Thursday, October 10, 2002

German Exchange Student Not At All At Home In Oktoberfest Section of Busch Gardens

Jakob Schmidt, a German exchange student staying with a family in suburban Washington, D.C., was reported to feel "not at all at home" in the Oktoberfest section of Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

His host family, the Gardners of Rockville, Maryland, had brought him there "for a little taste of the old country," says Dave Gardner, the student's "host dad." "We figured he probably missed the liederhosen and sausages-on-a-stick that are known to be so popular in Germany, and Busch Gardens does a heck of a job with the theming, so we packed up the family and headed down for a surprise weekend," said Gardner, who has never been overseas nor more than 300 miles from home. "But we got there and walked into the German-themed section, and you could see the disappointment on his face. I guess he was hoping for more black turtlenecks and techno dancing or something. I thought he'd be into the polka dancing a little more."

Schmidt, reached for comment, said it took him a full half-hour to determine that the theme was supposed to evoke Germany. "It is utterly unlike anything I have ever seen in my home country. It's like the park thinks everyone in Germany froze in time starting in about 1875. And hello, serving Bud Light? You'd get your ass kicked in Germany if you served Bud Light."