Traverse City Record-Eagle

Generation Why

May 7, 2012

Things are far apart and I can't drive

For the past seven months I've been a foreign student in Traverse City.

I'm originally from a city called Seville, in Spain, but I came to the U.S. to live and study a different country, a different culture.

There were many strange things I had to get used to, and many things I had to give up to — but I have no regrets of having come to this country.

In general, I could summarize my experience here as lots of moments of fun and tons of new people and friends.

There were many new things for me when I came to live here, like the malls and shops, the variety of things they have, their prices and many other things, but one of the main problems that I soon found out to have was the inability to move around without a vehicle.

Distances back home and distances here are extremely different.

Usually if I wanted to go shopping or to a short event I could walk or take my bike in Spain and I would be there in no time. In the U.S., everything is so far that it would take forever to go walking.

The main problem was that I wasn't allowed to drive.

And, at the same time, I also realized one of the most impressive facts of the American people, something we lost in Europe, for the most part — their willingness to help you out.

If you ever need a ride anywhere, they would give it to you.

If you had to meet with some friends or you missed the school bus, they would always be there to pick you up.

It is indeed something that would hardly happen in Europe and it is, as I said, one of the most impressive things about their culture.

I could go on forever talking about how many things I've done since I came and the things I discovered, but to make it short, if you're thinking about going to a foreign country to study or to live in and you're having doubts, I strongly encourage you to do it.

It is one of the best experiences of my live.

Leandro Candau is a senior at West Senior High and a World Heritage exchange student; www.world-heritage.org.

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