Nastya and her bandmates getting ready for the big halftime show!

Mississippi Dream

My name is Nastya, and I’m an exchange student from Kazakhstan. So many interesting things happened to me during my first month in America! I saw a lot of differences in culture, food, people, and school. I’m very lucky to have such a great host family, who always support me. We celebrate birthdays, holidays, and go to church. I went to my first live concert with my host family—it was amazing, loud, beautiful, and energetic. When my host family told me that they have three dogs, a cat, and a lot of hens, I was overjoyed! In my country, I have only a turtle (which always sleeps). Living in America, I found out what it’s like to have so many animals at home and how to care for and feed them.

In my American high school, absolutely everything surprises me, including the respectful attitudes of each student, the ability to choose subjects according to strength and inclinations, and the safety measures. After school, I play basketball and am in the band. At first, it was difficult to combine both activities together. But I solved those issues, and now I can combine them and do my favorite activities. Basketball competitions are in the future. I practice and don’t give up. In band, I play the electronic piano and bells. Soon, our band will take part in a competition, and we are preparing a lot. We play at football games on Fridays. People look at us and enjoy the music we play.

Before homecoming, we had a dress-up week, where every day had a different theme. I really loved it! My favorite day was Disney day. My host family and I were dwarfs from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I was Happy Dwarf and felt the same way. At the end of the week, on Friday, was the homecoming dance. My friends and I prepared for a long time, tried to be beautiful, and had fun.

Another of my new experiences is as a volunteer. In my country, this is not very common among students. Here in America, I play with and take care of children on Sundays, while their parents are in church. This is my first experience with kids and all their curiosities. 

Everything that has happened in my life is like a dream right now. This is just the beginning of my unforgettable experience, and I’m very excited to see what will happen next.

—Nastya (FLEX, Kazakhstan), hosted by the Taylor family (MS)