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Garret Lokken returns after year studying abroad

From left, Garret Lokken and his friends Zack Basler and Simon Koda hang out in his room while he is staying with his host family. Photo submitted1 / 2
Saying farewell to his host family are, from left, Zack Basler, Sina Geis, Kerstan Geis, Garret Lokken and Bernard Geis. Submitted photo2 / 2

After spending a year with his host family in Germany, Garret Lokken finally made it back home.

"It is really different being back home," Lokken said. "I can't do as much stuff here as I did in Germany."

Lokken left for Germany last July on scholarship from Congrass Budenstag after applying to be in the program for the second time.

"I applied when I was 14 but I only got a partial scholarship so I decided not to go then," Lokken said. "But I did get the full scholarship this time around and I jumped on the chance to go."

Before his time in Germany, Lokken had studied German for two years in school but had forgotten a lot of it he said.

"I learned how to speak German really well while I was over there," Lokken said. "The first month I was there we had language training. I was there with nine other people for about a month and then we all split up and went to stay with our host families."

The first family he stayed with, however, did not work out and it was hard for him to tell the family he could not stay with them anymore Lokken said.

"It was really hard to tell them I couldn't stay with them but it just wasn't working out for me there," Lokken said. "I went back to stay with the Geis family, which was the first family I had been with at the beginning of the trip. They lived in a town called Stade which is an hour away from Hamburg."

School in Germany was a lot different from what he was used to here in the states, Lokken said.

"They had a block schedule at the school I went to," Lokken said. "The day was broken up into two-hour blocks and then you would have a break and then have more classes. I would have eight hours of school some days and six hours other days."

While he was at school, he studied pretty much everything he would have back home but he did not have to take physics.

"Everyone thought I was funny," Lokken said. Being a foreign exchange student was easy for him.

For Lokken, everything about his trip was positive, except for having to leave his first host family.

"I could hop on a train and go anywhere I wanted to," Lokken said. "The only bad thing was I couldn't drive and I couldn't work to earn my own money while I was there because I wasn't 18 yet."

During his stay with his host family, who were all dentists or training to become dentists, he was able to travel and see some interesting places, Lokken said.

"I went to Berlin and the capital building as well as going to Dresden, one of my favorite cities," Lokken said. "I made some really good friends while I was there. When I got there I told everyone 'I'm the best' and they really got a kick out of that, so I learned how to say it in about nine other languages which was really cool."

Now that he is back home, Lokken has had to adjust to living in America and try to get back in contact with his old friends.

"I lost contact with a lot of people here while I was over there," Lokken said. "It is hard coming back and trying to get back in touch with people you haven't seen in a year."

One of the things he has been looking forward to doing now that he is home is driving since he only had his license for two months before he left for Germany.

"I just wanted to drive the whole time I was there," Lokken said. "Now that I am home and can drive, I do it every chance I get."

Lokken plans to go back to Germany sometime next summer after he graduates to see his friends again and hang out with them for a month or two.