FLEX program participant from Romania and a teammate during a high school soccer game in Indiana
When Marcela (center) mixes it up on her Indiana soccer squad, homesickness is the furthest thing from her mind.

Soaring Like an Eagle

"America is the land of opportunity." I heard this phrase so often as I grew up that my ultimate dream was to be able to come here and experience life as an American student. Thanks to the FLEX program, I am able to live the American dream for one school year. So, what better way to get involved than to join a sport?

I chose soccer, because I never got the chance to play it at home, and I wanted to try something new. The first few practices were tough, as I barely knew how to hit the ball, but with the amazing support of my teammates, I can now say that I'm pretty good at it. I can't put into words how much these girls and our coach have come to mean to me. They did not only help me with my soccer skills, but they also helped me adjust better and forget about homesickness.

My heart filled with joy as the coach's face brightened up when he realized I could finally play in a game and sent me on the field for the first time. Being able to play for the Brown County Eagles is an unforgettable experience that I will keep in my mind for the rest of my life. But we are proud Eagles even off the field; our team decorated a float for the homecoming parade—so much fun! Doing a sport as part of your exchange year isn't just to keep fit; it’s about friendships, happy moments, and a lot of fun!

—Marcela (FLEX, Romania) hosted by the Drebus family (IN)