The first time we met she was coming off of a long yellow school bus. Her lightly tinted strawberry blonde hair fell gently on her small black backpack. Surrounding her were a virtual forest of tall blonde Norwegian classmates who were now crowding in a circle in the parking lot behind the Hillcrest castle. The huddle broke, and she slowly moved down the line of Hillcrest students, who were eagerly greeting their new Norwegian classmates. She introduced herself to each one, reaching out a hand of greeting with a smile plastered to her face. I immediately recognized her name.

I came to Hillcrest knowing nobody. I never visited the school, but in finding it online, and wanting a different experience for my senior year, I signed up. It wasn't easy for my family, financially or personally. We like each other. But as I stood in my first few days at Hillcrest, meeting these Norwegians, I knew I was where I needed to be.

Nervous, but excited I shouted when Helene introduced herself to me. "Hey! You’re my roommate.” Her outstretched hand started to fade as she slowly came toward me. A small crowd of girls quickly parted, making way for Helene to get through. Our arms instinctively reached out as we gave each other a huge hug. The girls around us oohed and awed. It was in that moment that I knew our friendship would be unique.

Before Helene arrived to Hillcrest she had a few thoughts of what her roommate would be like. She thought her roommate would be from Asia, because another Norwegian student had been contacted by her roommate ahead of time and she was American. Helene struggled to push aside expectations of what her roommate would be like, likely hoping for the best. She knew that what awaited on the other side of the Atlantic ocean would surely bring adventure and opportunity. She prepared mentally.

Since the moment we met, I don’t know how many times we have told each other how glad we are that we got each other as roommates. We took a mission trip to Texas together, in addition to sharing some of our most intimate times in conversations after lights out. People have told us how cute we are because we do almost everything together. We like working out together, decorating our room for fall and winter, watching Netflix. One night we wrote each other a letter that will be opened the day I graduate. That's not going to be a fun day. We have gotten so close in the time we have been here, much more close than I ever expected. And after working for a week in houses ravaged by flooding in Dallas, Texas, Helene is someone who has greatly shaped my life, and is enhancing my experience at Hillcrest Academy.

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