A Car Nation?

Have you ever visited an American suburb? If so you've probably noticed the almost never empty driveways in front of the obligatory garages. Even for middle-class families, it's common that everybody gets their own car. (At least in the small towns around Chicago.)
Not only the low car and gas prices (compared to Europe) but also the infrastructure make buying a car a worthwhile investment.
Due to wide-spread towns and missing public transportation, shopping, visiting friends, reaching the train station or going to school is significantly easier with a car.
Taking the young driving age into account America seems to be more of a car nation than Europe.
The minimum driving age is 16 years, in some states even 14! At first, this can be surprising for Europeans.
Being a big fan of cars and driving I favor the US laws and see them as helpful.
Recent studies also show that drivers who started to learn driving at a young age are less often involved in an accident.

And these are some interesting facts and differences between the US and Germany:

  diesel-powered cars     cars with manual transmission   gas price per liter
USA <5%     
7,8% 1,017 Euro
Germany 48%  58,1% 1,479 Euro


Laszlo Györy



America - The Fast Food Country

When you think of America the first thought which comes to your mind is about burgers, fried chicken,  colourful sweets and fast food restaurants.
Before we went to Chicago for a student exchange in April, we thought that American food isn't really different to ours in Germany.But we found out that this expectation wasn`t true.
You can separate American food into two groups: healthy food and fast food. At first we'll talk about unhealthy food. There is cheese everywhere!  Cheese Popcorn, cheese ice cream, burgers with tons of cheese and of course fried cheese. Futhermore the food is extremely oily and sugary.
On the other hand you can also find really healthy food. Every kind of food is produced in a gluten free, fat free and dairy free version, too, so you can find something for each diet. One point which has surprised us was that you didn't see the price but the nutritional information first if you want to order a meal from the menu. Even in the school cafeteria it was like this.
American sweets are really colourful and sugary. There are thousands of different kinds of each product. Our guest families told us the most popular ones are M&Ms, Nerds and Cheese Chips.We could also find Haribo in American stores but they are sweeter and have a lot more intensive colour.
Moreover, the servings were really big! For example when you go to the supermarket the normal milk carton was 5 liters and one jar of peanut butter is 1 kg. If you went to a restaurant most of the meals were too big for one person. For this reason you have to throw away a lot of food.
The prejudice that you find a McDonald`s in each corner of a big city is true. The same is true for Starbucks.  There are also many different fast food chains we don't have in Germany like Tacco Bell, Wendy's,  Five guys and a lot more. We could just find a few European restaurants. The most popular ones were American and Mexican restaurants.

And now some typical meals you can get in Chicago:
Firstly the deep dish pizza which is pizza with a lot of cheese in it and it is as high as a cake.
Another food you can get is caramel and cheddar mixed popcorn. It has such an intensive taste!
Portillos is a special fast food chain in Chicago. It can be compared to Hans im Glück in Munich.

All in all the food was very delicious! We really enjoyed our stay and the culinary experiences.But we were also glad to be back in Germany and have food which isn't that sugary and oily.

Tara Hupfer


Digital and technical America

In comparison to Germany American culture is in many aspects like sports, food, education and even consumption of goods very different. But the most interesting aspect for me was the fact that almost everything in America is based on technology.

This was actually my first time in the US and I was flashed  the moment when I came out of the airport. Everything was so huge and some things were also weird, if you compare them with what people are used to in Europe.

The first time I opened the door to Schaumburg High School was a little bit confusing, because literally every student was sitting on the side of the floor and using their cell phones to check their WhatsApp, Instagram and snapchat accounts. To this point I didn`t know that mobile phones were allowed in school and in class. There was also free WIFI in the whole school, which was sometimes better than my own internet hotspot at home. I was pretty shocked by what I experienced in class, because it was very chilled and nobody seemed to be studying and some teachers didn`t really teach. 60% of the students were sitting in class with their headphones on, watching videos on youtube. Many teenagers I  got to know were addicted to their mobile phones. Whenever their phone was dead they were kind of lost and  the most important  goal for them was to charge it.

A very funny thing I saw in America were automatic trash cans in restaurants :-). We always took the train downtown, where I realized that almost all the passengers had their tickets on their phones. Those are only two of the hundreds of great technological inventions in America.

All in all, the trip to America was very positive and interesting for me. I would recommend it to every student! I also want to thank the school and the organizers for this beautiful experience.

Benjamin Mustafic


Road structure in comparison: Germany-USA

The main difference between European and especially German and American cities is the way they are built and their road structure. Let`s start with German cities. In the center you can normally find churches, historic buildings, monuments and flats and, last but not least, the city hall. The outer areas are shaped by residential and industrial areas and we also find airports there. In comparison American cities are constructed and planned in an extremely different way. They are built like a chessboard. But let´s start with the center again. Here you´ll find office buildings in skyscrapers and shopping malls. Sometimes you can also see monuments. The inner part of the city is called downtown. And the outer parts are called suburbs where you´ll encounter smaller houses and a lot of free space. There are maps of Chicago and Munich to compare the two different ways of city planning.

Jannis, Jannik, Nico


School in Chicago

On our school exchange we, „the Germans“ went to school with our exchange partners for a couple of days. When we arrived at the campus, the first thing to notice was the huge parking lot surrounding the schoolbuilding.
The comparison with the teachers` parking lot back in Moosach High School was rather amusing, but we were already in the process of getting used to everything being bigger than in Munich;
This was the case for the lunchroom too, it had a nice high ceiling and the green hawk-logo of Bartlett High School painted on the walls.
On our first day we were shown the building, with all its well equipped art classrooms and science wings, its own car service station and, for some reason, a hedgehog inhabiting a tank in the physics room.
Somewhere around that moment was the point where it dawned on me I would never be able to make it out of that giant locker-hallway-maze alive on my own, so the Germans always had to make sure to walk with someone who knew the building when going from one place to another.
The next schoolday, after having passed the school`s security guy standing in the entrance and checking all the identity cards every pupil has to have on them (we got them too as a souvenir) we headed to my exchange partner`s classroom. They have those desks where the chairs  are attached, and larger classrooms for bigger classes, but otherwise it looks quite similar to schools in Germany. The atmosphere seems more realxed and personal, the pupils are allowed to eat
in class (that was one of the best parts for our exchange students).
There are some disadvantages though: Bartlett students get more homework, while at the same time having longer schooldays, and you always need a ride if you want to go somewhere after school.
So the afternoons can be quite stressful.
But all in all being in an American school is more relaxed, and riding home one of those yellow schoolbuses with a very chatty driver totally makes up for one extra hour of school. This can also be said for the good equipment like 3D printers and the car service station.

Nadine Meiselmann

 Security and Police in Bartlett/Chicago

On my first day of school in Bartlett I was immediately impressed with the huge school building and the amount of students. But a High school with 2500 pupils needs its own security system, especially to prevent school shootings like the ones that happened recently in the US. Therefore almost every school has its own police officer; furthermore, Bartlett High School has about 10 security staff members. Their job is to patrol in the hallways, to check the students` ID cards and show presence. The police officer had to report worse crimes, like drug abuse or violence etc. You are only allowed to leave the classroom after the bell rings or if you need to use the bathroom, but you have to take an extra ID card with you.

Police cars at the police station

As you can see in the picture on the left, I visited the Bartlett Police station. I was only able to go there because my exchange partner’s mother worked in a middle school and had a good relationship to a police officer. He was so kind to show me the station. I have to admit, I thought there would be a big difference between Germany and the USA but it`s very similar to a German police station.

I would say that one difference to Germany is the amount of police patrols, but that could be due to the amount of officers in the car: every officer in the US drives alone in one car, whereas in Germany every patrol needs more than one officer. Another difference is that American police cars are much better equipped, for example with laptops that are used to get all the relevant information for their missions, as you can see in the picture on the right .

The interior equipment of an American police car

According to the mother of my exchange student about every week people die in downtown Chicago because of shootings. Furthermore, I found out, that in 2016 around 750 people died from violence, that’s much more than I had ever expected. At least the state is investing into better security and hopefully the amount of casualties will drop in the next few years.

Elias Kirchner


Sports in American and German schools

Sports are an important part of the everyday life of most teenagers and young adults. But as with nearly all things concerning daily life there are big national differences in how they are carried out. In this article we will compare the contrasts of sports in Germany and the United States.

In Germany most schools only offer some of the most popular sports in school like soccer, hockey and athletics. Besides, this is strongly aimed at the younger students and if you aren’t good enough to get into one of the school teams you have PE only once a week. In addition to that the pupils try different sports nearly every second weeks, this makes it difficult to concentrate on the right techniques but it offers a great variation. That way everyone can find something that suits them. Everything else has to be planned outside of school. Thus many teenagers join a club outside school, plan their own schedules of matches or only do something for fun without any serious goal. If they are too lazy to organize anything, they just don’t do any sports, which is in fact bad because these young people miss the physical work their body needs to be healthy.

In America everything works a little different. The students there have a period of PE every single day. They have two choices, either go to the lesson that is offered by sports teachers or join one of the school clubs. It might sound cruel to force pupils to do something they absolutely hate, but in American high schools the options are a lot better than in Germany. Far more sports activities are offered there  and they have the opportunity to practice in the school area (not like in Germany where many schools have to take their students somewhere else to make for example their swimming team practice). In Schaumburg as well as in Bartlett the schools had huge track and field areas outside, swimming pools, gymnastic halls and walls to go climbing or grounds to do something extraordinary like wrestling. 
And instead of only practicing techniques and playing in practice matches against people from your own team the schools organize contests, so the players have a real reason to be motivated. Here the fighting spirit of the pupils is fired up.

Another interesting point is that in America the team spirit of the students is a lot bigger than in Germany. They identify with their mascot, attend matches and cheer on the players on the field. Some even have “Victory Songs” for their teams. If, in contrast to that, a school sports event takes place in Germany, you can hear the people moan. Nobody except the people involved in the contest is even slightly interested.

Elena Murr und Sophie Comes


Survey about media consumption

In these days the media has a huge effect on our daily life. And as a consequence of digitalization and globalization it is not surprising that the differences in using media - between German and American citizens - have decreased significantly. So we started a survey, in which we wanted the students and parents of both countries to answer several questions about their personal media consumption. The participants` average age is approximately 23 and there is a 50/50 balance between male and female attendees.

Taking a look at the results of the survey, you can see that the majority lowered the consumption of the “classic” media like newspapers, magazines or radio, which are rarely used more than a few times a week.  And if they are used, it is rather for educational or informative purposes than for entertainment.

In contrast to this, more and more people regularly watch TV or use the internet, whether to entertain themselves or to make themselves familiar with the news. This could be a result of the increasing digitalization of informative media like traditional newspapers. Both, the TV and the internet, are mostly used more than two hours per day. As we said earlier the differences between Germany and the US aren’t as big as they were 60 years ago. You can mainly see this in the comparison of the participants’ favorite TV shows, which displays that US shows like “The Big Bang Theory” have established in Germany. Furthermore, you can obviously see this in use of social media platforms which are quite the same. The most commonly used social media platforms are Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp. Additionally it must be pointed out that nearly every third attendee plays online games more than two hours a day.

But in our opinion the most important question was how important the participants consider freedom of press (scale from 1-10). And it revealed that for around 95% the observance of the freedom of press is vitally important for a working democracy. In addition to getting informed, freedom of speech and press is one of the main functions of the media in a democratic society.

Sarah Kannemann, Julian Rausch, Leonard Grube


Into the Woods


When we as the German students had come to Bartlett High School on the first day the second principal showed us the whole school. One of the first things he presented us was the huge auditorium. We were really impressed and he told us that the Bartlett High School auditorium is one of the  biggest in Illinois. There were preparations going on for the big musical performance. I don't think that you can compare our drama club at the GMM with this musical production. We had the chance to see one of the last rehearsals for the musical. Unfortunately we couldn't see one performance because they started the day we left. I got the feeling that schools in the US have more focus on the activities after school. The students get more support in these things. The musical setup looks very professional and also the voices of the students who are performing sound like voices of professional singers. I also noticed that in the US there are way more people involved. So all in all I would say that our German drama club has a more familiar and relaxed atmosphere but in the US you get more chances to get discovered and promoted.

Magdalena Wörlein


Gun laws in the USA

Ever since the Second Amendment was adopted on December 15, 1791 it has been allowed for American citizens to keep and bear arms. That Amendment was used as an auxiliary right to support self defense and to resist oppression. Nowadays state laws define the use and possession of guns and can vary from state to state. Because of that there are some states with stricter guns laws, which means that sometimes you would need a license or a permit to possess a gun. But carrying a gun in public without a permit is still allowed in some states. Whenever someone tries to make stricter gun laws, this causes heavy controversies, even though there have recently been 18 school shootings in 43 days. A big part of the problem is the way people, even children, can get hold of a gun. You either buy it in a gunshop and go through a background check or you just go to a gun show with an 18 year old and purchase a gun from a private seller without a backroundcheck and do that all legally. The most popular way of buying a gun is still via Facebook. Contact a private seller, skip the background check and legally buy a gun on the internet. But still, people want to defend their right to own guns, because it is a symbol of freedom and they picture a family with a gun as powerful and protecting. This is the way many Americans have been thinking about arms since the first settlers came to America. But it is not only the people, who have the control over the gun laws. Lobbying is a big factor when it comes to guns. One of the biggest lobby groups is the National Rifle Association. They spend about $3M per year to influence politicians in favour of lax gun policy. Politicians who are in favour of stricter gun laws have very bad ratings in polls and might not be elected. It will probably take a long time until there are real changes, if there will ever be any. The only change that might be possible, without changing the gun laws too much, is to fix the loophole concerning backgroundchecks.
40% of all gun sales are private sales. Would you get on a flight with 40% of the passengers bypassing the security?

Mark Seebode


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