Being an exchange student is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Before I arrived, when other exchange students had shared their experiences with me, I always knew that this was something that I wanted to do. An exchange year is so much more than trying to look good on your college application; it is about becoming more independent, learning a new language, exposing yourself to a new culture, and trying things that you were always interested in, but never actually had the courage or the opportunity to do so.
So many things have happened since I arrived in August. In the fall, I tried out for volleyball, even though I had never played before and didn’t know much about it. What I did know is that after doing dance for eight years, I needed a change in my life and that change was a new sport- volleyball. I made the freshman team. Being a part of something school-related, having practices and games, and making new friends made me feel involved and settled in. I enjoyed volleyball so much that even after the season ended, we still go out with some of my teammates to play.
Furthermore, I have always liked reading and wanted to try journalism. Even though I never really thought that I would be good at it and my Hungarian school didn’t even have a school newspaper, I chose newspaper for my fifth period and I did not regret it at all. Since my arrival, I have written many articles on different kinds of topics, got so much better at expressing myself in English, and got promoted from Staff Reporter to Web Editor. Having the opportunity to write articles that students from my high school will read is something that I am very grateful for and makes me feel being part of something important.
Since in Hungary I could never choose my own classes, I was very excited about getting classes here that I was interested in. Everyone, including my counselor and my coordinator, had told me that exchange students should not take hard classes, but I wanted something challenging because that is why I came. Currently, I am taking English, world history, US history, economics, trigonometry, newspaper, and AP government. I love taking classes that are considered to be a little bit harder because they are incredibly interesting and I meet people who are passionate about the same things and have life goals similar to mine.
One of the best parts about being an exchange student is having a second family. Living with a family of four for a whole year is just a great experience. We have become so close to each other that I feel like I am home and I know that I can trust and rely on them as much as I can on my real family. They showed me around Winter Springs, took me to the beach, SeaWorld, Disney Springs, and made my birthday a special one. I spent holidays with them, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and we made numerous memories together, so I love having two host sisters that I can play with and talk to and two awesome host parents. Moreover, being an exchange student makes you meet other exchange students as well. In the Winter Springs area, there are two other exchange students from Finland and Japan this year. Since we are all in a new country and going through the same things, we spent some time together and became very good friends. Thus, now, I have not just Hungarian, but American and international friends as well which makes me so happy.
Recently, I started playing tennis and I am enjoying it very much so far since I met new people and got better at a new sport. I like the environment because it is so relaxed and after a stressed school day, it is nice to just play and not have to worry about anything, so I am very excited about the season that starts in two weeks.
In my opinion, an exchange year is about trying new things and getting to know yourself better. Since I am a sophomore, I am getting closer and closer to college and having to choose my major, so in the last six months, I tried classes that I thought I might be interested in as my future major. In addition, I made new friends, got close to my American family, and got involved in the community. As I am starting to realize that I have four months left in America before going back to my home country, I am trying to spend my time efficiently and do as many things as possible.