California Dreaming ! That’s what I expected when I decided I would spend an entire year as an exchange student in the USA. I had prepared myself with tons of books and movies on the topic. I even saved up $1000 so the exchange organization “TravelWorks” would guarantee me a placement somewhere in California. I had been looking forward to this trip for over 3 years and of course everything happened differently than I had planned.
3 weeks before I was supposed to leave, I got a call from TravelWorks, that they couldn’t place me in California. Supposedly they found a wonderful home for me in Oregon, about 20 minutes away from the Californian border and close to the coast. They said I could go to a town called Unity, or go next year. Of course I decided to go. My friends called me crazy, especially because we couldn’t even find this “Unity” on the map.
It turned out that I was suppose to fly from Frankfurt, Germany, where I live, to Denver, Colorado and then to Boise, Idaho. Anyone who has ever had a closer look knows that it takes more than 20 minutes to drive from Idaho to California. We finally found Unity on Goggle Earth. It’s a small town in Eastern Oregon and when I say small I mean small. Only 100 people total, and most of them are already over the hill.
It wasn’t near the California border either and about 1 driving hour away from everything that you could call a city.
When I arrived in Boise my host family picked me up from the airport and then we went on a 3-hour-drive back to Unity. You can imagine, a city girl, in a car full of strangers driving at night to a place you couldn’t even find on a map. I could see civilization getting less and less as I looked out the window. We drove for what felt like at least 30 minutes, on a dirt road until we finally reached the house. When I woke up in the morning I went outside and saw,…nothing. Well not nothing at all, but at least no other house as far as I could see. I could see the mountains and the Unity Lake, but that was about it. I was really in the middle of nowhere.
I told myself numerous times that I would not judge all this and try it at least for a month, before I would think about going home again. Well, after one month school had already started and life got busy. At this point I should mention that the student body of my high school counted 14 local kids and 11 exchange students total. It still wasn’t my California dreaming, but I started to like the thought that I was a cowgirl now living on a ranch.
Now, being back home in Germany, I have to tell you, that I don’t regret a single day I spent in that town. I met the most amazing people over there, but the most important things to me are the memories and experiences I made. No other exchange student, got to brand a cow or castrate a bull, or got lost in the woods by twilight, with a fourwheeler that ran out of gas.
This trip taught me more than any other, you should always try to make the best out of things, even if it isn’t what you expected. Always remember, it could still turn out as the best thing that ever happened to you in your lifetime.
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