Texas Sweet Home

Anggita Veronica Marthin (INA YES to USA YP 15–16)

Getting so close to the end of my stay here, a lot of people keep telling me “Come home soon!” But how can I come home soon, when I also found my home here? Started from the beginning before I departed from Indonesia, I felt so in peace that I was going to Texas. I didn’t know what it was and still don’t though, what made me feel like that when I hadn’t even been to Texas before. But there was something about it that made me think that Texas was going to be my home. It became real and yes, it is my other home now. I adapted quickly to the new culture and I enjoyed it so much. From school, the first day where I got lost when I was trying to find my Spanish class. But now I can just walk around the school to any classes without any doubts. Also, I became active at school by joining Debate Club, Multicultural Club, and Winter Guard. In Debate Club, I competed in informative speech contest at an UIL competition last winter in TCC Fort Worth Texas and I got fifth place. In multicultural club, we mostly do presentation about countries and we also have food day. It made me happy to represent Indonesia and do a presentation so the other members know more about Indonesia. Then in Winter Guard, I had 4 hours of practice twice a week and it was very tiring. But in the end it was very worth it because we got the 2nd place in WGI Contest in Fort Worth, then in the NTCA championship in Flower Mound we got bronze. Now that my Winter Guard season is already over, I have more free times to spend with my family.

I loved American holidays. From Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring Break, St. Patrick’s, etc! I love how a lot of stores are based on seasons so they always have something new coming up. My favorite season is fall because the weather was mostly nice and during fall season there are a lot of interesting things such as football games, pumpkin spice latte, olive and maroon colors, anything with cinnamon, brown leaves, oversized sweaters, etc. Everything is beautiful during fall. It was also during fall that my host-family took me to a college football game which was University of Texas (Longhorns) vs. University of Oklahoma (Sooners) in Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas. It was the beginning of my admiration towards the Longhorns. Not only football game, we also enjoyed the whole Texas State Fair that day. I think that was one of my most favorite’s moments during my stay here because I could see how big deal a football game was. I also took a lot of good pictures that day which always make me happy whenever I look back at those pictures.

With my family, we’ve done so much things within these few months. We love going to Austin because that is where my host-parents came from. Now I’ve been to Austin around 4 times and whenever we go, my host-family always makes us try different places to eat. They were all great! My favorite one is Threadgill’s Restaurant. But my favorite place there was the University of Texas. It was very beautiful and then it became my dream university right away. We also visited Hope Outdoor Gallery, Zilker Park, Lady Bird Park, Texas State Capitol, Lockhart, South Congress, South Lamar, and more.

CIEE Grant Students received a free trip so we went to Oklahoma. We went to National Cowboys Museum, Oklahoma Historical Center, Oklahoma Bombing Center, University of Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State Capitol. It was super fun that we, DFW Texas exchange students and Oklahoma exchange students, got to spend time together and became really good friends. We received a shirt and the local coordinators and regional director were also there and they were really nice. We stayed there for two days then we went home with our LCs.

Two weeks ago, I got chosen by CIEE to attend BUBW Conference on Baltimore, Maryland. I got very happy when they announced that because I’d been really hoping to win so I’d know what it’s like to be able to attend an exchange student conference. It was my first time to fly by myself because nobody else came from my area. Then I finally met Nadja, a German girl, by accident during our layover in Atlanta, Georgia. So we flew to Baltimore, Maryland and went to our hotel together. The whole experience of the conference was really interesting and fun! I’ve learned so much within just 4 days and I met so many amazing people. I think my favorite part from our conference was when we visited the Jewish Synagogue because I didn’t know so much about Jewish before. We also visited a Catholic church and a mosque. It turned out that the mosque was a center for Indonesian-Muslims and it made me very happy that they served Indonesian food! We also went to Baltimore Inner Harbor and Baltimore National Aquarium too, which were very amazing. The whole experience of being in BUBW Conference taught me a lot about interfaith and made me believe that we can change the world to a better place.

Everything that I’ve seen and done here are very special. But I think the most remarkable event for my soul was when my host-parents took me to Austin for Thanksgiving break. They took us to Zilker Park, the park where they got married. They also drove around and showed me their old houses where they used to live when they were younger, the high school that they went to, the first place that they worked at, etc. It was very amazing for me to be able to see what it was like for my host-parents to live when they were younger. I felt like I could experience it through my eyes when I saw the places and buildings because I could feel the family bond.

Dear my beloved host-family, my end of stay is getting close and I am both excited and sad for it. Yes, I’m excited to see my family in Indonesia and tell them how amazing my experience is. But I’m also sad that I won’t be able to live with you anymore. You are the best host-dad and host-mom. You taught me a lot of things. You showed me what true love is. Although we sometimes have misunderstandings due to the difference of perspectives, I can say that I got the best experience through my stay with you. I believe that it’s not just one year in my life, but it’s my another life in a year. You always take me to places, make me try new things, and encourage me to become a better person. You also inherited me the pride of being a Texas Longhorn and I am grateful for that. I’ll never stop being a Longhorn and a proud Texan although I’ll go back to Indonesia. All of the things that we’ve done together, made me realize that Texas is truly a home to me. Thank you for everything, Mom and Dad, I love y’all!