It was a hot afternoon in the New York City. The temperature was about 90 F and the sun was shining. An airplane from Helsinki had just arrived to the JFK international airport. The airport was full of people and there was very hot inside of the building. There was standing about 40 teenagers from different countries with a yellow backbag waiting to get their passport checked. They all were exchange students.
Aleksandra was the first one of her group in the line. She was waiting to get her passport checked. The desk opened and a lady shouted: "NEXT, PLEASE." it was Aleksandra's turn. She went to the desk and gave her passport to the lady. Then the lady asked: "Why are you here for?" Aleksandra frozed up and started shaking. "I'm an exchange student." She answered. "Okay, well give me the papers that has your host family information, the visa and put your fingers on that device so I can scan your fingerprints, please." Aleksandra gave the papers what the lady asked for and placed her right hand's fingers on the scanner. The scanner scanned her fingers and then the lady gave her the papers back and said: "Okay, you're all set, have a great time in the USA." Aleksandra took few steps forward and there was a black line on the ground and a sign. "You're in the USA now."
When the whole group went through the checking, there was 4 adults waiting for them outside of the airport. "Welcome ya'll! Hope your flight was good. Now we are going to our camp. It's at New Rochelle. The bus ride there will take about 30 minutes and its still in the NYC area." One of the adults shouted. All the teenagers hopped on to the bus. Aleksandra was sitting next to the other finnish girl.
The bus ride took about 30 minutes, like the guy said. The bus arrived to the campus of New Rochelle College. There was many buildings on the campus area and first the exchange student headed to the office f the college. They took a picture of all the teenagers and gave them a visitor card with their own picture. "You have to keep this card around your neck always, when you walk around the campus because here's security guards. They all got a keychain where the card was hanging on.
The camp was a preparation camp and it was meant to prepare the exchange students for the year. Aleksandra and the all other kids had 3 classes for a day about U.S history, culture in USA and their habits. In the evenings they had games and at the last night theyhad disco.
Aleksandra was very shy at first but she got friends from the preparation camp and had a lot of fun. At the disco she danced about 4 hours and at 12 o'clock, she headed back to her room and went to sleep.
It was 4AM. Aleksandra's alarm o'clock went on. She woke up and headed to shower. Luckily, she had packed up her stuff earlier, because she was in a hurry. The bus was leaving at 5AM to the different airports.
About 6AM, the bus stopped at the LaGuardia's airport.That was where she had to leave the bus. She took her suitcase and her backbag with her and went to the baggage check. Luckily she wasn't alone there, there was also seven other exchange students. They went through the security and sat down close to their gates. After an hour, the monitor went on: "This is the first call for the flight 974b to syracuse. That was her flight. She said goodbye to the other exchange students and went to the desk of her gate. She showed her ticket to the lady and entered to the plane. 3 hours after she was in syracuse and her hostfamily picked her up from the airport. Her adventure in the states started.
During her exchange year she went to different states. Colorado, New Mexico, Florida, Sout Carolina. She flew to Colorado, so she visited at Chigago's and Texa's airports. She drove with her hostfamily to Florida, so she went through all the east coast's states. Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. She joined to the school's sport teams too. In the fall she was on soccer team, in the the winter on volleyball team and in the spring she joined to the softball team. She had a lot of fun and the team mates were great. She had few accidents during the softball season. For example she got an black eye just week before prom because she got hit by a "softball". The softball isn't really a soft, she realized after that. But luckily her bruises in the eye got coverep up with make up. Her hobby had been for 9 years volleyball, so that was also her favorite sport in the US.
In America, Aleksandra had 10 different classes. The weird part was that she had them whole year, always at the same time. In Finland the school system was different. First class in the morning she had studyhall where they supposed to be doing homework or reading a book. Aleksandra usually just talked with the other kids while she was also doing her homework. Then she had U.S history, which was a difficult subject for her because all the kids had already studied it for about 6-8 years. But Aleksandra survived. Luckily. After U.S history, she had english. The english class was one of her favorites, however most of the time they read Shakespeare. She didn't even understand Shakespeare in Finnish and now she had to study it in English. However, she did good job and she always passed the class with good grades. After english, she had trig math. That was the most difficult class she was in. Aleksandra was ok in math in Finland but suddenly she had do to math in american way and of course, all the problems were written in english. Then she had 30 minutes lunch break, at 11.38 the bell always ringed and it was time to head to the cafeteria for lunch. The american school food was mostly junk food. Pizza on fridays, usually hamburgers, ribs, french fries, chicken fringers, cheese sticks etc. The school lunch did offer a fruit. Chopped fruits in a can with sugar juice. Yum. About 30% of the kids in school brought their own lunch, sometimes Aleksandra did too. After lunch she had again 30 minutes long studyhall, in the library. She usually went on a computer and looked up the news. At 8th period, she had gym or studyhall. That depended on what day it was. On mondays, wednesdays and fridays she had on 8th period studyhall and on tuesdays and thurdays she had gym. After 8th period, she had U.S government and economics. That was her favorite subject in Finland so Aleksandra liked it also in the U.S. On 10th period Aleksandra had world culture. It was a fun class with an great teacher.
At 2.33 pm. the school ended and everyone headed to after school sports or to the school bus. It took about 40 minutes for Aleksandra to get home with the bus. In the morning, the bus picked her up at 7 o'clock and she was at school about 7.40 am.
She made a lot of new friends in the US and the year was more than she could have ever expected. It was perfect. In the Aleksandra's school were about 150 students from the 7th grade to 12th grade. It was a small school compered to her school in Finland, where was about 700-800 students just in the grades 10th to 12th. There was also two other exchange students in her school. They were both from Germany and after few months, Aleksandra became bestfriends with the other one.
Aleksandra had fun time in the states. The day when she had to leave, was horrible. She didn't want to leave her friends. However, Aleksandra knew it was time to go back to home. She promised to her friends that she will come for a visit on next summer and it helped her a lot. She could always come back. It was the best year of her life and it wasn't the end. It was the beginnin.