East is infamous among its students for presenting a level of academic rigor unreasonable for everyone to succeed. But is it really so? According to Hannah Dannenberg, an exchange student from Berlin attending East for the year, Chapel Hill is really not all that bad.
When comparing East and her school in Germany, Dannenberg said it was “easy” at East and that the homework load was a lot higher in Germany. Dannenberg’s school is also more arts focused, often going on art and fashion oriented field trips. Students are required to take both Latin and English starting in first grade, explaining the high difficulty environment. Attending such a rigorous school before East may have given Dannenberg a leg up because she spoke fluent English before even coming to America.
“There’s no opportunity not to learn English,” Dannenberg said, in reference to her school in Berlin.
It’s not only the course load that is new to Dannenberg. As she tells it, many exchange students tend to group together at East.
“All my friends are mostly Turkish, mostly people who moved here or other exchange students because I feel like it’s hard to make American friends. People are kind of cliquey here. I feel like they don’t really give somebody a chance, they don’t see you. They smile at you and say ‘Hi,’ but it doesn’t mean something.” Dannenberg said. “It’s more that they want to be friendly and I’m not used to that, because in Germany when somebody’s smiling at you it means they’re really interested.”
While the students at East may not be entirely welcoming in Dannenberg’s eyes, she says the teachers in Chapel Hill are a lot more relaxed.
“Here they’re kind of friends with the people, that would never happen in Germany,” Dannenberg said.
She also said that they’re much more strict about phones in Germany- instead of asking you to put it away, teachers will take it and more often than not a parent has to come pick it up from the school.
With the ups and downs, Dannenberg is still enjoying her exchange year and says taking a year away from home is a great opportunity to grow.
“It’s nice for [learning] the language, and meeting new people, and being more self confident,” said Dannenberg.
By Madeline Brooks, Satire Editor