Growing up, we were extremely fortunate to host foreign exchange students. Mainly, mom was super nice and let me sign up so the Spanish teacher would think I was an all-star (which I clearly was). Our first go around was with Kovanc. We didn’t really get along, but he taught me that people in Turkey really do ride horses for fun.
Next up was Francesco from Italy (whom Mike penned the Italian Stallion), who stayed way too long with us. How long did he stay? Long enough to send roses to my best friend asking her to Homecoming, stab my friend in the leg with a pen while sitting on the bench for soccer and get himself kicked out of the program.
After those two, I can’t believe Mom signed on to have another one come. I remember being super nervous especially when I found out he was from Germany, those accents just scare me. Matthias (Matt/Matthes/German Destroyer) turned out to be one of the coolest kids around. He fit right in with my group of friends and was even a part of the infamous Treehouse Dash that we still talk about to this day, seven years later. And he’s the only foreign exchange student to truly keep in touch with us. He came back right before I left for college to hang with us one last time. He showed up wearing a mullet. We forced him to get a haircut.
Matthias sent HANDWRITTEN notes from Germany all throughout my freshmen year, all of which I still have. I still remember the call when he found out he was going to play football for Central Michigan and then his stop in St. Louis right before I embarked on my own study abroad excursion in Ireland.
While we saw each other sporadically during the past few years, I will never forget when he came back into St. Louis when mom was going through a hard time after losing a friend. That’s when I knew he was a permanent fixture in our home and lives.
Matthias is someone you can always count on, no matter how busy he is with school, sports and girls (yes plural). He’s always willing to hear my latest drama and tell me how it will all work out okay. He’s the older brother I never knew I needed and can’t imagine living without.
He’s going to play Northwestern next week and a few of us are venturing up to Evanston for the game. He actually played Kansas my senior year in Lawrence, so it’s been awhile since I’ve seen the German Destroyer suit up.
Big exciting news: Matthias was named the Scholar Athlete of the Week this week!! That’s right, Matthias Berning is not a BDA (Big Dumb Animal); he’s a BIG (Big Intelligent German). Congrats to the new Golden Child of Mom’s house!