If you think the economy in the United States is bad -- and it is -- consider Andreas Wellit's perspective. The Swiss native, an international student at Minnesota West Community & Technical College in Worthington, has more of a connection to the world's economy than many Americans.
His father buys and sells real estate around the world. "He starts with something little. He does it by himself. He cuts down the trees and puts a hotel on it. It takes awhile," he said Wednesday. "He looks around, when something gets cheap or someone goes broke, he moves in."
"Even as the economy is bad here, you see country's like them, it makes you appreciate what you have here more," he said. In Switzerland, a value meal at McDonald's will run you about $12, he reports, so life in the United States' economy is a little better, but requires some finesse. "I look where I can save the money. Before, I'd just spend it. It's kind of tiring, always looking for the cheaper stuff, but that's how it is."
Wellit first came to Minnesota in 2004. He was attracted to the "State of Hockey" in a roundabout way. "I didn't know what to do and I always wanted to go play hockey and go to the United States and learn English. I looked up a program where I could sign up and they said, 'Where would you like to be?' I said, 'Florida sounds good,' and they said, 'Yeah, that's another $500 so I was like, 'No, just sign me up anywhere you want; I just want to play hockey.'"
He played hockey as a high schooler in Luverne, Minnesota -- about 1,305 miles from his first choice. "I didn't like it too much because I was 16 and they just started the war in Iraq," he said.
He went back home to earn a degree in business management, then --because he liked it here, he says -- gave in to the lure of southwest Minnesota to take more classes. He'd like to buy and sell real estate, but he's not yet sure where. When classes are over in Worthington, he has to go back to Switzerland for a year of mandatory military service.
"I have to say we've never lost a war," he said.