Since I was a child I always wanted to go to the U.S., and especially to California. It was my dream – going to High School and living the everyday life of an American teenage girl. My wish came true.
I applied for a foreign exchange program and was accepted. I created a package with a letter and a collage for my host family and lots of other documents. Now I had to wait.
Months passed by and I gained lots of information about my upcoming exchange, because I received a monthly bulletin from iSt with all the stuff I need to know. I couldn’t wait, but I knew I had to. Summer break began and I still didn’t know my host family. When I was in Italy my Dad came and told me that they found a host family for me.
A couple days later, at home, I got a letter with the adress and the phone number of my host family and paper with some information about them. I was so excited and wanted to call them, but I had to wait, because of the time difference. In the evening I called them and one of my two host sister was on the line and as I told her I’m the exchange student from Germany, she was even more excited than I was. Since then we talked almost every day and the rest of the family was nice too and I counted down the days. I went to school in Germany for a few days and on my last day, everything felt so unreal: To be so far away soon, separated from my family and friends.
I hung out with my friends and enjoyed our last hours. The next day, my parents and my grandma went to the airport with me and I flew with a group. The goodbye was easier than I expected it to be, my Mum cried. After all the flights, I landed in Redding, California and I saw my host family screaming and holding up big signs. It was an amazing feeling and when we first hugged each other, I knew that we were going to have a great time.
After my arrival, we went to a typical American restaurant and the dinners seemed to be so big in comparison to German dinners. When I saw the house, I was stunned. It was huge, we had a pool, 2 cars, 2 boats, 4 dogs and 4 cats. I shared a room with another foreign exchange student from France.
We all became good friends pretty soon, but one of my host sisters was in boarding school and I didn’t meet her. My host sister Audrey, who is only one day younger than me, and Sarah, the girl from France, and me – we are best friends now.
My first day in school was somewhere between exciting and “oh my gosh“. I was so happy and school was easy, I was a straight-A student and all the people were nice. The football games were awesome, I miss them, we had so much fun sitting around with all our friends and screaming “Go Cougars!“.
I loved (and still do) the life over there, it was the best time of my life. My host family tried to show me as much as they could in three months, and they did a great job. I saw another state, we went to Disneyland in Anaheim and visited Los Angeles, Hollywood, Beverly Hills and San Francisco (which was my favourite). I gained so many wonderful memories and on my last day, I got lots of cards with good wishes and a photo album.
I’m back in Germany now and I miss it. I miss the people, the weather (!), the beautiful countryside, the food and the school. I can’t wait to go back, but I’m also excited about the reaction of my host family, when they come over to visit me in Germany.
If you are interested in an exchange – do it! It is a wonderful, amazing experience you will never forget.
Palo Cedro, California