Rebecca Eaton traveling to Germany


Senior Rebecca Eaton

Senior Rebecca Eaton will be traveling to Germany over the summer for a foreign exchange program, something that not a lot of high schoolers say that they get to do.

Eaton is going to be in Germany through August of 2019 to around the end of June in 2020. She will be completing a fifth year of high school being taught completely in German while adapting to the culture.

Eaton started speaking German in 8th grade, and is currently in German 5 since she took AP German her junior year.

When describing Germany and what she was excited for, Eaton said, “ I have dedicated the last five years of my life to learning about a language and culture that I fell in love with my eighth grade year, so to be able to finally live in that environment is what I am most excited for. Just being given the chance to use what I learned in an immersion experience is a thrill itself.”

The program that she entered has a long application process with some requirements. However, you don’t have to know German to apply. In fact, Eaton isn’t the first Highlands student to get in. Anna Foose, who graduated in 2017, participated in the program the year after she graduated.

Eaton explained, The requirements to apply are to be between the ages of 15 and 18.5 by the time the program starts in August and have above a 3.00 GPA. No German knowledge is required because the program is a focus on learning the culture and language; however, knowing the language can definitely help you once you are over there.”

Eaton had to go through a long application process to be able to get to the semi-finals. Eaton described all the steps that she had to take in order to be able to have the opportunity to go to Germany.

“The application process is very intense and should not be taken lightly,” Eaton said. “As an applicant, one must write six 250-word essays over different ideas to see if you can adjust to an unknown environment. You also must receive two letters of recommendations, fill out your high school schedule, and tell what clubs you are involved in. This is due the first week of January and then early March, if selected, you will become a semifinals. As a semifinalist you must create a introductory video of yourself and attend one of three interview weekends. Here you will be with other semifinalist and have an interview while also working with other teenagers to overcome situations you may face while abroad and learn about the program more in-depth.”

Eaton learned about the program from the Highlands German teacher Frau Wilson, and applied both her junior and senior year. She was a semi-finalist last year, but didn’t get high enough in the list to receive the opportunity.

Wilson has been to Germany herself and reflected on her experience. She also lived with a family during her stay as well.

Wilson said, “I have visited Germany and it is absolutely gorgeous there! I love the culture, scenery, food, history, meeting new people, etc. When I was there I stayed with family and traveled across the country to see several different cities, so that will be similar to what Becca will do. Staying with a family is always ideal because then you are able to actually experience daily life firsthand.”

This year when Eaton applied, she finally got to be a finalist to go to Germany. She even had to go to Washington D.C to participate in an interview where she was selected to be a finalist.

While Eaton is over in Germany, she explained what she will be doing once she arrives.

She said, “ While over there, I will living with a host family for 9 of my 10 months. I will attending a local Gymnasium or Realschule, which are two forms of their high school. I’ll be taking all of my classes in German and adapting to the culture, while also sharing the American culture to those in my host family and school.”

Wilson described how excited she is for Eaton to take this journey with saying, “Becca is going to absolutely flourish in Germany! I cannot wait to hear all of the stories she is sure to have! I think she will love every new adventure and cherish the memories she makes. Certainly she will face challenges, but she will meet them with the grace and confidence I admire in her. This will offer her so many opportunities, and I am so very happy for Becca!”

Eaton will be placed with a host family once over there, and she has to write a letter to them before going. From there, the German company that she is traveling through will read the letter, and place her with a family that has similar interests.

Wilson overall said about her, “I could not be more thrilled for Becca! She has put in a ton of effort to make her dream a reality, and I could not be prouder of her and her accomplishment.”

With going to complete a fifth year of high school in a whole new environment, Eaton has worked hard for this opportunity to travel across the Atlantic to learn, but to also to have the experience of taking part in a life changing program.