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A whole new world

Exchange student from Germany adjusts to Granite Bay lifestyle
By: Alison Sale Special to The Press-Tribune
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New country. New hobby. New lifestyle. For foreign exchange student Cora Bay, coming to America was only the beginning. Bay is participating in an exchange program from her homeland Germany to attend Granite Bay High School as a senior. And her decision to join the school’s Emerald Brigade Marching Band has changed the entire experience she thought she’d have. Bay, who celebrated her 16th birthday in May, traveled to Granite Bay from her hometown in Stuttgart, Germany. In Stuttgart, she attended Moenchsee Gymnasium Heilbronn, a school that specializes in music. “At home we had four, five, or six different classes in a day and our schedules switched each day, instead of like Granite Bay where we have the same four classes every day.” Bay said. Bay and other students attending Moenchsee Gymnasium Heilbronn chose how intensely they wanted to study music, but all students are required to take classes about general music history and theory. “We sang a lot, and we had to learn how to play instruments too,” Bay said. With her classmates, Bay learned how to sing and play several percussive and orchestral instruments. To leap from a German music school to a new society, let alone a new high school and school schedule is a big change but one Bay was enthusiastic about undertaking. “I saw flyers at my school, and I was offered a scholarship. I thought it would be interesting and fun to see the other side of the world,” she said. Bay is participating in the Council on International Educational Exchange and is living with Barbara and Dan Ford, whose two sons are graduates of Granite Bay. Bay said she’s still eager about experiencing American culture, but she admits she does miss her parents and friends. “I was really excited, but the very last hour of the airplane ride I was the most nervous person in the world,” she said. Adding to her nerves was the fact that one of her classes would be the marching band. Bay had never participated in marching band, and because they don’t have American football in Germany, she didn’t know what to expect. Her host family had been highly involved in band and convinced her she would do well. “The Fords asked me if I would like to join marching band and my first reaction was ‘Oh gosh,’ but I finally thought yeah, it would be fun to meet new people,” she said. Little did she know, it would affect her entire experience in Granite Bay. Emerald Brigade band director Lynn Kulikowski decided it would be best for Bay to be a part of the percussion section, specifically to play in the pit. “I thought that having practices (every day) would be boring, but it’s actually really fun rehearsing with the pit,” Bay said. “It’s like we’re one big family. Everyone is friendly, and everyone helps you if you need it.” Pit section leader Matt Sazima said he appreciates Bay’s outlook. “She is really awesome. She has a really good attitude without being extreme, and she’s funny,” Sazima said. Looking back, Bay admitted although she was uneasy about joining marching band she now has a different opinion. “I learned that it’s good to try new things. You can say whether you like something or not. It has made me a lot more open-minded,” she said. Bay said the Emerald Brigade has taught her not only how to march and improve her playing, but it’s given her a new outlook on life. She said she thinks her band experience will continue to affect her when she returns home to Germany “I want to continue in music, but I’m not sure what I’m going to do,” Bay said. “We don’t really have marching bands at home. But I remember seeing a marching band in a parade for a cultural event one time, so I will try to get involved.” – Alison Sale is a journalism student at Granite Bay High School.