By Amna Khan (YES 2021-2022, Pakistan, placed by PAX in San Antonio, TX)
In one of my favorite books, the phrase “life goes on” is constantly repeated. Yes, sometimes, you want it to pause, right in the moment when you’re having the best time of your life, with people you may never get to see again. You would wish to stay in that dimension and time. However, you also have a whole new life to live as a new transformed you. This is how I felt about my exchange experience.
The U.S. was more than just tall buildings and big cities. To me, it was one year of discovering my strengths, weaknesses, and what I want from life. It was my one year of becoming independent and discovering myself. During my year on program, I realized that the world can be seen from more than one perspective and just how big it really is. Through my host family, I learned how being vulnerable sometimes can actually make you more resilient. Not only that, I built friendships that are not bound by distance and went from having no sisters to having three. The U.S. and its people have had an everlasting impact on me.
From seeing a beach for the first time in Florida to visiting Six Flags on the weekend in San Antonio, I have had so many wonderful experiences. At school, I participated in homecoming season, prom, and even wrote an article for the school yearbook - all wonderful high school memories! One of my favorite Texan experiences will always be watching a football game and a rodeo show. And my week in Washington, D.C. as a Civic Education Week participant will forever be a highlight of my year.
The U.S has helped me grow more than I ever could have imagined and made me meet so many amazing people from around the world. It has allowed me to build relationships that I know will last a lifetime. Like every other exchange student, I will miss the life I have built in the last 10 months. As I return back home and end my exchange year, I remember a quote my host great grandmother reminded me of, “always remember, you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” Until next time, America.