Meet West Hartford’s AFS Students: Ariane Günther

Ariane (center) is welcomed by her West Hartford host familly (from left): Dave, Becky, Alison, and Lucas Pauluk. Courtesy photo
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This is the first in a new series ‘Opening our homes and minds: West Hartford’s AFS foreign exchange students and their host families.’

Interviewed and edited by Jamie Cohen, AFS volunteer (now), host sister (1980s) and returnee from Japan (1984)

Ariane (right) with her host sister, Alison Pauluk, and host brother, Lucas Pauluk. Courtesy photo

Meet Ariane Günther, from Schaffhausen, Switzerland. She is one of four AFS foreign exchange students at Conard High School this year.

Have you been to the US before? No, this is my first time.

When did you arrive?On Aug. 9, two days before I turned 17!

How long will you stay?11 months – I leave at the end of June 2018.

Tell us about yourself – what are your interests?I love reading books, especially fantasy and romance. I play the piano, and just started learning guitar. I like to draw. And I speak four languages (German, English, Hungarian, French), in addition to my local dialect. Oh, and I had to study Latin in school, but as far as I know, no one actually speaks it 🙂

What are some of your impressions about life in America so far?I don’t understand why you put so much ice in your drinks … all the time! We add a few ice cubes to soda in the summer when it’s hot outside, but that’s it. While everyone has been nice to me so far, I have to admit, though, that I am surprised that very few kids at Conard have introduced themselves. I was told that Americans make friends easily, so I’m hoping that I’ll start meeting more kids at school soon.

What are some differences between life in your town and West Hartford? Well, one of the most obvious differences is public transportation. In Switzerland we have great public transport. I take the bus everywhere. Also, we can’t get our driver’s license until we are 18 – so it’s good that we have a good bus system. Here, I have to depend on my host family and my friends to drive me places. But it doesn’t bother me to ask for a ride and hope that someone will always drive me. 🙂

What about school? Is it very different?In my school in Switzerland, I don’t get to choose my classes. I really like that I can have electives here at Conard. I’m taking acting, art, and Spanish and they are fun classes for me. And we don’t have after school clubs, so I’m interested in joining some of them. There’s a lot more that’s really different. So if you want to know, please ask me!

What are your hopes for your AFS exchange year?During my year I’d also like to be involved in a theater production – maybe painting sets or working backstage. I’d be onstage if the role called for a “slight German accent”!

I’m also happy to talk to people who might want to be involved in AFS. I can talk to them about being an exchange student, or about hosting a student like me next year.

I really want to make American friends and hang out. I think that knowing people from different countries is cool. So if you see me in the Conard cafeteria or around the Center, please come over and say hi!

If you are interested in hosting an exchange student, or if your high-school aged student would like to participate in an AFS exchange, please contact Jamie Cohen at [email protected] or visit

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Ariane (left) with the other two girl AFS exchange students at Conard, Anna (center) from Austria, and Alexandra (right) from Italy. Courtesy photo

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We-Ha is the place to go for the latest information about West Hartford – a town that “has it all”! is part of and proud of our community, and we bring a hyperlocal focus to news and features about the people, schools, businesses, real estate, sports, restaurants, charitable events, arts, and more. Contact us at: [email protected] or [email protected]

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