Glimpse of my Exchange Year

Bina Antarbudaya
4 min readJul 5


Yvonne Eugenia — KL-YES to USA YP 22/23

Hola, como estas! I’m Yvonne Eugenia, salah satu siswa pertukaran pelajar KL-YES 2023 dari Indonesia! It’s been quite a while since keberangkatan aku ke Amerika Serikat pada bulan September lalu! As an exchange student from Batam, Indonesia, I had the opportunity to experience life in South Dakota, USA. Not a lot of exchange students are hosting disini! And this is my story in a year! My host family, a kind and welcoming Irish family from a small town in South Dakota, took me to local events and introduced me to their friends and family. I was amazed by the friendly community and their pride in their hometown. On my first day there, I was greeted with the Homecoming Parade, which is an annual event in every school/town in the United States to welcome students back to school. Initially, I struggled to adapt to the unfamiliar environment, including the food, language, and weather, but I was determined to make the most of my experience and learn about American culture.

One of the biggest challenges I faced was adjusting to the weather. Coming from an island with a tropical climate of Batam to the cold and snow of South Dakota was a significant adjustment. However, I soon learned to dress in layers and bundle up when going outside. The food in South Dakota was also a big change from what I was used to in my home country. Mitos yang katanya orang bule makan roti tiap hari ternyata benar (wow). The simple and plain food was a stark contrast to the rich and flavorful
dishes I was used to, such as Rendang and Lontong Sayur. Despite missing the bold flavors and seasonings of home, I kept an open mind and tried different dishes, eventually discovering some local specialties, such as the famous South Dakota beef jerky which yang sebenernya mirip Dendeng Batokok…. Favorite food aku disini itu Chick-Fil-A nuggets and Chicken Steak with Mashed Potato! :D Kalau kalian ke sini juga cobain coklat-coklatnya deh! Rasanya aneh aneh tapi enak!

Living with a new family was a significant change, but I approached it with respect and a willingness to learn about their way of life. I loved learning about the Irish culture of my host family. My main goal was to be open-minded and embrace new experiences while getting to know more about American culture and traditions. Di sekolah baru, aku juga mendapat pengalaman yang ngga kalah keren! Aku juga senang banget karena bisa milih kelas kelas yang seru seperti Graphic Design, Business, Ceramic and Sculpture Class untuk diikuti! I am really grateful dikelilingi oleh teman-teman dan sekolah yang sangat suportif. I did join a few extracurricular
seperti Debate and Speech, Key Club (Volunteer), and International Leadership. Aku juga berkesempatan untuk menampilkan tarian tradisional Indonesia di Variety Show sekolah dan I also had the opportunity to showcase some of my art at a local exhibition that was hosted by my school and city.

As an exchange student, I felt a responsibility to be a great representative of Indonesia. I presented many presentations about my country and enjoyed introducing it to people in the USA. I talked about Indonesia’s location, culture, food, language, and fun facts. People seemed to remember something about Indonesia, such as Rafflesia Arnoldii, Komodo Dragon, or simply Indonesia itself. I never felt more proud of my country, and I was glad to have this opportunity to represent it. I also enjoyed introducing new cultural perspectives to my school and friends by wearing traditional Indonesian clothes, cooking Indonesian food, and performing traditional Indonesian cultural dances. This helped broaden their understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures.

During my time there, I was fortunate enough to make many new friends from various countries, each with unique cultures and backgrounds. Interacting with these individuals broadened my perspective on the world and helped me to appreciate and embrace diversity. Recently, I participated in a Workshop for Youth Leaders in English Teaching (WYLET) and the Better Understanding for a Better World (BUBW) conference held in Washington and Maryland. This experience provided me with invaluable
insights and allowed me to meet a diverse group of individuals who share a passion for promoting understanding and cooperation across cultures.

These experiences not only provided me with new insights but also helped me to appreciate the beauty of diversity and how it can enrich our lives. I am grateful for the connections and relationships I have built through these experiences and look forward to continuing to learn from and collaborate with individuals from different cultures and backgrounds.

Overall, being an exchange student in South Dakota, was a unique experience that challenged me to adapt to unfamiliar surroundings and cultures. Through the kindness of the community, I was able to learn about American culture and traditions while also sharing my own. As a representative of Indonesia, I had the opportunity to educate people about my country and introduce them to different cultural perspectives. Ultimately, my time in South Dakota allowed me to grow as a person
and appreciate the beauty of diversity. See you another time, South Dakota!



Bina Antarbudaya

The Indonesian Foundation for Intercultural Learning Official Partner of AFS Programs