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Beyond the Cave

From Tuolumne to Bonn, Germany

SHS Student Alex Calabrese studies abroad
Alex Calabrese
Alex Calabrese has been living and studying in Bonn, Germany, for the last two months. He has been enjoying traveling and sight seeing. Here, he is at a look-out point in Würzburg.

On Aug. 9th 2023, Alex Calabrease, would-be Summerville junior, left Tuolumne County to continue his educational pursuits abroad. His choice? Bonn, in west Germany. 

Last fall, Alex’s step-mom suggested he apply to The Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange program (CBYX), a program designed for motivated high school students who want to study abroad. 

After the application was submitted, Alex shared that part of the process was an interview in order to be considered for enrollment. 

Alex was accepted into the program, and has been living and going to school in Bonn, Germany since August. He lives with his host family, Miriam and Lina. 

Once he arrived, Alex had to attend a month-long language camp to assimilate into Germany, particularly the language. During this time, he stayed in a youth hostel before joining his host family. 

Alex’s typical day looks different from that of a typical Summerville student. He takes public transportation that is generally unavailable in this area, learns in German, and has to work around the language barrier when communicating with his peers. Class lengths range from thirty minutes to ninety minutes and his school day runs from 8:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. 

Alex shared some of the key differences between the school system in Germany versus in the United States. 

“The day varies from two classes a day up to six classes a day. And all different lengths of time. The system in general is very different. Once you are in secondary school, the course work starts to become more specialized to your interests.” 

— Alex Calabrese

Alex has been enjoying his time in Germany attending classes and exploring the town of Bonn. 

“My host-mom and host-sister have been very helpful in showing me around the town,” shared Alex.

One downfall Alex is experiencing is the time difference between Bonn and home. The time difference is nine hours, and he has to be strategic about when to communicate with his family.  

Alex also shared that there are well-enforced rules that each exchange student must follow, although he has not struggled in following them himself. 

“There is no drinking, no driving, and I can’t work,” explained Alex. 

Alex will spend ten months in Bonn exploring all that Germany has to offer. He is looking forward to traveling and exploring Amsterdam, in particular. Alex will return home in May of 2024 and complete his senior year here at Summerville. 


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Peyton Monsen
Peyton Monsen, Sports Editor
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