Leaving his home and his family to travel to a new country was exciting, but filled with uncertainty.
Fortunately, the experience turned out to be better than he ever imagined, according to Robin Hahn, a German exchange student at Neligh-Oakdale.
"It was the best decision of my life, that's for sure," Hahn said.
The 16-year-old from Aachen, Germany, who is staying with Kathie Chance and her family in Neligh, said some of his favorite times have been hanging out with his new host family and friends, meeting new people, going pheasant hunting, celebrating Christmas, and playing football at Neligh-Oakdale.
Hahn said he decided to become a foreign exchange student to improve his English and gain some new life experiences. He talked with someone who had been an exchange student in Canada and "read a lot on the internet" before making his decision.
"All of the sports were completely new for me," he said. "Football, basketball and track, I never did any of them before I came here."
Hahn said shop classes, homecoming and prom were all new experiences for him, too.
"School is more fun here," he said. "The day goes by really fast here. I never came home and felt really tired like I had been at school all day."
In fact, as a member of the Neligh-Oakdale senior class, Hahn's school year ended two weeks ago; however, he has spent a lot of time at school since then, playing matball with the freshman P.E. class, visiting classes and talking with teachers.
"I will really miss the people here...my friends and my family," he said. "Even though it is a small town, I like it here. You can just go walk anywhere, go play quad square in the park or walk to a friend's house."
During his time in Neligh, Hahn said he missed playing soccer, which he has played since he was 6 years old, and his family and friends in Germany, but not as much as he expected.
"Since it was really nice here, I didn't miss it as much as I thought," he said.
Hahn's hometown of Aachen has a population of 250,000 people and is located in a mountainous region on the western edge of Germany. He said the city is most widely known as the location where all of the German kaisers were crowned. In addition to playing soccer, his favorite pastimes in Germany include riding his bike, going out with friends, playing other sports and playing the trap set.
He said there are both similarities and differences when comparing Aachen and Neligh.
"The food here is similar," Hahn said. "Some new things are Gatorade and Hershey's. And our technology is the same."
He said the differences include the lower driving age here (16, compared to 18 in Germany); the higher drinking age here (21, compared to 16 in Germany); the speed limit ("on the Autobon you can always drive fast"); and school ("it's more fun here, there it's harder.")
Hahn's parents are Wolfgang Hahn, who works in the architecture field, and Petra Hahn, an accountant. He has one sister, Jessica, who just graduated from high school. Hahn has two more years of high school when he returns to Germany. He is still considering several career choices and may return to the United States for college.
Hahn is planning to return to Germany on May 28.
"I would like to thank everyone for my time here and making it so fun," he said. "I hope I can come back as soon as possible."