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  • Jayla Henderson

Maria Ruiz: From Spain to Portsmouth and Loving Life

As she got off the plane her heart racing, palms sweaty, and stomach turning she walked towards the baggage claim area. Checking her pockets she realized she lost her ticket to claim her luggage. Her eyes began to water this is already turning into a nightmare.

Maria is a 15-year-old exchange student from Spain who was about to experience and see things she never seen before. Maria looks up and notices her host family, and she is speechless, she was so nervous that she couldn't get the words out to tell them she lost her ticket. Eventually she informs them that she has lost her ticket to get her luggage; they later talked to someone and was able to gather all of Maria’s belongings.

She arrives to her host family's home and gets settled in and is amazed. “This house is beautiful and they have dogs,” she says. She makes her way up to her bedroom and she is astonished. Her bed made nicely the fresh scent of air freshener and they even set American candies on her dresser.

The very next day Maria and her host mom, Lesli, went to a yoga class. “I don't think I’m going to know anything she is saying to me,” she thought to herself. Weeks pass when she finally meets her host brother and sister. They can barely understand Maria because of her strong accent but they are happy to have her around. The next few days go by smoothly. Maria’s host family has taken her to theme parks and different states and she is loving it.

Now the day she has been waiting for has approached, the first day of school. “Who will I meet,” “What will the people be like,” “Will I make any friends?” All these questions are running through her head as she roams the halls of Churchland High School.

A few weeks go by and she is loving it. Everyone is being nice, she's learning a lot of new things, and she even made new friends. Everything is so different here in the United States; the feeling is indescribable, it doesn't even feel real. Traveling isn't new to Maria. She's been to Portugal, France, Germany, Belgium, and Holland but this is so different.

“I love the way the people dress. Everyone here is so different and they are being so nice,” she thinks to herself.

The only downside of being 4,713 miles from home is missing family and friends. Maria’s phone rings and it's a friend from back home telling her all about a amazing party she just had gone to.

“There were so many people there, Maria. There was food, drinks, and plenty of dancing, and I met this really cute guy.” Maria thinks to herself, “I wish I could be home with my friends.” But she only says that sounds amazing.

It’s been three months since Maria has been in the U.S. and, although she misses her family, she knows that this opportunity will benefit her best.

PHOTO BY: Madison Craig

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