Where is that feeling?!

Not so much left till my flight to my best year in America. My brains understand that I am going to start my trip in less than 4 days, but my body can’t feel that. I am thinking, when I will feel that… tremor (I guess)? When that feeling starts in the heart and goes through all the body… Maybe it will be in a few minutes? Or hours? Or maybe I will feel that only when I get to the plane?


However. Today is my packing day. I started to pack a week ago by taking all stuff I think i want to take and putting it to my mum’s workroom. Also I just came back from the shopping center where I bought my last (at least I think it is my last purchase) pair of shoes. In a few minutes I will start putting all things to my bags. Wish me luck!

So, everybody asks me if I am scared? Not at all. I am just interested what it will be like, spending whole year in America without my parents, friends and my DOG! HAHA, it will be amazing! Ok, I will miss my home and my little sis and brother, but I am going to have an incredible experience, so it is worth it.

At the end, I want to wish all of you (and by this I mean 2013/14 ASSIST students) that your last days in your country would be the best of the whole summer! Don’t waste your time (like I had to do it all week) and be with someone and do something! And we will share our impressions at Boston! See you there 🙂

P. S. I finally got that feeling! I am shaking 😀



A reflection of the Orientation

Hi fellow ASSIST scholars,

First of all I want to thank every one of you for the amazing Orientation – and the fact that we all did it to such a memorable event. As many have commented and described in the ASSIST Facebook group, I personally thought that it was one of the best moments in my entire life. Although, now when it is over, I feel that it could have been a bit longer. There were many people that could have become great friends, only if we had a bit more time. Even so – when I left Pomfret School to the airport I felt that I was very sad. It was peculiar though, since I was not really longing for my parents or friends at home. I knew that I would meet them once again when I come back to Sweden. The reason of my sadness was that I was leaving Pomfret School, and with it an almost nonexistent chance of meeting the ASSIST scholars of 2012-2013 ever again. In other words, I was not home sick – but ASSIST community sick.

As I scrolled through the messages on Facebook today I did however notice that people were feeling the same thing as me. It was great. It showed that people cared a lot of this past event, and that there were people wanting to meet once again after this exchange year (which of course did not surprise me, but the confirmation was a great relief!).

Therefore I would like to summon all of us sometime after this year. Maybe before we go home to our respective countries? The logistics is the problem and we will have to see what everybody wants to do. However I am very open to these kinds of ideas and would love to further pursue a meeting or doing something fun together.

Good luck to you all in your different places all over America and all the best from Indian Springs School, AL.

Alexander H.

3, 2, 1….

The adventure begins.

In just a few hours time most of the other 167 ASSIST students will have landed on the US continent. Far far away. Far away from home, far away from family and friends.

My parents and I are now heading towards Pomfret school in Conneticut, where the orientation camp will take place. This morning, we had a big thunderstorm and it rained very heavy. But now the weather has cleared and will hopefully stay as sunny and moderately warm as it is now.

This is the start of a new life.

I feel sooooo free…

…leaving everything except for my clothes behind me! Now, after I finally finished my school and am leaving my home, this must be real life starting!

I get short messages all the time of friends who want to see me once more before I will leave tomorrow morning. I feel that I am not someone who wants and needs to say goodbye for hours, though I think I did not have enough time to see all my friends and family. Maybe I will only realize that we won’t meet for so long when I’m away.

Everything is prepared for the next year: my ‘Prepaid Visa Card’ is fully loaded, few days ago I ordered a ‘Student Starter Pak’ including towels and bed linen on the internet. My classes are scheduled: English III, US History, AP Calculus BC, AP Physics, Ceramics and Photography. I am super excited, and I want to do my best while at Fountain Valley School. Hopefully I can work on myself, on learning skills, preparing for university.

I take as much with me as possible: 2 suit-cases and a backpack + laptop case. And it feels like it’s not enough!

I know that when we’ll be departing, I’ll remember a thousand things that I’ve forgotten…

Good luck everyone!


The Night Before…

If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties. – Francis Bacon, The Advancement of Learning


I have a habit of keeping a dayrunner. Last night, as I absently flicked through some pages on which I will record the upcoming stories, a desperate whim to know what I would write next swept over me. To my distress, however, the pages appeared before me as white and empty as the vacuity in my mind. Oddly enough, that feeling was vague but also firm since I could clearly sense my worry, but what exactly had troubled me seemed as ambiguous as the color white of the paper. I knew not what to expect.

I still wonder if I’m ready to leave Vietnam, where everything goes smoothly and happily, to move to a far away land and start over again with new school, new friends and new family. What subjects should I take? What if I can’t find friends? Will I get along well with my host family? And most importantly, what exactly am I looking for in America?

But then again, maybe I don’t have to answer such questions before I finish packing up my stuff and catch my flight. Let the experience I’m going to have answer them because none can foretell the future. Besides, why try too hard to follow a definite pattern insipidly when we can always gain more in life by being flexible?

“Do you know why people say life is interesting? It indeed is, because it’s hard to guess: you can never tell for sure what is awaiting you ahead.”

My favorite movie quote popped into my head as I was sitting at my desk yesterday, pondering and worrying over my upcoming journey. The saying had woken me up. “Indeed!”, I thought, “that’s the way things go. We strive, we risk, we know nothing but little of the future, still there is no need to worry.”

Anxiety will ruin all the fun. How about enjoying the mysterious and intriguing life instead?

– Xuan

4 days of Boston area

Welcome to America 😀 !

My parents and I landed safely in Boston on the 8th of August at around 18:40 p.m. local time. The flight was nice and calm – and I watched a lot of movies! We got out of the (very big!) plane and stepped into the airport, where we had to get through the passport control and customs declaration (all fears were groundless, the people where very nice and we had no problems getting through). We stepped out of the Security and Baggage Claim area and found ourselves…. in a surprisingly small entrance area (compared to Munich at least!).

We rented an AVIS car, but couldn’t find any information about where to get it – we had to take a shuttle bus. And again! Everybody was very nice and three high-fives later, we stepped out to see our car – long live the upgrades – a white Jeep!

We drove to Lexington, where the Bed&Breakfast is located and went to sleep. I have NEVER been so exhausted. It must have been around 11 p.m. local time, which means 5 a.m. in Austria (I stood up at 8 a.m. the day before…) But in this short time I have learnt a few things about the U.S.:

  • They have American flags EVERYwhere. I mean it! (I now found out that it is specific to this area)
  • There are a lot of Dunkin’ Donuts
  • It is not like in the movies, but somehow it is again…
  • FINALLY! Yellow school buses
  • A lot of roads are named “School Rd”

The next morning, we all woke up at 5:50 a.m. Totally normal for me – in european time it would be 11:50 a.m. 😉 We had a whole fantastic day ahead of us: the North Shore road going through Gloucester, Rocky Neck and Rockport. This is definitely worth seeing! Afterwards we returned through Salem – the witch town. The museum was already closed – but the town itself is beautiful. (especially this one bookshop. Believe me – you have never, ever seen anything like it!! It was like paradise!). The picture on top shows a restaurant on Rocky Neck, the picture on the right side shows, well… a completely random bookstore (I’m kidding – it’s not random at all!)

And the following day, we drove to Harvard, which is impressive! We unfortunately didn’t see much of it… Afterwards, my father wanted to see the Kennedy Museum and Library. The architecture is breathtaking and the museum is very informative and not boring at all. Then we headed to Boston Downtown, the financial area. Skyscrapers surrounding the Old Town Hall – it looks weird… I had to get a phone plan, so we ran from AT&T to T-Mobile, back and forth. I got it after all, but they are enormously expensive!

Inspired by Harvard, we decided to visit some other universities too. So yesterday, we first drove to Providence, RI, where Brown University is. It looked nice from the outside – but we unfortunately didn’t have the time to walk around, we wanted to catch the guided tour at Yale, and were late…. We luckily managed to get to New Haven, CT in time and found Yale very quickly. Both my parents and I were astonished by the beauty and ideas of Yale. The whole idea behind it looks fantastic. While waiting for the tour to start, they showed us a movie, which was said to be informational. While we expected to see something very dry about history, this came up:

Dunkin’ Donuts (we couldn’t help trying) are not as good as they look…. Well maybe that’s only our taste – there are tons of them, and somehow people must like it! Starbucks is way better (and more expensive!)

And today, we decided to stick around Lexington and Concord, MA, which were very significant on April 19, 1775. It was here, on 5:30 a.m., that “the first blood was spilt in the dispute with Great Britain,” as George Washington wrote in his diary. This was amazing – the bus tour called “Liberty Ride” was very well done and everyone enjoyed it.

Every now and then there is this little tweak in my stomach – I guess that is to be considered as normal, but still…

This is definitely getting too long – sorry!


Leaving. Tomorrow!

One month ago, I kept saying:

All of this is far, far away. One month is very long – I will finish everything in time with no problem.

I finished almost everything – with the big help of my parents. My suitcases are packed (let’s hope I have everything with me!) and we are almost ready to go. Well, I still have to finish answering the questions about “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” – a summer reading for Canterbury. I hope I will be able to complete them before tomorrow!

So the plane takes off tomorrow at 3:55 p.m. – but there is a lot of traffic on the way to the airport. I guess I’ll have to get up at the crack of dawn then (which wouldn’t be bad anyway – that would sure fetch me some beautiful pictures (if it doesn’t rain)).

Now that the departure is so close, the U.S. adventure is omnipresent. I couldn’t be more excited! But, what was I thinking when I applied? That it would be a piece of cake, staying one year somewhere else? Away from Planet Europe? One year might be a short time on one hand, but as it is imminent, it seems longer than eternity (which might be a good thing too). I can’t even imagine being somewhere else – it seems like a big, empty hole. What will it be like, in another room? In another school? Maybe I question too much. But anyway, I won’t step back now. Everything seems so great – I wouldn’t want to miss that!!

Once I hoped time would stand still! It does when I don’t need it to – so why can’t it when I need it to?!