I just want to apologize about the lateness of this essay, I had so much catch up work when I returned, I didn’t get a chance to write this until now!
For my exchange I went to Pinewood Preparatory School in South Carolina. It was an amazing, eye opening experience that I fully enjoyed. I spent the first weekend with my family friends, which was nice as a sort of transition phase into my trip. After that I met my host family, the Stricklands. I was so nervous and excited to be going to my host family’s house and settling in. It was really nerve-racking because I had never been away from home, so far, like this before, but luckily for me, the Stricklands were very supportive and I quickly grew comfortable in my host house. That first long weekend, I also visited the school before I went there for my first day, and I was so excited to see the beautiful campus. It was so interesting to see the similarities between my school, The Academy at Charlemont, and Pinewood Preparatory. The campus was much bigger than my school, which is reasonable considering the student body is four times the size of my school. However, I really enjoyed looking at the differences because my school is so small and I feel I often lose perspective because of the size.
My first day at Pinewood Preparatory was also very nerve-racking, but so exciting! My host sister Taylor was a great person to shadow, she explained all the teachers and classrooms, and just how the school functioned. I really was given insight into the spirit of the school. I felt that Pinewood is a very open community, full of people who really care about each other, and even though it is much bigger than the Academy, I sensed the same kind of school spirit and commitment to the community. The lockers did not have locks, did not need locks, which I think is something a school should really pride itself on.
Additionally, all the teachers were very welcoming, and immediately made me feel at home and comfortable in their specific learning environments. Mr. Sterjn and Senora Girgan especially helped me feel part of the community, encouraging me to participate, especially since I was too shy often to contribute on my own. Similarly, the student body was the same, people walked me to my classes, helped me if I got lost, and seemed genuinely interested in me and my school. It was an amazing welcoming community.
I really enjoyed my network experience, and I would, in a heartbeat, go on another. The cultural differences were interesting to me, I really enjoyed seeing the differences between the south and the northeast. Additionally this trip helped me gain perspective, I could learn about myself and my own opinions about other different communities, and from learning in a more indepth way about them, this trip helped me develop a more open mind about other people and places different from what I am accustomed to. I had a great trip, and I am very grateful to those who helped me.