A blanket of stars illuminates the Washington night sky as Jasmin makes footprints in the soft sand. Walking along the water’s edge, net in hand, she and her host father keep an eye out for the crabs as big as their palms. “It was just amazing,” Jasmin explained. “I’ve never done that at home. It was so special.”
A midnight crabbing expedition is not the only new thing 15-year-old Jasmin has enjoyed this year. From pumpkin pie to having pets, her exchange year from Germany to Washington has added a long list of new experiences.
“I really enjoy not being an only child,” Jasmin said. “You have to share a lot more, and it has been really different.” Her host family includes a sister, Shae, who attends the same high school as Jasmin. Every night, the family eats together, where they “talk about everything,” Jasmin said. “We talk about the world and Germany… just everything.”
After joining her high school’s swim team in the fall, Jasmin decided to try out for tennis, a sport she had never played before. Making several friends and learning new skills has been exhilarating for her. “I really, really like it,” Jasmin gushed. “It’s super fun, and the team is amazing.”
Looking back on her decision to come to the U.S. for an exchange year, Jasmin couldn’t be happier. “I am much more self-confident and relaxed,” she said. “I’m going to miss it here so much. I love Washington. It’s beautiful – the lakes, trees, mountains. You have everything like snow and sunshine.”
Last year, Jasmin hoped for a challenge. “I was really interested to see a different country,” she said. “Building a new life and having a second family, a second home. I really wanted to have higher expectations for myself.” Now, with a world of new experiences as full as her crabbing nets, and her host family already planning to visit Germany next year, that challenge has certainly been met.