So I have been in Kentucky for a month now and I have started to notice a lot of differences between America and Australia, not only with the things they say but also with the way they act. Here are some of the things I have noticed:

- The toilet bowls are really full and the flush button is different. It's like a lever that you pull down on.

- The gaps on the sides of the toilet cubicles are so big that you can practically see someone while they are in there.

- The power points don't have switches to turn them on (they are always on).

- Power points are also called "plug ins".

- They pronounce parmesan cheese like Parmigiana.

- The people are really friendly and will greet you with a hug even if you don't know them.

- The cheese is a bright orange colour.

- The pedestrian crossing doesn't make noise when it is time for you to cross so you actually have to pay attention and look for the walking man to change to green.

- Waiters at any kind of restaurant will keep refilling your drink (even if it is practically still full) and it doesn't cost anything. They also take your plate away as soon as you're finished without waiting for the other people at the table.

- They still use the old toll system where you have to stop driving and pay someone. (When I was in New York they had recently changed to the electronic version where you pay beforehand and you can just keep driving and the people I was with that are from different states in the US all found that really bizzare).

- On the plane, they call the overhead locker an overhead bin.

- A biscuit in Australia is called a cookie in America.

- A scone in Australia is called a biscuit in America.

- People still use cheque books a lot.

- They don't have PayWave and don't know what it is.

- In the south, they say breakfast, dinner and supper instead of breakfast, lunch and dinner.

- You usually bag your own groceries at the store.

- When you say thank you for something they will reply with "uh huh".

- Americans like to bring up taxes a lot. No matter what the conversation is about they will find a way to incorporate it.

- The USA, especially the south, is very religious.

- The road rules are very different! Such as:

  • They drive on the right side of the road and the steering wheel is on the left side of the car
  • They are allowed to speed and very rarely get pulled up for it
  • In the rare chance that they do get pulled over for speeding, it is very easy to talk your way out of a ticket
  • You can't overtake another driver even if the line on the road is dotted/broken
  • They have a thing called a "fast lane" on the highway which is the lane furthest to the left. All the people that like to speed go in that lane so that they don't have to worry about getting stuck behind a slow driver (because they can't overtake)
  • They can turn right on a red light
  • The traffic light chancges from green to red very fast. There is an orange light but it is only open for a second

- The say "quit" instead of stop and "hush" instead of be quiet.

- When you are told to put something away, they will tell you to "put it up".

- They say they are "fixing" something when they plan to do it. Eg: I'm fixing to make burgers for dinner.

- They call chicken burgers a chicken sandwich. The word burger is only used for something made from beef.

- Everything is a lot cheaper to buy here but workers get payed a lot less.

- They think jumpers are the jumpsuits people wear in prison.

- Other students at my school were very surprised that I don't learn American history at school in Australia.

I'm sure there are a lot more differences but these are the main/obvious ones that I can remember! I will try to keep a list of things I notice in the future and update the list.

P.S. These are things I've noticed while staying in Kentucky (the southern part of the USA) so some of these things might be different in other states.

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On Monday the 21st of August, I was able to experience a total solar eclipse! The eclipse made its way from the west coast of the USA to the east, and luckily enough my small little town of Scottsville ended up being in the path of totality! For those who don't know, a solar eclipse is when the moon blocks the sun's path completely, plunging the cities and towns in the totality zone into darkness for a few minutes. The rest of the country that isn't in the totality zone will see a partial solar eclipse where they will see parts of the moon blocking the sun but it will not completely cover it/make it dark. The last time a solar eclipse was visible from coast to coast of the United States was in 1918, however a solar eclipse hasn't been visible from mainland USA since the 1970's.

All of the other schools and business in the area all closed for the eclipse but my school didn't, meaning I had to watch it there. So around 12:45pm the whole school set out to the oval to watch it. When we got out there C1 (the first point of connection between the sun and the moon) had already passed which was kind of disappointing because a lot of the students wanted to see that first point of connection. The teachers had also organised different activities for us to do leading up to totality in case we got bored. Around 1:15pm the sky started to darken, however, it wasn't in the way that usually happens at night. The sky was still the same colour, it was just as if you were wearing sun glasses or something to dim the lights. It's quite hard to explain but it was very strange - and apparently it also feels like this right before a tornado!

Around 1:20pm was when the sky actually started to darken into a sunset. This was also when the animals on the farm started to head to their barns for feeding because they thought they were going to bed soon. By 1:25pm totality hit. The sky didn't get pitch black but it was still fairly dark outside and the sight of the moon covering the sun was amazing. Words can't even begin to describe what it was like. There was a bright ring around the sun that glowed really bright, and just as the moon was leaving a diamond ring appeared. It was definitely the most beautiful thing I have ever seen and photos don't do it justice at all.

And then by 1:35pm it was all over. All the hype about the eclipse for the past few months was officially finished and I am so lucky that I was able to experience it. It is something that I will never forget. For anyone that is able to watch a total solar eclipse, I advise you to not worry about trying to take photos of it. Enjoy the moment because it really is something you will cherish for a lifetime!



On Thursday the 10th of August, I had my first day of school at Allen County Scottsville High School! We had to leave home at 6:30am so I woke up at 5am... which wasn't a good idea considering a went to sleep at 1am 😩 Abby and I met up with a group of her friends at Griddles, a restaurant near the school to take photos. My school here in Kentucky starts at 7:30 so we had to leave soon after to get there on time. Once we were there we had a quick assembly where they welcomed the class of 2018 and then we went to our PRIDE class (homeroom). While I was there I was talking to the teacher about something and one of the girls in the class must have heard me talk because she called out "Oh my gosh your accent!!!" She wanted me to get up and talk in front of the class but I said no hahah. Instead I went over to her group and chatted to them for a little bit.

Although today's timetable was all over the place, on normal days my schedule looks like this:

First Block: US History

Second Block: Algebra II


Lunch 1

Third Block: Advanced PE

Fourth Block: English 11

We didn't do much work today as we had to go over the policies and the syllabus in each subject so I don't know what to expect yet. It's so strange for me to only have 4 classes a day, but each block goes for an hour and a half so I guess that makes sense. For my first few classes I had Abby to show me where to go, but when it came time for English I was on my own. So of course I got lost and arrived late to class. We didn't do much today as we had to go over the policies and the syllabus for each subject. The majority of my classes are pretty good and I have made new friends in them, except for advanced PE as the class is full of seniors and I am a junior. This also sucks because I have Lunch with my PE class, so I don't have anyone to sit with yet. But I'm sure that'll change with time.

Even though I get dropped off in the mornings, I have to catch the school bus on the way home. I didn't think they would actually use the yellow buses that you see in the movies, but they do. My bus is always really crowded and full of younger kids who like to scream so it isn't the pleasantest of rides. It also takes nearly 2 hours to get home but this leaves me with the perfect time to have a nap.

Overall, I had a pretty good first day even though I had to wake up super early!



So I have been in Kentucky for almost 2 weeks now and so far I am loving it! I arrived in Kentucky on Saturday the 29th of July around 10pm and was met by my host father and youngest host sister Emily! My host mother and my two other host sisters were still in Georgia. After I got my luggage we left the airport and stopped to eat at Cracker Barrell where I got my first taste of southern food! I ordered the chicken dumplings, my host father ordered chicken fried chicken and Emily ordered chicken tenders (as you can tell, chicken is a favourite here in Kentucky). After we ate we began the 2 hour drive down to Scottsville! Pulling up to the house I was in awe - it was massive! I was sure I was going to get lost. Emily showed me around and told me where everything was and then we all sat in the living room for a bit before heading off to bed (I had to get Emily to show me where my room was again because I was already lost).

Day 1 - Sunday:

I slept in till lunch time which was nice as I got to catch up on much needed rest. After I had something to eat some close friends of my host family (Mary and Steven) came over and decided that we were going to Lexington (a city 3 hours away from our town) to look at some cows. The drive there wasn't too bad - I enjoyed looking at the Kentucky scenery. It was so green! And once we got into Lexington it was even prettier. Lexington is known for its pure bred horses so there were lots of horse farms around and the houses to go with them were huge! I have now decided that when I am older I want to own a horse farm. We arrived at the guys farm to look at the cows and I got to ride on the back of a truck (ute) for the first time. It was really fun but kind of scary as there was a large group of cows that would run after the truck. By the time we left the farm and found somewhere nearby to have dinner, it was already dark and we didn't get back to Scottsville until midnight. Safe to say I went straight to sleep once we got home.

Day 2 - Monday:

On Monday we decided that it would be best if I got an American SIM card so that I can call/text my family while I am out. My host father, Emily and I drove to Bowling Green to try and get that sorted, only to be told that we would have to go to the nearest Verizion store to do so - which was in Tennessee!. So we drove all the way across the border to Portland to get a SIM Card. I also tried Chick-Fill-A for the first time and it was amazing! Hands down the best chicken burger I have had. We got home in the late afternoon and Mary and Steven came over again. I tried to set up my phone but it wasn't working so I was told to factory reset it and it still didn't work, yet this time I couldn't even log into my iTunes account. So I was pretty angry and didn't touch my phone for the rest of the night. My host mum and one of my host sister's Abby also came home tonight - but Presley, my oldest host sister decided to stay in Georgia - so I finally got to meet them and give everyone their gifts. We had dinner and then we all went straight to bed as we were all still quite tired.

Day 3 - Tuesday:

My host father and I went to my school today to try and organise my classes. When we got there I had to fill out a couple of forms - only to be told that the school didn't know they were going to be taking on an exchange student. So there was a series of calls between my area co-ordinator, her boss and the school to try and fix the sitatuon, which they did eventually so I am now actually enrolled there ahaha. After that mess was over my host father called Verizion to try and sort out my phone situation again and they said that I would have to go back to the store and they would see what they could do. So we went back to Tennessee, only to find out that it was an apple problem (because my phone is less than a year old I cannot change carriers) so now I have 2 phones! Abby upgraded her phone and gave me her old one which I now use with an American phone numer and my one from Australia which I can only use with wifi. After all the craziness was over we headed back to the house to move the new cows into a different field and I got to feed one of the calfs! (She also ate my jeans). It ended up being really hot by the end of the day so me and Emily went swimming after the farm work had been done which was a nice way to finish of this crazy day.

Day 4 - Wednesday:

Today wasn't as full on as the rest of the week had been. My host mum, Abby, Emily and I drove to Bowling Green to do some shopping. We went to Target first which is similar to the one we have in Australia, except there is a food court in the American one. We were trying to find bathing suits for the cruise we are going on in October and a bag for me to bring to school. We also went to Walmart which was massive and literally had everything, including a bank, a hairdresser and even somewhere to get your nails done. It was unbelievable. The rest of the day was spent relaxing at home - we even watched a couple of movies later that night!

Day 5 - Thursday:

My host parents and I woke up bright and early this morning to go to the school to talk to a subject counsellor about my subjects. I ended up picking English, Algebra, US History and PE (I am still super surprised that they only have 4 subjects per semester). I filled out some more paperwork before the three of us left. On the way home, we stopped by my host mother's work and I got to talk to a few people that she works with! (I also realised that I have trouble understanding people with reaaalllyy southern accents - someone asked me how old I was and I said "good, thank you!" whoops.) We also stopped at another shop to buy some food for the animals. When we got back to the house, my host parents, host sisters, Steven, Mary and I all did some farm work, trying to move cows from one field to another. I even learnt how to drive a four wheeler by myself! By the end of the night it was extremely hot and I couldn't wait to have a nice cold shower and go to bed.

Day 6: Friday:

On Friday, one of Abby's friends came over so we drove to Bowling Green to do some shopping. It was my first time ever going to a "mall" and it was massive! They are very similar to the shopping centres we have in Australia except it was only clothing stores. According to my host family that was a very small mall so I can't even imagine what a large mall would look like. Later we all went swimming and then watched a few Nicholas Sparks movies, so overall it was a pretty relaxing day.

Day 7: Saturday

Today my host family and Steven and Mary went to Mammoth Cave which is one of the largest cave systems in the US. I've never been inside a cave before so it was a very interesting experience, although I didn't enjoy all the flights of stairs that we had to climb. The drive to mammoth cave only took half an hour and we stopped to get an early dinner on the way home. The hike itself went for nearly three hours and towards the end of the cave, there was a whole wall full of spiders and crickets and other really gross insects. I practically ran out of the cave haha. Once we got back to the house we played a few rounds of pool and then watched another movie before going to bed.

Day 8: Sunday

I had to wake up nice and early this morning as my family was going to church which started at 10am. I also had to borrow a dress from my host sister as Americans tend to get really dressed up for services. It was also my first time going to a Baptist Church service which was strange for me as I don't really belive in God, but I went for the experience and to spend time with my host family. It was very similar to a Catholic Church service except there was a lot of preaching and less reading of the gospel. The preacher was very enthusiastic and I swear he talked for over an hour. I couldn't wait to leave :/ Mary and Steven came over after church as us girls watched a movie while Steven and my host father worked on the farm.

Day 9: Monday

We didn't do much on Monday morning, but around 4pm Abby, Emily, my host mother and I went to the high school for open house. This is basically where all the students come to the school (it's optional so a lot of people didn't show up) and they get their timetable. They also get to go to each classroom to meet their teachers and collect a supply list of things we need to have for that class. It was also handy for me as I got to walk around the school and see where everything was and where to go so that I wouldn't be completely lost on my first day. The school really does look like the ones in the movies with the cafeteria and the blue lockers lining the walls. It was a bit confusing though because every corridor looks the same, as does every staircase so I would accidentally go upstairs trying to get to one classroom but ended up somewhere on the other side of the school. I did manage to pick up a few maps so hopefully they help me out on my first day.

Day 10: Tuesday

Today Abby, my host father and I went to Bowling Green for the day. Abby met up with one of her friends from school and I got my nails painted as they were starting to get really gross. After Abby's friend left to go to work the three of us went to Walmart to do some shopping. While we were there I learnt that they keep perfume locked up in a glass cabinet so you have to ask an employee to open it for you, and once you tell them what you want they take it to a register instead of giving it to you. It was so strange. We also stopped at Chick-Fill-A on the way back to the house which made my day. (The advertisements they show in Chick-Fill-A are hilarious... such as the one shown below!) That night we watched a movie and prepared for the fact that school started in two days...

Day 11: Wednesday

Today was spent relaxing and preparing for school. We bought some basic school supplies (paper, pencils, etc) for tomorrow and Friday and then on the weekend we will go get the rest. We didn't do much else as we were all distraught thinking about how early we would have to get up tomorrow.

So that was my first week and a half in Kentucky! I also apologise for being so behind in my posts. I promise to try and keep up to date with them from now on!!!



Hi everyone!

So on the 26th of July I flew from Adelaide to New York City for my orientation! So around 5am, I left my city of Adelaide to fly to Brisbane for my first stop-over. My flight from Brisbane to LA got delayed by 2 hours which put everything else out of schedule, but eventually I was able to get on the 13 hour flight which only consisted of sleeping and eating as my little TV did not have any TV shows or movies to watch :( Once I landed in LA I went through customs and headed to the gate to catch my next flight from to New York, but I found out this flight was also delayed by 2 hours! (Which ended up being a good thing as I had time to go to the bathroom and find something to eat). Eventually I landed in New York (around 8pm NY time) and was met by a member of my agency. The two of us raced to the other side of the airport just in time to catch the bus with some of the other exchange students and together we all headed back to the hotel. The other exchange students that were on the bus were from Spain and Mexico and had arrived an hour or so earlier, and Diana (the staff member from my agency) said that the students from Germany had arrived the day before. Later that night the Spanish and Mexican students and I went across the road for dinner. I sat with a group of Spanish girls and they were lovely! Although I was kind of lonely being the only person from Australia.

Day 2:

Thursday morning after breakfast all of the exchange students had a brief meeting about what to expect during our stay here in America. We were also divided into smaller groups which we would have to stay with for the rest of the orientation when we were doing activities (luckily I was with my friends from Spain). After the meeting we had lunch and then we met our tour guides who took us around Manhattan. We saw so many icons, such as the Bull statue, Wall Street and the twin tower memorial. We then boarded a cruise ship that took us around the city, where we were able to see the Statue of Liberty. Later that night we went to the One World Observatory which was beautiful as we were able to see the city lights from above.

(By the end of the day I practically felt like I was one of the Spanish girls after hanging out and singing Spanish songs with them for the whole day)

Day 3:

Friday was more of a free time day. We started off by going shopping in Times Square before boarding the metro and going to Central Park and Fifth Avenue. While I was here I also became friends with a group of really nice German girls who I spent the rest of the day with! We checked out a few shops on Fifth Avenue, although we didn't buy anything, before walking through Central Park. Once we got back to the hotel we had dinner and then another pre-departure meeting where we were all told what time we would have to be up the next morning to head to the airport! (Luckily I was the last group that left at 2pm - the first group had to leave at 3am!)

Day 4:

After being able to sleep in till lunch time, I got up and walked through Times Square looking for a place to eat and have a coffee. I then spent a good 2 hours trying to repack my suitcase (and failed multiple times). Before I knew it, it was time to get on the bus to the airport where I would soon meet my host family! The nerves were real. Me and three other exchange students (1 from Mexico, 1 from Italy and 1 from Germany) were all flying to Louisville from JFK at 6pm that night. At first, I thought getting to the airport at 2pm was ridiculous, but after all 4 of us had trouble checking in and putting our bags through, we didn't get to the gate until 5 so I was very grateful that we did leave early. We then boarded our flight which briefly stopped in Washington D.C. before heading to Kentucky! Overall, I really enjoyed my time in NYC and I am so glad that I made so many new friends from all over the world!



Take two!

After much confusion, my host family placement has finally been confirmed - so for my exchange program, I am going to be staying in Scottsville, Kentucky!

The state of Kentucky is located in the south of the USA and is nicknamed the Bluegrass State. It is commonly known for being the birth place of Abraham Lincoln, Kentucky Fried Chicken, bourbon and horse races - particularly the Kentucky Derby. The town I will be staying in is called Scottsville, which is a small town with around 4,000 inhabitants. It is about half an hour south-east of Bowling Green, a city in southern Kentucky. Scottsville is also close to the border of Kentucky/Tennesse, so I am about an hour and a half drive away from Nashville!

My host family consists of my host father Anthony and his wife, Christy. I will also have three host sisters - Presley, Abby and Emily. It's going to be quite different living with a sister, let alone three, as I have only ever lived with a younger brother! My host family lives on a farm and have a huge amount of land which is amazing. They also have three dogs called Daisy, Gus and Kona, three horses and some cows. I've always wanted to live in the country surrounded by lots of land and animals so I can't wait to go there!

The school I will be attending is Allen County Scottsville High School which is about a 20 minute drive from my house. Presley and Abby will also be going there which will be nice as I will have some familiar faces. The school has around 900 people which is a lot larger than I expected for such a small town and offer a wide range of subjects and extra curricular activities! I hope to try volleyball and join the swim team while I am there. The school colours are red, blue and white and their mascot is a patriot (which is accurate considering how patriotic America is, especially in the south). Growing up in Australia, a lot of the movies and TV shows that we watch are based in America and American high schools so I can't wait to see what they are actually like!

I am set to leave Australia and head to New York for my orientation on the 26th of July. On the 29th, I will fly to Kentucky to stay with my host family. I believe school starts on the 10th of August so that is plenty of time to settle in and prepare for my first day of American High School!

Only 5 days to go!!



Hi everyone!

There has been a bit of a commotion going on with my host family placement so I thought I would update you all on what's been happening. Around February this year, I was told that I was going to be staying with a family in Kentucky, but was not told much else. Then in April, I was told that the school was being difficult and because of that, I was going to be moved to another host family who also lived in Kentucky. So this new host family lived in Bardstown and I had started to get to know my host parents quite well - I even got into contact with my host brother from Mexico! (If you saw my previous "Host Family" post, it was regarding this family). Then a few days ago a got a message from my host mum - who also happens to be the area co-coordinator for my first host family - which says that the school finally changed their mind which means I will be staying with them now instead. I don't know much about them as I haven't received the paperwork yet, so all I currently know is that they live somewhere near Bowling Green. But when I receive more information I will be sure to make a new blog post about it!



Hi everyone!

So last Saturday I had an interview with a local coordinator here in Adelaide! She just asked the basic questions like what I feel like I will get out of an exchange program, what I can bring to my host family, etc. She kept hinting about being placed in Wisconsin, however I doubt I actually will! Haha 😂 At the end of the interview she said that I had been accepted and should receive further information in regards to my departure and host family in the following months. 

So far so good!!



Hello everyone!

My name is Sarah Brakmanis and I am from Adelaide, Australia. I will be going on an exchange program to the USA for a semester with Student Exchange Australia & New Zealand in 2017 and this blog is designed to keep my family and friends at home updated on my day-to-day life whilst I am away, along with allowing me to record my memories which I can look back on in the future.

In regards to my exchange, I have sent off my application forms and am waiting for confirmation from the company, therefore I do not have any information on my placement or anything yet. If all goes well, I should depart in August of 2017 and stay for five-six months depending on the program. However, I will keep this blog updated and will share any future information and processes I need to go through for my exchange program to America. 

Although my exchange is practically a year away, I am already very excited and cannot wait to experience life as an American teenager. I've been reading so many blogs from other exchange students and I can't wait to live it myself!

So until next time,