YES Programs



My First Week in Chicago

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By Lana Musa (YES 2019-2020, Israel - Arab Communities, placed with AFS-USA in Chicago, IL)

When I first got to the U.S., I didn’t really know what to feel — am I supposed to be excited or happy or nervous? I actually had mixed feelings! I felt so overwhelmed and nervous about everything. I couldn’t really get the idea in my head that I was in Chicago, that my dream was coming true, and that I was not going to see my family for a whole year. The first week was so unforgettable — it was awkward meeting everyone, but honestly my host city gave me a little bit of a relaxation since it was a place I had been waiting so long to visit.

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My YES year was an absolutely life-changing year and I became a completely different person by the end of it. I am so proud of what I overcame during this year, in addition to everything I learned from living in Chicago for ten months. When I first got to Chicago, I felt like I was starting a new page of my life. At first, everything felt weird and overwhelming, but since I decided to go on my own and make my dream come true everything turned out to be for my own good! I didn’t expect the year to be as good as it was; it was perfect with its own ups and downs.

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Chicago made me feel better than ever; I got to know the best people and live with the best family, as well. My host family became my second family that I really am thankful for! I took the best path I could’ve ever taken in my life so far by going on the YES program. I encourage every single person who has the chance to apply for the YES program and live one of the best experiences in the world.

Being an exchange student is being a citizen of the world!