6 days left…

My time at Greenhill School has come to an end. Yesterday was the Awards Ceremony in the gym, and I realised that it would be my last time seeing the school. It was a strange feeling- I tried to soak up every little detail of the campus when I was walking through it for the last time. It’s hard to say goodbye to a place so special. Even though I’ve only spent a year here, Greenhill will stay with me- it has had a lasting impact on my education, my personality, and the way I look at life.

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I didn’t expect to receive anything at the Awards Ceremony, but I ended up coming away with the Precalculus award! Then, I got to stand up when they read out the athletes who had played sports in all three trimesters (this year I have played field hockey, cheerleading and lacrosse). After the awards were given out, the head of the Upper School, Mrs. Ross, made a small speech recognizing me and my impact on the school this year. She also thanked my host family, the Shosids, for their generosity in hosting me. Then I was invited up on stage to receive a book! It was a really nice way to end my time at Greenhill.

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After the ceremony, we had the junior (rising senior) class lunch in the courtyard, and we all received our yearbooks! Everyone was so excited about becoming the seniors of the school!

It’s weird to talk to all of my American friends about summer, because I know that in Australia, it’s actually winter, and I will be going back to school in about a month…I’m actually moving down a grade (because I missed a full year at my school), so I will have to make new friends again. But I feel as though that won’t be too hard considering I’ve become very skilled at meeting new people!

Something else I know that I will have to adjust to when I get back is the fact that no one back home has gone through this experience with me. I know that people will be interesting in hearing all about my year, but there’s only so much they will want to listen to. I was talking to one of my teachers Mr. Mercurio who said that I need to find an outlet where I can express my feelings and thoughts about my ASSIST year. He suggested that I either write it down in a journal, or find another student from ASSIST to share my experiences with. I actually have a few friends in Brisbane who were part of the ASSIST program this year, so hopefully I’ll be able to talk to them!

I only have 6 days left before I get on my flight back to Brisbane, Australia. In those 6 days, I need to pack, say goodbye to Dallas, say goodbye to my host family and close friends, and most importantly, thank all of them for the generosity and kindness they’ve showed to me. I have already said goodbye to the other Dallas ASSIST students. We all went out to an American restaurant to meet for the last time. It was really nice being able to talk to them about their years, and all reflect on how far we have all come since Orientation. Here’s a picture of our first meeting together 10 months ago, and our last meeting together.

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I’d like to wish all the other scholars a wonderful last few days/weeks in their American cities. And before I sign off, I’d like to thank ASSIST- I don’t think I will ever be able to fully express my gratitude for this organization. You have given me the greatest gift- an education at one of the most prestigious school in the nation, and an experience of a lifetime. I have not only learnt about American culture, but I have immersed myself in it, and I can’t wait to go back and share some of the things I have learnt with my community.

Until next time,

Lizzy

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!

fashion drawing timeline

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

Life at Greenhill School

It’s already been five weeks at my new day school, Greenhill School in Texas, and boy has that time flown by!

There are so many differences between this school and my school in Australia (Brisbane Girls Grammar School). For example, instead of going to an all girls school where I have to wear a uniform every day, I go to a co-ed school where I can wear my own clothes. Also, my old school was right in the city, whereas Greenhill is in a town called Addison and the campus is very spread out. It actually used to be a peacock farm so all over the campus, you’ll see peacocks wandering around (they’re looked after by the school now)!

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The first two weeks of school were really quite overwhelming. I found myself getting lost all of the time and feeling confused in class. It was also hard remembering all of the names of the kids in my grade and in my field hockey team. Field hockey practice is from 4-6pm every day and twice a week we have lifting (weights training)! I definitely wasn’t used to this kind of intensity!

But each day, I started to find myself feeling more comfortable in class and finding my way around the school. I got used to practising for field hockey every afternoon and was slowly learning everyone’s names. Being new can be hard but it is also kind of exciting too! I’ve been told by so many people that I have the coolest accent (I still can’t hear it haha). I’m also experiencing a bunch of new subjects: black and white photography, beginning video production, art history, precalculus, tragedy through the ages and honors physics.

I’ve already been to two school football games! The first game I went to was an amazing experience because it was the first time in two years that Greenhill had won! It was even more exciting because the game went into overtime and everyone was standing up in the bleachers cheering on the Hornets (our school mascot). When they scored the winning touch down, we all ran onto the field and screamed and cried 😀

I’ve made lots of great friends. Last weekend, I spent Saturday with one of my new friends, Sera, and we went and saw the Red Bull Flugtag in Las Colinas.  It was pretty much an event organized by Red Bull where competitors attempted to fly home-made, human-powered flying machines. The flying machines were launched off a pier about 30 feet high into the lake. It was awesome!

The weekend before last, I met up with the other ASSIST scholars from Dallas at the Greenhill college fair. Afterwards, we all walked to a nearby taco place and had an early dinner together. It was great to catch up with them all and to share our experiences so far.

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In these last five weeks I’ve gone through a lot of emotions but I’m glad to say that the majority of those are positive! As much as I miss my family and friends back in Brisbane, I’m really enjoying my time with my host family and new friends. And the exciting thing is, that this is only the beginning of my year in the States.

Until next time,

Lizzy

Newcomer

Hi everybody! It’s already been 10 days since I left home and got on the plane headed to Boston, and lots of things have happened during this time.

Sin títuloOn my way, I met some of the ASSIST scholars and we joined the rest of them in Pomfret, CT, where the Orientation was held. During 4 days, 161 students from all over the world got to know each other and shared new experiences together – it was almost magic. It wasn’t much time, but we took advantage of all of it: we visited Boston and “Hahvahd”, made a human chair, played our own world soccer championship, knew the traditions of different cultures, learned some useful tips for our year in the US and meanwhile, made tons of new friends!! Some of them we might never see again but, despite knowing Facebook’s the devil, I hope to keep in touch with all of them by Facebook 😉

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASaturday arrived, and after four amazing days we had to say goodbye to our new friends. Some were lucky and reached their destinations in a few hours, but as you know I had to go to Utah, and that meant 3 flights, 18 hours of travelling and hoping my suitcases wouldn’t get lost. Finally I arrived, and although it was late in the night, my host family already made me feel like home (as you can imagine at this point first night questions were rather useless, and they turned out to be first-well-rested day questions). 

Next morning I could see better where I was, and to my surprise the landscape was pretty much like the area I live in – dry lands surrounded by mountains. However, this was the only similar thing, because everything else was completely different, just like in films! 

These last days have been great. My new family is so nice and with them I’ve visited my school and Salt Lake City; I’ve attended for the first time a talent show thanks to my host sister and her cousins who participated (and won!); I’ve been to the Aquarium and  I’ve seen The Mortal Instruments movie which I’d been looking forward to. Definitely, it seems like this is going to be an amazing year!

Andrea =)

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

Spring is finally here

While time is passing by faster and faster, things get busier and busier. The activities I loaded on myself at the beginning of the year now become overwhelming – in a good way. Although I’m very busy and barely have time to sleep, I have the feeling I’m using my time to the fullest. I always tell myself that I can sleep when I get back to Austria.

And that is exactly something I am not completely looking forward to. Canterbury has become a home and a family for me. My host family has become a true second family for me and I can’t imagine not being here in Fort Wayne.

The only thing I haven’t been very lucky with lately was the weather. The one spring I’m here is the rainiest and coldest spring in years. The fields in our neighborhood were flooded last Friday when we left for school. Although the sun (finally) came out today, it is still freezing cold. My blanket we made on Sarah’s birthday is one of my best friends right now.

So much has happened since I wrote last time (which really was quite a while ago). I hope I will get this in the right chronological order and not forget anything important (which is very likely to happen).

76081_335545486564581_2095611850_n385809_335545099897953_709682172_nWe had another play starting after Christmas Break. It was the “Good Doctor” by Neil Simon. Very Russian, very funny and definitely very unique. It is built up from different little scenes joint by “author scenes”. The cast was a very talented group and 21773_335545213231275_347381251_nalthough no one felt ready the opening night of the play, we took the crowd in. This play was unforgettable and supported my love for theater once more.

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Now that I’m in my Junior year, well almost done with it (saying this with a tear in my eye), I need to make out the colleges I’m interested in, rule out majors I don’t care about and center my attention to a specific field of study so I can find the best college for me. I always struggle with decisions so this is in no way easy. My current idea is a double major, which would immediately rule out any colleges out of the US. Since I am very interested in theater and television, I am thinking about majoring in that field in order to become a producer. But I doubt that I can make it far in that business and I don’t really know if I would really like the whole atmosphere. Which is why I need a second major that can give me a safer career. And that is where I am as undecided as ever. It fluctuates from Journalism, to Law, Neuroscience or even Architecture.

But before I bore you with my Pros and Cons of those majors, I’ll better carry on with the description of the past months. I sent in a few of my art, photography and writing pieces into the Scholastics of Art and Writing competition and won an Honorable Mention, 2 Silver Keys (all in Photography), and a Gold Key in Poetry Writing. This poem got the chance to compete on National Level, but wasn’t recognized there. The region of Fort Wayne, on of the smallest in the US, is among the top 3 regions in the US, ranking before cities like Chicago and complete states like Texas.

The last weeks before Spring Break were a struggle – a combination between the need for a break, the general discontent about the weather and the overload of work. But when Spring Break was finally here, it was still meant to be working time (which I foolishly wasted). We went to DC, which was absolutely incredible (but cold!). We saw three of the Smithsonians, the Spy museum (which had an AWESOME 50 years of James Bond villain exhibition!!), all the monuments and Hello Dolly at the Ford Theater, where Lincoln was shot.  After that, we drove down to North Carolina (Davidson) to visit Ben and Hannah (the two older siblings that are in college). The weather was a lot better, even though Spring was delayed even there, at least compared to Furman, Hannah’s college.

One big part of Spring Break was March Madness, the NCAA basketball tournament. It was full of surprises, tragedy and cheer. Our favorite team, Michigan (go blue!), surprisingly made it to the Final, were it was defeated by Louisville in an amazing game. The biggest shock was Kevin Ware’s accident. Jumping to defend a three-pointer, he landed on his leg and broke it. I will spare you from the details since it is nothing you would want to picture.

IMG_7735But the best part of Spring Break was when my parents came to visit. Seeing them was surreal. Somehow they didn’t fit into the whole image. But after a day we were back to normal. Almost talking non-stop and of course some friendly arguing. When my parents were in Chicago, my parents discovered that Max Raabe (a German performer) would be giving a concert in Chicago two days later. I have been following his works for a while and had never had the chance to see him live, although he often performs in Berlin. My parents, awesome as they are, asked me if I wanted to go to that concert in the Symphony Center. They drove all the way from Chicago to Fort Wayne, had dinner with my second family, spent the night in my room while I was in Hannah’s room and then left for Chicago with me. We drove through Shipshewana, an Amish community approximately an hour from Fort Wayne, which was, as a lot of things seem to be around here, very impressive. The carriages on the side of the road were awesome to watch. When we finally came into Chicago, we stayed at a beautiful hotel (and went to Starbucks, like a lot). The concert itself was so good I can’t even put it into words. The best parts were probably when he sang in German and barely anyone understood. The time with my parents ended too fast, although everything just went back to normal when they left.

Now I am stuck with a lot of homework and cold weather. Prom is slowly approaching (May 18) and the drama around it seems to be as much a part of American culture as the prom itself is. But even then: I’m excited!

I couldn’t be more blessed with such an incredible host family who gives me the possibility to live this experience to the fullest.

I’m pretty sure that I forgot something, but I can always add that later.

Greetings from Fort Wayne, IN