Life in the U.S. / Thank You Thursdays

Thank You Thursday – July 21st, 2016

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 Gaetano from Italy, who reflects on his year abroad in Texas.

The time has suddenly come for my dream to be over, a dream I had been waiting for since I was little.

I still remember each detail of when I had to say goodbye to my family and friends, one of the saddest moment of my life since I had realized I was not going to be able to see them for a year. I knew I was leaving a city I truly love and friends who always supported and encouraged me, but I was ready to start my experience off, no matter what.

I was excited, happy, determined, positive and focused, but at the same time I was anxious because I didn’t quite know how I was going to face my exchange year and the people I was going to meet.

That day, August 16th, was one of the bravest day of my life: I was leaving everybody I’d known for a long time and everything I cared about for a country I had never been in, just for accomplishing my dream, discovering a new culture and habits, and mostly learning from them. Before leaving for America I was counting down how many days I had left until my departure. The countdown was labeled “The new life” because I actually knew it would be the beginning of a new life in which I could start from zero.

301 days have flown by way too fast and it’s time to sadly return home.

I’m proud of myself, proud of what I was able to build on my own during this past year and proud of the moment, feelings and emotions I was able to leave to all my American friends and my amazing and lovable host family.

People probably like you a lot more than they will ever tell you and that’s your responsibility to make sure your friends and family know how much you appreciate them.

It’s not easy making friends when you go to a different high school especially in a different country since everybody sees you like the foreign (The Italian) with the cute accent: here it comes the moment in which you need to be able to understand who you want to be friend with: either people who want to hang out with you because you are a foreign or people who really want to get to know you because they like your personality, character and find you interesting.

“Exchange program” is about learning things you’ll never be taught at school:
It teaches you how to adjust yourself into a new society and habits, it helps you clarify your ideas and perspectives about the world you live in, but mostly it makes you comprehend that simply doing what you are supposed to do isn’t enough. You need to put forth extra effort in order to truly grasp whatever it is that is sitting in front of you.

It helps you out to understand who you are, who your real friends are, and the type of friendships you want to be surrounded by.

You’ll learn how to trust your innermost feelings and how to find those feelings in the first place.

Gaetano from Italy with his Host Mom Mindy.

Gaetano from Italy with his Host Mom Mindy.

American High School made me more sociable and friendly and its spirit taught me how important it is feeling comfortable in a place you need to go to daily, and giving the best of yourself not only didactically but also sportily.

It’s amazing and admirable going to see Football, Baseball, Soccer, Softball etc.. games and noticing how strong the bound is among the teams which support and cheer one another up.

I’ve been blessed with ending up living with my host family, an amazing family who since the begging never gave up on me despite I can sometimes be hard to deal with.

I admire them because they treated me as a part of the family and I’m really glad I can say they are my family because I love them as much as they love me. Words can’t even describe how much I’m going to miss them but I know that it wasn’t a goodbye but just a see you later because I know that what we’ve built this year is something that can’t be destroyed.

During my exchange year I had the awesome and incredible opportunity to travel around the USA: Oklahoma City, New York, New Jersey, St George, Salt Lake, Las Vegas, Hawaii, Santa Monica, Hollywood and Los Angeles.

As you can tell I had to catch so many flights in order to arrive to all these destinations but this time I knew it would be different.. there wasn’t “I’m coming back in town next week” anytime my american friends would ask me when I was coming back from my trip.

It was just on my way to the airport when I realized I wasn’t ever going back home to Texas. I had a thrill which completely got me speechless, emotional and miserable.

I feel like I am a different person than I was before, and most exchange students know that the year abroad has done nothing but great things to them. I already know I’ll need to fight with the tears when I look back at all the memories I made. I just wish I could do it all over again because, since I enjoyed it so much, it’s way too far to become just a memory.

-Gaetano from Italy, in Texas

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

Some of Gaetano's favorite photos from his year in America.

Some of Gaetano’s favorite photos from his year in America.