I arrived in America on September 1, 2012. Meeting people from different countries, talking, sharing and listening to them was in itself a great experience. I was learning and teaching at the same time, but as they say, it was just a start. I was excited and fully pumped up about how I was going to spend my exchange year in the United States. Coming from a busy city with a population of 12 million people in a small town with a population of thirteen thousand people was a culture shock for me. I never thought of experiencing a life with people who are independent, with people whose pets are one of their family members, in a country where everyone has freedom, where I will have to push the button up to turn the light on and learn to say "the magic words" for whatever I did or was about to do. Well, this was where the experience started.
I was placed with a family in the small town of Mexico, Missouri - a place where you never know what the weather is going to be like. if it's raining one day, it would be warm the next day and snowing the day later. Getting adjusted to this changing weather was also a big challenge for me and so was the high school. In my country, we don't get to choose what we want to study; we have specific courses which we have to complete by the end of the year and give exams. When in America, I was asked, "What subjects would you like to choose?" I stared at the counselor for a while and then asked if we really get to choose our subjects! That was the most happiest moment for me, and I chose the coolest subjects which I had never thought I'd get a chance to study and get honor roll in all the semester up till now! Finding friends at the high school was surely a difficult job but not impossible. I never knew in such a short period of time I would become the favorite for my teachers. Hearing comments from them like, "Your parents have grown you well" or "America needs to learn from you and your country" made me feel like I was on top of the world.
I never thought I would take part in activities such as theatre, live performances, speech tournaments and sports like soccer. I know these are the things that I have never done before, but taking part in them and experiencing how each of those arts are like is one of the greatest feeling of all times.
The country where I come from is not a place where a lot of people have pets. In The United States, one of the things that I experienced was that almost every family has a pet. They just treat them like their own family member. They talk to them, they play with them, which I at first thought was strange. After spending a couple of months here, I think pets are your best friends! I don't know how I changed from hating pets to loving them. One thing that I'd like to mention is that I am really attached to the dog in my host family, and I will miss her a lot!
In addition to that, no matter how close one is, with their host parents they would still feel the absence of their natural parents and be homesick. I'd like to say, from the day I've been placed with this family, "I HAVE NEVER BEEN HOMESICK!" My host family is just the best family every exchange students would always dream of. Since I have been here, I've never felt homesick. They are my true inspiration. I just feel like home, I can tell them whatever, I share all my problems with them, and they figure out solution for each one of them, and I just love them so much! I'd also like to say that my community representative is just the best rep ever. One call and she is always there. She always helps me and appreciates me for whatever I do. A great and a very helpful person.
There are a lot more things where I have taken part in different activities. When I was back in my country, I had never done community service before, but as an exchange student we are always encouraged to do community service. I took part in different community service activities and did a total of 259 hours. Working after school with a tutoring program, serving my high school's clubs giving time to old age homes and a lot more was fun and interesting. Looking at my dedication to the community, my organization gave me a chance to choose one free trip and I chose California where I will soon be going. I cannot tell how excited I am for that. I had also applied for the Civic Education Workshop in Washington D.C from February 10-16, and I got a chance to attend that workshop. Furthermore, I was nominated as a social media specialist, and did dedicative work. I was presented a certificate on the last day, as a social media person, and also won the photo contest during the week.
I have been taking part in different activities since I've been here, and have tried to make my year wonderful! I have also given a lot of presentations since I have been here. Listening to what people think and what their perspectives are, about my country and all Muslim people around the world is just very hurtful. People have such wrong misconceptions and ideals about how we are like. Giving presentations I think was great to clear all the misconceptions and become a bridge between both beautiful countries and beliefs. I'd like to thank all the people who have become a great help for me, for making my exchange year successful! Thanks a lot!