When I was in the 8th grade I did a report on Arizona, I fell in love, and it became my wish to someday visit. Little did I know when I signed up to be an exchange student with AFS, my host family would live in Arizona. My dream had come true. I had many ideas of what my time in America would be like and luckily I have had the time of my life. It’s amazing how much life can change in just 9 months and how much one can grow. My host family, the Gonzales’, welcomed me with open arms and made me feel loved from day one. During my stay I had to opportunity to experience an American High School, attend school dances and football games, create new friendships, go to the State Fair, travel to Flagstaff, The Grand Canyon, Utah, Las Vegas, California and Kauai. I have come to love the United States and all it’s beauty and diversity. My host family has introduced me to many different traditions and customs, some wildly different than my own and some very similar. It is those similarities that had the greatest impact on me and my time spent here. I have learned that while we may all come from different backgrounds, countries and religious and political views, we are more alike than we are different. We all want to be respected, loved, accepted, and embraced by those around us. Foreigner doesn’t have to mean foreign, deep down we are all the same.
My deepest relationship has been with my host sister, Briana. From day one we had a strong bond that has grown deeper during my time in Arizona. Just like most sisters, we have shared clothes, shopped til we dropped, stayed up late talking, laughed, cried, braided each other’s hair, and shared inside jokes. On Wednesday’s and Sunday’s we went to church together and we have grown together spiritually. I treasure all we have shared and learned about one another. She will forever be my sister and I have gained another family to call my own. I will take with me a deep appreciation of a new culture, many beautiful memories and a deep love and connection with my American family.