I am a young enthusiastic girl that has travelled to Ohio, United States of America for six months in 2018 on a Kennedy Lugar –Youth Exchange Study Program. This brief experience of living in a foreign country has molded me into a more matured person, given me a roller coaster emotional ride and most importantly, become the path to a lifelong connection.

Like others before me, I went through a phase that enhanced my maturity, one in which I had to face and solve my own problems. Thankfully, I did not face any unsurmountable ones but I did encounter challenges like adapting to a new culture and making new friends. How did I overcome these obstacles? Courage is the answer. I convinced myself that nothing was impossible and I was determined not to be wimpy anymore. I fought my low self-esteem and my fear of trying new things. I braced myself to make the first move in making friends at school. I managed to overcome all my fears and those challenges did not seem as obstacles anymore. On the contrary, they made me become more self-confident. I also sought help and advice from my American mom and she really helped with boosting my confidence and raising my self-belief.

It was also a blessing to witness nature’s beauty in the US. For the first time in my life, I lived in a place that was laden with snow. Ohio, especially Northeast Ohio, always have white fluffy snow during winter time. Although the cold weather presented another challenge, I adapted quite well and enjoyed observing snowflakes gently falling on trees. Niagara Falls and Mammoth Cave were two of nature’s wonders that also mesmerized me.

I had the opportunity to do many wonderful things in Champion High School such as taking part in my school musical and going to prom with my best friends, Alyssa and Hailee. Not to forget the volunteering services I did through AFS in my region and my school. It taught me to be more independent, ambitious and to help others. Many of my friends who were on the same exchange year with me highlighted that spending time with their family was their most favorite thing to do and it was the same for me too. However, the moments that I cherish the most and will forever be replayed in my mind are the car rides with my mom there. During these car rides, we exchanged thoughts and stories. We would laugh a lot and enjoy the scenic rides together. We were both very inquisitive and asked each other questions so we could understand, accept and respect the differences in our culture. Such a connection will never ever end even if we never get the chance to meet again. I am blessed to be able to have this great bond with a family on the other side of the world.

Being part of this exchange experience has broadened my mind and helped me have a better and different perspective of life. Now, I am ready to call myself a global citizen who will try her best to make the world we live in a better place for everyone.