Getting to Know Emma Frittrang, 2023-24 ASSIST Student

Hailing from Germany, Emma Frittrang joined the GPS community for the 2023-24 school year, living with a host family and taking a full schedule of classes. She has made the most of her opportunity, trying all sorts of new activities and truly embracing the experience. Here, she shares a glimpse into her year so far.

Tell us a little about yourself and life back home.
My name is Emma and I'm 17 years old. I am from Germany and am currently a junior at GPS. In Germany, I’m out with friends every afternoon and play the violin daily. I love swimming and going to the gym in my free time, and when I have an evening off, I paint most of the time. My afternoons are filled with charity work, such as volunteering at a daycare for handicapped children, tutoring, or leading my church youth group. At school I am a part of the first aid group, comparable to your school nurse, and am also part of our choir, with which we performed a musical right before I left. I love staying busy, meeting new people, and having fun! I love getting to know new people and hearing their stories. Lastly, a fun fact about myself is that I’ve lived in four different countries (England, Germany, India, America) and can speak four languages (German, English, Spanish, French).

What made you want to pursue the opportunity to spend a year in the U.S.?
Studying abroad has always been a dream for me, and the opportunity to immerse myself in a different culture seemed so intriguing. It was really about diving into a different lifestyle for a few months and getting to know a new reality. I was also really excited about having a host family and a host sister similar to my age. I was looking for a challenge and was ready to get out of my comfort zone.

What went through your mind when you found out you would be spending the year at GPS?
Honestly, I was nervous at first because an all-girl school seemed intimidating. I also didn't know much about the state of Tennessee. However, GPS seemed like an amazing school from the beginning, and I was just so excited to start this journey. I was so surprised to see all the diverse offers that GPS has, and I went into this exchange year nervous but also really hopeful.

What about an all-girls school made you nervous?
I've heard so many different opinions on single-sex education, and I was scared of having an unsupportive community with a lot of drama. Going to GPS completely changed my mindset in that aspect, and I have seriously never witnessed a more supportive community than at GPS. Going to school with no makeup and always feeling confident/comfortable is a game-changer. 

How do schools differ here versus at home?
School is a lot different than at home. One of the biggest differences is that school goes on until 3 p.m. whereas in Germany my school ends at 1 p.m. I also study 14 subjects in Germany, instead of my schedule here with only six classes. Another huge difference is our school sports, as we don't have any of those in Germany. My classes in Germany are way bigger as well with about 25 students in every class. I will also have 13 school years in Germany, another difference from the American system.

What’s been your favorite thing about the U.S. so far?
My absolute favorite thing has been the Southern hospitality that I've witnessed so often, especially in school with people being so interested in me. Everyone has just been so welcoming, and I truly feel like I was included from the beginning. Another great thing is the free refills in restaurants, which we don't have in Germany. :)

What’s been your favorite thing about GPS so far?
My favorite thing about GPS has been our school spirit. I love that all the girls stick together and especially during football season, I got to experience true community and spirit. It's so fun to see how proud people are of their school and that it's an honor to go to GPS. Another thing that I love is all of GPS’s traditions. There is always something to look forward to and it makes school a fun place to be.

Have you enjoyed your time with your host family? What have you all done?
I have had the best time with my host family so far, and I really don't think there could have been a better match. I enjoy simple things like movie nights or deep talks with my sister in the evening more than anything. My host family is the reason why I have felt so comfortable in America from the beginning. We just spent Thanksgiving together and I got to visit Dollywood with them. I love going to my host mom’s workout classes and I often visit my host grandparents to bake or spend quality time. They have truly become my second family.

What was the first thing you wanted to do when you got to America?
Whenever I first got here the very first thing I wanted to do was go to Target and Walmart because I'd heard so much about them. I was so intrigued to see a store where you could buy groceries and clothes at the same time. 

Do you feel like it’s been easy to make friends at GPS?
I feel like it's been incredibly easy to meet new people at GPS, and I think I'm making new friends weekly. It's been so fun getting to know others and I was welcomed so warmly from the beginning, which made the process of feeling secure so much easier. 

What is one thing you wish more people knew about Germany or German people?
I wish more people knew about our truly amazing food! Since I’ve moved to America, there are so many things that I realized I took for granted back home and the amazing food was definitely one of them. Spätzle, cheese fondue, or even German bread are way too underrated and Americans are missing out.

What activities have you been involved in at GPS so far?
I've been trying to get involved in as many things as I have time for. So far I've been a part of the fall play, Candlelight, Pickleball Club, Art Club, the Health Club, and G-Force. I’ve also gone to YoungLife multiple times. The goal is to try as many new things as I can and next, I want to try out Squash. 

What goals do you have for the remainder of your time?
My biggest goals are to stay involved in school and try as many new things as I can. Ultimately, I just want to create fun memories and I believe that by having the mindset of saying “YES” to everything I will get the most out of my year here. I just want to get to know a lot of people, that will expand my perspectives and that I can have a fun time with. 

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced since being here?
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced is homesickness and the fear of missing out on things that are going on at home. Social media makes it very easy for me to follow what my friends are doing at home so I will find myself comparing my experiences here very quickly to those at home, which can often lead me down a rabbit hole. Whenever I start to feel homesick, I always try to stay busy and remind myself that no one said this would be an easy journey. Practicing gratitude honestly helps me so much when I’m in a negative headspace.

If you could do it again, would you?
I would do it again anytime! I think I've learned so much about myself and the world through this experience and having the opportunity to live another life for a year is something I will cherish forever. The memories I'm creating right now will last me a lifetime and I'm so incredibly grateful for this opportunity and the scholarship at GPS. So far I have had the exchange year I dreamed of and obviously, nothing is perfect but I am always ready for a challenge. The risk of this year was so worth it!


ASSIST is a nonprofit, international educational and cultural exchange organization based in the United States and active in more than 20 countries around the globe. Its core work is to identify, place, and support outstanding international students on one-year scholarships at leading American independent secondary schools.

One of ASSIST’s goals is to create a worldwide circle of future leaders-friends who have come to know and respect one another, and one another’s cultures, by sharing a year of study and living together. International outreach begins with individual relationships; it fosters these relationships through a year of academic and cultural immersion designed to affect peers, teachers, friends, family members and business associates for a lifetime. ASSIST believes that bringing together future American leaders and future leaders of other nations makes a substantial contribution toward promoting understanding and tolerance of cultures, racial designations, and religious beliefs. To learn more, visit