This exchange year has probably been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but also definitely the most rewarding
Hi my name is Karoliina
When I was 12 years old, I decided that I wanted to be an exchange student. I was mainly inspired by my dad but also by the idea of getting to know a new culture, live abroad for a year, see different places and getting to know new people.
I submitted to the program about two years ago and didn’t really realize what I was getting myself into. Even the day before I left for America, I didn’t fully understand that I was leaving everyone for 10 months.
The decision I made when I was 12 years old, has been the best decision I’ve made so far.
I’ve experienced more in these few months that I probably have in my entire life. I’m so happy that I made that brave decision, since it has literally changed my life.
I come from Finland, from a relatively small city called Salo. My school in Finland has about 600 students. Now I live in the Houston metropolitan area, Texas, and my high school has over 4000 students. The fact that there were so many people, all at the same time, trying to get from one class to another in six minutes, meant that I had to try to push my way through to get to class in time. It took me a while to get used to the school and my first day of American high school was pretty overwhelming. Still, high school has been one of the greatest experiences over here.
I go to Klein Oak high school and I was really lucky to find that Klein Oak has a great women’s soccer program. I’ve played soccer since I was six years old and it was clear to me that I wanted to try to continue to play here too. I tried out for the team and was really happy when I found out that I had made it. High school sports can be pretty time consuming, especially during the season and my school days are pretty long due to practice and games. Still, it’s definitely worth it. The team spirit is amazing and something so great to be a part of and you also make so many new friends. You really get to be a part of something bigger. The school activities are truly the things that make American high school so much fun.
Of course one of the things that has also made my time here so special is my amazing host family. I live with my host parents, our dog and cat. I also have two host sisters and a host brother, who are all already off to college and working life but come home on holidays and every now and then which is always really fun.
I’ve been able to experience so many amazing things with my host family and I’m so grateful for them.
I was able to spend Christmas holidays in Alabama and attend my first American wedding there in February. My host family introduced me to the thanksgiving holiday which has also been one of my favorite experiences here so far. But I’m most grateful for the way my host family has taken me into their family and that I can truly say that I feel like home here.
There are tons of things that I’m going to miss so much when I go back home. The amazing friends I’ve made, high school, soccer, friendly people and the endless amount of fast food that I’ve learnt to love. Time flies by so fast and before I know it, the year will have gone by and I’m going to be back home.
This exchange year has probably been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but also definitely the most rewarding.
As an exchange student you get to experience and learn so much, there are ups and downs along the road but you really do grow as a person.
I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity to get to experience this year and for the people who have made it possible.
ICES exchange student from Finland
living with her host family in Spring, Texas