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The Gachon Herald
When I was 16
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Updated : 2019.03.26  03:48:58
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 When I was 16 years old, I attended the 10th grade at Edison Preparatory High School from August 2014 to June 2015 in Oklahoma, U.S.A. At that time, I was a 16-year-old little girl who’d never been on an overseas trip. Because it was the first time for me to go abroad, I was so afraid that I couldn’t even sleep the day before I left. After a 10 hours flight, I arrived at Tulsa, Oklahoma. My host family was waiting for me at the airport, and I soon realized that my host family were African-Americans. There was also a white-skinned girl who was an exchange student from Germany. I thought it was a little weird that African Americans, a European and an Asian would live in the same house, but it also seemed interesting at the same time. On the way home with my new family was awkward. I was nervous because the driver was one of my host sisters who was just 2 years older than me, not the host mother. I had never seen an 18-year-old girl driving on the highway that fast in Korea. Fortunately, we got to home without having an accident, and I fell asleep as soon as I got into my new room. The second day was the most memorable day, because I learned how much I miss and love my family back in Korea. I was so tired all day for a week because of time difference, and I kept forgetting that I was in U.S.A whenever I woke up in the morning. One day, one of my host sisters suddenly asked, “Do you miss your family in Korea?”, and I started crying without saying anything to her. I don’t remember why I cried that much. My host sister hugged me and I finally could stop crying. The first day I went to school, I could not say anything because I was afraid of being laughed at. No one really knew that I was an exchange student from another country. Maybe they thought I was just one of those really quiet Asian Americans. When a boy from Spanish class began to ignore me, I started to try and speak out even if it was not a perfect sentence. It helped me very much. I could finally introduce myself that I was an exchange student from Korea. And soon after, many students became curious about me. Some asked really stupid questions to me like “Are you from North Korea?” or “Have you been to North Korea?” I liked to answer even those stupid questions. They also liked my special Korean accent. After Christmas break, I bought the ticket and went to the Jingle Bell Ball for the first time. It was one of the parties that school organized, and they sold the tickets for 20 dollars each. I also went to a mall nearby to get a new dress for the party. It was so embarrassing for me because I had never danced in front of many people before. The music was so loud and everyone except me seemed like enjoying the party. I realized the cultural difference at that moment. I still cannot understand how they could dance on the loud music without drinking. The last day of school, many friends wrote me letters and they promised me they would remember me forever. Now, it has been more than 3 years since then, and I still contact them. This experience gave me another family and friends in U.S.A and lovely sister from Germany. Also, it influenced me greatly on choosing English Language and Literature as my major.

By: Chae So-young

Dept. English Language & Literature

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