Hello, my name is Joey, and I’m a German exchange student who was in the USA for a semester.
About 4 and a half years ago, I took this one amazing journey that changed my whole life. When I first started thinking about becoming an exchange student, it wasn’t really about the culture or language, although I knew my English could use some improvement.
It was about getting away from those everyday struggles we all know: getting up for school every morning, doing homework, meeting friends.
Every single day. There wasn’t anything special about this. Some friends were planning to go on exchange, and I thought, “Maybe I could do this too?!”
Growing up with divorced parents has left its marks in my personality, and I couldn’t connect with any father figure that I had in my life. But when I came to the U.S. on exchange, I joined such a nice host family, even those deeply burned scars began to heal.
They treated me as one of their own. That’s just it, I felt like I was a part of the family – right from the beginning. It was a new start of my life, without leaving the old parts behind.
From that moment, I didn’t feel lonely anymore! I had so many amazing days: meeting new people, going out, doing sports – sometimes just being lazy and eating delicious cookies. Every day was special, some more than others, but they were still special!
It wasn’t just about the good days though. It was more about the good people I got to know and learned to love. They have become such a huge part of my life and helped me grow the personality that I have today.
I didn’t expect any of it, but the culture and the people I got to know changed my life so much that I was finally able to live my life as I wanted. My general mood changed from negative to positive, I started looking at things differently and didn’t take it for granted. I just finally started to enjoy life as everybody should.
If there is one thing I learned from this experience: love. Caring for people. Looking back, so many positive feelings are connected to my exchange semester that I can’t possibly imagine that it was real. It feels more like a dream, a very optimistic dream that I luckily had!