YES Programs



My Life as an Exchange Student

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By Fatima Tuz Zahra (YES 2019-20, Pakistan, hosted by PAX in Milwaukee, WI)

My life has been so exciting here since the day I landed at the airport in Washington D.C., or even before that when I received my acceptance letter. I still remember the amazing first week with my host family. When I arrived at the airport, I had a picture of my host parents opened in my phone so that I could recognize them. I know it sounds silly but I did not want to get lost at the airport. The moment I came out of the terminal, I could see my host parents waiting for me with a sign that had my name on it! I was so happy that I started to wave at them and my host mom started waving too! I walked quickly to them and gave my host parents a big hug. They were so happy to see me. Even my local coordinator was there! We drove to my school to get me enrolled as soon as possible because the school had started 3 weeks ago! I chose my subjects, got my student ID, and met my host sister at the school too! Then the next day we all went to Lake Michigan. I got to see so many different boats and had a lot of fun walking down to the lake. On Sunday that week, I was able to go to the church for the first time which was exciting because it was a new experience for me.

My host family welcoming me at arrival.

Before telling you all about a typical day of my life in the U.S., I want to tell you that each day in my life is different. Different in the sense of excitement and new challenges that I'll face and overcome every day. I wake up in the morning like every other teenager at 6 AM. I have my breakfast and leave for school with my host sister around 7 AM since my school is a 20 minutes drive away. I spend most of my time at school. Those four mins to switch classes, go to my locker to switch books and meet friends for a moment are my favorite. I have seven classes with a late lunch after my fifth hour. 

At the beginning, talking to other students was difficult for me. But slowly I did. Now I have more than a single friend in each class and we love to talk to each other and study together. Since I've joined clubs here, I stay after school sometimes for club meetings. My favorite club is Interfaith Club where all students from different religious backgrounds come together and we work together on a project. It makes us forget all our differences and helps us focus on how similar we are. After school I come home and prepare for dinner. Usually my host dad cooks but since I love cooking, I always help him in the kitchen. We all have dinner together and share about our days. Then I do my homework. Before going to bed, I hug my host mom which is my favorite part of the day.

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Having fun with my host sister at the theater.

On weekends, we wake up and have breakfast together. Then my host sister and I complete our assignments so that we have the rest of our weekend free. We watch movies on weekends which is also one of my favourite family time. Sitting together under the blanket on the couch or going out to the theatre to watch movies and musicals. We occasionally go out to new places I haven't visited such as museums and other places downtown. And of course, we go to the Church every Sunday!

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My host family and I posing with sculptures in downtown Milwaukee.

All the days I spend here are absolutely amazing and special and I cherish them a lot. I'm thankful to KL-YES program and the U.S. Department of State for this life-changing opportunity.


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