I was hosted in Hamburg, New York for my YES exchange and the biggest challenge for me was making friends in school. In Malaysia, we get to have the same classmates for a year in the classroom that you are placed in. However, in America we change classrooms for every period and have different classmates for every class we take. It was hard for me as that meant I did not know anyone well enough or long enough to sit with them for lunch period. Even though my school counsellor had reached out to a student whom I could sit with at lunch (which I did for a week), I did not feel any mutual connection as it was a forced relationship. As a result, I felt pretty lonely in the beginning but I remembered the advice from my YES seniors during our Pre-Departure Orientation (PDO) that we have to be the one who takes the initiative to approach people and talk to them, so that was what I did. Soon enough, I made new friends and had like-minded people to sit with during lunch time.
My favourite moment during the exchange was spending time with friends. I enjoyed all the moments spent together even if it was just having a meal over at their place, or just hanging out at their house. Best of all was when I went on an AFS trip to New York City and Disney World in Orlando, Florida. It was a trip organized by AFS Western New York where exchange students get to spent time together and at the same having fun while going to places in the US.
My AFS experience has impacted me in a lot of ways. I have become a more confident person and am able to speak in front of crowds more confidently. Also, I have become more intuitive. I am aware of myself as a world citizen and an agent of change. I took the initiative of looking for teachers to present about Malaysia to their students and within a two-month period, I had done a total of 30 presentations altogether. By doing this, I got to learn more not only about Malaysian culture but also a bit about American culture, and I also got to teach Americans about our culture, fulfilling my role as a young Malaysian ambassador.