It’s incredible that I was still in Germany just about a year ago, waiting to board my plane to the US. I was so excited to meet all the other exchange students at the PDS, which was really a lot of fun and it was interesting to talk to them, ask questions, etc.. INTO prepared me so well!! I got my host family about six weeks before I left Germany. I checked my e-mails every day and I was really nervous and impatient. I was sooo excited when I opened my e-mail account and read the title “Placement!!”. My host family lived in Virginia, in a city called Alexandria, which was a suburb of Washington DC. It was exciting to know that I would live about 25 minutes away from the capital city. I also had one same-aged host sister. I e-mailed my host parents and they e-mailed me back right away and I also called them once, which was very nerve-wracking, but also really exciting!! My departure got closer and closer… Packing, saying good-bye to friends and family, buying all the gifts for my host family were the last things I did before I left. And suddenly the day was here… I was on my way to NYC- the “Big Apple”! We spent five interesting days in NYC filled with a lot of fun; we visited the Rockefeller Center, Chinatown, Little Italy, Times Square, Central Park, Statue of Liberty, etc.. Those five days went by so fast and suddenly I was on my way to Washington DC. I was excited to meet my host family and live my American life. I picked out my classes and then the first school day was here. My high school was big, but my first school day was exciting, however it was also a little bit confusing (mainly just because the school was so big :)). I met a lot of people on the first day. The Americans were so helpful and everybody was so friendly and excited to meet me and find out more about the Austrian girl:). I went to different games (like football games), the Homecoming dance, Prom and I also joined the Track & Field Team. I got to know a lot of people through extra-curricular activities. I was also part of the yearbook staff, which was also a lot of fun!!! My host family and I visited a lot of places in Virginia, Maryland and of course DC. It was interesting to celebrate all the different holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Halloween, etc. and to live my American life filled with normal teenager activities (shopping, going to the movies, etc.)!! I think I got more independent, more open and not to mention that I’m fluent in English now!!! I learned more about another country and found my second home :) All in all, my exchange year in the US was AWESOME!! I had such a great time and it was hard for me to leave my host family, my friends and everything else behind!!