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Trading Germany for America

Exchange student turns in his handball for a football

November 24, 2013
by Brock Buesing - Register Staff Writer (bbuesing@faribaultcountyregister.com) , Faribault County Register

Justus Thelen wasted no time diving into American culture.

He arrived in Elmore on Aug. 12 and started football practice the next day.

Thelen is from Duesseldorf, Germany. He loves sports, but never played football before.

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Back home, Thelen said he got into handball because of his best friend. The German native has been playing for the last six years.

"All I knew about football was that there were lines and you can score a touchdown," Thelen says. "They made me the kicker, because honestly, it was a good fit for someone who didn't know much."

The confusing play calling terms would have been difficult for Thelen to understand. He was fully aware that it would have been a challenge to memorize all of the offensive or defensive sets.

A mixture of nerves and excitement filled his head before the Buccaneers' first game of the season, according to Thelen.

The Bucs defeated Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial 42-6 and Thelen was six for six on extra point attempts.

"After I got that first game out of the way, I felt more relaxed," Thelen explained. "It felt great to contribute to the win."

The German native is impressed with Americans and how they do so much outside of school and still have time to work on school assignments.

Thelen admits that back home it is completely different 100 percent of students' time is focused on school and getting good grades.

"I wish I?could be this busy and occupied all the time," Thelen says. "It is crazy how people balance sports, homework, friends and everything."

He plans to keep a busy schedule, too. Thelen will be participating in basketball this winter.

His host mother, Vicki Boeckman, has had 15 prior exchange students and she always wants them to experience everything.

"I strongly encourage them to get involved and make friends," Boeckman says. "I am proud that Justus is keeping busy and it also helps him work on his English."

Thelen surprised himself by saying he misses his family, but he thought he would miss them more.

He has two sisters and a brother back home. Lea, 16, is his twin sister. Hannah, 22, and Jasper, 19, round out the Thelen household. His father's name is Franz-Joseph and his mother's is Ursula.

Thelen recently traveled to Chicago with the Boeckmans. They did all of the tourist attractions and went on bus tours of the city.

His host family also took him to Denver, Colo., over Education Minnesota weekend to visit their son.

Going to the Black Hills to see Mount Rushmore was also another fun experience, according to Thelen.

As for Thelen's future, he is unclear what he wants to do.

"Teaching would be fun, but it seems really difficult," Thelen says. "I really want to go to college, probably in Germany, but I don't know exactly for what subject."

According to Thelen, people from Elmore and his teachers and fellow students at Blue Earth Area High School have all been very friendly. His father's name is Franz-Joseph and his mother's is Ursula.

Thelen recently traveled to Chicago with the Boeckmans. They did all of the tourist attractions and went on bus tours of the city.

His host family also took him to Denver, Colo., over Education Minnesota weekend to visit their son.

Going to the Black Hills to see Mount Rushmore was also another fun experience, according to Thelen.

As for Thelen's future, he is unclear what he wants to do.

"Teaching would be fun, but it seems really difficult," Thelen says. "I really want to go to college, probably in Germany, but I don't know exactly for what subject."

According to Thelen, people from Elmore and his teachers and fellow students at Blue Earth Area High School have all been very friendly.

"Everyone helps if I?have any questions," he explains. "Coach Kuechenmeister especially. He is so great and respects everyone."

Since football is over, Thelen started practicing with the basketball team.

"It is another thing to look forward to," Thelen says. "I am a very competitive person. Keeping busy keeps me involved and makes me feel like I belong."

"Everyone helps if I?have any questions," he explains. "Coach Kuechenmeister especially. He is so great and respects everyone."

Since football is over, Thelen started practicing with the basketball team.

"It is another thing to look forward to," Thelen says. "I am a very competitive person. Keeping busy keeps me involved and makes me feel like I belong."

 
 

 

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