Visiting from Germany: Alina Bodrov
Q: Where are you from?
A. “So I am from Germany, but my whole family is from Russia. So I am kind of mixed.”
Q. Why did you decide to become an exchange student?
A: “I actually wanted to be an exchange student like 2 years ago, but I was never sure if my mom was going to allow me to come because I was a crazy kid, that’s for sure. But I asked my mom if I can maybe do it because it was before I had to graduate school. Since I didn’t know what to do after my school, was like, ‘Okay I’m gonna ask my mom!’. And she was ‘Yeah, sure.’ So then I became an exchange student.”
Q: What do you miss most about Germany?
A: “I think the food, but also my grandma. My grandma, she makes the best food, the Russian food. But also the people, the parks and public transports. Here it is really hard to get out, like you have to ask if someone can drive you. It is like what can I do? [Friends] are always driving me, and you feel bad. In Germany you can easily go to a train or a bus and go into the city and go shopping or whatever.”
Q: What has been the biggest challenge for you coming here?
A: “COVID[-19]. Definitely COVID. Also trying to find friends. Like exchange students, some people don’t like exchange students, but some are super interested in you. Also like what to do here, like what can I do? I want to see something, but because of COVID you can’t. And like the host family. You are going to be 10 months with a host family. You don’t know if you’re gonna like them or if they like you, or if you’re going to connect with them or not. And the rules and everything. My English was okay actually. I was really surprised with myself that. I can understand them and they me because my English was not bad.I mean, I thought I wouldn’t understand anything and because of my grades in school, they were bad, like for English. But then I came here and my host family understands me and I understand them, and after time you learn it.”
Q: What’s been the easiest thing for you to adapt to here?
A: “Maybe cheer because I’ve been doing cheerleading since 5 years. In Germany I am on the all star-team because we don’t have a school team. It’s like when a new person comes in you don’t know what to do, everybody is like in their own groups, but after time we become friends.”
Q: What do you love or hate most about Virginia?
A: “I don’t know about Virginia that much, but I would say having public transports would be nice here.”
Q: If you could choose to stay here or to move back to Germany what would you do?
A: “Oh, I would like to stay here. Also because without COVID I want to see something. When I go back to Germany I have two and a half months where I do not have to do anything. I am probably going to try to come back here and see things on my own.”
Q: What’s one thing you expected to see when you came to America?
A: “I actually didn’t expect anything. I was like what comes, comes. But I was hoping I would see something more. But because of COVID, I understand it is hard and everything, but I want to see something more, not just here. I kind of know where everything is here after 10 months.”
Q: What has been your favorite part of the whole experience?
A: When my host family went to Chincoteague, it was pretty. The ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, I love it. And going out with friends. I have one friend, she is doing everything for me, driving me, showing me all the places and going to places like Gainesville or Fairfax. She is really trying to give me the experience to see something.”
Q: What has been the biggest cultural difference between here and Germany?
A: “The rules. When I first came here, the first months, I was just stuck at home because of online schooling. You can’t really find friends fast. Here in town you don’t really have options of what to do as a teenager. You have to mostly drive a long way to see something. We don’t have the freedom for the teenager. It’s just school and practice. I see a lot of the students are so concentrated in school and so concentrated in sports, it’s good, but also to go out and see something new, that’s the goal. I love to travel. I love to meet new people and new culture so that’s what’s nice. Like in Germany I have traveled a lot of places. Here in America you can travel in America, but a lot of students I’ve met, they’ve never been out of America.”