นักเรียนโครงการแลกเปลี่ยน ประเทศสหรัฐอเมริกา น.ส. ปาณิศา จิตติปัญญากุล นักเรียนYear 12/2
Friday 23rd September 2016
Last year, I was an exchange student in the USA for 10 months and I could say that it was the most amazing year in my life. Even though I had some hard times, that was my lesson and I’d call it my ‘experience’ that I might never get a chance to do again.
Why did I want to be an exchange student? Why did I want to go somewhere I’d never been? How could it be possible to trust people who I never knew? Was I crazy? Yes, maybe I was a bit crazy but for the experience that many other people might not dare to try I was glad I did it. And anyway, I was sure others would have had similar questions before they joined an exchange program.
After the longest flight I had ever had, I got very nervous and also excited to see my host parents and another exchange student who would live with me. The first thing I saw was a sign saying ‘Welcome Pleng and Lisa’ which was held by 2 strangers who I doubted were my host parents! The first thing in my mind when I first got out of the airport was… HOT!!! I think it was even hotter than in Thailand and that was ridiculous! I kind of knew it before that Nevada is a desert but I could never have imagined exactly what it’d look like. While we were heading to our new home, we got to see the amazing view of Las Vegas! I didn’t live there, but a town near by calls Logandale which was just an hour away from Las Vegas. After a while, I thought living in a town wasn’t that bad, although I got to know most people in my town and found out they were very different from the people back home.
At the beginning, it was kind of awkward between me and my host family because my English skills weren’t that good, not to mention my broken accent, so I was pretty quiet. Meanwhile, Lisa, my double placement from Germany, was talking a lot and her English skillswere pretty good. It wasn’t easy for me to talk a lot like her. I was really thankful to have my amazing host family, especially Scott, our host dad because he spent his time listening to me reading and taught me how to pronounce any words that I found awkward. Lisa who always correcting me when I said something inappropriate. They’re all wonderful, and honestly, I really appreciate what they did for me!
My first day at school was surprising because it wasn’t what I had expected. My school wasn’t big, there were no lockers in the hallway but outside the building and they mostly didn’t eat lunch at school. What I liked about it was that there were only about 1,500 students, so I got to know most of the students and especially the 10 exchange students of which I was the only Asian girl. I mean that was good because I could not speak Thai with anyone so it helped me to improve my English skills much more quickly. Moreover, I decided to enter the Flag Football team because most of the exchange students did and I wanted to know more about this sport. Flag Football is similar to American Football but for girls. I wasn’t good at all but my coach was so nice and kind, he helped me a lot and I really appreciated that. Another sport that I participated in was Swimming which I really enjoyed a lot. Joining sport teams in school is one of the things that every exchange student should do because it’ll help you make friends and you will be using your free time to have fun.
My biggest culture shock was that most of the people in my town were Mormon which I didn’t know anything about before. I thought that they were like other Catholics, but they are not. They were really close-knitand the weirdest thing is that they have some very strict rules – some things are even forbidden, such as swearwords, short skirts, and short shorts. They also had a class every single morning before school starts. I got to go to church every Sunday and they did not do anything on this day because it’s a Sabbath day. At the beginning, it was kind of boring on Sunday but then, I thought it’s actually pretty good because we had our family time, doing activities together. However, it did make me wonder if their life just wasn’t a little too conservative for me.
During my exchange year, I got chances to go to many places and try a lot of new activities. I went skiing for the first time and it was so cool! Luckily, my host family took me to Hawaii and Disneyland where I had the most wonderful time ever! I also really enjoyed the holidays, like Christmas and Thanksgiving because they are totally different from Thailand.
Besides improving my English skills, I also gained so much experience from being an exchange student in America, which I think was the best thing I had ever dared myself to do and I was really proud of it! Yes! That would be my answer for the questions that I had asked myself before I came to America. For anyone who is afraid to do something new like being an exchange student, I’d say to them just try it as nothing is ever that hard once you do.
By Guidance & Further Study