Exchange Student From Denmark Swims for MHS


Simon Hermansen, junior, looks at the MHS mustangs pool before their meet on Tuesday against Fort Zummwalt West, where they won.

The new bell schedule has been a big change for both returning students and freshmen. But it has been an even bigger change for Simon Hermansen, junior, who has come from Aarhus, Denmark to study abroad for the 2018-2019 school year.

After only being in the U.S. for four weeks, Hermansen said that almost everything is different.

The dress in American schools is more informal than in Denmark, as Danish students would normally wear shorts and a polo shirt to school. Also, summer in Denmark is normally cooler, about 70 degrees fahrenheit.

Hermansen said Americans are way more welcoming and open to social interaction with strangers or foreigners than Europeans are. He explained that the increased social interaction wasn’t a good or a bad thing, but instead just different than what he was used to.

“I’m an open person, so I like to talk with all the people,” Hermansen said.

Hermansen also said the teaching methods in the U.S. are hard to get used to. He chose a math class that was below his abilities, but because the teaching methods are different than what he is used to, he is finding difficulty learning. Language and measurements are also a challenge because his first language is Danish and Denmark uses the metric system.

“There are some difficulties, but it’s nothing I can’t overcome,” Hermansen said.

Charlotte Franz, sophomore, and her family are hosting Hermansen. They decided to host a foreign exchange student after her twin sister became friends with an exchange student from Italy during her freshman year.

After going through a background check, the Franz’ got to choose the student that they wanted to host. Franz said that they chose Hermansen because her sister plays water polo, and also because her mother has Danish heritage.

“It’s definitely a different dynamic,” Franz said. “But it’s just like an additional sibling.”

Hermansen plays for FREM water polo, the most consistent winning club team in Denmark. He has received many accolades, including the Nordic and Baltic League MVP in the U-13 and U-15 leagues, and was also the captain of a championship winning U-17 team. He has also played on the Danish Youth National Team for four years in a row.

He’s always wanting to be better, he’s always wanting to learn how he can do better or get faster, he gets along great with the team and the boys like him a lot. ”

— Joseph Schoedel

Hermansen is looking forward to playing on the Marquette water polo team in the spring, as well as a club team, but he knows playing with a new team has its challenges. He said the most challenging aspect of playing on a brand new team is not knowing the team’s level of ability.

“I don’t know how good people are in the U.S.,” Hermansen said. “So I’m not sure how reliant I can be on my teammates, or if I’m supposed to be reliant on myself.”

Joseph Schoedel, swim coach, wasn’t sure of what results he would see in his new athlete, because he said he believed that Hermansen considered himself more of a water polo player than a swimmer. But after a couple of weeks, Schoedel saw Hermansen quickly move up to the fastest lane.  

“He’s been great,” Schoedel said. “He’s always wanting to be better, he’s always wanting to learn how he can do better or get faster, he gets along great with the team and the boys like him a lot. And he’s obviously very friendly and outgoing, which could not always happen when you’re coming from a different culture and country.”