A Roller Coaster Start…

August 23, 2021

After one year of delay and COVID hardship I finally made it here. I still can’t believe I am here and will be for 10 months to discover the US with all the possible difficulties. 

Even from the airport so many feelings were bombarding me: loneliness, worry, anxiousness, the fear of what is coming and the feeling that I made the wrong decision dominated me.

These feelings had enormous power mostly in the first two days. All of that in a new place, with new people, new food, new routine and a whole new lifestyle. But I could notice, apart from the plain cornfields, the abundance of flags, the cars and the roads, the different beliefs and opinions. 

Although I was excited learning these new things I thought I could not stand for a minute and the desire to cry came. That only heightened seeing the photos and messages of my friends in Greece. But unexpectedly only two things were needed to start my adaptation in the town and in the school. To remember the genuine reasons I came here and a pleasant night with my host family. It helped to refocus and relax in order to live the adventure.

And then school came. 

The start of the school came like an avalanche. I had to realize that now there is another new place and people to adapt and know. So the feelings were coming back in full force. The same fear and worries. But this time they were managed in a different way. No host family night, no goals. Just the pure desire to know this new type of school. 

The first day of school was a big cultural shock for me. The use of technology, the diversity with foreign students, people of colour or with disabilities and the various classes are all new to me. These differences are both unusual and interesting. But I tried and I’m trying not to focus on the bad things but the good ones. To know and to understand the real US people and their lives.

The days I’ve been here can be described like a roller coaster in Kings Island. Huge changes and ups and downs. But like the roller coaster even if it is scary and terrifying when you step out at the end of the ride you can say “It’s scary as heck but I am doing something different every day no matter what it is”.


Editor’s Note: Thalis Kalapothakos is a senior foreign exchange student from Greece. Throughout the year, Thalis will share his unique perspective on student life in the United States.


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