Here is a story from Carla in Germany who lived and studied in Texas with Academic Year in America back in 2009. She shares how the experience gave her a new family, a new home and the confidence to see the world.
Hi everybody! My name is Carla and my hometown is Willich, in North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany. I study dentistry in Hannover which is a bigger city of about 500,000 citizens. My exchange started in August 2009 and changed my life forever!
My hometown in the U.S. is now Bristol, a small town in Texas about 45-minutes away from Dallas. When I found out that I was placed in Texas, I thought of cowboys, horses and a totally different culture—that’s exactly what welcomed me!
I spent six incredible months in Texas with my wonderful host parents, Pete and Dorothy. After school, we always had fresh cooked dinner together and talked or played games. On special occasions, we met up with their big family. I was even able to go to an American wedding! It was the wedding of their granddaughter.
I went to the Baptist church service in Bristol regularly and enjoyed the new experience of a community where everybody helps everybody.
I attended Palmer High School which was a 45-minute bus drive away from Bristol. I enjoyed being picked up by the yellow bus in the morning—so American.
The school system was very different compared to the system I knew. Every day I had the same classes, in the same order, with the same students. The classes were different as well. I attended band, yearbook or Business Computer Information Systems (BCIS).
Sports are played at school, and Friday night means football night. I was part of the marching band and tried to learn the rules about football. Being part of a school activity helped me to find new friends. I would recommend it to everybody!
Thanks to my wonderful host parents, I was able to get to know Texas a little bit better. My brother visited me, and with him, we drove through Texas and made a few stops in places like San Antonio and Austin.
I wanted to get to know the American culture and especially get to know more people and live a different life compared to my German life. Getting out of my comfort zone made me stronger. I gained an awesome new family and have a place in America, which I can call home.
I’m often in the U.S. and try to make a stop in Texas as often as possible. My last visit in Bristol was in October 2015.
My advice to people participating in cultural exchange is to be open! Enjoy every second of it and give anything a try—maybe a sport, classes, church service, new activities or food. Just do it, and you will experience a life-changing time!
My experience as a high school exchange student helped me to be open minded in all kinds of moments. This summer I spent two months in Asia and worked for a dental clinic in Cambodia. My experiences from eight years ago have helped me to be open and curious about new cultures. I would do it again… NOW!
Learn about opportunities to participate in cultural exchange and grow your family around the world—with Academic Year in America.