“In January 2016, I had the opportunity to spend a semester in Wisconsin, live with a host family, and attend a high school. I was really excited and couldn’t wait for it to start, but when the big day came for me to leave, I had mixed feelings, because I’ve never traveled that far by myself before, and I hadn’t been apart from my family and my friends for such a long time either. But as soon as I arrived at the airport, my host family welcomed me very warmly, and all those worries were gone. Within a few days, I felt like I’ve always lived there and I was a member of their family, because they involved me in everything, and everyone I met was really open-minded and super friendly to me. I got along very well with my host family and my host sister, who was an exchange student too. They were always there for me, no matter what I needed or what question I had. We always had a lot of fun when we spent time together, like when we went on trips, played board games, or simply had dinner and talked.
During my stay, I attended Brookwood High School, where I felt very welcome too. I could tell that they had experience with exchange students before, as everything was very well organized.
Both the administration and the teachers were always there for me when I had questions, and especially in the beginning, they did everything to help me get accustomed to the new school as easily as possible. Another reason I didn’t have any problems was that there were other exchange students at Brookwood. Through them, I felt even more secure, because they knew how everything worked already and how I must have felt.
After school, I took part in sports, which I really enjoyed. It was fun to spend time with the other students, and all of those track and basketball meets were great experiences. The school has an amazing sense of community, which you could experience at those sport meets in particular. Besides that, I played the saxophone in the band, took dancing classes, and took part in a play in my free time. It’s a great thing that my school allowed me to participate in all of those activities, even though I was an exchange student.
Since this semester was one of the best in my life, I can only recommend becoming an exchange student. I learned so many new things and experienced great moments. One can’t really describe all of that, because you have to experience it by yourself to comprehend.
I’m really thankful that I had the chance to be an exchange student and to live with such a loving family in that great community. Not only did I get to know the American way of life better and become more independent and self-confident, but I also met amazing people.”
– Katharina Kandel from Germany, Spring Semester 2015–16