|6/12/2013 8:01:00 AM|
German student comes to U.S. to improve English, learn MMA
When exchange students come to the United States, they often look forward to experiencing the culture first-hand, improving their English, or perhaps trying one of hundreds of activities that make the U.S. unique.
But ask Nico Schoenholz of Ludwigshafen, Germany, what he appreciated learning in the U.S. and his face lights up - "mixed martial arts," he says.
"After about six months, a (MMA) teacher moved here," explains Schoenholz, whose host family has been the Thomas and Alexina Ogeka family of Windom. "I was going to do mixed martial arts in Germany, but then I moved. It was a little late (in starting MMA in Windom), but it worked out.
"The most fun for me here has been the mixed martial arts."
He plans to continue his MMA instruction in Germany with hopes of achieving his Black Belt within five years.
That wasn't the only American activity he looked forward to experiencing. He also played football in the fall.
"It was fun and a different experience than other sports because of the gear. It was cool, but I sucked," he says with a laugh. "I was good at tackling, but, at first, I didn't understand how the game was played. 'Why do they have different players on defense and offense?' We totally don't have football in Germany and I only heard about in movies."
While that was the recreational education he received, he also accomplished an academic educational goal - improving his English.
"Before I came here, I couldn't speak much English, but now I can speak a little bit more," he says.
And, culturely, he connected with his American family.
"I hang out with these guys," he says of the Ogeka brothers. "We would go to the Cities or Worthington."
While English and MMA were two of the benefits of spending the 2012-13 school year in the U.S., there was also another reason he chose to become an exchange student.
"My mother said so," he says, half-joking, but turning quickly to a more serious tone. "She wanted me to learn English because it's good for applications to different schools. We have to have English as a language. If I'm advanced in English, it's good for my schooling.
"My sister was an exchange student, too, and liked it. She was in Regina, (Saskatchewan) Canada. She had a lot of fun and visited her host family this summer."
Windom, however, is a far cry from his home in Germany. His home for the past 10 months is a fraction of the size of his German hometown of Ludwigshafen. Moreover, Ludwigshafen was only minutes from the even larger cities of Mannheim and Frankfurt. Windom is 2½ hours from comparable-size cities such as Minneapolis and St. Paul.
For more on Nico, see the story on the Faith & Family page in the June 12 issue of the Cottonwood County Citizen on newsstands today.