1. We had several meetings with exchange students that were either ambassadors for a while now or students that just returned. It was a good thing they had little booklets to see what others experiences. They also included tips on packing, on the new culture, and we even had Welcome Days to get us into the American spirit. When I was with my host family for a couple weeks, we had a meeting to really get us into the family and the culture and also the language and the school. It was led by my IEC and it was a lot of exchange students that some maybe have met before and some I didn't, and it was good to see them and to be with them because we all had the same struggles and the same culture shock and it was good to hear their opinion on that.
2. The coordinators in America were as nice as they were in Germany. You could always call and talk to them about your experience, your struggles, and they always called to make sure everything was okay. I think in some points it could have been a little better, but the coordinators (especially the IEC's) have other jobs and families, so they volunteer to do this work, which they have to work into their schedules, so I think my coordinators did the best they could, which was alright.
3. I went to a really small high school, which was nice because I got to know a lot of people. I was able to choose the subjects I wanted to take, and my guidance counselor was amazing. Also I didn't have to tryout for a sport, and I was allowed to play one every season. Because it was a small school, you knew your teachers because they were also your coaches, you were friends with their kids, or they were your neighbors. I think it was amazing to have a close relationship with your teachers because it was more honest, and they knew if you were struggling, or they could work with you on interests.
4. My host family was a little different at first. Of course they spoke a different language, but they also had other political views and a different religion than I did. I had to kind of work on my view of life to fit into the family. But when I did, when I went to church with them every Sunday, when I understood their beliefs, when I made friends with the kids from church, and I left my interests behind, I had the best time. It was not like I didn't want to fit into their family, but I really wanted to! And that's why I did that, I called my host mother "Mom" and my host father "dad", I called my "dad's" mother "grandma", and their children were my siblings. It was a rather unusual thing for me to do because I had my family in Germany, but now I have another family in the U.S. And really I would not change that for the world. I am still in contact with my family, my second family, in the U.S. And I am planning on visiting my family because I miss them so much. But not only do I miss them, but also my friends and all the people I used to spend time with. They also became a family to me, my school family. And I miss my friends from church, my church family. You see, I made lots of friends (and also family) in the U.S., and that is honestly the best about the exchange year. All of a sudden you have people somewhere in the U.S. or where ever that love you as if you were their own child or as if you were their sibling.