Henry Bukowski-Thall ’20 interviews Finja Buhl, a Grade 11 exchange student from Wolfsburg, Germany (shown second from right in photograph).
Henry: How old are you?
Finja: I will be 17 at the end of October.
Henry: Tell us a bit about where you are from.
Finja: I am from a city called Wolfsburg in the northern part of Germany, about 200 km west of Berlin. It is twice the size of Portland, but still considered relatively small for a German city. Volkswagen was founded in Wolfsburg. The main factory and headquarters are still there.
Henry: Is Finja a common German name?
Finja: Not really. It’s Finnish and means “the little and fine one.” (Maybe not perfect since I am 6 feet tall!)
Henry: What made you decide to become an exchange student?Finja: It was something I always wanted to do ever since I started learning English in kindergarten. I also love to travel and am pretty adventurous.
Henry: How did you end up at Waynflete?
Finja: I applied for a scholarship from an organization called ASSIST, which offers an opportunity to study at an American independent school for a year. They try to find the best matching school for the student. I was very happy to be assigned to Waynflete!
Henry: What are your favorite things to do?
Finja: I love trying out new things. I enjoy crafts, playing music, and being creative. I like playing sports like handball (the European version), downhill skiing, ballroom dancing, and dragonboat. I just like having fun and challenging myself.
Henry: How are schools different in Germany?
Finja: First of all, you have around fifteen subjects each school year. This means that I have each subject only once or twice a week. We have to learn English and an additional world language. School does not include any extracurricular activities, so I usually go home for lunch each day. Those are just a few of many differences.
Henry: Do you yodel?
Finja: Yes, of course! And every day, everyone in Germany wears Lederhosen or Dirndl and drinks beer and eats pretzels. (Just to clarify, this is pure sarcasm!)
Henry: What’s your favorite part of Maine so far?
Finja: Spending time with the family on Cliff Island in Casco Bay. And Outdoor Experience!
Henry: What’s your least favorite part of Maine so far?
Finja: I miss my friends in Germany. I really do love them. And my parents, too. (Mama, Papa, wenn ihr das hier lest, hab’ euch lieb!)
Henry: What are you most looking forward to this year?
Finja: Gaining independence, getting to know a new culture, making friends—just making a bunch of great and unforgettable memories!
Finja is an ASSIST scholar-student. ASSIST is a U.S.- based nonprofit organization that matches academically talented, multi-lingual international students with American independent secondary schools.