Life in the U.S. / Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight – Cindy from France – 3/28/17


(Cindy from France)

We have so many truly amazing and talented young students at Aspect Foundation, but certain students really stand out from the pack. Today, we are putting the spotlight on a standout student who has been making the most of her exchange year, Cindy from France! Cindy is studying in Wisconsin with the Hollenstein family, and has been filling her year with cross country, gymnastics, and family fun! We asked Cindy several questions about her exchange year so far; see what she had to say below!

Tell us a little bit about your first few days in America!
I perfectly remember my first day here. I was at the airport, trying to calm my breath, I was telling myself, “my adventure starts now!” I was really excited but nervous too.

(Cindy being greeted by her host family at the airport)

My host family greeted me at the airport, they were so nice. My host sister was holding a sign “Welcome to America” (with a French and an American flag.)

I also remember my first drive home with my host family, it was a weird feeling, I was discovering where I was going to spend my next 10 months.

How did your host family make you feel welcomed?
They made me feel welcomed, first because we went to some places eating, discovered my high school, meet their family… But also because they let me have time to speak. I was busy listening, but they wanted to know everything about me!

(Cindy with her host family in Wisconsin)

Have you competed in any sports at school this year?
Yes, I think it is one of the most important things during my year. It is a good way to meet people. I was in Cross Country, Gymnastics and actually, I am in Track and Field now.

How did the Cross Country season go?
The season went really well, I enjoyed every practice and meet. It sounds funny, but I enjoyed morning practices. Cross Country is a big family!

Did you run Cross Country in France?
In fact, I am not a runner. I’ve never run before. But it is actually really fun.

What is your favorite memory from Cross Country season?
I have two favorite memories from Cross Country season. The first one is my first meet. My host family was cheering for me, and also my teammates. I didn’t know everyone, but they were all so nice! I definitely knew my season was going to be fun.

The second one was receiving my Cross Country box, with some pictures but also letters from all of my teammates. I will be back in France, full of memories.

(Cindy during Cross Country Season)

How long have you been competing in Gymnastics?
I’ve practiced Gymnastics since I was young. I started when I was 6 years old I think. It is my favorite sport.

What is your favorite event?
My favorite event is bars. It is good because I sprained my ankle this year during a practice, so I was only able to practice on my bars routine.

What has been your favorite part of competing in Gymnastics this year?
My favorite part in Gymnastics this year were the meets. It was so much fun!

(Cindy flipping, twisting, and vaulting through Gymnastics Season)

Did you learn any new holiday traditions this year?
In fact, my American Christmas was pretty similar to my French Christmas: food, family, and gifts. Thanksgiving and Black Friday were also cool because we don’t have this in France.

Did you share any of your French holiday traditions with your host family?
I made some French food for my host family, they really like crepes! My parents also sent a package with some French gifts/food.

What is your favorite memory from this past holiday season?
I just really enjoyed spending time with my host family and sister!

(Cindy celebrating the holidays in Wisconsin)

Now that you are over halfway through your exchange year, we want to know if you have any advice for students or host families!
Taking part in a sports team or even a club will be the key to your exchange student year.
Try everything, never say no.
Accept your new country, it is different, follow the rules and the customs.
Remember, your host family will always be the most important part of your exchange student year.

Host family:
Listen to your exchange student.
Take time to know him/her.
Make him/her feel welcome in your home but also in your life.

What advice would you give to a student who is thinking about studying abroad in America?
Go! This is gonna be the best year of our life, you will learn about the world, but also about yourself.
Being an exchange student is not always easy, you have to be ready, but it’s going to make you stronger.

What advice would you give to an exchange student when trying new things?
Just “Go for it”, try, try, and try again!
You have to know that sometimes you will be in uncomfortable situations (and it’s okay); sometimes because you misunderstood something, sometimes because of the cultural difference. But a few months after, when you’ve figured out everything, it will just make you laugh.

(Cindy watching Wisconsin take on Ohio State with her host family)

If you could sum up your exchange in just one word, what would it be?
It is really hard to describe my exchange in just one word, so I choose two: learn and share.

Lastly, is there anything else you would like to say today?
I first want to thank my French family, nothing could have been possible without them. I know is not easy to see your child leave for 10 months in a different country. I am so thankful.
I also would like to thank my host family for everything, everything. I know they will always be a part of my life, as I am in theirs.

Do you know a standout student that you would like to see featured? Send your suggestions to