Kristijan Naumcheski YES ’17 – Exchange Experience Story

Home / Kristijan Naumcheski YES ’17 – Exchange Experience Story

I was a part of the YES program in 2016/2017 and was placed in Northwestern Missouri. I had fulfilled my wish to move out of my home country to visit the “Western World”. The first stop was, obviously, the United States of America. I had the opportunity to live, for the first time in my life, in a relatively small town. As big of a shock it was at the time, the circumstances changed again when my first host family went through a divorce and I had to move to an even smaller community. The vast differences between these two communities and my own country and city, were to me a challenge. Learning how to blend in a small mid-western town in Missouri as a teenager from the Balkan was rough, but it had taught me what it meant to truly grow as a person.

1

Me with my host mother and sister

Returning from the USA was as confusing at it was exhilarating. I was excited to return to my city, to my family and to my friends. At the same time, however, I was sad to leave the new life I had started in Missouri. So many new friends and acquaintances, so many new hangout spots, so many new hobbies and new thrills. I had to leave them and continue my old life in North Macedonia. Acclimating back to the “Balkan” way of life took a surprisingly short period, and I was back on track living my old life. My view on life was different, of course. I noticed a certain difference of opinion on a lot of subjects between me and my old friends. Some were rejected, but most were welcomed as a fresh perspective. My wish to visit other countries never went away. Soon after returning to my country, I was quick to hop on board to travel at any opportunity I would get. After returning, I visited Turkey, Kosovo, Montenegro, Bulgaria, and a couple of years later, the big return to the USA. I decided to act on the passionate feeling of patriotism that I’ve always had deep within me by continuing my education in the Macedonian Military Academy “General Mihailo Apostolski”. I felt the feeling of belonging once I put the military uniform on me.

 

3

Celebrating Macedonian Republic Day (Ilinden) in Vermont (September 8, 2019).

Shortly after my beginning as a cadet, I came across the opportunity to visit the USA for the second time in my life; this time – at Norwich University in Vermont. As soon as I stepped onto campus, it seemed as my experience living in the USA has brought me a huge advantage at managing to blend in. For the first time after leaving the USA, I had realized how much I’ve grown during the time I was a part of the YES program. I had gotten new perspectives on life, I had learned to blend in, I had learned to respect different cultures, I had learned to be more independent – I was a more complete person than I was before joining the program. I fully enjoyed my second time in the USA, learned many new things, and returned and even more complete person.

4

Me, next to Taiwanese and Korean cadets, as well as officers from Saudi Arabia and France.

Vermont, USA, 2019