"I've learned to appreciate cultural differences. I've learned that I don't need internet to have fun. I've learned that different is good."

Many exchange students hope to be placed in destination cities like New York City or San Francisco, but many more are placed in small towns across the vast United States. Julie’s reaction was, “I remember when I received the information on my family and saw my future city, Stanton, had 2,000 people. This would be like my city if you added a few more 0’s! Curitiba, the city where I live in Brazil has a population of 2,000,000. That’s why I first wanted to do the exchange—to have a really different life than what I had, to experience a really different way of thinking and seeing the world. Now I can call Stanton home.”

Julie soon learned that Michigan has strong seasons. She was so excited to see the leaves changing and snowfall for the first time. She says, “Everything was just like the movies.” In Brazil, Julie had two dogs, and in Michigan, her host family raised dogs, goats, horses, chickens and rabbits. Her host family breeds dogs and she said she was so lucky to live in a house full of puppies! Her host family also invited her to participate in 4H Club. Julie says, “It’s being an amazing experience working with different kind of animals. I’m sure I would’ve never worked with them in a big city here or in Brazil.”

Julie volunteered much of her time here with Girl Scouts. She participated in Girl Scouts in Brazil for more than 8 years!  She says that this is one reason why her host family chose to host her. Her host mom is a Girl Scout Leader as well as a Local Coordinator with CCI Greenheart!  Julie also represented the J1 high school exchange program at the Greenheart Gala in Chicago, helping raise money for scholarships and programs.

Reflecting on her exchange program, Julie says, “I’ve learned to appreciate cultural differences, I’ve learned that I don’t need internet to have fun, I’ve learned that different is good, I’ve met people more deeply, I had the opportunity to do things I would never do and I am so thankful. I’ve had an amazing experience living in a different place.”

Interested in hosting an exchange student? Learn more here.