German exchange student embraces Saratoga culture

April 3, 2008 — by Emily Chen

As throngs of students hurried through the hallways on the first day of second semester, one figure was walking slower, taking her time to figure out the complicated arrangement of classrooms. Senior Inga Feldman, an exchange student from Donaueschingen, Germany, was finding her way in a new world.

“I had a lot [of trouble finding my classes]. I was just walking around, looking, and the principal asked me ‘Are you looking for something,’ and I said yes,” said Feldman. ”[Jeff Anderson brought me to my classroom] and on the way he told me he was the principal.”

Feldman came to Saratoga as part of an exchange program and is staying with a host family in Los Gatos. Although she originally applied to attend Los Gatos High, they did not accept her, allowing Feldman to experience one semester as an American student at Saratoga High instead.

Not only did Feldman find navigating the hallways difficult, but the very concept of moving classrooms between periods was new to her.

“At our school, there are only two buildings. We have a middle school building and a high school building,” said Feldman. “We don’t have math class [in one room] and then go somewhere else [for English class]. [Students] stay in one room and the teachers move around.”

Feldman’s class in Germany had 24 people and they stayed together for five years, creating a close-knit group of friends. She found the teaching style here to be different as well, describing the teachers as “more mellow” in comparison to Germany’s “stricter” teachers.

“In Germany, it’s learning by doing and we do more in-class work. Here it’s like you get told the stuff and you have to practice it [at home] and that’s it,” said Feldman.

For Feldman, the teachers and students here had almost a role-reversal compared to her school in Germany. Although Saratoga teachers were perhaps less strict than she was expecting, her impression of the students was one of studiousness.

“The students are all so hard-working. I thought they would be like ‘Oh, ok school,’ and talk a little in the classroom, but they are all very well-educated,” said Feldman.

Though she will only be enrolled for one semester, Feldman plans to take advantage of everything Saratoga has to offer by joining the track team, the string orchestra and other activities that other students may take for granted.

“I want to go watch the Sharks play hockey and I want to see Alcatraz and the sights there,” said Feldman.