I’m having a great time walking with Oda. She’s told me all about her school, which frankly sounds a lot tougher than American high school. She is in a bilingual education program and is taking biology and geography in English this year. She’s also in an English debate group and they recently had to debate whether non-democratic countries should be allowed into the E.U. (Show me one American high school student who can speak intelligently on such a topic in a foreign language!) She enjoys fantasy novels and role-playing games and movies of all sorts.
I asked her if it was common for high school students to have jobs and she said no - she's just working at the Apotheke during her vacation. She said that most of her friends get an allowance of 50-70 Euro a week but her parents give her much less than that and expect her to earn her own spending money (how very Schwäbisch!). She admitted that her mom would probably give her more, but her dad lays down the law. She did show a great deal of maturity in saying that while her friends might spend a fortune on a pair of jeans, she saves her money and will only spend it on things that are really important to her.
She is very sensitive about her English because she has not been getting the best grades at school. I think her English is fantastic, but it is hard to judge since I haven’t talked to a lot of German kids her age (OK, I haven’t talked to any German kids her age). She told me that she would like to be a surgeon, but she is worried about whether her grades are good enough to get into medical school. It used to be that if you didn’t have a 1.0 average (they have a 5-point grading scale, with 1.0 being the highest), you couldn’t get in, but now some universities are interviewing the top 20% of students and take character and speaking abilities into account as well. Interestingly, she said that now medical schools are interested in how well a person can communicate because they want people who can speak comfortably with patients – perhaps there’s hope for doctors’ bedside manners!