Los Altos resident Emily Wildanger is spending her junior year of high school studying in Germany through Youth for Understanding International Exchange.
The Los Altos High School student said learning a foreign language and exploring Europe is always something she has wanted to do. She left for Niederwiesa, Germany in July 1997 and will return to Los Altos in July 1998.
In a letter from Germany, Wildanger wrote that she has not experienced "much homesickness" because although she arrived not knowing how to speak a word of German, she learned the language quickly and has been able to "make good friends."
Wildanger realized she was fluent in German after coming home from basketball practice to join her host family in watching television. Wildanger said she understood the television movie so easily that she first thought it was being broadcast in English.
"The best experiences are the small ones which make it obvious that I'm beginning to identify with the culture and become familiar with the language," wrote Wildanger about the experience.
Wildanger said her expectations about living in Germany have been "exceeded." She didn't expect "cobblestone streets, cute houses or snow in October," Wildanger said.
Wildanger is among the more the 175,000 students in the past 45 years to live in a foreign country as an exchange student through Youth for Understanding International Exchange, a program that provides opportunities for people of widely differing backgrounds to learn about each other.