Zoe Jagelski Enters Year-long German Exchange

Maggie Mahoney, Walpole High School

NESPA Winner: Feature Story, 2022

The Searchlight, Walpole High School, Walpole, MA

After living in Walpole her entire life, junior Zoe Jagelski decided she wanted to experience a new perspective by entering a foreign exchange program. Despite the extensive application process, Jagelski was selected to join a group of teens from across the nation in a full year abroad in Germany. This August, Jagelski took off for her new home in Gießen, Germany.

The first shock was the environment of her new city. Gießen, with a population nearly four times that of Walpole, was much larger than she expected. Considering the size, Jagelski was surprised by the lack of cars used and the amount of biking or walking done instead.

“In general, people care more about the environment here,” Jagelski said. “For example, my host family has four different recycling bins and we only use the car around three times a week because we bike a lot here and the buses and trains are way better than in the US.”

The most difficult part of her transition, however, was the new language. Never having learned German before being fully immersed in the language made all aspects of life in a new country even more difficult, but Jagelski credits her host family for making the adjustment to her new life as easy as possible.


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