by Laura Gonzalez

It’s been over three months away from home, and definitely they have been the best three months of my life. Being able to live in the US for a year, going to a school like Chadwick  and meeting such amazing people like Chadwick students is my own American Dream, as I would say in Dr. Andrews’ class. However, although I love the U.S., it’s also true that sometimes, it can be very different than Spain.
There’s a video online about culture shock, where a guy gives important advice to exchange students, the golden rules to survive in the U.S.
First, if you meet someone for the first time, don’t kiss him/her on both checks like you do in Spain, just, shake hands; otherwise, he might think that you are flirting.
Second, there’s something called security distance. Let me explain. If you don’t know someone pretty well, at least maintain 1 meter distance from him or her. Even if you know that person, there must be 50 cm between the two of you. I did try to cancel this security distance once, and I ended up sitting in the sofa alone.
Thirdly, saying thank you for everything is considered polite all over the world. Nevertheless, in the U.S. it’s really important not to forget about those two words if you want to seem grateful. Believe me, the rate of thank you/per day is twice in America what it is in Spain.
One more thing, if you live in California there’s at least one rule: love In & Out.
During my time here, I’ve learned by experience how useful those tips are and how different two countries can be. If I had to summarize how my experience has been so far, I would need just one word: AMAZING.  Starting with Chadwick, Homecoming Week was memorable. It was a totally new world for me; since at my old school, we never did any activities together as a grade. Decorating the whole campus, sleeping over at the Hills’ house, being woken up by Arjun Bedi, working on the dance for the homecoming game and going to the homecoming dance later on that day are moments that I wouldn’t change for anything. Before I came here, one of my friends told me, “So, Laura, you know what you have to do, right? You have to become a cheerleader and stand by the locker waiting for the quarterback to ask you to the prom.” I didn’t become a cheerleader, and Chadwick is amazing not only because of prom, formal or homecoming; it’s the people and both academic and athletic programs which make it special.
Thanks to Chadwick, I’ve become part of the water polo team, I’ve been drinking water for the first three weeks of practice and above all I’ve been having fun with water polo fans. Surprisingly, I’ve talked to my teachers about more than science or English, more than history or photography, I’ve talked to them about PERSONAL STUFF, WHO COULD IMAGINE THAT TEACHERS ARE NORMAL PEOPLE? Lost and Found became my life and were memorable because of Maddy’s cry, Talia’s dance, Fiona’s dance and the other scenes of the show. This season, Chicago is the center of the theater production, and my prediction is that it’s going to be AMAZING.
Apart from the school, I’m totally in love with California. Partly because of the weather: at this point in Spain, I would be wearing enough clothes to have just a little frame for my eyes in order to be able to see. Because of the sunset: I don’t know if you still appreciate it, but the Californian view from Rolling Hills makes my day every afternoon. And of course, because of surfing: I’m still not really able to ride a wave but at the end of the school year, I’ll be a pro or at least I’ll try.
Finally, all the moments that I’ve lived, wouldn’t have been the same without the amazing people that I’ve got the chance to meet. Thanks for letting me get into your world. I hope I’m leaving behind as many good memories as the ones you’re giving to me.