Students give life in Picton a big tick

22:16, Nov 06 2012

Small class sizes and swimming with dolphins are big perks of living in Picton, a pair of German exchange students say.

Queen Charlotte College year-12 German exchange students Valentin Mueller and Simone Folgner, both from Munich, have been in Picton since July 16 and will stay until mid-December.

Mr Mueller said the first thing to make an impression on him at the college was the small class sizes.

His school in Germany, Humboldt-Gymnasium Vaterstetten, had 1700 students, with about 28 students in each class, whereas Queen Charlotte College had about 400 students "and about 10 students in each class".

The students learned 14 subjects back home, whereas in New Zealand they had an average of six.

"School in New Zealand feels more like the main place of a student's life," Mr Mueller said.

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German students attended sporting clubs separate from schools and they tended to befriend people in the same age bracket, while the small population at Queen Charlotte College meant people had friends of various ages, he said.

The class numbers at the college were also smaller than Ms Folgner's school, Ludwigsgymnasium Munchen, and she believed they could provide a better learning environment.

"Teachers are much more relaxed here. There's more of a relationship between them and the students.

"If you're not good at something, the teachers are really going to help you. In Germany, if you don't get it, you quite often have to learn it yourself after school."

Both students aimed to improve their English and had made friends at the college.

"I'm in a group of six girls and every one of us is from a different country," Ms Folgner said.

"I haven't really felt homesick because it's always really busy.

"One minute you start thinking, ‘Oh, I want to be at home,' then next you're thinking, ‘It's so cool here'."

The students enjoyed kayaking, diving and swimming with dolphins, among other activities, and Ms Folgner said she appreciated the opportunity to learn about aquaculture in a small town.

"You can go sailing - I can see the sea outside my house.

"Even after one week, I couldn't believe I'm in New Zealand."

Anyone interested in hosting an exchange student for a term or all of next year can phone Queen Charlotte College international student co-ordinator Ray Fitzgerald at the college, 03 573 6558.

The Marlborough Express