After attending the first year at my high school I started to become interested in studying abroad for a year. I read many blogs about other students and spoke to some older students, which were on exchange. My mom supportive, and in the middle of August it was already time to leave. I had to say goodbye to my friends and family. They took me to the Vienna airport and I left for 10 months. I was traveling nineteen hours and I took three planes. When I landed in Rapid City I was glad, because I was exhausted, but I was also excited and full of expectations. My first host family, in Rapid City, was waiting for me at the airport. We took a few pictures and they took me to, what would be, my new home for the next ten months. Rapid City is the second largest city in South Dakota and it is known for Mount Rushmore, which features the faces of four American presidents.
A few days later we went to my school, which was called Central High School. It had around 3000 students. My host parents had had exchange students before so they helped me choose classes and activities at school. I had fewer classes than here and most of them were more interesting. I took Spanish, which I liked the most. Then I took Photography and Wellness and Nutrition, because we don’t have them here. They were fun classes, we learned how to develop photographs in a dark room and we made some typical American dishes. In the second semester I took Interior Design, where we learnt how to design a room. Of course I also had classes such as English, US History, Math and Biology. Each class was in a different room and I had to manage to get there in 5 minutes because the only the break for lunch was longer. The grading was also different, we were getting grades for almost everything for instance: homework, worksheets in which we did in class and in some classes we even got a grade for coming there. So it was much easier to get good grades than here. The security system was strict, we had to wear ID cards and every morning they pledged allegiance to US flag (“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.“)
The things I liked most about school in USA was that there were more after school activities for students, less homework and everybody was really nice and helpful. I was playing tennis as a fall sport and I really enjoyed it. During the winter I tried out for the cheerleading squad and I got in. I was going to basketball games almost every week and cheering for the Cobblers (the mascot of the school) to win. I made many friends, some of them were also exchange students, from Brazil, Thailand, Korea, Germany and I am still in conntact with them.
Exactly one month after being there, my agency told me that I had to move to another family. I met my new host family once before when we went hiking together. I am really thankful that they decided to host me for the rest of the year. I met their daughters and parents. We had a typical American Thanksgiving and Christmas together. They were nice and fun to be around. My host mom Gayla was a teacher, so sometimes she helped me when I was writing an essay. My host dad Dwain worked in the Airforce and took me to the U.S. Air Force Base. They wanted me to experience the most of the american culture. We visited many tourist attractions around Rapid City, we went snowmobiling and our longest trip was to Denver, Colorado. I also went to a typical american dance called Prom. My year was soon over and I did not want to leave. I hope I will visit them again and that they will come to Myjava. If any of you are thinking about going on exchange and are not sure, I would ecourage you to do it. It was a great experience and I will never regret it!
by Kamila Majdlenová
Year 1, Issue 2