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Danish student studying US in Ceres
Nicholas Hansen was not in the United States even a week and he was already knee-deep in homework at the home of Carol and Tom Berger of Ceres.

One thing was on his mind: the heat of an August afternoon.

"It's hot here," said Hansen, a foreign exchange student fresh from Denmark. The 16-year-old flew from a much cooler Copenhagen to Los Angeles and then to Modesto on Friday, Aug. 10. He started classes as a junior at Ceres High School on Wednesday.

"He's pretty popular at school," said his host mom.

"Everybody wants to talk to me because I'm a foreign exchange student," said Hansen, a polite teen. "It's exciting."

The Berger's home on Shadow Ridge Drive will be home to Hansen for the next 10 months.

Hosting a foreign exchange student is old hat to the Bergers. Carol is an area representative and a regional manager assistant for the IntoEdVentures foreign exchange student program. Her daughter, Susan, is also an area rep. The family has hosted 22 students in the past 19 years.

She plans on taking Nicholas on tours of San Francisco and Yosemite National Park and other areas of interest. The program also offers a trip to Los Angeles and a week's stay in Hawaii for all area exchange students. Nicholas' mom said she will spring for the experience.

Nicholas is interested in playing on the Ceres High School soccer team. He's been encouraged by his new classmates.

"They know I'm European and that Europeans are soccer people," he said.

Nicholas said he plans to fight homesickness by staying in touch with his family in Naestved, near Copenhagen, Denmark, where his parents raise his three sisters. He plans to talk on the Skype computer phone program

Naestved (population 50,000) is a little larger than Ceres but the differences are noticeable to Hansen.

"There's a lot of people here from Spain, I mean Mexico. The stores are bigger and there's lots of fast food restaurants. They're spread around. In Denmark they're all in one place."

He's already visited the Vintage Faire Mall and the Bergers plan to take him to Borders book store and Brenden Theater.

Nicholas is free to roam but the Bergers are responsible for him. Nicholas' parents have given permission to give him medical treatment if needed while in California.

The Bergers have always been interested in learning about different cultures and found hosting a foreign exchange student to be an excellent way to do that. They occassionally hear from their past students, including a Dutch boy from the 1993-94 school year.

"We can get attached to some of them," said Carol.

She said it's frustrating to try to find willing local families to open up their home to host students.

"I think they expect to be paid. But it's for the experience."

Susan said the program is a "win-win" for both parties.

"We learn about their culture and they learn about ours. You can't pay for that."

For more on hosting a foreign exchange student, contact Donna Rodrock at 522-4868, or visit