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An American Exchange to remember!

Queen Mary’s American Exchange to Kokomo, Indiana. In June Year 10 hosted their American friends before travelling to Kokomo in August to get a taste of what it is like to attend an American High School.

After our American exchange students came to us in June, we were extremely excited to go and visit them in August. Decisions and plans were well underway for what activities we were going to do and all our outfits, which were very well thought out, were packed.

We had an eventful start with the cancellation of the 6:30 am train from Thirsk which was the first step of the 24 hours of travelling that lay ahead of us. Nevertheless, we quickly dashed off to Northallerton station, and from there onwards things went very smoothly. 

Within the first 24 hours of being in America, we had all discovered exactly what we had imagined, the famous yellow school buses were real and not just in the movies and the weather was just like how it is on the beaches of California. However we obviously found, some might say heartbreaking, truths as well. There were no massive breakfasts with every kind of food imaginable every single morning, barely anyone goes to the mall after school, not everyone has swimming pools, and no one spray paints their garden lawns green. 

Similarly our first day in Kokomo High School both solidified and ruined our previous knowledge on American high schools. As we walked through the vast hallways of KHS we soon found that American students aren’t so different from British students, despite the obvious difference in the education system. The first four lessons were different for each student on the trip, some found them relaxing; playing online learning games, such as Blooket and Quizlet, most lessons, whereas others found some lessons more intense; for example, AP Government and study period. 

Lunch was the part of the school day that all the British students were looking forward to. I can tell you now that it is incredibly similar to the lunch that the characters experience in High School Musical, minus the singing and dancing. The next couple of lessons were more enjoyable than the first four, for no reason other than we had just had food and we had fully woken up from the six o’clock wake-up call. 

After school was, in my opinion, the best time. Not only did we get to go and discover the town of Kokomo, but we got to spend time with our exchange students and their families. 

 

The first weekend was spent in Chicago or around Kokomo. Chicago was like London, just cleaner, bigger, taller and looks just the same as in Ferris Buller’s Day Off. The teachers enjoyed their time in Chicago just as much as the students did, maybe even more. They spent a lot of time trying unusual flavours of ice cream, such as hot dogs, in an astonishingly pink ice cream museum. 

 

Our in-school trips consisted of going to watch baseball, American Football and soccer, going to the Indiana State Fair, the Opalescent Glass factory and the International Pancake House. All of these activities gave us a bigger view of life at Kokomo and grasp the confidence a young woman needs when put in a new environment. Our host families encouraged us, as well, to take a full grasp of the Kokomo lifestyle. Taking us shopping so that we could have neon clothes for the American football game. Along with driving us to Dan’s Variety doughnut shop at 1 am, apparently this is a Kokomo tradition. 

Writing this has made me see how much of an impact this exchange trip has had, and not just on me. We have lived a life that the younger version of us had dreamed about, after watching Home Alone for the tenth time that Christmas. As well as learning in a different way, both inside and outside the class rooms. Despite all this, I think that the biggest thing that I have taken away from this is, and will miss the most, is my best friend, and her family, along with the rest of the students on the trip and new friends I have made in school. I will forever be grateful that I went on this trip because it has shown me so much about the world and allowed me to discover new things about myself. 

We look forward to another year group experiencing the Amercian Exchange in 2024.

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