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Rangiora High School international director Melissa Heyrink says the new school year started with 52 international students, with another eight arriving over the next few weeks.
The majority are attracted by the opportunity to work with horses, with the largest contingent from Germany.
‘‘We are very full this year for European enrolments. We have more than ever,’’ she says.
‘‘We are becoming very popular for our equine opportunities, such as having equine studies as a school subject, horse-riding lessons, and they play polo on a Friday morning.
‘‘And they can live with a host family which has horses, so they can ride daily and look after them.’’
She says the German students tend to be ‘‘very goal-orientated’’.
‘‘They know what they want to do and quickly immerse themselves in the local community.
‘‘We work with more than 25 agents in Germany and it just keeps growing and growing.’’
German students Alina Prein and Hanna Vowmers have spent two terms in Rangiora as part of a one-year stay.
‘‘It’s really nice. It’s kind of different. The culture is different, but not so different because it’s still a Western country,’’ Alina says.
‘‘I miss home, but I’m happy to go back in July. It’s nice to be here.’’
The pair say football, handball and equestrian pursuits are major sports back home, but rugby and netball are new to them.
Alina comes from Germany’s capital, Berlin, a city of around 3.8 million people, while Hanna comes from a village of 2000 people in the coastal region of Ostfriesland in northwest Germany.
Hana says she misses her two horses at home, while Alina has regular riding lessons back in Germany, but not during school time.
‘‘It’s so cool to be able to ride a horse at school and I enjoy my host family with two young kids and a dog,’’ Hanna says.
Ismael Markria comes from Lyon in southeast France and has a horse back home, though riding at school is a new experience.
He has also been in Rangiora for two terms as part of a one-year exchange.
‘‘It’s pretty cool. I came to learn English and I wasn’t expecting to find all these horses, so I’ve been really lucky.’’
Ismael says he follows rugby in France, so the adjustment has not been too major.