Elder hosts shadow from across the globe

This time of year, the halls of Elder are known to be full of shadows, visiting Elder in order to help make their decision for which high school to attend next year. So far this year, we have seen shadows from unconventional places such as Anderson and Amelia, but perhaps none as strange as Austria. Yeah, you read that right—Austria. Today, Elder welcomed 16 year old Gideon Unger into its halls. Austria, which many of us are familiar with from the famous movie The Sound of Music , is a small country in Eastern Europe bordered by Germany to the north, Hungary to the east, and Switzerland to the west. Unger first came to America at the end of August as part of a foreign exchange program at Carroll High School in Dayton. Prior to coming to the United States, Unger lived with his parents, sister and brother in Graz—a town in Southern Austria. Due to complications with his host family, however, Unger was relocated a few weeks ago to Cincinnati where he is staying with the Dwyer family in Price Hill. Currently, Unger attends Gamble Montessori which is located in the Winton Hills neighborhood. Unsatisfied with the education he was getting at the Montessori, Unger’s host father, an Elder alumni, suggested that he shadow at Elder for a day. If Unger, liked it at Elder, Mr. Dwyer said that he would have him transferred out of Gamble and into the big purple building on 3900 Vincent Avenue. By the end of the day, Unger said that he could not imagine himself at another school, and that he “definitely wants[s] to attend Elder High School”. While Unger is 16 years old, he would come into Elder as a sophomore due to the differences between school curriculum in the States and in Austria. While Unger has had to take some time getting used to how different everything is in the United States, he says that he loves it here. “The food took some getting used to,” Unger explained,” but I am really starting to like it.” A typical dinner for Unger at home in Austria would be something like wiener schnitzel or Tafelspitz. Another major difference Unger has had to overcome in America is how the schooling is set up. In Austria, kids enter into Volksschule—the first stage of formal schooling—at the age of six. Austrian kids will spend four years in Volksschule and move on to the second stage of formal education—called Gymnasium—when they are ten years old. Austrians spend eight more years of school in Gymnasium and then—like most Americans—move on to University by the time they are eighteen or nineteen. Besides the grade levels being set up differently, Austrian schools are set up in a number of other ways too. First, the class schedule of an Austrian student will change on a weekly basis. Unger said that in a given week, he might have two primary classes and two primary minor classes every day. The next week, he will have completely different classes. This cycle goes on each month so that the typical Austrian will take 13 to 15 courses each year. An example of a primary class would be something like an Italian Language class or a Calculus class. These primary classes are required and all Austrian students must take them. Primary minors, on the other hand, are more like electives. One example of a primary minor from Unger’s school is robotics. Another difference in Austria’s school system is the grading scale. In Austria, the grading scale ranges from a 1 to a 5, with 1 being the optimal score. Unger explained that a 1 would be equivalent to an A in an American class. Likewise, a 5 would be synonymous with an F. Most schools at Austria do not offer clubs or sports. In order to participate in these extracurricular activities, the student would have to join a club team not associated with the school. “I play on a professional paintball club during my spare time,” Unger explains “and I used to play for a table tennis team, but I had to drop that a few years ago”. Unger says that if he attends Elder this year, he will for sure get involved with the paintball club. He has seen signs posted in the hallways and thinks it is really awesome that a paintball club is able to be organized through our school. With Austria being located in the middle of Europe, I asked him if he travels a lot. Unger answered in the affirmative and gave the following list of places he has visited: Italy, Prussia, Leonia, Croatia, Slovenia, France, and Germany. Because European countries are a lot smaller than the United States, many Austrian families take their vacations outside the country. Finally, I asked Unger what he does for fun. His response: “Drink”. In Austria, the legal drinking age is 14 if you are with your parents and 16 if you are not. Growing up in an environment that is less stringent about alcohol consumption, Unger explained that it is really just a social aspect of his culture. Before he left, Unger’s parents had a big party for him in which he said that there was a lot of alcohol involved. “In Austria, drinking is not really a big deal like it is in America,” he explained. Besides drinking, Unger said that he and his friends like to go to the Cinema for fun. Surprisingly, the majority of movies shown in Austria are filmed in Hollywood. For example, one movie that was showing in Graz before Unger left was The Avengers . The version of The Avengers shown in Austria was exactly the same as the one many of us have seen in the States. The only difference between Austrian and American movies is that, in Austria, German actors do voiceovers of the movies in German. While the actors in these movies are American, the voices are dubbed over in German—the official language of Austria. While there are a lot of differences between Austria and America, Unger really is not too different from any of us. After hearing how big American football was, Unger said that he would really like to go to the game Saturday. “Even though I do not know about American football, I think it would be fun to go and see it played,” said Unger. Keep on the lookout as we may just very well have our own foreign exchange student wandering the halls of Elder within the next few weeks!