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  • A Story from Minnesota By Lintang

    A Story from Minnesota By Lintang

    It’s been my dream since I was a kid to study abroad and finally I did.

    It was on March 30, 2016 when I got an official letter from AFS Bina Antarbudaya, they said that I got the finalist position for a full scholarship program Kennedy Lugar Youth Exchange and Study.

    Happy, sad, grateful, I didn’t even know what to feel. Couple months after the announcement I went to Jakarta, met another AFS and YES student from Indonesia.

    We did our great orientation before we left to our host country. It’s kind of sad because I had to leave my family and friends for almost a year. So far away from home, from my comfort zone.

    Jakarta, August 8, 2016. Here we go! Waiting around the check in area, getting ready, tears and smile on our face. I honestly didn’t know what to do.

    It was all blank. Too shocked, too confused. Jakarta - Kuala Lumpur - Amsterdam - Washington DC. More than 24 - hour flight and literally did nothing on the airplane but watched a small screen in front of you or slept.

    6 - hour transit in Amsterdam was fun. We came to a country that ever colonized us, but we came “just for pee”.Ya if you know what I mean, since we only transit so we couldn’t go anywhere, staying at the airport, instead.

    Having Arrived in Washington DC, we did registration with YES Volunteers in the airport and checked out.

    We went to a hotel near the airport, stayed there for our International Orientation. Meeting other exchange students from other countries was AMAZING!!

    I got a best friend from India, he was a guy, funny and skinny. I got two best friends from Thailand, Ghana, and got so many friends from all around the world.

    It was August 11, 2016, finally, I met my new family. The Short Family. I had an amazing host mother, funny host father, a host sister as a sister that I’ve always wanted, and a good host brother.

    I went to School of Environmental Studies, a school that was completely different from SMA Negeri 3 Medan, even from usual high school in the USA.

    By the way, my exchange state was in Minnesota, a state with 10.000 lakes. It was an amazing state! The people are friendly, supportive, and had a high curiosity about other’s country. It was always fun to answer their question whenever they asked about Indonesia and Medan.

    During my school year in SES, I was in Junior class (in Indonesia it was XI grade). My first day of school was fine. Knew no body in your class, started the conversation with people who spoke English since they were a baby was not easy.

    I had to adapt to them and it was hard. Fortunately, I got great teachers. They helped me in any conditions. I took Blue House (it was like a college's public class with 110 kids in the class and 3 -  hour lesson), Animal Care, Pre-Calculus and Study Hall.

    Maybe you wonder what is Animal Care class? Well, just like what you think, we learned about animals and how we took care of them.Sometimes we went to the zoo and observed animals.

    During my exchange year, I did more than 100 hours of volunteering. One of my favorites was taking care of horses! Sam, the one that owned the farm was super friendly.I also volunteered at Tante Peni’s house. She works as a Daily Care. The best part was, She’s Indonesian! Yup, the only Indonesian I know.

    Tony, her son was my schoolmate. He’s super fun! He’s just like my brother. By the way, I had so many friends from Senior class.

    Megan O’Connell was my best friend in Blue House. The school was amazing, I had a chance to Prom, school’s event, school’s dance night, and I had a chance to make my own extracurricular, Feminism Club.

    I did present about Indonesia and Medan. I Taught them about daily life in Medan, especially as a high schooler. I really did my best during my exchange year, because I got a title as “Exchange of The Year”.

    I nailed school’s GPA! It was hard to follow their school’s lesson but I really did try my best.

    Not only in Minnesota, I went to another state such as Iowa, California, Utah, Washington DC, South Dakota and Illinois.I even went to Canada with my host family. My favorite city was Chicago, Illinois. It was a busy city but It was AMAZING.

    Honestly, I’ll come back to Chicago one day. My first snow also wonderful! Never had or touched snow before, never had any experience -40°C was a little awful.

    I was sick for 3 weeks during winter. I got bronchitis problem that made me hard to breathe. But I got to try snow boarding, snow tubing, snow ball fight and made a  snow man. I had a great experience during winter! Take me back to cold weather.

    I had too many stories that I can’t write here. A week before I had to return to Indonesia was the hardest time. I had to leave all these strangers that became my friends and family, I had to leave a stranger that became a sister that I’ve always wanted.

    Overall, my exchange was amazing. The exchange isn’t a year in a life, it’s life in a year.

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