Filipino Exchange Student

I guess my passion for traveling could be traced back when I first traveled abroad, alone, in 1988, at the age of 15.  I was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Batangas to study in the United States for one school year as a Rotary Exchange Student.  The Rotary Club of Mt. Prospect in Illinois (in northwest suburb of Chicago) served as my host.  I attended senior year at Prospect High, and lived in the United States through out the year with three different American host families – the Burnetts, the Wegrzyns and the Domagatas.  After graduation, I left the United States in 1989 as an independent-minded person filled with sense of adventure.

Photo with Bob and Sue Burnett
Received my high school diploma from PROSPECT HIGH
Went to school wearing shorts and slippers! Haha!
First time ever to see snow!!! Woohoo!
First time to watch a baseball game! Go Cubs!!!
One of the Filipino dishes that I had to learn how to prepare – PANSIT! This one I cooked for the Burnetts

Seven years later, in 1997, I returned to the United States.  Initially, it was my intention to settle there permanently and try my luck under the good ‘ole American dream. While in Illinois, I temporarily stayed with one of my former host parents, Bob and Sue Burnett. They were so nice to me they even loaned me a car so I could drive myself around and look for a job. However, getting a job with no working visa was next to impossible, hence, even before my tourist visa expired, I decided to go back to the Philippines.  When I told Bob that I was going back home, he asked me to bring the car to Florida where he and his wife, Sue, have decided to live.

A friend once told me that I have good navigational skills

So equipped with a road map, my discman (a Sony portable CD player) and travel money provided by Bob to pay for my food, gas and one night motel accommodation, I went on a road trip all by myself.  I drove the car to places where I have never been before in my entire life, and passed through the States of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. My solo road trip lasted two days with layover at Days Inn, Tennessee. I enjoyed the trip sooooooo much that it instantly became one of my first and most memorable stints as a solo traveler.



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