Last November, two Australian high school students, Caitlin Bootsma (16) and Ava Nielsen (17), departed from Perth, Western Australia, to come to Germany. Caitlin came to know Hannah Pause (Ea), and Ava found herself to have Johanna Karaus (Ec) as her host sister for about two and a half months. On January 23, 2020, Luisa and Frido of Dr.Vogeler’s English class interviewed Ava and Caitlin:
What is the biggest difference between Germany and Australia (other than the climate)?
Caitlin: Germans tend to be more straightforward. Ava: Yeah, Australians are definitely more laid-back.
What are the differences between German and Australian culture?
Caitlin: Germans are more on time, and independent. Ava: The differences are not as big as suspected, at least not too much with young people.
Do you have any hobbies in Australia – like a sport that is not practiced in Germany?
Ava: Yeah, netball, which is a sport a bit similar to basketball. Here I play hockey with Johanna.
What animals could people see in Australia?
Caitlin: Roos, koalas, and the Tasmanian Devil.
Have you had contact with poisonous animals in Australia?
Ava: Yeah, I’ve seen snakes, and spiders, you just spray them with an insect repellent. Caitlin: We had a snake in the classroom of our primary school, I remember that. My teacher killed it with a shovel.
Do you have any special traditions in Australia?
Ava: We have Australia Day and other public holidays such as the Queen’s Birthday and Perth Day, as well as Christmas and Easter, but we celebrate them differently.
Have you been to Germany before?
Ava: Yes, I have been on a music trip a few years ago, and we were in the south for a couple of days.
What do you like the least about Germany?
Caitlin: It’s definitely the cold weather.
Which stereotypes about Germans are true?
Ava: They do drink more beer, but not too much! Caitlin: We’ve seen a guy in leather pants.
What was the strangest thing you have seen in Germany?
Caitlin: The guy in leather pants.
Hannah Pause (Ea) and Caitlin Bootsma (Perth, Australia) exploring St. Peter’s Church.
Do you celebrate Christmas in Australia?
Ava: We do on the 25th, but it’s smaller, less time, with one big celebration with our whole extended family all together. We also go to the beach in the morning with just our immediate family and then open presents. Caitlin: It’s family dinner, presents—and not going down to the beach.
Do you have a Christmas market in Australia?
Caitlin: Sometimes there is, but it is hot at that time—and therefore not to be recommended.
How do Australians deal with the topic of alcohol?
Ava: There are much stricter rules until 18, which is the legal drinking age.
Did you like the way Germans celebrate Christmas?
Caitlin: I did, it’s a small number of people, but nice, because of the different traditions.
Johanna Karaus (Ec) and Ava Nielsen (Perth, Australia) in front of Holsten Gate.
Why did you want to do an exchange in Germany?
Caitlin: My family has experience with exchanges, and Germany is a beautiful country. Ava: I’ve learned German in school, so I thought I’d apply for the exchange and was fortunate enough to receive it.
How is the school system in Australia compared to Germany?
Caitlin: We haven’t got 90-minute sessions, and school regularly runs from 8.40 to 2.50. Ava: We only have six subjects at the advanced level, and the school day is shorter, from 8.30 to 3.30. At the end of year 12, students try to get a good ATAR, the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank, which basically is a score to apply to universities.
How have you perceived the German people?
Ava: They are really nice.
What has been your best experience in Germany?
Ava: They are many, but perhaps feeling home away from home, with my host family. Caitlin: The baking.
What has been the most beautiful place for you in Germany so far?
Caitlin: It’s Nuremberg, the youth hostel next to the old castle. Ava: For me it’s the cathedral in Cologne, skiing in the Black Forest, and the colorful Lubeque houses.
Imagine you are part of the Australian government: What would you want to adapt in Australia that you have seen here in Germany?
Ava: The focus on the environment, everything here is bio. Caitlin: Australia is not eco-friendly.
Would you come back to Germany one day?
Ava: 100%! Caitlin: My family will return to Germany next Christmas.
The interview was conducted by Luisa Sauer (Ed) and Frido Uebachs (Ed).