After spending over two years living in Düsseldorf, Germany, Aakanksha Hiremath has returned to the Blue Valley School District for her junior year. She was previously a student at Harmony Middle School, but relocated for her father’s pharmaceutical job.
Attending the International School of Düsseldorf allowed her to create new friendships and gain experiences which she said impacted her as a person by giving her a broader perspective on other cultures.
Hiremath said when moving back to BVNW, she felt a change in the mood from her two years abroad in Düsseldorf.
“Things kind of change even though you don’t notice it. It was kind of weird at first but I feel like it was easier to get back to it at first because it was a place I knew,” Hiremath said.
According to Hiremath, making friends in the United States is a completely different process than in Germany. At the International School of Düsseldorf, students are grouped into homerooms that stay with them throughout their daily classes. Since Hiremath was with the same people all day, she said it was easier to approach them.
“You can do the same [at BVNW], but people over here aren’t as open,” Hiremath said. “Over there, there used to people that are new so they’re more open and communicate more freely.”
According to her father, Praveen Hiremath, this attitude took time as the first year was a period of adjustment.
“In the beginning, she used to feel that she was kind of segregated. It took her some time to really make some friends,” Praveen said.
Although she had a hard time at first, Hiremath said her school made an effort to create friendships by bringing the students on field trips that stressed the importance of inclusivity.
“When we go on these trips, we learn more about other people and you can really talk to anybody in that grade,” Hiremath said. “They don’t seclude anybody because they understand.”
In terms of academics, Hiremath said that BVNW coursework is more rigorous than her previous school with the major difference being the lack of final assessments.
“I don’t want to say we had finals, but we just had a [unit] test at the end of the semester,” Hiremath said.
However, due to the limited amount of time the average student spends at the International School of Düsseldorf, extra-curriculars were less of a focus.
“I would say here you have more options,” Hiremath said. “You have a lot of different clubs you wouldn’t think would be clubs like Korean Culture Club and Ukulele.”
Although Hiremath acknowledges the pros and cons to each lifestyle, she says she would prefer to move back to Europe in the future. Hiremath said she wants to study in the U.K. because of its great reputation in the field of medicine and she wants to experience the international culture again.