Exchange Student Maja Bellika Adjusts to Life In Junction City


Courtesy Photo

Swedish exchange student Maja Bellika adjusts to life in Junction City after starting with her original family in North Carolina.

Kamma Damsgaard

Leaving your home country to live a year abroad can be scary, but not for senior Maja Bellika who is now spending her exchange year attending Junction City High School.

Students at Junction City High School are diverse- some play basketball, while others might be into football or fashion- and Maja Bellika blends right into the crowded hallways. Most students wouldn’t have guessed that she is an exchange student from Sweden if they had never talked to her before.

“I think the first thing people might notice about me is my accent. I found that people think that it is kind of interesting that I’m a girl from Sweden, and they come up with a lot of weird questions about my country, that in my head would be common sense,” Bellika said.

Maja originally started her exchange year in North Carolina, but when hurricane Florence hit, she had to move in with another family. Bellika got to experience two different host families and two different ways of living in American.

“It is fun because you get to experience how different families work, and in the family that I have now we bonded really quickly- they make me feel like a part of the family,” Bellika said. “But it’s different. I’ve noticed since I’ve been [with] two host families that every family is different.”

Bellika joined an organization called STS, Student Travels School. The organization plans a full exchange journey for you: they sign you into a High school and try to find a host family that matches you, but sometimes the programs they use can be wrong.

“I don’t think my old host family was the best match for me. We didn’t connect as well as I do with the family that I live with now, and they didn’t really have the time for me,” Maja said.

As an exchange student, she had to leave her own family and friends behind, to go study in another country. So to keep in contact, Bellika, and her family video chat. To ensure that Maja enjoys her experience as much as possible, she and her family only FaceTime once a month.

“You don’t want to have two lives,” Bellika said. “You should kind of leave it behind to get the full exchange student experience.”


A previous version of this story included a photo caption that listed Bellinka’s first exchange home in South Carlina. It has been updated to correct that her first host family was located in North Carolina.