My Arrival and First Impressions

Authored by:
Lea Marie M.

Hello to everyone reading this! 

My name is Lea Marie, I’m 15 years old and right now I am doing an exchange year in Illinois. I’ve been here for one month and twelve days now and even though that is not really a long time, I have experienced so much since I’ve been here. 

But let’s start from the beginning- On August 14th, I left my family and friends in Germany behind and started my firstflight from Hamburg Airport. That was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Twenty-four hours and three layovers later, I finally arrived in Saint Louis, which is around half an hour from the town where I live. My host parents and “host dogs” picked me up from the airport. I honestly was a little too tired to be super nervous about meeting them. We drove by a gas station so I could grab something to eat. My first impression was: This is huge! I’ve truly never seen such a big gas station before; they had Slushies, Donuts, Hot Dogs, etc.

The next day, I went to Walmart for the first time. Again: Huge. Lots of people told me that all the stores are bigger in the US compared to Germany- and in most cases I can definitely agree!

I also went picking my classes on the first day here because the next day was already kind of my first day of school. Well, it was one out of two orientation days at my school for Freshmen, Transfer Students and for international students. The students that are in the Ambassador’s Club followed us around, introduced us to our teachers and showed us how our schedules work. I thought that was really nice because otherwise I would have been super confused on my first real day of school.

I overall like the classes I picked, but I for sure like the creative ones the best! I picked Drawing and Photography which I am very happy about. Next semester I will also have a PE class which I am excited for.

After around one week of being here, I got a host sister/ double placement because a girl had to switch host families. And even though we’re both really different from each other, we get along really well. I personally think having a double placement is a pretty fun and also beneficial experience. This way, you always have someone to talk to that can kind ofrelate to your thoughts on exchange. 

The past couple weeks, I did lots of things- just to name a few of them: I was at a fair, went to a movie theater, saw some Soccer and Volleyball games, went to some malls, and went tothe Arch in St. Louis. 

I am extremely grateful for all the memories I’ve made so far and even more is yet to come.

Leaving your home definitely isn’t easy, but from what I can say- It’s worth it!

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