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By Erin Melwing

News Intern

On the first day of school in less than a month, at least one Henry County High School senior will have a fascinating response to the clich question, “What did you do this summer?”

Josh Barnett, age 17 and resident of New Castle, is the son of Angie Imel and stepson of Bryan Imel. This summer, he participated in a foreign exchange program through E.On, his stepfather’s place of employment.

The program, “Making Friends,” paired Barnett with a 17-year-old boy from Kassel, Germany.

“My stepfather works at E.On also and he asked me if I want to make this exchange and I say yes, sure. So I went here,” Thore Poppitz, German exchange student, said.

Barnett traveled to Germany for two weeks and then returned to the United States along with Poppitz. Poppitz will stay in the states for two weeks. E.On paid all the expenses, according to Barnett.

“The two weeks went by fast,” Barnett said. “I would have liked to stay longer, it was nice there.”

Poppitz, born near Hamburg, Germany, has lived in Kassel for the last five years. He visited America for the first time in 2005 when he was an exchange student for school in Appleton, Wis. Barnett has lived in Henry County his entire life and had never visited Germany before this summer.

“We visited Frankfurt, Hamburg, Luluebeck and Kassel,” Barnett said.

Barnett’s first impression of Germany was the cleanliness. The biggest difference between Germany and Henry County, according to Barnett, was the recycling.

“You have to recycle. There are special bins you put everything in,” Barnett said.

Poppitz’ first impression of Henry County was that the town was not very big and that every house is about one kilometer to the other house.

“If you don’t have a car here, you can’t do anything,” Poppitz said.

In Germany, almost nobody drove, according to Barnett.

“It makes me feel lazy because they walk and rode trams and we drive,” Barnett said. “I dropped like 10 pounds while I was there from walking.”

Barnett also enjoyed the food in Germany. He frequented a lot of German fast food, known as Doener, and Barnett enjoyed trying the new foods, including spicy mustards. He also noted that German lunches are like American dinners in size and their dinners are smaller.

“Here, the pizza is different,” Poppitz said. “We went to Qdoba. It was too big. Too much, I didn’t eat it all.”

While in Germany, Barnett enjoyed seeing a Deutschesfussball (German soccer) game among other things. Barnett visited Germany during UEFA European Championships 2008. Germany made it to the finals, but lost to Spain.

“The first one we saw was Germany versus Turkey. We saw it at his house with a couple of his friends,” Barnett said. “We saw the finals, Germany versus Spain, at a public viewing at a church.”

When Barnett and Poppitz went to the public viewing at the church, the audience was intently watching the game, according to Barnett. Whenever something happpened, everyone would start screaming. It was crazy, he said.

Barnett also went kayaking in Germany. He had only been once before, but said he had more fun this time. Barnett and Poppitz also went sight-seeing. They went to various churches and other German landmarks.

“We went on the autobahn as soon as I got there,” Barnett said. “People drive as fast as they want on Interstate 71, but people were flying on the autobahn.”

The biggest obstacle for Barnett while he was in Germany was the language barrier and the fact that he did not know German.

“Mostly when he and his friends were talking, I just kind of sat there and listened,” Barnett said. “They were nice enough about it that a couple people would speak at least a little bit of English to me so that I wouldn’t feel left out. Mostly they just spoke German.”

Although there are many differences between Germany and Henry County, there were also a lot of similarities. There were the same places to shop and the same types of people, Barnett said.

“Everybody wants go to America,” Poppitz said “America, it’s different than Germany. It’s amazing.”

The stores may be the same, but the prices are not. Poppitz is looking forward to mainly shopping. He wants to buy clothes and an iPod.

“I want to buy an iPod because it’s cheaper here than in Germany,” he said. “For one euro, I get $1.50. It’s good to shop here.”

Barnett plans to keep Poppitz busy during his stay in Henry County. Plans include a cookout with friends and family, a trip to Cincinnati including a Reds game, a trip to King’s Island and more. They also plan to go to Bardstown Road, Fourth Street Live, La Grange, Shelbyville and see movies and regular things like that, Barnett said.

E-mail us about this article at editor@hclocal.com.