Life in the U.S. / Thank You Thursdays

Thank You Thursday – May 19th, 2016

Maria celebrating Easter with her host family in Utah.

Aspect Foundation’s inbox is flooded with notes from students expressing their gratitude for the experience they have had on student exchange. On Thursdays, we post one of these notes, sharing the “warm fuzzies” with all of you!

Today’s Thank You Thursday features Maria from Spain, who takes the time to thank everyone involved in her year abroad in Utah.

My name is Maria and I’m from Spain. I have been an exchange student for almost 10 months in Utah. I’m writing this letter to thank all the people that made this experience possible.

A year ago nobody could have told that right now I would be here, in America. Everything really started because of my aunt, my uncle and my cousin. 

My cousin was an exchange student last year in Colorado. She was having such a great time that her mom (my aunt) asked me if I would want to do the same thing. At first I said: ”NO”. I was too scared. I thought that my English was not good enough, that I would miss my family and friends too much, and basically that I was not ready to be here for 10 months.

I was really wrong! If they didn’t insist that much, I wouldn’t be here right now. I’m so thankful for them and for the great opportunity they gave me. All my family and friends supported me to make this decision and I want to say thank you to every single one of them.

Maria at the Color Festival in Utah.

Maria at the Color Festival in Utah.

The way here was almost 11 hours in an airplane, all by myself, and afraid of everything. All sorts of things started to come to my mind. What if my host family is not waiting for me at the airport, what if they don’t like me or I don’t like them, what if I don’t make friends, what if school is too hard for me… I have always been extremely attached to my family, and the moment I realized I would be without them for so long, I was already in the plane.

When the moment of the truth came, I cannot describe how nervous I was. A bittersweet feeling was in me until I saw THEM! They were there, at the airport, waiting for me! Eight wonderful people that would become my new family. Ruth, my mum; David, my dad; Jonathan, Olivia, Ellie, Grace, Abby and James, my siblings. It was the best feeling I’ve ever had. The “bitter” part of my emotions suddenly disappeared and everything was just amazing. The first one I saw was James, my two-year old new brother. He just came and hugged me, even though he probably didn’t know who I was. Since the first moment I saw all of them, all my worries disappeared. I knew it would be the best year of my life, and I was right. All the kids were amazing since the first moment. During my first months, when I was feeling a little homesick, they would just come with a smile on their faces and talked to me about anything, or simply, hugged me. 

Maria with her host siblings at Thanksgiving.

Maria with her host siblings at Thanksgiving.

My mom, Ruth has been my primary support during this year. I have no words to tell you how thankful I am for you and all you’ve done for me. Besides my host mom, you’ve been my best friend, my second mom. You’ve made me eat my vegetables when I didn’t want to, you’ve hugged me when I was feeling sad (and when I wasn’t), you’ve helped me with my homework every single time I asked you; even though you had six more kids to help…I couldn’t have asked for more. You are such a great mom and person. You’ve made me feel like I’m at home every day. My dad, Dave has been my other basic support during this adventure. I know that you will always be my “ice cream buddy” even though sometimes I was trying to be super healthy and I didn’t eat any… You’ve taken me to the store a thousand times, you’ve taught me so much about everything and you’ve teased me as if you were my own dad. (And to make it clear one more time, I know you were born before TV and phones). Also, thanks so much to my host grandparents. You have included me as one of your own grandchildren. You don’t know how much it meant to me when you put my picture on the wall with all the other grandkids. The last member of the family that I want to mention is Brookie. You’ve been my favorite aunt and you’ll always be. Thanks so much for all you’ve done for me. For decorating my room, for going shopping with me, and simply, for spending the weekends and holidays with us.

Maria and her high school track team.

Maria and her high school track team.

Besides my host family, I also want to say Thank You so much to all my friends from America, Sammi, Caitlin, Lauren, Owen, Sariah, Aubrie, Kirsten…Since the first day I arrived to Utah, you already showed me how wonderful you are and that I could count on you for anything. To all my classmates, and all the track team who had been always there as well. Also, thanks so much to all my teachers, counselors, principal and coaches. Each one of them have helped me with all I’ve needed.

The place, besides school, where I met incredible people was at church. All the leaders, Young Women, Bishop… The exact same day that I arrived and I came to church, I knew that was the place where I wanted to be on Sundays. You have transmitted such a good influence on me and you’ve taught me so much, that I am eternally thankful.

Both of my coordinators, Vicky and Evelyn, who sent me emails, called me or texted me whenever I needed them and made sure everything was getting done and I was doing good at school. I’ll never forget neither of you. Thank you so much.

Basically, if you are reading this post, you’re probably one of these amazing people who has made this experience possible. I can’t explain with words how blessed I am to have such wonderful new people in my life. 

Eternally thankful, 

Maria from Spain, in Utah

Interested in sharing YOUR corner of the world with an international exchange student? Learn more about becoming a host family at:

Maria with her prom date Owen.

Maria with her prom date Owen.