The American experience

Swiss highschool senior Peter Reutlinger visits America


17 year old Reutlinger outside of thrift store

For most teenagers around the world, fall is the start of a new school year and full of long, boring months of homework and testing. This is not the case for 17-year-old Peter Reutlinger, from Egnach, Switzerland.

His school requires all seniors to go abroad for five weeks to experience the world and learn different languages. Peter decided to come to America and has been staying with a host family here in Decatur since mid-September.

Decatur is very different than his hometown of Egnach. “It’s bigger, you have to get everywhere by car,” Reutlinger said. In Switzerland, Reutlinger would bike everywhere, or take public transportation.

Reutlinger bikes to Clarkston every weekday to teach teenage refugees English.“I get to experience so many different cultures here, there’s a lot of diversity,” Reutlinger said.

Unlike the typical American youth, Reutlinger’s second language is almost perfect, even though he’s only been learning it for four years. “[English] is very important because I like to travel a lot, and most jobs in Switzerland need you to be bilingual,” Reutlinger said.

Reutlinger speaks Swiss German, which he describes as similar to standard German but with different words and phrases, almost like Australian English to American speakers.

On the weekends and in his free time here in the USA, Reutlinger practices Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art, and goes thrift shopping. “Probably what I like most about America is thrift shopping,” Reutlinger said. He’d never been thrifting before coming to the US and now goes almost every weekend.

Egnach, Switzerland from Wikimedia

Reutlinger is planning to return to Switzerland in early November, with 8 weeks of the “American experience” under his belt.