Foreign exchange student looking forward to a real Minnesota winter

Stella Schrufer of Nuremberg, Germany, is studying at Fillmore Central this year. Her host parents are Eric and Michelle Topness. CHARLIE WARNER/NEWS LEADER
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While most foreign exchange students landing in southeastern Minnesota look at an approaching Minnesota winter with some trepidation, Stella Schrufer of Nuremberg, Germany, said, “Bring it on!”

Stella, who is attending Fillmore Central High School this year, is staying with the Eric and Michelle Topness family of rural Preston.

When she learned she had qualified for the foreign exchange program and that she would be attending school in Minnesota, she felt she was lucky, because she really wanted to experience winter.

“We do have a little winter in Nuremberg, but it only lasts for a couple of weeks,” Stella noted. “I really wanted to see what a real winter is like.”

Nuremburg is located in southeastern Germany, fairly close to Austria. With a population of about a half million, it’s considerably larger than either Preston or Harmony. But Stella is settling in nicely. Nuremberg is located in a part of Germany that has rolling topography with a few mountains interspersed in the landscape. Oh yes, and many medieval castles.

“Most of the large mountains are in Austria, but, yes, we do have a lot of castles nearby,” she added.

Stella has an older brother, who studied as a foreign exchange student in England last year. So she was quite familiar with the program and what to expect when she applied. Her mother and father are both self-employed photographers.

Stella was active in club volleyball in Germany and played for the FC Falcon volleyball team this fall. Because there are no extra curricular sports in German schools, athletics are outside the school with club teams. So there really aren’t a lot of spectators at the matches.

Stella said the first time she suited up for a volleyball match it was quite exciting to see and hear all the cheering fans. She will be trying out for basketball this winter and softball in the spring.  

Stella speaks very fluent English and also speaks Latin, beside German, of course. She said she has been taking English classes in Germany for the past four years. She will have two more years of high school left when she returns to Germany next summer and then plans to attend a university and major in art. Drawing and photography will probably be her major studies.

She said Americans are much more friendly than folks living in her native land. “They just come up and say hello and ask how are you. We don’t do that so much in Germany,” she added.

Stella has accompanied the Topnesses to the Twin Cities a number of times. They toured the Mall of America, took in a Twins game and also a University of Minnesota Gopher volleyball match.

“I would certainly recommend the exchange program to my friends back home. This has been a wonderful experience for me,” she said.