From Germany to Pennsylvania: How Helen Ozturk has made Lansdale feel like home


Helen Ozturk exploring her temporary home.

TOWAMENCIN – When the first fifteen years of your life are spent in a small school over 4,000 miles away, North Penn can seem quite intimidating. Luckily, for German exchange student Helen Ozturk, she’s found many smiling faces that help her enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Through the International Friendship Club, students like Helen have been able to study abroad at North Penn for decades. Arriving this past August, Helen has already grown accustomed to her new reality in Lansdale.

“It’s been good, and we’ve been to a lot of places. I really like it here,” Ozturk explained.

Studying abroad comes with many new experiences. Otzurk stays with a host family that accompanies her during her five-month-long stay.

“My host family really likes traveling and going out. We went to Ocean City. After, we went to Maine for the long weekend. We went to Ogunquit, Acadia Park, and Boston for the day, ” Ozturk explained.

“I really like traveling and my family in Germany doesn’t really do that, so I’m really grateful,” Ozturk stated.

Although she has created many new relationships here, family is a crucial aspect of Ozturk’s life. The distance between them has created some difficult challenges.

“It’s been really hard, but they always send me pictures of them all together. I really miss them a lot,” Ozturk said.

Enrolling in the foreign exchange student program allows students to continue their traditional education while also learning about the different cultures and values of other countries.

“I was really interested in the new cultures and new languages. It’s really different here. Here I have a lot of opportunities with things like choosing my classes,” Ozturk explained.

North Penn’s extensive program of studies and extracurriculars offers things that schools like Ozturk’s do not provide.

“You don’t get to choose because, in Germany, you are in one class with the same people every day. Clubs aren’t a big thing. If you want to join any sports, you have to do that outside of school,” Ozturk stated.

Also prioritized in the school district, Ozturk has a love for the arts.

“Sometimes I’ll have a whole year and not have any art. Here, I have two art classes every day. It’s so cool,” Oztark exclaimed.

While finishing the semester here, Ozturk plans to take advantage of every new opportunity before returning to Germany in February.

“I’m gonna be so happy to go back, but I’ll miss my host family and all the friends I’ve made here,” Ozturk concluded.