By Ivan Kuzmanovski | 

It was four o’clock in the morning on March 15 when I left for the airport in Skopje, where I checked in and started the journey of my life.

Just 20 hours later, I was in Columbia, Missouri; the place that I always wanted to be. The oldest school in journalism, the best method in learning; a dream became reality.

A white van carried me to 814 Edgewood Avenue that same first night, my new home. It’s a small house on two floors and warmly furnished. I started my first night getting used to sleeping on a kid’s bed the size of a sofa.

I didn’t have much time. After only three hours sleeping, I made a video call to my family and then, I was ready to start learning.

In Gannett Hall that first day, I introduced myself to new friends from five different countries, some from different continents, but with equal dreams: to help our countries practice better journalism.

“Cultural Shock” was the name of our first lesson, so important for a start on  another continent. Professor Shawn Bates helped us realize where we were, and after him, everyone was ready to present something new. We learned media law with Sandy Davidson and business journalism from Randy Smith. Katherine Reed was here for the leads, Tom Warhover for fact checks and Brian Kratzer on photography. Mark Horvit  taught us to investigate deeper. Judd Slivka demonstrated how to use our mobile phones for work, not just for speaking and messaging. But David Reed is the one who is always here for us, to teach us how to write, and a lot more.

David was the one that took us on our first road trip in the USA. Our first free day was a beautiful trip to St. Louis, a beautiful city with so many symbols. The Arch, a gate to the western America and the start of the modern life, and many more. I must say, I used this opportunity to make my first Instagram photo ever, and to enjoy the stay.

It was only the first week in the States, but full with impressions and positive experiences. Eight more to go in this place, with so much more to learn.