Yuliya is learning about living on a farm during her exchange year in Mississippi

My New Life on a Mississippi Farm

I was dreaming about experiencing life in a different country for years. Having a strong belief that my sincere wish would come true one day, I worked and struggled, trying to get ready for the responsibility of being an exchange student.

Now, I am here! Something that seemed so far away has become real. What is next? What happens when your dream is fulfilled?

You learn how to be a stronger and more mature person than you used to be as every accomplishment born in struggle brings you up to a higher level. More difficult but more fruitful.

My long awaited American story takes place on a Mississippi farm. I remember the embarrassment I felt the first day. I wondered how my host mom and host dad cope with such a huge and complicated household with horses, dogs, cats, geese, and chickens, as well as the hay field, orchard, and garden. Is this what the life of ordinary American people looks like? Before coming here, I though there could not be a more difficult household than the one which my Ukrainian grandmother keeps, but that was a mistake. This was the first time I realized that people from the U.S. and my own country have more in common than I expected.  

American school also seemed unusual for me at first, but only until I found out that many American teenagers don’t like studying either. My American school is 20 miles from my home, so I have to get up at 5 a.m. every day. I had never experienced that before, although many children in both America and my country do this. One more thing upon which I can reflect as a result of my exchange year.

Despite a tremendous distance between our lands, people’s basic values, dreams, and wishes are alike, and this is what makes all us human. Currently, I’m a part of a new culture but not a new world. I haven’t spent much time in the U.S. yet, but already I understand that what separates people from different countries is only the lack of knowledge about each other. As my American host mother said, “Our world is actually very small, and we all are much closer than we used to think.”

—Yuliya (FLEX, Ukraine) hosted by the Turner family (MS)