Being an Exchange student is leaving everything you know and everything you lived behind to open you heart for new experiences. It is leaving your safe zone, leaving your parents sight, to a whole new life started from scratch. It is a hard thing for any human being, drastically changing your life, being by yourself in a different country, learning how to deal with problems and adapt to different environments. Being an exchange student in a small town is a very amazing challenge.
Growing up in Brazil, in a city of 2.5 million people, 8,000 miles, and a very complex big city lifestyle, I decided to go on an exchange program in the USA. I ended up placed in a small town called Marksville, in the state of Louisiana. A town with a population of 6,000 people, at a rural area, on the country side. A wave of anxiety and worries got to my mind instantly. “How could I adapt to such a different place like that?”
Getting to Marksville, I struggled a lot. Everything was so different, the weather, how the people acted, how the food was seasoned, things to do for fun. I was not able to understand and get in the rhythm of this lifestyle. After a while, the situation started to change and it was not bad after all. The quietness that at first was odd and disturbing, became very peaceful and comforting, the food that at first I really disliked it, now became my favorite, the people that at first acted weird, now are the most wonderful people I have ever met and learned from.
In a small town I learned to value the little things in life, such as the smell of pancakes in the morning, spending time with your family, enjoying nature, a simple ride to the grocery store, and movie nights with your family can be very fun. People in small towns are very fun, not because of what they have, but really because of what they do. They are able to turn a simple fire into a party where everyone has a good time together, just enjoying each other’s company and making your own fun.
Now the time that I am spending in the US is almost over, and everything that I lived in here will soon become nothing but memories. The time spent here will never be forgotten, and I can say for sure that I am a whole different person. Living in a small town improved me and made the best version of myself that I could ever be.