Fiorin Ballerini


Written by Luke Herzog, Editor

Fiorin Ballerini, a junior and our first Breaker of the Week, just returned from seven months abroad. Fiorin made the ambitious decision to embark on a journey to Germany — just in time to spend a festive New Year in Deutschland.

He lived with friends of the family in the city of Luebeck in northern Germany, not far from the small harbor town of Travemünde where his mother spent her youth. During Fiorin’s first few days, he was jolted awake by explosions — dazzling fireworks that would have been more impressive if it had not been five in the morning.

“The first two weeks were hard,” Fiorin admits. “I was still getting to know people, and I missed my family. But, as I found a social circle, that all went away.” Indeed, Fiorin soon discovered where he could fit in. Joining a German running club, he recalled fond memories of jogging through the city with his new friends: “There are lots of rivers that cut across the city. On a hot day, we would just go and find a river and jump in.” Back home, he is a member of the PGHS Ultimate Frisbee Club, the track team, and competes in cross country (he ran in the North Tahoe Invitational last year and helped Pacific Grove secure a strong second place finish). His bike rides to school under a blanket of heavy fog also reminded him of PG, although he missed the coast.

School in Germany, Fiorin explained, was very different. Each grade was divided into four classes, and each class had their own room. The teachers, not the students, would travel from class to class. “We’d only go out of the room for a science lab or if we were doing a sport,” Fiorin added. That, of course, and two fifteen-minute breaks and an hour and a half lunch period. Also, students were released at noon twice a week. Classes were fairly standard, but woodworking and blacksmithing were also available. One academic distinction foreign to Fiorin was that students had the option to complete school at 9th, 10th, or 13th grade.

The small classes allowed Fiorin to bond with a very tight-knit group of students, and he remains in close contact with many of them.” They quickly treated him like a fellow German, although some teased him for his president once and awhile.

Overall, Fiorin loved his German experience — especially the food (his personal favorite was the döner made possible by the area’s large Turkish immigrant population). Fiorin believes he returned more independent and self-reliant. He is even interested in exploring college options in Germany. “At the end,” he concluded, “you look back and it just went by so fast.”