Last but not Least

Nariah Anugerah Haer (INA YES to USA YP 15–16)

Last newsletter, it means it has been 9 months since I left Indonesia and it also means that the roller coaster is going to stop soon. A lot of stories and experiences, but it doesn’t mean that it’s always easy. Sometimes the roller coaster goes up very slow and goes down so fast. Sometimes it goes up like it won’t go down. There is always a problem, but there is also happiness after that.

Started when I left everything behind, family, school, best friends, and my life that I built for seventeen years. I traveled thousands miles, crossed the Atlantic Ocean to a strange place called United States of America and started to build my life all over again. I was not so excited, since Minnesota was not on my priorities. But beyond expectations, this state stole my heart at the first time I got here. It such a peaceful place with nice people everywhere.

Moved into a house and live with people that’s called family, having my own room that doesn’t look like it, trying to get used with the dogs, hearing people talk so fast with typical Minnesota accent then I noticed that my English is not as good as I thought. Very first day of school with zero friend, had a hard time to understand what my teachers said, got confused on my first lunch about who to sit with, did not know what to wear to school because I used to wear uniform, and any other things that happened in the first month. But surprisingly, couple weeks later I began to enjoy and get used to the everyday life, had my first homecoming, first pep fest, making friends, and get easier to understand the lessons in my classes.

Got a chance to introduce Indonesia to people at school and in the community. It was fun to see how people was very interested to the culture, foods, and daily life in Indonesia. I got a lot of questions when I did my presentation. Although there were some of them that did not know what and where is Indonesia, but it was still a great time. It’s also fun to hear people from other countries talk about theirs. It made me realize how big the world is and how different people are.

Had my first and last Thanksgiving. Gathered with my host family and had a turkey dinner with them, it made me feel like I am a part of the family. Even though our Thanksgiving dinner was late but it did not change anything at all. I got a chance to bake the turkey and helped my host mom to prepare everything. Another cultural experience that I will never forget.

The next thing was Christmas. As a Muslim I automatically never experienced this event, but my exchange year gives me a chance to experience it once. I helped my host family get ready with Christmas and I also helped to decorate the Christmas tree. I remember I went out with my host mom one day and surprised my host dad with a Christmas tree when we got home. I got a set of drawing tools, hoodie, and a bunch of chocolates for Christmas from my host family and friends. I never celebrate Christmas before and after my exchange year, but I would say that Christmas was awesome!

The best moment from my exchange year was when my host family took me to Illinois and Missouri over the spring break to meet my host mom’s family. I thought it will be awkward since I never met them before and my host mom also never seen them for couple years, but it is actually the opposite. They treat me like I am a part of the family, we laughed and ate dinner together. My host family also took me to some places in both states, it was not just a chance for me to get to now my host mom’s family but it is also a chance for me to go to other states and see how it looks like. See what I never seen and learn what I never learned before.

Dear my host family,

I honestly don’t know how to say thank you to you guys, I think it will never be enough to express how grateful I am for being a part of the family. You treat me like your child, you teach what I need to know, you let me experience everything that will make me more mature. It feels great to have a family from another part of the world, but I don’t know how it would be if I was going to another house and not where I am now. As long as I can remember, we never been in any problems since the first time I got here, we have so much fun together. The United States will never be my second home if you never opened your house and let me in. But sadly, I need to leave this home to my other home, I hope I can come back someday and we can do everything that we used to do together. Thank you for everything, this year has been amazing with you guys!

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