Buena welcomes German exchange student, Jonna Noldt

Senior Jonna Noldt compares German student life with American student life


Sierra Ruiz

Jonna Noldt writes away in Mrs.Ensminger’s English class

From the Hamburg region of Germany, Buena welcomes a new exchange student, senior Jonna Noldt. Noldt arrived in America just before the start of this school year. She decided she wanted to join the exchange program after her brother came to America during the summer. 

“My brother went on the one-month exchange and we also had Americans come to us and that was cool, I knew I wanted to do that,” Noldt said. “He said the one-month exchange was short and I wanted to do a whole year and experience more.”

Just like any new student, Noldt was nervous for her first day“It was scary because I didn’t know what was going on,” Noldt said. “I was quiet because I was scared to talk but then people here were really nice to me.”

Although school in a new country can be scary, Noldt adjusted quickly and noticed the differences Buena showed compared to her school back home. “I like that you have school sports, we don’t have them,” Noldt said.  “You guys also have school spirit, we don’t have that so it’s boring.”

Aside from the spirit and sports, Noldt appreciates Buena’s late start time as well as our BARK classes.  

Outside of school, Noldt took notice of the different customs and celebrations here as well since the  Fourth of July and Thanksgiving are not celebrated in Germany. Here, Halloween and Christmas are much bigger celebrations in Noldt’s eyes. 

“Halloween is much bigger here as well as Christmas,” Noldt said. “We don’t decorate the outside of our houses for Christmas. Halloween is different because as soon as you’re a teenager there [Germany], you can go and party.”

In Germany, 16 is the  legal age to consume alcohol. Due to this, people from the ages 16 and up enjoy attending themed parties and clubs instead of trick or treating with the youth, a major difference between American culture and German culture. As far as outside decorations on Christmas go, it has simply never been a German tradition to have them. 

Though being a Buena student and living in California has been great for Noldt, many can’t help but wonder what she does when she’s homesick.

“I’m usually really good with that and don’t usually get homesick but when I do it helps to just keep myself occupied with music or friends,” Noldt said. 

A former overseas pen pal, now the best friend of Noldt’s, is senior Heidi Garcilazo who’s known Noldt since their sophomore year. At first, the two could only communicate via a pen pal program and through the screen during the rise of COVID. “It was really hard to be close through a screen but I think we did a good job,” Gacrilazo said. “She was always really sweet, we bonded a lot during the summer exchange.”

In addition to their bonding during the exchange, Garcilazo identified the main aspects of Noldt’s personality. “[She’s] one of a kind and has great jokes,” Garcilazo said. “She has a great vibe and definitely has no trouble making friends.”


She was outgoing, personable, and respectful, and that hasn’t changed a bit.

— Molly Ensminger

Although Noldt claims she was quiet and nervous on her first day of school, she is described to have “come with confidence” by English teacher Molly Ensminger.“[she’s] adapted really well. She was outgoing, personable, and respectful,” Ensminger said in an email interview. “And that hasn’t changed a bit.”

Ensminger has also participated in the exchange program and said she enjoys speaking to Noldt in German while in class. “I love speaking German with her and watching how she interacts with classmates,” Ensminger said. 

“She has a wonderful, bright energy,” Ensminger said. “She is a great student and clearly knows how to enjoy life.”