Annemarijn Bruimsma, 18, of the Netherlands, sat in the living room of Staff Sgt. Jack Manigold in Chavez West, munching a waffle cone cookie with caramel in the center.
Bruimsma is being sponsored by Manigold and his wife, Stacey, who are stationed at Cannon Air Force Base. She will spend the next school year as a foreign exchange student at Clovis High School where she will be playing on the soccer team while learning about a new culture.
Bruimsma said she has only been in the U.S. for three weeks and she has already noticed a variety of differences between her temporary home and her native land.
"It's very different (in school) because in the Netherlands, we all sit at one table for class and here, the desks are separated," she said. "It was a lot bigger than my high school so that was different too."
She said her high school back home has about 500 students while Clovis High has about 1,600 students.
"It's very different but I like it so far," she said of being in the U.S. "I heard they had a host family for me the day after my birthday, so it was a little bit of a present."
Bruimsma said Clovis High teachers have been nice and the girls on her soccer team have already adopted her as one of their own, including by means of "kidnapping" her for a Friday night girls' night as an initiation onto the team.
Bruimsma said one of the strangest things she has seen since arriving in the country is brown cows.
"I thought 'oh, that's a horse' then I looked better and saw it's a cow," she said, laughing, as she explained there are only black and white cows in the Netherlands.
Bruimsma said another adjustment for her is not being able to have a glass of wine with dinner while she is in America. The legal drinking age in the Netherlands is 16 years old.
She munched some more on her caramel waffle cookie, Stroopwafels, meaning Dutch Waffles in English.
"I like to heat them up," she said of the Netherlands snack food. "Then the caramel gets gooey."
Bruimsma brought a bag of the cookies with her, along with other treats from her country, as gifts for the Manigolds, who already had her picture hanging on the wall the day she arrived.
"We told her 'you're family now," said Stacey Manigold, who, along with her husband, has fully embraced the teen as their own. "She's been a joy to have. Most things that teenagers won't do, she steps up and says, 'I want to do this.' She has wanted to help do dishes and cook."
The couple have big plans for their teen while she is with them, including a trip to the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and a shooting range, along with camping, fishing, an American football game and more.
Bruimsma said she is excited to try shooting a gun, because in the Netherlands, guns are illegal to own or carry for anyone who is not law enforcement.
"I want to go places and do things that I can't do in the Netherlands," she said.
"For the most part, I wanted to live like an American and learn better English, just to experience the whole culture," she added as to why she joined the foreign exchange program. "You can go to any country in Europe and it's not that different and I wanted something that was very different."