an exchange student.

But calling it a bit different might be an understatement.

“Pretty much everything is different,” she said. “Maryville is small and peaceful. Everything is green. The climate and the sky are so different. The school is completely different and the activities you do after school. In the US, everyone drives everywhere, and in Germany, you walk or take public transit.”

‘it’s America!’
Experiencing all of these differences is one of the reasons Ahlgrimm decided to become an exchange student.

“(I wanted) to see what it is like to start over where you don’t know anybody,” she said, adding she wanted to improve her English and gain more experiences. “And it’s America!”

At home in Germany, she works as a lifeguard and swimming instructor and also babysits. She enjoys running, something she has been able to continue at Maryville High School where she was on the cross country team in the fall and plans to be a member of the track team this spring.

During her time in Missouri, she has enjoyed attending Kansas City Royals and Chiefs games, taking senior pictures, hanging out with new friends, kayaking and spending time with her host family, Paul and Cathy Rybolt and Dalylah and Shayleigh.

She’s also has fallen in love with Reese’s peanut butter cups and Sonic blue raspberry slushes with rainbow Nerds.

‘I am torn’
But Ahlgrimm said she misses things from home. German tap water, German chocolate, her family and friends and swimming.

And she’s faced a few challenges as well.

“The language barrier; I have a hard time coming up with the correct English word sometimes,” she said. “American History is extremely difficult if you are not American. I also had a hard time with the heat and humidity when I got here in July.”

She’s also had some interesting and humorous experiences since she’s arrived.

“Someone really asked me if we have electricity in Germany,” she said. “The answer is yes. Someone else said that being from Hamburg is not that special because it is only one hour away.”

And in case you were wondering… Hamburg, IA, is 60 miles from Maryville and Hamburg, Germany, is 4,567 miles from Maryville.

With all of her experiences – the good, the challenging and the odd – Ahlgrimm has mixed feelings but is grateful.

“I am torn,” she said. “Part of me can’t imagine living here a whole year, but the other part of me can’t imagine having to leave my family here.

“It is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

‘I was intrigued’
Cathy Rybolt said a friend suggested she look into it becoming a host family.

“I was intrigued,” she said, and after sharing the information with her husband, Paul, they decided to do it.

Paul is a student at Northwest and Cathy is the outreach director/MIS team leader at Community Services in Maryville. Dalylah is in fourth grade and Shayleigh is in third grade at Eugene Field.

“We have enjoyed sharing our love for the outdoors with Jenny,” she said. “Since she has been here we have been camping, boating and kayaking at Mozingo Lake. We also took her hiking at Indian Caves State Park.”

She said it’s been enlightening and educational for their family as well.

“In school you learn about different cultures but living with someone from another culture is very different,” she said. “Teenagers from different countries are most definitely not like American teens.”

Dalylah and Shayleigh are enjoying their time with Jenny and learning new things from her.

“I like having an older sister,” Dalylah said. “She has never had any siblings, so I am glad that I get to be her younger sibling.”

Shayleigh said: “I love my Sissy Jenny because she gave me a birthday present and she makes crafts with me. I like Jenny spending time with me and tickling me. She is teaching me German. We love her accent.”

And everyone loves that she shares her German chocolates with them.

    To learn more about becoming a host family or being an exchange student, visit ciee.org.

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Hate is heavy

Blog post:

There are days when I feel like I hate everything and everyone. My family probably feels like that’s every day 🙂

I hate my body. I hate my pain. I hate my bed. I hate my room. I hate the color on the walls. I hate that I live in this town. I hate purple socks. I hate all socks. I hate yogurt and turkey bacon. I hate how I feel after eating Reese’s eggs for breakfast instead of the yogurt and turkey bacon. (Who am I kidding? Reese’s eggs for breakfast rocks. Ha!) I hate stupid commercials on tv. I hate the color red. I hate annoying people. I hate happy people. I hate perfect people. I hate the people that love me. I hate hate hate hate hate…

But the hate makes it all worse. The emotional feelings make me feel physically worse.

And so I have to take a step back and realize what I’m doing. And I have to look for love.

I love the people who love me. I love the fact that I have a bed. I love that I have an iPad, social media, music, tv and the Internet.

I love that I’m not alone. I know there are other people out there who feel the same as I do, which is why I’m writing this blog. I love that we can provide one another hope. I love that I can write.

Hate is heavy, it weighs us down, it’s dark, it is destructive.

My bedroom, where I spend much of my time, is pretty dark. I have these great curtains that keep the light out in the hopes that I can get more sleep. I was lying in bed today when I heard a storm rolling through – I love thunderstorms – so I decided to pull back the curtains and open the blinds. And then I noticed something. The tree in our front yard is in full-on popcorn popping mode – full bloom – and beautiful. I looked around and noticed the neighbor’s bush bursting with red and the first few dandelions poking their heads up from the ground. And then I watched it rain. It was so refreshing. Soon the storm was over, the sun peeked out from behind the clouds and light filled my room.

It surprised me how much I enjoyed it, with how bad I am feeling today, and it reminded me how important light can be to us.

When we’re knee-deep in the mud of whatever it is we’re slogging through in life, it’s sometimes hard to remember that it’s only temporary. It may not be today or tomorrow or in the next 10, 20 or even 50 years. But it will get better. The sun will return and we will enjoy its warmth shining down upon us.

So look for the good. Look for love and look to the light. It will lift us up. I BELIEVE that it will.

Dieter. F. Uchtdorf said: “Healing comes when we move away from the darkness and walk toward the hope of a brighter light.”

Pull back the curtains and see what you can see. It just might surprise you.