Feature Story on North Hills’ Vanessa Lojewski


Riley O’Neil

  As you walk the halls up on the hilltop, everywhere you look you will see someone wearing north hills gear. Imagine a Friday in October without the football players wearing their jerseys, the cheerleaders without their uniforms, and all the students wearing red and white from head to toe. This came as a shock to Vanessa Lojewski because her school 4,136 miles away looked completely different. Some of the biggest differences between school here and in Germany is that in Germany, there really isn’t any school sports or any spirit. “For example, no one would ever wear a shirt with a school print on it”, said Vanessa. For students at North Hills, we could never believe it to be  any other way. So imagine what it was like for Vanessa when coming to North Hills. There are so many things that change when you move across the world. 


Vanessa Lojewski is a 17 year old foreign exchange student from Germany, who came to North Hills in September. I was given the privilege to ask Vanessa about what it’s like being a foreign exchange student here at North Hills, somewhere that we all call our home. Vanessa was introduced to a scholarship that she was qualified for by her teacher. After the application and a few interviews, she was chosen for this opportunity. 


There are so many differences Vanessa experienced when coming to North Hills. In Germany they don’t have the option to choose what classes they take. Depending on your grade you can have 11-15 classes. If you don’t pass 2-3 of these classes, you have to repeat the whole year. Another thing that Vanessa says is vastly different from school here is that, “Since in Germany students are treated more like adults, we get to go for breaks and lunch in the city and have many more freedoms.” At school here, we aren’t allowed to leave the premises of the building during school hours. So coming to America and being treated far more like children than adults was definitely something you have to get used to. Something that definitely made it easier in an American school for Vanessa is her ability to speak English, although it is not her first language. She speaks fluent Polish, German, English, and a little bit of Spanish. 


Although Vanessa loves and appreciates her experience getting to come here, she said that she couldn’t live here permanently. She’s made an amazing connection with her host family who she loves so much. One of her favorite things about her host family, the Goblicks, is their amazing sense of humor. She said her family at home also has a good sense of humor and it’s one of the reasons that she feels so comfortable with her host family. But her whole family and life is still back in Germany and it would be too hard to give that up. 


To Vanessa the hardest part of moving across the world was leaving all her friends and family and really just having to get out of her comfort zone, which we can all imagine how hard that would be so we really have to give her the credit for having the strength to do it on her own. It wasn’t easy at the beginning of her journey she said, “I’ve spent my whole life building up my social life in Germany, and then I came to a strange country where I didn’t know anyone and the whole culture was so different.” Over the course of time that Vanessa has been living here she has learned many things that she will remember for her whole life. She’s learned how to be on her own without her usual surroundings that she knows. She’s learned what she wants in life and what’s really important to her and just how to make the most of the moment. She’s had the chance to meet many different people and experience a great amount of things that have helped her to grow as an individual.