Niles is her new home

Published 2:08 pm Thursday, January 27, 2005

By By ERIN VER BERKMOES / Niles Daily Star
When you're 16 years old imagine traveling half way around the world to a foreign country, leaving your friends and family for a whole year.
Well that's exactly what Dagmar Hoffmann of Germany has done. She is spending the year here in Niles as an exchange student at Niles High School.
Dagmar is from the village of Nieste, located in the central region of the country. She is the daughter of a forester and a homemaker and has one brother and three sisters.
So far she says her experience here in Niles has been great. The people at the high school and her host family have been wonderful.
Hoffmann is living with Alma and Diane Carter, who Hoffman said have really made her feel at home.
Since arriving the Carters have taken her to see different places nearby, as well as places such as Chicago and Detroit, and as far away as Memphis and Arkansas. "I'm glad that I have gotten to see different parts of the country," said Hoffmann.
While attending Niles High School Hoffmann is playing on the volleyball team. She appreciates all the clubs and sports that we have the opportunity to participate in here in the U.S., because in Germany they don't really have such things.
Of the differences between here and Germany, she said here we don't have to get out of the car for things like banking and drive through restaurants. "You can just stay in your car and get all these things done." said Hoffmann.
We go out to dinner here a lot more often she added. In Germany they really only go out for special occasions.
And our winter weather here is much colder than what she is used to in Germany.
Teenagers here in the U.S are more independent, since they can get their driver's license at the age of 16, said Hoffmann. In Germany you have to wait until you are 18 years old. She also noted that the cars we drive here are larger than the ones driven in Europe.
For anyone who is thinking of becoming a foreign exchange student Hoffmann said, "Do it! Don't think about being homesick, and just have a good time."
When Hoffmann returns home in June, she will have two to three years of school left depending on if they accept this year here. Then she plans to go to a university and possibly do something with languages.
Hoffmann's family is never far away. Her father reads the Niles Daily Star online every day and she talks to her friends and family regularly.