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International student thrives at BSC

When Robin Jaeger-Hauer first arrived in Bismarck from his native Germany in 2012 to be a high school exchange student, it wasn’t the language that was most difficult for him to adapt to, it was the size of his host family. The Gross family of Bismarck have five children.

“I only had one younger sister in Germany. And the mom, Vicky, had daycare in the home then. So I was greeted by a bunch of kids every morning,” he says.

“The house was never quiet, but I was always entertained.”

That boisterousness, the friendly nature and the warmth of the family he landed in, are the American characteristics that Robin most appreciates and partly what brought him back to Bismarck for college.

“When I told people I was studying in U.S. they’d say ‘Where? NY? LA?’ They had never heard of North Dakota.”

After his exchange year at Bismarck High School, Robin had two full years of high school in Germany to finish. He visited Bismarck several times over those years becoming more certain that this was where he wanted to go to college.

“People are super nice – Americans are nicer than Germans, and it’s such an interesting country. I love how important politics are here. People are very patriotic, you don’t find that in Germany.”
He says that becoming a BSC student was simple once he was back in Bismarck, but the paperwork required in the six months prior was stressful. “It almost wasn’t enough time.”

Once here, he moved back in with the Gross family, started classes, and went to work as a BSC ambassador. He gives tours, talking up the college and refining his English.

While Robin considered becoming a pilot, he’s leaning toward teaching now – a suggestion from his host mother that took root. In fact, he’s looking at becoming a high school German teacher.
He likes the idea of being able to share contemporary German culture in the classroom – the people, the politics and even the different foods that have become mainstays due to the ethnic diversity found in Germany. In fact, Turkish food is one of the things Robin most misses from his hometown near Hanover. It wasn’t until he moved here that he was exposed to the dishes North Dakota’s Germans descendants consider staples.

“My high school tennis coach always talked about knoephla soup. I was all, ‘What IS that?’ And fleischkuchle – what? I’d never heard of it.”

Fortunately, he’s developed a taste for both now as he looks to attend either Minot State or UND for his teaching degree. He’d like to make the U.S. his home.

“I could see myself living here.”