Brazilian exchange student, Lais, describes her experience on our F-1 Public High School Program:
I came to the land of opportunities also known as America without knowing what I was getting into.I didn’t know how big of an impact this experience as foreign exchange student would shape my view of the world, my future and also my heart.
I came to America without knowing my new family, my new friends or my new house. Thinking about my family and friends I left behind I was terrified to come to this unknown town full of unknown people.
At first I had no idea that the kid sitting in front of me in my first day of school would turn out to be my best friend. Or that the girl from my algebra class would bring me into her family, making me become her sister from another country and introducing me to all of her amazing friends who would shape my life forever.
I didn’t know that I would be in a family where the couple would love me as their own or their son would call me sister.
I didn’t know that this unknown city would be one day called home. And these unknown people would be one day called family.
Coming to America gave me more life lessons than my mom could ever give me. It gave me more experiences then I could ever get by being in my home country. It made me realize my new passions, my personality and my goals in life. I could never imagine I would live the life I see in movies. The life of going to a big high school, of having a garage band, hiking on weekends, camping on holidays and doing many more things I wouldn’t imagine me doing it.
Now looking back at my time here I can say that I not only met people I will carry dearly in my heart forever, but I’ve also grown. I got to see many different lives. I got to be own my own. I got to learn how to take care of myself and also how to live without fear of changes. I feel like my classroom is the world and every single person is a teacher who can always make me see differently and learn something new.
They say that an exchange year is to exchange cultures and learn a different language. For me it goes further than that. For me being an exchange student is to challenge your comfort zone. Is to be thrown in another universe and make that new universe your home. Is to exchange not only culture but love. To meet new people and add a part of you in them and let them do the same to you. It is to miss home but wish to never have to go back. Is to love the changes and be open minded to anything. It is to grow on your own, be independent. And that is life changing. Making America my home was one of the best decisions I ever made.