My first 2 weeks have been so relaxing. No stress, nothing to do, doing whatever I wanted to.

On one of the first days I went to the mall to go shopping. It was kinda to expect, but everything was way cheaper than in Austria (or Europe at all). For example a real polo shirt in Austria costs at least around 80€ (89$), which is compared with America (at least here in Raleigh) very expensive because I saw some here with a prize around 30$ (26€). However the quality is probably also worse than in Europe. There was also an "Abercrombie & Fitch" store, where I bought a lot of clothes. After that I went to typical American stores like "Starbucks" or "Dunkin Donuts". Later on I went to a gym, where my host family has signed me up. I ´have not really had a lot of time to go there, but at least after the season I want to start going there often.

On August the 23rd, my host mother came in my room and asked me, if I want to go on the 24th to the lake with her work colleague, her son and some friends (just by myself). I was a honestly a little bit surprised about that because I was not sure if it'´s a good idea to do something with strangers. But I remembered the words which somebody told me a few weeks before: "You only have one exchange!"., so I said yes.

I was nervous on the next day because as I said, it's kinda weird to do something with a group of strangers in which you don't know anybody. But as soon as I came into the car of Ivys (host mother) colleague, I felt very confidently about the day. She was pretty nice and her son called Zach as well. They're originally from the Philippines and told me some things about their culture. The lake was 45 minutes away ish and after this time, I met the others. They were all very nice to me and we had a lot of fun. It was quite hot outside, everybody brought some snacks and food to do a barbecue and oh my gosh, the water in the lake was so warm!!

The day after was my birthday. Unfortunately my host-parents had to work, so I spent most of the day with relaxing and communicating to my family and friends in Austria. At the evening we went to an arcade, which was kinda weird for me because there is nobody in Austria who is celebrating his birthday in a way like this. Although it felt kinda childish, I decided to do the best out of the situation. I met my friend Simon from Denmark and a girl called Grace (who was also at the lake) there. In spite of that it felt like a 12th birthday, we had a lot of fun tho. We played mini golf, go-cart, baseball and some indoor games.

What you should know is that Simon and I are both addicted to soccer, so of course we both wanted to join the soccer team necessarily! On the 26th we had a meeting in our school called "Wakefield Highschool", where we had to choose our classes (I love this system!!). There have been so many interesting classes, so that is was difficult to decide which ones I wanted to take. The teacher who had the job to help us in case we would have had any questions, told me that I must choose eight classes. I was surprised about that because I heard that we are just going to have four classes each semester and I am attending the school just for the first one. I took the following classes:

- Weight training

- AP Psychology

- Sports Medicine

- English

- American History

- Sports & Entertainment marketing

- German (to get the experience how other countries study our language; how the view to our language from another perspective is)

- Essentials for College math

I was really looking forward because some of them were brand new for me and sounded pretty interesting. However there was a mistake, the school thought that I am going to be here for the whole year and it was correct what I heart. In this school every student has just four classes each semester, but has also different classes in the second one. That is very unusual for me because in Austria you can not really choose your classes and you have mostly the same classes for years. Honestly I prefer the American system because you focus more on your classes because you have them everyday.

The day after it was very important for me. I did a tryout for the high school soccer team and I literally had to fight for this chance. A couple of days before, I have written an email to the school to ask for a tryout. They answered me that the tryouts have already been and that I could try a different sport. But everybody who knows me knows, that I am not a person who gives up immediately. So I went to the school and talk to the head coach of the school and he said that it is probably not possible for me to join the team, but he gave me the telephone number of one of the soccer coaches. So I texted him and he told me that I can come to practice in the afternoon and I was very grateful for that. I was the first one of the pitch and waited excitedly for the others. After a while there have been two groups on the field warming-up. On the left side have been the older looking and taller ones & on the right half the a little bit younger looking ones. My decision at this moment was probably one of the best I've ever had. Because I decided to go left, which was called the "Varsity" team, which is the much better one. I acted quite shy on this day and felt flashed because the "way of playing soccer" is different than in Europe, but I was very excited though. Nevertheless I did a good job in my opinion on this day, what influenced that I made the team. My friend Simon from Denmark is unfortunately playing in the worse team which is called "Junior Varsity". That was kinda disappointing for both of us because we have been really looking forward to play together in a team.

Well, those were the most important parts of my first 2 weeks in Raleigh and I apologize that you had to wait for such a long time. But I have a really great, but also busy time at the moment and didn't have the possibility to write. However I will try to write about my first day at school, my first football game, my soccer career and much more as soon as possible!

Thanks for reading!!!

~ Paul


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It was the night between the second - & the third of august when I left the camp and spent the whole night together with 4 other exchange students from different countries who are also staying in North Carolina at the moment. It was the first time that I met my friend Simon from Denmark who attends the same school as I do. We started our trip at 1:15 a.m., when we left the Camp by bus. After that we had to wait a long time at the JFK airport in New York, took a plane at 8 a.m. to get to the airport in Raleigh. I swear, I have never been in such a small plane, I think the plane from London to NY was like three times bigger!

Anyway, we arrived around 10 a.m. and have been as excited as tired when we met our host families the first time. They welcomed us with lovely signs, happy faces and hugs.

My family picked me up and we went together to their house which I can proudly call "my American home". They showed me the house, my room and we started talking a little bit. We went after that to a place called "Golden Coral" where you had a big buffet and free refill for just 8$ for an adult! After that we went back home and I slept for a few hours (I was so tired because I didn't sleep the whole night). Furthermore my host family told me that a few of their friends will come to welcome me. I assumed maybe one or two families, but suddenly there have been like 20 people in the house, maybe more. And I just arrived in a completely different country, I was so freaking tired, stayed in a for me unknown house with so many stranger people who asked me so many question and spoke so fast in a for me unusual way and well... that was too overwhelming for me, so I decided to go in my room after dinner to have some time to realize everything. That was definitely the hardest moment for me since I am here (already 3 weeks) and I missed my family, my friends, basically my home for a couple of hours very much.

The next morning

On the next morning I realized that the American coffee tastes so much worse than in Europe :D. In spite of that I also had my first breakfast in Raleigh, which became my favorite here. Pancakes with sunny-side-up eggs and bacon, I love it. I also figured out that the package of the butter in America is like 4 or 5 times bigger and cheaper (proportional) than the butter in Austria. After breakfast we went to a really big supermarket called "Walmart". It has simply everything and the prices are quite low. I bought there some food so that I could cooked an Austrian dish for my host family for dinner. It´s pretty easy to cook, the name is "Haschehörnchen" (it was so entertaining when every single one of them tried to say it), which is basically grounded meat with onions, spices and macaroni. After that I sat together on the couch with my host dad and watched the Olympic games and saw the world record in 400m, that was amazing.

On the next 2 days I spend my time by playing soccer with Simon, watched TV (I can't believe it, but there´s more bullshit in the American TV than in Europe :O), my parents gave me their Netflix password and signed me up for a gym nearby. Playing soccer was so much fun, but we have been literally dying because we played in the early afternoon for roughly 4 hours outside soccer by 97 degrees Fahrenheit which is approximately 36 degrees Celsius! Despite of that I felt in love to the American series "Breaking Bad", I can really recommend it to everyone of you.

​So yeah all in all I can really say that the first days here have been very exhausting, but as well very exciting. I´ll try to write about my first adventures as soon as possible. 

Yours, Paul

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We realized on the last 3 days of the camp, that the time was running out so unbelievable fast. So we tried to enjoy every minute together. On Wednesday (10. August) we had again two activities in the afternoon. I played dodgeball and tennis and had a lot of fun and grabbed the opportunity to make more international friends. The evening activity of the day was called "Game show night". We sat together with all Madison Eagles and had to choose in every round one or two players for the game. By the way our players totally botched it :D - but never mind, despite of our defeat, it was funny to watch.

On Thursday we went during the day to a place called "Dorney Park", a water park which has also plenty of roller coaster. I spend the whole day together with my Swedish friends Gabriel ´& Jasper and in spite of my little fear about highness, I was able to overcome it. We tried all the water slides and had a lot of fun, here are some pictures of the park :)

Friday, the 12th of August, better known as "the last day of camp"

The day started early, breakfast was until 8:30 and after that we had Homeroom class for the last time. We had a few tasks to do for example, I had to write a letter to my future self about goals, expectations and wishes in 30 minutes, so plenty of time. Our Ambassador told us that we are going to receive the letter back after our exchange, in my opinion a pleasant idea and a good opportunity to throw back afterwards.We also got our bus- and flight information and a little goodbye present (sweets and a little text).

After the homeroom class we had our graduation. Everybody of the Madison Eagles (including north, south, east and west) met in a big hall. They said everybody`s name, congratulated us and gave us a certificate and furthermore every ambassador made a speech, which was very poignant. Subsequently everybody went to his friends to sign each others t-shirt.

After graduation followed our last lunch together and then there was the talent show. I unfortunately do not have any pictures, just videos but I can't release videos in this blog. But I can tell you that it was cool, some talents, some funny acts and two promposals. But the best act was definitely the last one, all the ambassadors suddenly came to the stage (the boys female dressed and the girls male dressed:D). They started dancing to the running man challenge, the whip, let it go, harlem shake and a few more. What you have to know is that the ambassadors weren't allowed to tell us their nationality and at the end of their act, they all took their national flags and were shouting their home country while they waved their flags. At the same time they played in the background "party in the USA" like everyday and most of the student (included me) ran downstairs to the stage to their flag and celebrated. That was really amazing. Later on we watched together an aftermovie of the camp which was so cool and touched many people.

After that we had some free time for packing our luggage and then our last dinner. And then our last evening program started, the prom. Some people have been courageous enough to ask somebody to be his prom date and the rest just went in a group of friends. I had a date, it was Anna from Denmark and she was in my homeroom. I picked her up at seven o'clock in front of the girls dorm. We decided to go at first into a room with air conditioner because it was so freaking hot outside and as well in the gym (location of the prom). But after half an hour of talking, we decided to go to the prom. We had a lot of fun, there was a little buffet, a DJ and a big dace floor. We danced a lot, met and talked to so many friends, had fun and yeah, I can really say that is was an awesome evening.

​Around 23:30 started the tragedy because that was the time when we had to begin saying goodbye (to the most forever) to everyone. It was so sad because 70 percent of the people started crying and well...it was hard, also for me. It took such a long time to say goodbye to all of my friends and at midnight left the first bus. I was signed in for the third one, which was at 1:15 a.m. I think. It was so freaking sad because you had to say goodbye to so many people you really like and you will probably see 98% of them never again in your life. 

But I don´t wanna end the blog entry with a sad end. I just wanna say THANK YOU VERY MUCH for these ten awesome days. In one hand they have been so short because we had a lot of fun, but in the other hand it feels like I already know those people I can proudly call "my international best friends" for such a long time. That is so crazy... :(

Thanks to EF, the best high school organization ever. Thanks to the staff, the teacher and the ambassadors. You did an amazing job & have been a real example for all of us. 

And also thank you very much to all the EF students who are courageous enough to gain this unforgettable life experience. Unfortunately I was not able to meet all of the students (way too many), but to everyone I was able to meet: 

It was me an honor, I already miss you all so much, text me, send me pictures, feel free. I really wanna meet you all again, maybe we can travel together one day! But first and foremost:

Keep being yourself, enjoy your adventures and always remember: NEVER LET FAILURE TAKE CONTROL OF YOU!

And well, this is the end of the camp blog entries, hope I was able to show you a little insight. I can't wait for next week to start telling you about my first weeks in Raleigh. 

Best regards, 

Paul :)

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day 3

the day started as usual - breakfast - homeroom - orientation - life in America - siesta (break before lunch)- lunch - cultural insight - English (basically all classes) and after that started our one-hour-free period. But we had as everyday a hashtag-challenge. On Saturday, 6. August, the "hashtag of the day" was #buddyforaday. The question is - what does that mean? Our homeroom teacher Barbara subdivided us in groups of each two persons. The rules were simple, every group had to spend the day together (everybody was of course with somebody who talks a different language in a group). My buddy for the day was Sophia (nickname), better known as Mizuho. She is from Japan, which was ideal because it was somebody from a country with a completely different culture than the Austrian. I really enjoyed the time with her because she was able to teach me a lots of things about her culture. Especially the eating traditions have been very interesting.

We also had to take the same afternoon activity. The selection was big, beginning from American football, ending with arts. Sophia and I decided together to take basketball and volleyball. I really liked both of them, we all had a lot of fun. The only problem was unfortunately, that there have been way too many sign-ins for these sports and so it was impossible to play real matches.

We had as always a different evening program after dinner, this day is was a Pep Rally. For everybody who doesn't know, what a pep rally is, here is the definition: Pep rallies are a gathering of students of middle school, high school, and college age, before a sports event. The purpose of such a gathering is to encourage school spirit and to support members of the team for which the rally is being thrown. The pep rallies are often very loud and have a lot of excitation to keep all the students excited for the upcoming game and to cheer on the team.

In spite of that our team just became the 3rd place, which was very sad, we had so much fun and I can ensure you, that our team spirit grew a lot. I think at events like this, it's almost more precious to lose than to win because you can really see in moments like that if you're a team player or not. If you are angry and depressed, or if you look ahead and ask yourself "what can I improve until the next time?" and try to motivate your teammates instead of being upset to them. I think we achieved the goal and I am still proud to call me a Madison Eagle. If you can't believe my words, I would say:"A picture is able to say more than 1000 words..."

day 4 - the NYC trip !

Sure, I could tell you now how awesome the day in one of the best cities of the world was, how many sights I saw, what I bought and, and, and. But I would suggest, just check out the pictures and have your own mind about it :-) (if anything is not clear, just ask in the comments and I am going to explain it)

day 5 & 6

I put 5 and 6 together because they both have been very similar, so I will just write in a mix about them. The day number 5 started later for us this time because everyone has been very exhausted of the long day before in New York City. I think everybody was glad about that the breakfast buffet was opened until 10 a.m.. However day number 6 started already at 9 a.m. with homeroom class. Until seven o'clock we had just the basic daily schedule on both days (on the second one also just an afternoon activity - I took soccer), but then our evening activity started...the volleyball tournament. I like that sport very much, it's on the second place of my "favorite sports ranking" and that although I just play it like every two or three months once.

We unfortunately didn't have any tryouts on Monday (day 6) what means, that everyone who wanted was part of the team. In other words, our team had approximately about 40 players. Every team played with six players on the field, what means that we have had over 34 substitutes. So as you can guess...everybody played very less or even not at all. It was still cool because the other members of the Madison Eagles who did not play, was part of the cheerleaders. On Tuesday it was way better because we have had tryouts which made our team smaller to 20 players. We had unfortunately not a good day and just reached the third place. When we lost our first game, two of our player suddenly started arguing. I stand next to them and listened carefully, after a while I tried successfully to stop them arguing. The girls ran away and the boy was very pissed off, so I tried successfully to calm him down. After that I went to the girls, who sat in a corner together with friends of her while she was crying. So I went and talked to her, calmed her down and made her smiling. I also remembered both of them, that is was just a game and didn't have a big priority. When everyone became happy or at least stopped being sad or angry, I continued being concentrated on the tournament. It was loud, it was exciting and you have always felt the team spirit. But the most funniest time of the evening was, when my friend Jimmy from Taiwan tried to do the "dab" and completely failed :DDD. I was really not able to stop laughing.

​On the pictures over this text you can see the crowd dancing our special dance of the camp - the Wobble. It was always so much fun to dance it!

And yeah...that is the end of EF camp part 2. There's just gonna be one last part, promised haha. I hope you enjoyed it and I also really appreciate it that you spend your time with reading my blog. 

Always remember - NEVER LET FAILURE TAKE CONTROL OF YOU!

See you soon, 

Paul ;-)

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It was the 3rd of August, when I started my adventure in a for me almost foreign continent. Together with plenty of other exchange students from the beautiful country Austria, I flew at first to London, followed by a 9 hours flight to the JFK airport in New York. When I took a seat in the plane, there was this exchange student who suddenly started talking English to me. I thought it was already motivated to have the "just English" challenge, which was very funny for me. So I answered in German "Hawara, noch können wir Deutsch sprechen, das ist dir schlon klar oder?". After that he looked at me confused and answered, that he is the only one from Slovakia and has to fly with us. Well... I really didn't expect, that the fist fail will be so early, but never mind. :D

It was very comfortable to spend the day with those great guys. Unfortunately I had to say goodbye to the most of them because they have gone to the "welcome days". But in the positive view, five of them have also joined the camp, in other words...the first campers I will never forget. There was this Shina, who will always be known in my memories as "the butcher" (I will come back later to this incident), Max, the best computer genie I know, Nik, my American football hero and last but not least Tibor, the funniest Slovakian guy ever & Letti (Andreas), a guy with an amazing personality, both have been one of my best friends at the camp. I will do all the best to meet these people again at least one day.

The arrival

It was already 9 p.m. when we arrived at the Muhlenberg college in Allentown, Pennsylvania (3 a.m. in Austria). We were awake since 17 hours, traveled the whole day, were completely tired and just wanted to go to bed. But no way... when our bus was parking, all the ambassadors jumped around the vehicle as motivated as possible with creative signs in their hands. They took our luggage and put it in the "moyer hall", where we had to do the check in to get our room key, our team t-shirt -> unsigned (the moment when I realized that I am gonna be a part of the "Madison Eagles"), the schedule for the 10 days and a dinner package.

Day 1 - the quiet begin

8 a.m.: I woke up - in the other bed of the room suddenly a foreign, blond boy with glasses, it was my roommate with the name Andrea, as you can guess... his is from Italy. He was completely okay, however we didn't talk a lot because his English skills have been on a quite low level.

The breakfast was until 9:30, so more than enough time for me. I knocked on the doors of the other Austrians. Why? Because I didn't know anybody else at this moment and wanted to avoid going alone to the cafeteria. When Letti and I arrived there, we chose some food at the buffet and searched for a free table. It was kinda weird because everybody sat next to somebody of his country. But despite of that I really enjoyed my breakfast, I had ham and eggs with bacon and a big cup of coffee. Later on the other Austrians and Tibor came and joined our table.

Between 10 and 10:30 we had the first time in our "homeroom" (our classroom) and met our classmates the first time. We have been called "Madison South". All we did was just a meeting game to study the all the names of the 23 members, it was horrible because since I am a little child, it is so difficult for me to remember names. And if that was not enough, we had to remember the name, a special adjective beginning with the same letter as the name and a special movement of everybody. I am actually proud of myself that I can still remember all the names. :D

Between 10:30 and 12:00, we had an event called "parade of nations", where we had to build a team with everybody of our home country to hold the national flag and sing a national well known song. Austria totally sucked, because we have been way too less people. However Norway, Germany and Italy have been the big majority.

After that we had lunch break. The selection was pretty big, there was simply everything everyday. pizza, pasta, burger, salad, vegetables, fruits, different types of meat, fries and especially good desserts like cupcakes, brownies and so on. This was the first time when I started joining other groups from different countries to make international friends.

After lunch, we stayed three hours in our homeroom and talked & played together to get each other better known. At this time, most of the guys have been still a little bit shy and didn't talk a lot, especially the people from Asia, but that was okay, everybody needs time for that.

Between 4:30 and 5:30, we had our free period. So I and two of my Swedish friends from my homeroom joined a group of some Scandinavians playing soccer, included my soccer bro Aron from Sweden. It was very exhausting, we played just for an hour, but the temperature was roughly around 34 degrees Celsius.

Dinner was from 5:30 to 6:45... very early for me, but well... I had to adjust myself. Same selection - different tryouts - different table colleagues - more friends - more fun - simply great.

As evening activity we have had something called "Amazing Race", where we had to run to different positions together with our homeroom. At every position we had to master different challenges, for example doing 5 bottle flips, scoring 3 penalty with a soccer ball, throw a football through a hula hoop ring from three different distances and much more. After every challenge we had to take a picture with a special topic. The race was a lot of fun, I think our team spirit improved a lot in these three hours, which was definitely the main goal of this activity. The other goals were to master as many challenges as possible and to take the best pictures...we unfortunately failed this goal, but that was okay...the main thing was that we started being a real team and keeping together, doesn't matter if we had won or lost :-)



Day 2 - the baseballgame

I felt the jetlag very hard on the next day. Breakfast was until 8:30 a.m., followed by homeroom for 2 hours, where our teacher Barbara (who was always so friendly and kind) us taught about the rules of baseball (basically pretty simple). After that we had a lesson called Life in America with the coolest teacher of the campus, who looks very similar to Bradley Cooper :D. In the most of the lessons, he told us about everything which is important for the Americans and about everything they're proud of -it was a lot of fun. After that we had Siesta, which is like a half an hour break before lunch. We have had the subjects "Cultural Insight" and "English" in the afternoon, followed by a free period, where I played an American football match together with a big group of people from many different countries. After a few minutes of warming up, we decided to play Europe versus Asia and it was so much fun, it is indescribable. By the way I was pretty surprised about my football skills, I played on the wide receiver position and made the majority of my teams points, I really didn't expect that because it was one of the first times that I played this sports. After the game, we have had lunch, followed by the departure for a baseball game. Yeah right, I wrote baseball game. It was the first time for me to watch a game like that in real life in a baseball stadium. After a while of driving by bus, we arrived and got our tickets. Immediately after, I bought an hot dog and an energy drink, because otherwise I probably would have fallen asleep. It was an amazing experience, so much spirit, so much advertising :(, everything was cheap, the phone of my classmate Lukas from Germany cracked, which was actually sad, but I have had a big laughing flash :'D, the home team won and best of all -> a 10 minutes firework at the end. Just an AMAZING evening.

​Well...we arrived at the end of "the camp part 1". Hope you enjoyed reading, feel free to comment about your opinions. Can't wait to write part 2, but until then...enjoy your life ! Bye :-))) 

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Once upon a time, there was a young Teenager called Paul. He loved traveling and always wanted to try new things (except food lol). One day he saw these exchange-year Youtube videos and was totally fascinated about them. He was already the year before thinking about doing a year abroad, but sadly he was not courageous enough to do that. But in February 2016 he thought different. "This is my last chance to get an American high school experience, so stop thinking, start doing" was his thought.

When he started telling his parents about his idea, they were in one hand shocked because it was very unexpected, but in the other hand proud and understanding. So after the time he collected more and more information and decided to make an appointment with the organisation EF (Education First), because it seemed like the most professional company in this business.

On the day of the appointment he was quite nervous and when he came in the EF office, his heart was beating like never before. But as soon as he entered the room, the nervousness decreased to 0%, because all of the staff were so friendly and kind. After a presentation and a Skype conference with the office in Boston, Paul and the other applicants (all in all approximately 6-7) had to do answer some question on a sheet, followed by an interview to proof his English and social skills. The day after, he became a message, that he is included in the program.

He undoubtedly decided to do it through, so he started together with his parents with filling in the loooong application. They really wanted to know everything. After a few days, he sent his total application to the EF office. They started searching for a match with a host family immediately and gave him access to the social network "myEF", where he got in contact together with other future exchange students from all over Europe and Asia.

After just three days he became a phone call of EF, they told him that they have for 95% a "welcome family" for him. This means, that either there´s a person called IEC (International Exchange Coordinator) who loves your application and want you necessary in his region or there is a family which is just interested in hosting for a couple of weeks. Paul had the case number one, but they weren´t allowed to tell him in which state this IEC lives at this moment. I should not forget to mention, that Paul and his parents decided to make a region choice, which means that you can choose between five regions (Western states, Mountain states, Midwest, Southern states and the Northeast), he has chosen the Southern states.

After months of excited waiting times, Paul got an email of a foreign person called Ivy Fussell-Raymond. She wrote about how excited she and her family is about hosting me for a semester. This was definitely the moment when everything became real, indescribable. One day later he received an email with all the information about his family and school in his future home for over 5 month in Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina.


And this my friends is how my adventure began. I hope you enjoy reading this, I will try to post with not too long waiting periods. I excuse for my basic level English skill, but well... that is one of the reasons why I am a semester in the United States of America. Feel free to comment and share my posts. I am glad for every reader.

See you soon,

Paul Praschinger


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