By: Latifah Aldossary (YES 2013-2014, Saudi Arabia, placed by ASSE in Apopka, FL)
My experience as an exchange student in the U.S. was a crucial part of my journey as a learner and professional. I had always wanted to study in the U.S., and my experience expanded my understanding of American culture. When I first arrived in Washington, D.C. for orientation, I felt like I was in the center of the world. I was surrounded by students who were from many different countries. Through this, I realized that democracy and equality were the foundational principles of American culture. It was so heart-warming to see how welcome everyone was. I realized that America is a place for everyone.
One of my favorite parts of the program was meeting students from diverse backgrounds. By meeting people from different cultures, I expanded my concept of the world, enriched my understanding of other religions, and learned how to work better with others. I am so grateful for this opportunity to grow personally.
I also used my time in the U.S. to join various social activities and clubs. I took part in a book club that was dedicated to discussing contemporary literature. It was a very engaging extracurricular activity because I learned about many different authors, some of which are now my favorite authors. I loved how open everyone in my host community was. I shared my culture with them, and they also shared their culture with me. All of this gave me an opportunity to see and experience the world from different perspectives. Overall, my time in my host community was a wonderful experience.