Suhelia (ETC exchange student from Mexico)
"The journey started when I arrived in Elon, North Carolina on the 14th of August. After a hard goodbye from people I love, long flights, making new friends on the airplane and almost getting lost in the Atlanta airport, I arrived safe and sound. It was a sunny day; the weather was perfect! My first impression of Elon was that it is out in the country. There are not many tall buildings like in the city that I am from. Elon is full of trees and there´s not a lot of traffic. My host family received me in a very nice way. We talked for hours and it seemed like we had known each other for a long time. They are the most wonderful host family in the world. I can´t imagine this experience without them, but before going too far in the story, let me start by telling you more about Mexico´s lifestyle and culture and how it compares to the one here in the United States. While it is a blessing to live in the United States, it is also a challenge. I am a social and friendly person; this has helped me a lot in the adaptation process. When I first arrived I was afraid that I wouldn´t fit anywhere, but throughout this experience, I have met friendly and welcoming people who have made this easier. I can´t explain how much I love all my friends and host family. I have created really strong relationship bonds in school and outside school. Thanks to ETC (my traveling organization), I have met people from all around the world: Brazil, Italy, China, Spain, Germany, and France! I identify myself a lot with these friends because they are going through the same thing as me. I have learned from all their cultures and languages. We went ice-skating, to the beach, shopping, to fall and winter festivals and parties together. Most of them did the exchange program for just one semester. It was sad to say goodbye, but I know that these friendships will last forever even if we may not see each other in five or ten years. Oh, coming back to my host family, words can´t even describe how grateful I am to have them in my life. They have supported me through bad and good times. Every time I´m homesick or something bad happened they cheer me up. I can describe my family as charismatic, cheerful, funny, emphatic and with many unique aspects. They almost make it feel just like home. I have learned a lot from this experience, and I have grown as a person. I have become more independent, responsible, organized, social and active. My English has been improving day by day; every day I learn a new word, meaning or slang".