From all corners of Earth
The cultures of Germany, Poland, Brazil and Columbia are accenting Wadena-Deer Creek High School and the community this school year as seven foreign exchange students hone their English skills and get a taste of small town America.
Victor Costa, 17, said Wadena is very different from the large city of Recife, Brazil, that he is from.
"Everybody knows everybody here," he said. "If you walk the streets you say 'that's my cousin, that's my uncle.' It's like, come on, the whole city is your family!"
The town may be small, but Niluefer Kaya, 16, of Germany said her first impression of America is that everything is big.
"The country is really big, the streets, the houses, the food, it's really big," she said.
Kaya's family immigrated to Germany from Turkey. She wanted to become an exchange student to experience yet another culture, she said.
Diana Barriga, 17, traveled from Bogata, Columbia to "experience the real American life and to get to know more people."
She wants to improve her English so she can study international business.
"English is a very important language in the world," she said.
Improving language skills is a common goal of the students.
Poland native Maria Jezior, 16, said she wants to "know English better, and see new places and new people."
The biggest differences she has discovered between Poland and America are the buildings and food, she said. Buildings in Poland are taller and made of block. American food is a lot of McDonald's, she said.
For Brazilian Maisa Nami, 16, differences in eating habits also means having dinner at an earlier time. She said her Brazilian family has dinner at 9 p.m. instead of 5 p.m.
The culture is new, but Nami is making new friends and has taken a trip to Valley Fair with her host family.
"It's awesome," she said. "It's like a mini-Disney."
Nami has visited Disney World twice, she said.
Sabina Rilling, 16, of Germany, has also been to America before. She came to visit friends and she liked it here, she said.
Rilling comes from the small town of Weillheim, which she said has a population of 9,000.
"Wadena doesn't seem that small," she said. "In Germany everything's closer."
Fellow German Tobi Guenther, 16, comes from a relatively small town as well.
"I'm from a 65,000 population town," he said. "For Germany, that's a small town."
His home town of Dorsten offers pretty much the same stuff as Wadena, he said.
Something that Guenther said he has gotten to do in Wadena that would be more difficult in Germany is to go fishing. He said Germans need to take a special test before getting a fishing permit.
Guenther went fishing on a vacation he took with the family he is staying with in Wadena.
"[They're] very nice people," he said about his host family.
Guenther's father is an engineer at a large power company in Germany and his mother stays at home. He has been in America for three weeks, and he says he does not miss them that much yet.
"I've got so much to do here, I've got no time to think about it," he said.
Some of the exchange students will be away from their families for half of the school year and other students won't return to their homes until the school year is done. These students all come to Wadena from very different backgrounds. However, they all share a willingness to learn a foreign culture and have new experiences.
"I ... like to open my knowledge to the world," Barriga said. "Have fun, enjoy lots of things, learn. I'm just looking for a good year."