I really love hearing from Serbian exchange students. I have been contacted by 4 of them that are enjoying their time in the USA. These programs are a great way to break down stereotypes.
This young lady, Natalija Kandic, is from the gorgeous city of Nis, Serbia. She was selected by ASMYLE Exchange Program and was sent to Cary, Illinois. 🙂
Here is her story…… Hvala, Nat
Hi Mr. Cather!
As you probably don’t remember, you’ve asked me long time ago to write you about my experience as a Serbian exchange student in the US.
I am an A-SMYLE student, leadership program in Serbia and Montenegro.
It wasn’t easy at all, from the beginning until the day I left my family. I believe you need a lot of courage to do this, but the experience and growth you get is immesurable. If you ask me about the procedure and the process of testing..honestly, it will take some time to remember. It was last year..
All I know is that 2 years ago I applied for the same program and I didn’t pass. I know why..I was late for the testing! One minute, but enough for them to see how immature I was. So, last year I came an hour before, with my sharp pencils, pens, my knowledge and most important, positive attitude.
The testings were held in ”Gimnazija 9. Maj”, Nis, Serbia. A bunch of competitive, mostly smart kids. It wasn’t easy at all. I had my best friends around me, and a lot of unknown faces. What’s funny is that some of those ”unknown faces” became my best friends! For example, Jelena Jevtic (she is in Pueblo West, CO now). I will tell you more about her. We live on the same street in Nis, Mokranjceva. I live in the beginning, she lives in the end. Before the testings I saw her only once, and she said Hi I couldn’t remember if I know her, but I replied Hi! From the very beginning of the exams we were encouraging each other. Of course, other best friends Marko and Masa were always there for me, helping, cheering and loving me. But, since only Jelena passed in the 3rd round of testing (as I did), she knew how hard it became. I believe both of us knew that we can easily ROCK this Not that easily..because we thought it’s only 1 person in 6 that is chosen. Wrong! Our last exam was group debate..6 of us debating about ”Woman vs Man as a President”..Jelena and I..we were unstoppable! Not bragging haha!
So, Jelena is the first one who found out she passed and she is going to the US. I was in my high school ”Prva niska gimnazija Stevan Sremac”, in my literature class. My mom called me and said ”Sweetheart, mom and dad are proud of you!” I knew what’s next..I am going to the US!! My whole class was cheering, my lovely literature teacher Danijela ..it was a blast!
To sum up, when I came here first thing I saw was Mc Donald’s and King Burger. I didn’t like that..Later, I found out you have Mc Donald’s and fast food EVERYWHERE. Not trying to be mean, I am just sad because a lot of teenagers eat there and it’s cheap and fast so it’s easier for them. I guess it’s my Serbian mentality, but the food is just so fake here. I miss sarma, pita, cevapcici, pljeskavica, hleb, pogaca..everything when it comes to food!!
Another thing, American school..not that easy, but not hard as Serbian.
In Serbia, I go to philologic class, Stevan Sremac high school. And I adore it, although people think we are nerds. Wrong! Haha.
We have 16 subjects..and it’s a lot, I know.
Here, in Cary, Illinois I chose 6 subjects and gym. Every day I have lunch 45 minutes (in Serbia, only 20) + I have commons, which is a class in cafeteria for doing homework (actually, chatting with your friends AND doing homework). I volunteer..I go to Evangelical church with my mom almost every Sunday and that’s where I help and volunteer. I am so grateful how people accepted me there, it’s like a small family. I am Christian Orthodox, and I know it sounds strange that I go to Evangelical Church, but I do it for my mom. And for myself, because I made some amazing friends there. It’s the part of experience here!
I played varsity tennis in Cary-Grove (my awesome high-school), and that’s where I met most of my girlfriends. Some of them I met in French, because I speak fluent French and LOVE to help people in my class. I was shocked first time my American friends asked me: ”Why do you help us??”..WOW. Why? Well, because that’s what people do, help..No, it’s because I am Serbian! That’s how I responded
I guess here people pay if you help them..I don’t know, It’s not how I was raised. For now that’s all I can think of..oh yes! My host family..I have a host mom (I call her just mom or mommy or sis), her name is Meg. I have a host brother Griff (he is at CMU), and Hayla, my host sister. I ADORE my host family . Now I feel like I have 2 families..one Serbian and one American..
Everyone should try this, it’s not the easiest thing in the world, but with some help from your family and friends + your attitude and knowlegde..you can get A LOT. Thank you, Charles..for everything you do for my country. It takes a GRAND man to do what you do..thanks from my family, too.
Keep in touch! Pozdrav “