Goodbye America and Thurston

By Anna Spoddeck

My American adventure, the one I had been dreaming of for a long time, came true September 1, 2015. It started with other exchange students from the German airport Frankfurt/Main and we flew into the big wide world. We were so excited when we arrived at the airport in NYC and I couldn’t quite believe that my journey had finally begun. Looking forward to an amazing year, I remembered what my sister, a former exchange student, had told me: an exchange year is not just an unforgettable and rewarding experience, it is also a big challenge: thousands of miles away from home, learning to organize everything on your own, not knowing anybody and dealing with the different language.

With a great host family, it is so much easier to overcome those challenges.

For more than half a year, Katherine, Gale, Brian and Kimberly are not just my host family, they became my real family. They gave me the feeling that I have belonged to them all along.

I am so grateful for their love, care, hospitality and tolerance which made me enjoy my stay even more. Together we have experienced so many adventures:

We drove to Brian’s marching band competitions which were something totally new to me.   At Christmas time we went to the Meadow Brook Theatre to see my talented host sister Kimberly in the “Christmas Carol.” We also saw the Trans-Siberian Orchestra performance at the Palace.

At New Years, we travelled to New York and I got to know my “host grandparents” who welcomed and accepted me like their own granddaughter with so much kindness and love.

On the way there we went to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

The biggest highlight for me was our spring break trip to Washington D.C. and Virginia Beach. The feeling to explore the capital of the USA and to be that close to the White House was incredible!

But you don’t even have to go far from home to make amazing experiences. Debbie and Craig, friends of my host family, who are now my friends too, explored the “motor city” with me. In Germany, Detroit is popular for its car production. We went to the Ford Rouge Factory to watch the manufacturing process of a pick-up truck, which made it even more impressive. We also visited The Detroit Institute of Arts and the Henry Ford museum. I learned so much about American history there.

Indeed I feel at home in America not just at home with my host family. Every day I go to my high school, Lee M. Thurston High school. My teachers, classmates and friends make me feel that I belong there. Everyone is so helpful, respectful and open.

In the beginning, I was part of the swim team. I have experienced great team spirit and nobody is disrespectful to others. I am so impressed by the pride of Americans for their country!

Whether it is Homecoming and football games, Halloween, rides at cedar point, bonfires with American marshmallows, I love it all!   Especially at prom, I had a wonderful evening with my friends.

Yet there are three weeks left with anticipation for my last tennis practices and tournaments, Graduation, and of course the reunion with my family. I am already feeling endlessly sad when I think about my farewell. I know that I am coming back one day. My gratitude and thank you’s go to my host parents, my friends, my local coordinator Chandra, my teachers and classmates and everybody I met.

It would be a dream for me to welcome my new family or friends in Germany. We would like to give back a little hospitality. And maybe with that someone else’s dream would come true.

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