My Exchange Year

Hi, I’m Thomas. I’m the exchange student from Taiwan. I live with the Teague family in Springfield, Missouri, now. In my first day of the adventure in USA, I feel so nervous and excited on the plane. I knew after that day, I had 10 months to finish everything just by myself. It’s a huge challenge to me, but I believe I can do this!

words + photographs THOMAS

EF Exchange Year brings more exchange students to the U.S. each year than any other high school exchange program, says international exchange coordinator Melissa Rogles. Since 1979, the organization has connected more than 100,000 international students with caring host families across America. It proudly works alongside the U.S. Department of State in promoting public diplomacy through the program. For more information, contact Melissa at 660.441.5729 or

In this exchange year, I’ve met lots of cool guys in our high school. We did our assignment together, discussed the issue in class together and also played together. The most impressed thing at school is in the band class; I really like the people I met in this class, either teachers or student. They always gave me lots of patience to help me follow the class. We worked together, practiced together and auditioned for the district band together. Fortunately, we did it! I need to appreciate them: To Mr. Rohrbaugh and Ms. O’Neal, my teachers in this class, I appreciate both of you. You always gave me lots of advice about music, answered me every question I asked and endured my practice almost every day. And to drumline: I really appreciate you guys willing to accept me and making the great memory with me.

And about my memory with the Teague family: I need to say more than the things above this. I still remember when I arrived in Springfield. They made a really big poster to welcome me. I’m super impressed about that, even at that time I was so tired and can’t think very well. But I still knew; they are absolutely a great host family.

The next day, my host brother Charlie took me to the park next to our neighborhood. That is the first time I seriously see the American view. It’s totally different from Taiwan; all stuff is so wild: the sky, the road and the park. It let me feel comfortable.

And also, our dog Butter Bean walked with us. Honestly, I’m not a dog person. You can almost say I hate and am scared about dogs. That time, I need to hold him for the whole time. To me, that was disaster. Even I didn’t feel comfortable about that. I knew that is the biggest issue I needed to solve in the beginning, so I worked very hard on it. And now, I’m not afraid of them. I also can play with her. I’m so proud of myself.

Before I came here, I told myself I must eat Thanksgiving turkey. So when the Thanksgiving was coming, I was so excited and really looking forward to the big turkey, but sadly when they were cutting the turkey, I was sitting on the massage chair and falling asleep. I was so upset I missed that time, but I still ate five plates of turkey. That is so delicious! And after that, we quickly came into Christmas season! This part is my favorite part.

The whole December, we continued listening to Christmas songs to welcome it. Everyone was so excited about it: the red and green lights, the Christmas songs, the Christmas tree and the Santa Claus surrounded us. It was so funny because you can see several people in your class wear things like a Santa. Someone loaned me a reindeer hat. I think that was very silly, but I still wear it because it was so funny.

But! The funniest time is absolutely the gift time! This is the first time I got a whole bunch of stuff on Christmas. I’m very impressed and appreciate my host family, you guys are the best.

My favorite gift is my blanket. Since I got it, I’ve never put it down. I cover it all the time. I really like it. It is so soft and comfortable. Again, I appreciate that Teagues.

I’ve been here for half a year. I really like my life here. In the next half year, I’ll work harder to enjoy it. Thanks to Melissa & EF for giving me this chance to share my life in here. T

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Earline Medcalf

Camdenton R-III School DistrictCamdenton, Missouri I retired to Lake of the Ozarks in 1993, after 34 years of teaching second graders. After settling into a new home…

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