German student thriving in the cold

Anka Rebehn is energetic and confident, but has a penchant for losing her identification.
Although the 16-year-old German girl has been living at the home of Corey and Darryl Dyck in Rainy River since Aug. 21, she has had the chance to visit some other Canadian destinations–losing her passport somewhere in the Canadian Rockies and her visa in a Winnipeg mall.
Rebehn, who is here for one year as part of a student exchange, took a trip out to Alberta to meet some recently-discovered relatives.
“I’d never seen them before,” she said. “I went visiting over the New Year and they took me to Lethbridge, Alta. near the Rockies. I had to climb on a mountain and when I came down, I couldn’t find my passport anymore,” she said.
After several phone calls to her home in Brügge, Germany, paperwork in Winnipeg, and correspondence with Berlin, Rebehn finally managed to get a new passport, which she now leaves in her room.
Despite that difficult experience and subsequently losing her travelling visa in Winnipeg for a day, Rebehn has been enjoying her visit here–and has yet to buy her ticket back home.
“It’s pretty expensive but it’s very good,” she said. “It’s a way to learn a language that’s not [otherwise] possible, to live without your parents, and to fit in somewhere you’ve never been before.”
Rebehn’s only brother went on an exchange to Mississippi several years ago and she wanted to follow in his footsteps. But she chose Canada over the U.S. because of the winters–and because she wanted to avoid some aspects of American culture.
“I picked Canada because I didn’t want to go somewhere warm and because everybody was talking about the U.S. and America and I didn’t want to go where they are too proud,” she reasoned.
Rebehn is a big fan of the winter activities. She lives near Europe’s biggest open-air skating rink and is not completely new to winter sports.
But the cold temperatures, she admitted, are new.
“It’s not this cold. Sometimes our lake freezes but it’s only for a couple days and then it’s dangerous,” she noted, adding that if she could, she would take the snow and a snowmachine back home with her.
The distances here also are a striking difference compared to her highly-populated homeland.
“The distances between everything are bigger, between the houses, the towns . . . and it’s nothing to go one hour to go shopping or just to visit friends,” she said.
Now living in a household with six children (one boy and five girls), as well as attending school at the Sturgeon Creek Alternative Program, Rebehn has had no problem meeting people here.
“It’s something new for me to have so many brothers and sisters. Sometimes it gets on my nerves but I’ve got used to it,” she noted.
“The school system is totally different but it’s cool. There’s all those crazy guys so I really fit in there,” said Rebehn, who is so comfortable here that she has only talked to her parents once–on Christmas Day–since she arrived although she e-mails them regularly.
Rebehn, who plays accordion and piano, has kept up both while here as well as joining the Tae Kwon Do club across the river in Baudette.
Here until July, she also is continuously adding to her English vocabulary.
“At first it was a little hard to understand and much harder to speak it because everybody was talking so fast,” she noted.
Hosting their first exchange student also has been a learning experience for the Dycks and their children.
“We were approached by the co-ordinator of the district and we just decided it would be a good way to introduce kids to another culture,” said Corey Dyck.
“It’s been very good.”