comments

Exchange meant to be for German student

Bavarian speaks five languages, plays soccer
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
-A +A
Katharina Georg didn’t expect to be living in Auburn for the second time when school started this year. Georg, 16, who goes by “Georgie,” is a German exchange student from the state of Bavaria. In April she stayed with Chris and Cathy Asbury for almost three weeks on an exchange program through her school and Placer High School. Georg applied for a scholarship to be able to come back to the United States this school year. She was awarded the grant, but wasn’t able to choose where she would be going. Two days before she left Germany, Georg found out she was being placed in Butte, Mont. After starting the school year, Georg discovered she would have to be moved. “After two weeks my host mom told me she was sick and she had to go to Arizona,” Georg said. “She had some problems. She was really tired all the time, and they were checking on her and couldn’t figure out what she had. It was pretty sad because my host dad had surgery the first week I came. He was sick and she was sick, and it just got complicated.” Georg said she doesn’t blame her Butte host family for what happened. “It was really emotional, because (my host mom) felt bad, because she had to give me away,” she said. Georg decided to take matters into her own hands. She messaged the Asburys’ daughter, Kim, and asked if she could come back to Auburn to live with the family. “Nobody really knew what was going on,” Georg said. “They couldn’t find anybody in Butte. I was just thinking, I don’t want to stay here if nobody really wants me. I was just imagining how it would be to live (in Auburn) again.” Cathy Asbury said she and her husband didn’t even hesitate when they heard the news. On Sept. 19 Georg arrived at Sacramento International Airport, and she started classes as a Placer High senior the next day. Now that she’s been at Placer High for a month, Georg said there are several things she likes about the community. “I really like the school spirit … and all the school sports,” Georg said. “In Germany we don’t really have that.” Georg is playing on an Auburn soccer team and plans to try snowboarding this winter. “I’m a skier, but I just felt like trying (snowboarding), because it’s pretty expensive to learn snowboarding in Germany,” she said. Georg was born in Serbia and speaks Serbian, German, English, French and Italian as well as the Bavarian dialect of German. Nick Schulte, who teaches German and social studies at Placer High, said, as a native speaker, Georg provides a lot of help as a teacher’s aide in his multi-level German class. Georg also seems to be adjusting well to the school and her peers, Schulte said. “She seems to be well received by the students,” he said. “They seem to like her. I think they are all interested in her, her travel and experiences. She’s really well adjusted. She’s a very mature, competent, hard-working young lady. She just kind of dropped right into her classes, but she works hard, and she is a credit to the school.” There are several differences between her life in Bavaria and in Auburn, Georg said. “I definitely hang out more with my friends during the week in Germany, because you have the afternoon free,” she said. “We don’t really hang out in malls. You are allowed to go to a pub when you are 16, so on weekends we will probably go to a pub or club.” Georg said she thinks a day in Auburn is more organized than a day in Bavaria, but the school schedule can be a little hard to deal with. “Having the same schedule every day (is challenging),” she said. “That is really hard for me, because every day in Germany you have a different schedule.” In Germany Georg takes 16 subjects a week and class periods are only 45 minutes long, so adjusting to hour-and-a-half classes can also be difficult, but they have their benefits. “Somehow it’s better to have longer periods, because you can focus on something more,” Georg said. Georg said she is looking to build up a certain area of her English skills. “Another thing (I want to do) would be starting to think in English,” she said. “You first think in German and then you translate it. You get really tired of that. I really hope by the end of this year I can really think in English.” Kim Asbury, 17, also a senior at Placer High, said having someone her own age in the house has been great. “I like having a sister because my sister is 7 years older than me, so I haven’t had any siblings living in the house since I was in sixth grade,” Kim Asbury said. “I think we have a pretty similar personality, which is nice. She is a little bit crazy, which is always a good thing. She can take a joke, which is nice.” Cathy Asbury said Georg fits really well in her family’s dynamic. “It’s like she has gone from being a guest in our home, to being part of our family,” Cathy Asbury said. “Whatever has to be done around the house, she chips in. She would make her mother proud. Kim … treats Georgie just like a sister.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com