Clara and Johnannes

International students make the most of their time at Collegiate

Norfolk Collegiate has more than a dozen new international students joining our Upper School family. To celebrate their journeys and further welcome them, the Oak Connection is sitting down with them once a month. The second in the series is sophomore “Clara” Deng and sophomore Johannes Tismer.  

CLARA DENG

This is Clara's first year studying abroad. From Hong Zhou, China, Clara plans on finishing her schooling here at Collegiate. 

We know that you are given the opportunity to select an American name when joined the Collegiate family. Why did you pick Clara?
I heard the name in a movie called My Dear Clara, and there was a famous pianist from the 1800s who was named Clara.

Why did you decide to study abroad?
I want to go to an American College. I’m not sure what I will study yet – maybe political science or international relations.

I understand you played volleyball. How was that?
It was interesting. I had learned some volleyball two years ago, so I knew a little about it. I liked the exercise.

Do you plan on playing other sports while at Collegiate? If so, which ones?
Tennis. 

I understand that you had already traveled to the United States before coming over for school. What’s been your favorite place to visit so far?
Boston – because it’s so old. I just love the city as a whole.

Are there any holidays that you miss from China?
Spring festival. It’s the biggest festival in China. It celebrates the coming of spring. One of the traditions is that my relatives give me ‘lucky money’ which is wrapped in red paper. 

How is Hampton Roads different from your hometown in China?
Generally speaking, Americans are more friendly.

What do you miss the most?
My parents and grandparents. And Chinese food. The Chinese food over here is kind of Americanized. My favorite is egg drop soup, and it’s sweet here.

What’s been your favorite experience at Norfolk Collegiate so far?
The classroom – I feel like I’m learning and making progress every day.

What is something that people don’t know about you?
I love to play the piano. And, I considered applying for the high school in Nebraska, but the climate is really horrible. I find the climate here to be more suitable. In China, I had 18 classmates who signed up for a program that sends us here (to the United States) for high school. I have friends in Virginia Beach, Ohio, Rhode Island, Nebraska and Maryland. 

JOHANNES TISMERA

Sophomore, Johannes is from Essen, Germany, which is closest to Cologne. 

Why did you decide to study abroad?
For the language and the country. I really wanted to be independent and do my thing.

You played varsity soccer. How was that?
We had a really good season. The team was very tight, and I think that we were so successful since we were so tight. 

Do you plan on playing other sports while at Collegiate? If so, which ones and why?
In the spring, I’m doing crew. I did it already. In the winter, I’m going to work out with Dan (Coach Dan). I’ve been doing it for two days, and I can hardly walk.

I understand that you had already traveled to the United States before coming over for school. Is there anything that you still want to do or see before returning home?
I’m going to go to New York once my parents come to get me.

What’s been your favorite place to visit in the United States so far?
Las Vegas. I love that city. It’s awesome. We (his parents and Johannes) did a road trip from Phoenix to San Francisco. We stayed at the Enchantment Resort in Sedona, and that place was amazing. 

Are there any holiday traditions that you are looking forward to experiencing over here?
We don’t have Thanksgiving in Germany, so yeah, definitely. Everything that I’ve heard is that it’s nice to be together.

How is Hampton Roads different from your hometown in Germany?
I don’t live near the water or any big body of water. I tried surfing, wakeboarding and tubing. Tubing was the easiest because all you have to do is hold on. Surfing was hard. It looked easy, but surfing and wakeboarding was so hard. It took me about 18 tries to even get up.

What do you miss the most?
German food, especially brötchen. I miss it pretty bad. It’s a bun that is nice and hard on the outside. The inside is soft. You put salami and cheese in it – our salami and cheese is so much better, too.

What’s your favorite food?
Mexican food. I eat a ton every week – from burritos, nachos, tacos, quesadillas, fajitas, Mexican steak….ummm.

What’s been your favorite experience at Norfolk Collegiate so far?
When we (the soccer team) went to Highland for the state first round and Christian Keller made that goal in overtime, and we all jumped on him.