German International Student Adjusting to NDA


Ava Vande Corput, Staff Writer

Imagine coming to a whole new country to live for a period of time with people you barely know, going to an entirely new school that speaks a different language and not knowing your way around anywhere whatsoever.

That’s what foreign exchange students go through every year as they come to study at Notre Dame Academy High School.

Jan Espey, a sophomore from small town Hattingen, Germany, decided to come to America after his friend Ben Purps convinced him to visit.

After meeting with four different organizations to observe his ability in speaking the English language, one finally selected him, and before he knew it he was on his way to America.

“It was very scary at first, and I didn’t want to go. If you had asked me two months ago to come here, I would have said no. After I had met my friend, Ben, I thought America was fascinating and started to look into it.”

When Espey arrived at Notre Dame, one of his first questions was whether or not NDA had a table tennis team.

To his disappointment Notre Dame does not have a team, but back in Germany, there are two teams for his age. He plays on the second team in the number one position and plays games on Saturday afternoons.

The game is highly liked and played a lot in Germany.  Every year at the end of summer holidays about 1,500 people join to play tournaments against one another.

Espey has actively played this game for a few years now, and before he started playing, his father played table tennis.

The adjustment to the American way of life has been rough, but Espey is managing to pull through. The most difficult part of his transition into a new school is reading the textbooks and understanding people when a large number of people are talking at once.

However, the kind atmosphere of Notre Dame has made it a lot easier on him.

“Everyone is friendly here at Notre Dame, but I think that is everywhere in America. People are interested in strangers, so I always have someone to talk to,” he said.

Even though adjusting to everything has been difficult, Espey also likes different things about the United States. He finds it absurd that you can buy such a large bag of Skittles, and he is a bit jealous that only the small packs are for sale in Germany.

Espey is adjusting slowly but loves all the different things the Academy offers such as his favorite class, robotics. He loves the Friday night football games and can’t wait for Fall Fest since his school in Germany does not provide these types of activities.

In Germany, schools do not have extracurricular activities, dances, football games or even sports that are connected through school. You go to school to learn, and that’s it.

Espey is excited to try all the new things here in America and can’t wait for what the future holds for him.

Notre Dame offers the opportunity for students to meet other students from all over the world. Next time you see a foreign exchange student, spike up a conversation. You could be making a life-long friend from halfway around the world.