12:01 PM

International Student Spotlight: Dorothea Neubauer

German exchange student learns about U.S. construction trades, American culture


At 24, foreign exchange student Dorothea Neubauer is visiting the United States for the first time, and as part of the experience, she is taking classes at WCTC in the Building Trades – Carpentry program.

A native of Karlsruhe, Baden-Württemberg, in southwest Germany, Neubauer came to Wisconsin as part of a scholarship opportunity for young professionals through the Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX). The scholarship, which is financed by the American and German governments, allows her to take classes during the fall semester, and then work in the U.S. from January to June.

In Germany, she worked in the construction field as a joiner, and she was interested in learning more about manufacturing in the U.S. She has been taking classes in welding, carpentry estimating and planning, sustainable building and an introductory class on American society.

“I have wanted to try welding for a couple years, and it has been one of the best experiences here,” she said.

Many of the concepts she has been learning about in her construction classes at WCTC are similar to what she has learned in Germany, but there have been some differences – like the types of building materials and hardware used in jobs and the units of measure (metric system versus U.S. customary units/imperial system). She hasn’t experienced much of a language barrier, since she is fluent in English, “but I do miss a few words sometimes,” she said.

She arrived in Wisconsin in August and will stay through July 2022. She is living with WCTC instructor Kiersten Purves and her family, and she is enjoying getting a taste of American culture. “My host family already feels like my real family, so I couldn’t be happier with them,” Neubauer said.

Some of her activities since she arrived in Wisconsin have been a visit to State Fair, Summerfest, Oktoberfest in LaCrosse and a family wedding. She has tried new foods such as cheese curds (which she liked) and corn dogs (which she didn’t), and she has plans to travel to California to see a friend who relocated there. She is also looking forward to visiting a haunted house for Halloween and trying whitewater rafting.

Her experience in the U.S. has been a positive one, and she appreciates the gracious welcome extended to her from the WCTC community and beyond.

“Everything is bigger in the U.S.,” she said. “Not only the properties, the parking lot, food and supply of materials -- but also the hospitality, politeness and warmth."