Red, white and new

It was not a typical day of American History. The classroom had become Ellis island, and junior Lukas Hueck the exchange student from Germany was the inspector. As the students came through the island as immigrants the script was flipped; they were spoken to in German, unable to understand what was being said to them, just like the immigrants.

Junior Lucas Hueck decided to learn about America by becoming a foreign exchange student for a year, so he could eat, sleep and breathe America.

Hueck partially based his decision to live abroad for a year on the fact that he started school a year early. Hueck knew he would have to repeat junior year, because credits do not transfer over, allowing him to graduate high school at 18 and drive once he reached college.

“In Germany the driving age is 18 and the drinking age is 16, so it is a different lifestyle,” Hueck said.

Coming from the small town of Pocking, Germany, about half the population of Oviedo, one of the largest adjustments was the number of people, specifically at Hagerty, which is five times bigger than his previous school.

In school, Hueck has found that the teacher-student relationship was much more relaxed and personable in America, and he has enjoyed building relationships with his instructors.

“We can always have our jokes here and there and when we are talking about Hitler we have to target him, but he gets along with it, he plays, right along with it,” Estes said.

He has also had the opportunity to study subjects that interest him and pertain to his hopeful career choice. Like his parents, he hopes to become a doctor and has taken particular interest in classes like anatomy.

“[In Germany] you can’t pick an elective like that, so you have Biology and you touch the human body and learn something about it, but you don’t really go in depth,” Hueck said.

His past school experience has also differed in the fact that students take 13 classes in Germany and attend different high schools based on what they plan to do after graduation.

Hueck felt the best way to get an education was through a host family, who would take care of him for a year.

Although Hueck knew when he was leaving for America, he was not officially assigned to his host family until three weeks before his year abroad. Five emails and a Skype represented the only contact before he met the Donna and John Painter at the airport in America. The family, however, found it to be a natural transition.

“Lukas’ transition was really easy compared to others,” host mother Donna Painter said. “He has a really approachable personality and is very open to new ideas and meeting people.”

Hueck was assigned to an experienced host family. He is their 13th exchange student and their third from Germany. The family has also had students from Norway, Italy, Pakistan, Mexico, Brazil, Russia and Thailand

“It’s a different experience. You have people coming to your house and living with you and you build this international family with kids all over the world,” Hueck said.

The host parents stay very involved in the majority of students they host. They have a Russian student coming for a visit in May and are attending a wedding in Norway in October.

“It felt normal really quick,” Hueck said. “I Skype my parents like once every two weeks, but I don’t ever worry about being homesick.”

Hueck considers himself lucky for being assigned to an area that has so much to offer and being able to go do things like going to the beach in December.

Photo provided by Lukas Hueck

Hueck and his host parents pose after a hike in North Carolina.

“You don’t really pick where you go. You sign up to go to the United States and it depends on the host family, where they live and who wants you,” Hueck said.

To help adjust, Hueck decided to try out for the lacrosse team after watching a video on lacrosse.

“I wanted to try lacrosse because I played hockey and soccer and tennis, so it is kind of like a combination of those sports that I did,” Hueck said.

Photo Provided by Lukas Hueck
Hueck during a hockey game in Germany.

His previous athletic background gave Hueck a unique skillset that he brought to the team, allowing the coach to use him in varied spots including wing on face-offs and on the man-down team.

“We watched him run during conditioning. He is very fast and is almost faster back pedaling than running forward,” JV coach Kevin Farrington said. “In 35 years in the sport, I have never seen that before.”

Besides lacrosse, immersing himself in the sports culture, specifically, the student section has been one of Hueck’s favorite parts of the American culture. Previously, Hueck had only experienced club sports, and never had the chance to build that connection with other athletes who went to his school.

“I know we will really miss him as player, but even more as a teammate and Hagerty lacrosse family member,” Farrington said.

Hueck hopes to use these experiences as he returns to Germany to give him a competitive edge and a different perspective on living.

“I have enjoyed expanding my horizons, getting new experiences, seeing different parts of the world and experiencing the American way of living,” Hueck said.


Photo provided by Lucas Hueck
Hueck moves downfield with the ball during a JV lacrosse game.