Explore – Dream – Discover

My exchange year in the USA                                                               

     

 Lisa Pittertschatscher 4C

That had been a dream of mine for a very long time. And more than six months ago it finally became reality. On August 14, I left my family and friends to spend nine months in the little town of Russell, Kansas. Needless to say that I was extremely nervous – more nervous than I had ever been before.
A new school, a new family, new friends, a new surrounding – everything new.

I was so excited and, as you can probably imagine, also a bit scared but I guess that is a cocktail of feelings many other exchange students go through as well.

Together with many other exchange students from Germany, Austria and Holland we all flew together from Frankfurt to New York where we spent the first five days of our American adventure. Then we all went on our own ways – to our new families in the different states.
My family in Kansas welcomed me with love and affection and so they made me feel at home. I think that’s the way every exchange student should feel.

Of course, there are many things that in my eyes seem wrong or which I simply do not like, but I never forget that this is a different country and tolerance is one of the most important things when finding oneself in a different country/culture and meeting people who have a different view on the world from mine.

At Russell High School, there are approximately 240 students, which meant that everybody knew my name before I myself even knew where my locker was. Random people started talking to me, and I got used to saying “hi” to people who I had never seen before. At first it was form me already a little adventure to just walk to my next class and a challenge to remember the names of the people in my class.
Now after more than half a year it feels as if I’d been there forever. Walking from to class and greeting everybody feels like a daily ritual, and there are no weird looks because “Lisa, the exchange student from Italy” is now simply “Lisa”.

I have to admit that when I found out that I was going to spend my exchange year in Kansas, I was a little disappointed because, of course, I had dreamt of going to California, Florida… But now I’m more than happy now to be here and wouldn’t actually exchange Kansas for another place.

With my exchange organization I have already been on various trips, for instance to Chicago, Illinois. Moreover, my host family has taken me to Las Vegas, Nevada.

Spending a year in the USA was truly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life and even though I had to give up a lot of things for it, there is much more I have already gained. All those experiences, challenges, adventures and lessons, that nobody can take from me and that will probably leave their footprints on my whole life, mean so much to me. I can just recommend to other students to summon up their courage and to on an exchange year themselves – should they have the opportunity to do so.

Or to say it with the words of Mark Twain “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”