How It Feels to Be Exchange Student Me

Life As An Exchange Student


Daria Bauer

Daria poses for picture at the happiest place in the world; Disneyland

Daria Bauer, Contributor

Well, first of all, being an exchange student is AMAZING! It feels like spreading your wings and just flying into a new world. To understand how it is to be an exchange student, you have to know some background information. Coming to the United States of America is one of the biggest dreams many European people have. I am sure you all know what “The American Dream” means. Everything seems to be better out here with more opportunities and challenges.

Finally, I got the chance to discover this foreign yet kind of familiar area. To understand my position in between all the exchange student programs, you have to know that I am a grand student. That means I have to be super thankful. My family could not afford an exchange year but happily, I have been chosen by the delegate of the parliament that was responsible for my area, so now I am here in Arizona, in a beautiful state, a nice high school, and living with an absolutely amazing host family.

But enough background information. I thought the school would not be much different than my German school, however, it feels like day and night. For example, it was my first day of school and the first period and there was this one girl in my class – she put her backpack on the table, took out a paper bag- which was as loud as throwing a bag of rocks on the table AND started eating! My first reaction was opening my mouth, staring at her and trying to understand what just happened. Maybe I kind of overreacted because again, it was my first day of school, my first period and I was super excited. But this was the first big difference I realized. Some seconds later another girl that sat next to me stood up and walked across the whole room to get some food too. But as soon as somebody just answered the question the teacher asked without raising his hand, I realized it is everything but the same!

If you would ask me now, I would say it is normal here. I got used to it and I like it for sure. Sometimes I get really confused about things we have to do in class. For example, paint in some areas of the body in anatomy. Or simply answer some questions and being allowed to look the answers up in your folder. For me, it seems too easy to have serious tasks that are graded. But I do not complain about anything. I’d rather have good grades and easy tasks than having a hard time to get school work done.

Another thing I really like about my status as an exchange student is, I can use the phrase “sorry, I am an exchange student” as an excuse for almost everything.

I wanted to change my class because I was unhappy about it and I could do this without any problems, even though the deadline for changing classes was over. My grammar and spelling are not perfect. So, I gave my first essay to a friend to hear her opinion and she said, “Your grammar is good, there are some little things you could change but since you are an exchange student, it is great.” Another nice little opportunity I get is participating at the Graduation. I do not know how you feel about this, but I am super excited and look forward to it. But being an exchange student is not always super exciting and nice. It is hard to find people you can get closer to. I mean friends to spend time with while at lunch for example.

I would say I am a very talkative person, but nevertheless, it is hard for me to start conversations here. I think it is because I am unsure about the language. This is another issue exchange students have. Or at least I have… Sometimes I am just afraid to talk, to say or to reply to a question because I do not really know how to say it or if it is correct, how I would say it. This is the reason why I have issues to come to people and start conversations. But I was lucky and met a girl in my Algebra class who invited me to spend time with her at lunch, so I am not alone.

Another embarrassing situation was at my host family’s house- my house for this year. I was vacuuming my carpet and I burned the- to be honest I don’t know what it was but the vacuum died and I felt so uncomfortable… Happily, I wasn’t the first one who burned the belt and my host parents started laughing at me but not in a mean way, more to help me feel comfortable again because it wasn’t a big deal. Regardless of all the weird and embarrassing situations, I appreciate being here as an Exchange student!