August 15, 2012 - Ines Figueira is preparing to adjust to a new life between America and her home country of Portugal when she arrives in late August.
Figueira,17, will be a foreign exchange student at Goodrich High School this fall and says she is looking forward to the opportunity to experience something new.
"I'm very excited about everything," said Figueira. I'm looking forward to experiencing different things that I wouldn't do if I were in Portugal, like meeting new friends and new people. I want to live the whole experience of going to an American high school. I also want to improve and develop my English and be able to talk fluently."
Figueira explains that she expects a few differences here in the U.S., especially when it comes to food.
"I think that the most different thing is the eating habits. America is almost like the center of the world," she adds. "You can find everything you need there whereas Portugal is a small country."
Terri Schall, attendance secretary at Goodrich High School, is excited to welcome Figueira to the United States and into her family.
Schall has had two other foreign exchange students both from Australia and came across the opportunity to host when she was planning a trip to Australia.
"I felt in order to learn more about the culture I wanted to host someone from Australia. They are very close to us (Americans) but still different. Just having them in your home and realizing how much you can appreciate them and love them as your own. They become part of the family."
Not only has Schall hosted students but is also an ASSE International Student Exchange area representative.
"I work at the high school and heard about ASSE and became involved. I try and place these kids in host homes. There are so many that want to come over and yet placing them is difficult. So I decided to be a representative and help these kids," said Schall.
For those weary of becoming a host family, Schall explains that the experience is more positive than negative.
"I know many people are skeptical of bringing someone they don't know into their home. Yet these are good kids. They spend a lot of money to come over here, keep their grades up, and they have good family values. Of course they are very excited and scared but everything calms down the first few days and they fit right in," said Schall.
Figueira is excited to start her new journey to the United States even though she knows she will miss her friends and family.
"I love them and it will be very difficult to spend all this time without them."
Yet she is ready to make her wish to travel to the U.S. come true.
"Coming to America has been my dream since I was a little child," said Figueira. "I always wanted to live there so it was an easy choice. I think that the United States is a world full of opportunities and I think that English is the one of the most important languages of the world. So to have a year there, live my dream, and learn a lot from it all, is amazing."