By Muhammad Tahir (YES 2022-2023, Pakistan, placed by AFS-USA in Bedford, MA)
YES students have all heard the saying "A life in a year" a million times, but I got to experience it and actually live it. These first five months of my exchange year have been a voyage in which I have learned a lot and explored so many new places. From the Windy City of Chicago to the coldest football game ever, I have experienced a life which I never even imagined but has become a reality. Since my first days here I have been blessed with two younger host brothers and amazing host parents. From my host dad’s sarcastic jokes to my host mom’s cutest hugs, I love every part of my host family. The fact is that we all bonded together so quickly that I felt as if I had known them for ages. This exchange year has made me realize a lot of things which have changed the way I look at life now. Let me take you on the voyage myself and show you my experiences here in the United States.
From my first day in Bedford High I have tried to portray the culture of Pakistan to everyone in my community. To do so, I have presented to a lot of students in my high school, especially during the International Education Week (IEW). In the fall I was part of my high school soccer team. I am also a part of 12 clubs in my school and I am the Vice President for Model UN. I worked with my volunteer club and we were able to gather winter clothes for children in need. I love to do volunteer work because it inspires me to bring out the best person in me. With all these activities my host family and I still manage to go somewhere every weekend or holiday. During my time here I have gone to NYC, to Chicago for Thanksgiving, to our vacation house in Maine, to Rhode Island for a New Years party, and to Indiana to visit Notre Dame and watch my first ever football game. Every single place had its own little things which made it special, but me being me I just loved Chicago. It really is the Windy City and it blew my mind away. The best part of Chicago was when we went on top of the Willis tower and I got to touch The Bean.
Even with all these things and experiences, my main goal for the exchange year is to be a great cultural ambassador and to learn more about every culture. I am glad that now I have a second family around the globe and that I have so many international friends. These connections will last forever with me and I won't forget a single second about my exchange year. Now I am going to get the best out of my exchange year.