Trying new things

I’ve been living in the States for a little over 6 months now. It’s crazy how fast time has flown by…

I remember when I left Australia, I thought to myself, “this is the year for trying new things, and if you fail, it doesn’t matter because no-one will ever know!” I can definitely say that I have tried new things this year. Probably the biggest ‘new’ thing I’ve tried would be cheerleading. Growing up, I always watched American movies and T.V. shows and wondered what it would be like to be a cheerleader. So when I found out they were having auditions for winter cheer (like fall cheer, except cheering at basketball games instead of football games), I decided to try out. Even though I’m probably the most inflexible and uncoordinated person in the school, somehow I MADE THE TEAM!

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I made lots of new friends, and all of the games we cheered at were so much fun. It was hard learning all of the cheers and chants that most of the cheerleaders already knew, and I never properly mastered the toe touch, herkie, and front hurdler stunts, but overall, I don’t regret doing cheerleading. I am so grateful to go to such a spirited school. The atmosphere at some of the big home basketball games was incredible- the stands would almost always be full with students. It really helped to motivate the basketball boys in their games.

Trimester 3 begins on Monday, and I’m starting another new sport- Lacrosse! Luckily, I automatically made the Varsity team because they were fairly short on numbers. I’ve been practicing for about 2 weeks now, and I’m slowly learning the rules of the game.

Something else new I’ve tried this year is all of the American food. There’s the classic Texas fried chicken, ribs and all the meat you can think of. Also, living so close to Mexico means that the cooking here has a slight Mexican influence. My host family likes to make chili soup, fajitas and guacamole. I used to hate black beans with a passion, but because of my motivation to try new things, I’ve grown to love them. And then there’s all of the new Jewish food that I’ve tasted from my host family’s Shabbat dinner (challah bread, matzah ball soup, brisket). I can’t wait to go back home and share all of these new foods with my family and friends.

Recently my mum came over from Australia to visit me for a week. She took me to New Orleans in Louisiana. We had an awesome time visiting all of the museums and historical sights, discovering cute little cafes in the french quarter, and listening to the local jazz music. A mix of influences from Europe, the Caribbean and Africa, make the city’s culture so unique. Once again, I tried lots of new food, like seafood gumbo (a thick, spicy stew filled with all sorts of fish), the famous New Orleans beignets, and bakes oysters.

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On the last day in the city, we went on a paddlewheel steamboat tour of the Mississippi where we learnt about all of the history behind the famous river. It was really nice seeing my mum for the week, and being able to share with her my experiences so far.

This year I’m also lucky to have had the opportunity to try lots of new subjects. American government, art history, video production, fashion drawing and black & white photography, are some of the new classes I’ve taken. My school has an awesome fine arts department that offers a large range of courses. Fashion drawing, a class I took in Trimester 2, was really cool. One of our projects was to draw a timeline of outfits inspired by fashion throughout the eras. The timelines turned out so well, that my teacher decided to get them hung in the admissions building!

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Black and White photography was another class I really liked. We learnt all about how to use cameras as they did in the early 20th century. When developing the photos, you couldn’t expose the film to light (otherwise the photo would be ruined), so we had to do a lot of our work in the dark! I always had photography in period 1, which was a nice start to the day (I could properly wake up considering we were in the dark most of the time haha).

black and white photography comp photoOne of my photographs actually made it into a high school competition in Fort-Worth. The photograph was made up of 12 small photographs, which joined to create a full picture of a power line. I ended up getting a “Landscape Honorable Mention Award”!

According to my countdown app, I currently have 95 days left in the U.S. It’s sad to think about, but I know that there’s many more memories to be made in the next few months. Hopefully I won’t run out of new things to try…

Until next time,

Lizzy Cox

Thanksgiving in Texas

In the last couple of days I’ve been asked multiple times whether I celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia. And the answer is, no. We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia…but gosh I wish we did!

After doing some research on the holiday, I learnt that Thanksgiving became a North American (and Canadian) tradition when the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast in 1621. It’s known to be a time of families and friends coming together for a special meal- usually involving turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and of course, pumpkin pie!

My host family, the Shosids, have a tradition of taking part in the annual “Turkey Trot”, a fun run that starts in the Dallas City Hall Plaza. This year, I joined their family and ran in the 3 mile race! Although it was literally a few degrees above freezing point, I ran the whole race (I think it was because I knew I’d be warmer running than walking)! It was great fun.

After the Turkey Trot, we all went home and prepared for the big Thanksgiving dinner that was to be held at the Shosid’s house. Relatives from both sides of the family started to arrive around 3, to watch the Cowboys football game. There was about 35 people at their house! It was great meeting all of the family. Everyone was very welcoming and friendly to me, which I appreciated.

When the Cowboys game was over (they won, hooray!), we all got our plates and headed over to the food tables. We were also celebrating Hanukkah (since the Shosids are jewish), meaning that not only was there Thanksgiving food, but there was Jewish food! I can’t remember the last time I ate so much… If I can remember correctly, my plate consisted of: turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, corn bread, normal bread, corn casserole, ham, kale salad, brussels sprouts and cous cous. IT WAS DELICIOUS! Except I felt incredibly sick after eating it all…

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Then it was time for dessert- my weakness. Somehow I still had room in my stomach for a bit of chocolate cream pie, pecan pie and pumpkin pie. I seriously don’t know how I hadn’t tried any of those before I came to the States!

As much as Thanksgiving is about the food, I realised that it is also a time of being thankful for everything I have. I’d like to thank my amazing host family for so generously looking after me these past few months. You’ve given me a wonderful gift, that I will always be thankful for. In addition, I’d like to thank my family in Australia- for their constant support and love. I feel so blessed to have such amazing people in my lives. And finally, thank you ASSIST! Without ASSIST, I wouldn’t be here today, having the absolute experience of a lifetime! Especially on this holiday, I feel incredibly grateful for all that this scholarship has done for me- broadening my knowledge on American culture and allowing me to try all of the amazing food!

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Happy Thanksgiving to everyone,

Lizzy Cox

The fruits of work

As I reported last week, I am extremely busy. But now that the year gets closer to the end, the result of my hard work starts to show. I was featured as artist in the “Fort Wayne’s Almost Famous Artists” (Piece titled “Sharing Breath”, Upper right corner). It was a wonderful opportunity to meet other young artists! I also received a letter telling me that I would be inaugurated into the “Cum Laude Society” at my school. The “Cum Laude Scoiety” recognizes academic achievement in secondary schools for the purpose of promoting excellence (Areté), justice (Diké) and honor (Timé) (http://cumlaudesociety.org/). I cannot express how grateful and happy I am to receive such an honor from my school!

Yesterday, we had our last concert with the choir. The seniors traditionally receive a little dagger that signifies their contribution to the Fine Arts program at the school. My art teacher then, after naming all the seniors, called Toni and me up to the front and gave each of us one of these little daggers. It might not sound important, but it meant a lot to me. I had a hard time not crying.

I try not to think about the “end”, but it feels inevitable. What once was far away, so far from any grasp, is now coming closer at a terrifying speed. I try to keep my head clear and live each day to the fullest.

Alice, Canterbury School, IN

Happy Days

I got the approval from the doctor on Thursday. I am now able to do activities again! I have had a stress fracture from my soccer and put me out of both tennis and soccer practices for eight weeks. I am so excited to start playing tennis now again – it is the sport I’ve been wanting to play ever since I came here to Indian Springs School in Alabama.

The spring holiday ended approximately one week ago. Our choir here at Indian Springs went on the annual choir tour. There are some certain cities that the school visits and performs in, but I had the luck to come this year, when we all went to New York City. The whole choir, which is roughly 40 percent of the school student body, and 120 people, packed onto three buses and headed from our school and started a too short long journey up to New York City. It took us 22 hours to reach our destination. I would get bored sitting in a car more than 2 hours usually, and this journey took 11 times more time, but it was in no way discomfortable. I enjoyed sitting on the bus talking to my friends and having a good time socializing while we were on our way.

In New York City, we performed at Cathedral of St. John the Divine, St. Bartholomew’s Church, a friend school and some other places. St. John the Divine is the biggest cathedral in the world, and we could really hear that. An F4 for the guys and a high F for the ladies in fortissimo gave a resonance in that amazing building for about 11 seconds. I had never heard anything like that before.

After the performances we had some time exploring the Big Apple. I went to a jazz club called Birdland. Even though the food was bad, the music was awesome. The only jazz I knew from before was maybe “Mack the Knife”, a song I learned in choir just about a month before coming here.

Another night we went watching the musical “The Phantom of the Opera”. My only comment is that you have to watch it if you are in New York City. Like, you really do have to watch it.

Indian Springs vs. Altamont

This friday we had the most anticipated game of the year at Indian Springs School – the beat Altamont (our rival school) game in basketball. The school and team spirit was on the top, and we had the greatest support. The whole crowd of Indian Springs School were up and jumping, screaming “I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!!!”, making animal noises and just having a great time while cheering on our school. The boy’s game itself was also very exciting. As the game was going to end, people were thinking that it would go into over time. And so it did. Three times. The two teams were so close, that as the real play time ended, the first extension ended, and the second extension ended, the score between the two teams were the same. Finally, in the third extension, with 50 seconds to spare, the Indian Springs School scored a three pointer and won the game. That was the most exciting game I’ve ever been to.

Inauguration!

This week I was in Washington D.C. and went to the inauguration of president Obama with my host family. Since I live on Indian Springs School in Alabama, and we took the car up to D.C., it took plenty of time to reach our destination. We arrived late at night on Saturday, after picking up my host brother’s friend in Atlanta, earlier that morning. Even though we had a long ride, it was fun and we had some stuff to do (such as me writing this, on our way back home). The inauguration was itself a great opportunity and I was so happy that my host family gave me the opportunity to go with them. The first day we went running after tickets in the state buildings, and I was just amazed walking around in the Capitol buildings – since I am interested in architecture – and just enjoyed every minute of being there. The next day was the inauguration. An approximate numbers of spectators at this event was around 600 000 people. I had never seen that much people gathering at the same place and time, and that was one big event that I will never forget, as the situation itself was so intense and exciting. With a lot of people, there were some problems actually seeing the orators or the president talk. This was a bit of a pit but there were big screens that showed what we only could distinguish as a small bunch of people on the stairs beneath the dome of the Capitol building. Even so, it was fun and I was excitingly clapping my hands for everybody and their speeches, not that much for what they said, but for the excitement of that moment. Afterwards, we went sightseeing in the city. Since Washington D.C. has the monuments of the government and the nation, we could not leave it without going watching them. We hired some bikes and went around and visited the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, the Capitol and various other buildings.