Across the Ocean

chrstine_headshotBy Student Blogger Christine from Belgium

One year ago I signed up for this crazy adventure called “exchange year in the U.S.A.” Six months ago, I learned that I would spend a year in my life in the city of Kenosha, Wisconsin. And here we are, four months into the program, and yet it feels like I have been living my whole life in the United States.

Ever since I was little I was fascinated by the U.S.A., this country where all of your dreams seemed to come true. My love for this country grew even more when I visited New York for the first time back in 2010.  Since that moment, I always knew I wanted to live there. I knew I wanted to have a taste of the “Land of the Free”. My schedule was clear: I was going to sign up to live for a year on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and make memories of my own in this fascinating culture that is so similar to mine, and yet so different in many ways.

Coming from one of the smallest countries in Europe, I was excited to live the “American dream”: where everything is bigger, better, greater. And finally on August 22, my adventure began.

My Host Parents welcomed me at the airport with balloons, and all three of us went to Kenosha, the city where I would spend the next year of my life. As I was sitting on my new bed, in my new room, in my new house, I thought to myself: This is it. This is the real beginning of my dream.

Even before school started, I joined the varsity tennis team where I met amazing people who later on became my friends. I was relieved I had already made contacts with some people at the school, but nevertheless, I was still apprehensive towards the first day of school. I knew only a few people, I was in a new school which was twice the size in population than my school back in Belgium, the system was different, and the students were different as well.

All that tension of the first day of school was unnecessary! I quickly got accustomed to my new rhythm of life, made new friends, and had interesting classes which I was really excited about.  Within the first two weeks, I had found my place in this new reality that was mine.christine_lake

My host family helped me get adjusted to this new life by showing me around the lovely city of Kenosha. I have the chance to live right on the shores of the Lake Michigan, with a breathtaking view only a few blocks away from me.

It took some time to make Kenosha my “home away from home”, but with time, I succeeded. I don’t realize how fast time is flying by, but I cherish every moment spent here, and I know that the six months left will be even better than the last four.

If I had any advice for any of you out there who are not sure about leaving their home and family for a year, I want to tell you: just do it. You will learn so many new things, you will meet people who will make you grow, you will live experiences that will change you forever. Don’t let this unique time pass by before it’s too late.


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