12/26/2013 10:33:00 AM Exchange student Mathijs loves to travel
by Paul Martin
Exchange student Mathijs Staal (you say his name Matt-ICE) graduated from high school in Holland last summer, although he doesn't turn 18 for a few days yet. This means he doesn't have to work super-hard at Cannon Falls High School.
Early graduation is common in his country, he says. Like many young Europeans, Matthijs has already traveled to a number of countries. He started with foreign vacations with his family, and then a two-week summer school in Italy. He has two older brothers, one of whom was an exchange student in the USA last year, while the other is on a college exchange in San Diego this year. While here, he has visited Duluth and the North Shore, and will be visiting Disney World and, later, Hawaii. In May, he will join his parents in a road trip ending in San Diego.
Like French student Stan Magnier, Mathijs does not much like the school day here, with its same classes every day. He prefers the varied schedule of his Dutch school, but he enjoys the very different classes he can take here - photography, ceramics and welding, for example. He also enjoyed being in the football squad, though he didn't get to play on the team. He is very involved in the school's winter play - Prince Charming will have a Dutch accent this year. And he plans to ski at Welch during Christmas break. He finds everyone in Cannon Falls High School friendly, and always ready to help.
Mathijs says he eats well here. To start with, you have to take your own food to school for lunch in Holland, he says. He likes American fast food; Chipotle and Panda Express are favorites.
Christmas starts later in Holland, as the family only gets and decorate their tree just before Christmas. He is struck by the amount of decoration here. "I have noticed Americans compete for who can have the most lights," he says. His family has Christian values, but does not attend church. Christmas means a big family dinner every night from Christmas Eve to New Year's Day. There is no special food he could think of that we don't have in America.
On returning to his home in the east of Holland, Mathijs will probably attend college, but is not sure what he will study. "My main goal is to find a job which enables me to travel," he said.