Across the Globe

YES Abroad Student Enjoys a Jazz Concert with the President of Macedonia

December 08, 2014
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I love being an exchange student because of the way confusion turns into amazement.

I love being an exchange student because of the way confusion turns into amazement.

Earlier this year, while doing homework in my room, my host mom walked in and asked if I wanted to come to a jazz concert. Of course I said yes. The number one rule of being an exchange student is to always say yes when someone invites you somewhere. My host mom then added, "You should change, it's at the President's residence!"

President, I assumed at the moment, meant the president of the jazz association, who would be kindly hosting a concert in their own home. As I got ready, I started to put together that she had only said "president" and that my entire host family was dressing in their finest clothes into the reality: we were going to the home of the President of Macedonia to listen to a jazz concert. My host father had been invited to a reception marking the opening of the Skopje Jazz Festival, an event that occurs every October, traditionally held at the home of the Macedonian President.

My host family and I arrived at the residence and I was amazed at how beautiful it was and by its proximity to the city of Skopje. As we walked through security, I began to hear the sounds of the promised jazz. The music was wonderful, and I was so grateful to be listening to talented musicians in a beautiful setting with amazing people. Musicians mingled with journalists, professors, scientists, politicians, and of course, Mr. Gjorge Ivanov, the President of Macedonia, himself. My host father introduced us and my entire host family took a picture with him!

As we walked back to the car a few hours later, I was struck by how unreal this experience was. I was focused on the music, but there I was in a foreign country, twenty feet away from its president, with a family who was so generous as to take me in as a member of their family and welcome me into their home. I'm so thankful for everyone who made this experience possible!

Natalia Mushegian is a YES Abroad! student in Skopje, Macedonia for the 2014-2015 academic school year.

Find out more about YES Abroad! program for secondary school students and to learn about how you can participate.