Hi! My name is Ee Mun and I'm from Malaysia. I'm one of the 30 students who were sponsored by the U.S. Department of State for the 2005 Youth Exchange and Study (YES) semester program. I've been placed in a town in Wisconsin.
Before we came, we attended a pre-departure orientation. During the orientation, we were told we would always have to make the first move when we are in the U.S., but what surprised me is that people in this small town with a population of 2,016 are so friendly. Everyone is so nice and they say "hi," although they don't know each other.
During my first day in high school, many students came to me and introduced themselves, which is what I never expected. Everyone--all the staff, teachers and students--treated me so well. Teachers were always concerned about me and helped me a lot in my school work so that I could catch up with other students. Although I've been here for less than a month, I already have lots of friends. It's totally different from what we were told, which is that it's very difficult to make friends here. Maybe it's because this is a small town, so people are friendlier.
People always ask me the question, "What's the most different thing between your country and the United States?" Definitely my answer will be weather. At the beginning, I felt it was so difficult going into such cold weather at about 20�F or below, when I'm used to 70�F to 80�F all year long. But I've gotten used to it after a short period, and now I like the cold. Besides that, this is the first time I saw snow and experienced snow storm. The scenery is so beautiful with the whiteness of snow and trees without leaves. And now, I'm looking forward spring to come for I can see all the beautiful flowers in the garden and pick my own fresh fruits!
Another difference I experienced is the language. For one, English is not my first language so I was so worried that I would have a difficult time communicating with other people. But, most of the situations are not like what I thought. The only thing I have to adjust to is the American accent. It didn't take me very long to understand the language and the humor, which I feel proud of myself for doing. I feel that I can speak English more fluently now and am more confident with myself.
Until now, I enjoyed my stay here very much and I'm expecting to experience and learn more new things. And I'm sure this 6 months I spent here will be the most wonderful memories in my life!