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Exchange student finds that there actually are people in Gregory

Eighteen-year-old Marie Schmidt is an exchange student from Germany, studying at Gregory High School this year. Her hometown of Gelsenkirchen is in the North Rhine/Westphalia state, and with a population of 262,528, it is the 11th largest city in the state and 25th largest in Germany, situated at the center of the Ruhr, the largest urban area of Germany. The city is very old, having been first documented in 450. Germany is composed of sixteen states, called Bundeslander.

The states each have their own constitution and are largely autonomous in regard to their internal organization. Bavaria is the largest state. Her home country is quite different from South Dakota. With a total population of 81 million and only slightly smaller than the state of Montana in size, it is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. And that is with onethird of the country still covered in forests and woodlands.

The city of Berlin is nine times bigger than Paris and has more bridges than Venice. Coming to such a small town was a big adjustment for Marie. “At first I thought, ‘Oh, can I even do something with people because there are nearly no people,’” she admitted. But she found that she really likes it. At home, Marie lives with a younger brother, who is 15, her parents, Jurgen and Sabine, a rabbit, and a bird. Her dad studied electrical engineering and is now a teacher, and her mother works in a financial company. She also has an older brother who is 30. She is making her home with the Cornelius and Dawn Waldner family in Dallas while she is in the United States.


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