Prom met my high expectations!


Clara Laino

Walking into the Civic Center, I was blown away. Elegant dresses and dapper tuxedos are not the norm in San Giovanni A Piro. Making my way onto the dance floor, my anticipation was at an all- time high. Prom was shaping up to be everything European kids envy about the school dance. It is a dream for me, but for everyone else, it was entirely normal. 

   With my foreign and local friends, I attended Prom, and I want to share my thoughts.

  • The location

   I heard many local kids consider the location as a vital part of the Prom experience. Considering that I have no idea of the other options, I thought it was great. As a country kid, that building was way bigger than any in my small town in Italy. The rooms were big and there was even a second floor–very cool. 

  • The music

   Here Prom loses a point. I don’t blame the DJ–I noticed that poor taste in music is a common thing at American parties. There is a massive difference between Tik Tok’s most popular songs, music that can be played during a party at someone’s house as background, and dance music. If it’s called a dance floor, and it’s expected to see people dance, they will need the right music to do so. It’s very hard to dance over We don’t talk about Bruno

  • Water

   There was no water! It ran out after 15 minutes from the beginning of the dance. I’m not picky, so the drinking fountain worked just fine for me–but many people refused to drink that water and didn’t want (reasonably) to pay for it. 

   Bonus: food is optional–I feel like with so many different matters of entertainment not many people wanted to sit down and eat. But it was nice to have it.

  • Outfits

   Dressed up people walking around like they don’t religiously wear sweatpants and hoodies at school (I’m scared I’m part of them too) was one of the best parts. It was occasionally hard to recognize some people! Some of them decided to redo their whole person for the occasion: they suddenly appeared so tanned like they were back from the Caribbean, or had fake nails more expensive than a flight ticket home and back. 

   Another interesting experience was seeing people (mainly girls) wearing the same dress (mainly from Windsor) but there’s no judgment there: the dresses are more expensive than a normal teenager earns for their summer job in my country. That’s why I loved spending $50 on my dress instead of $500 at Windsor. 

   Especially because I don’t think my parents would have allowed me to come home ever again if I had spent that much money on a dress (that most likely I will wear maybe two2 more times in my whole lifespan.)

  • Pictures

   Since 80% of the people I know live currently on another continent, it’s key to have pictures to show them what’s going on here in the U.S. The pre-party at Centennial Ppark was kind of mainstream and half of the high school was there, but my mum appreciated the pictures with the tulips. Also the huge balloon in one of the upstairs’ rooms that said Prom 2022 was a good location to take some pictures to show to my friends at home. I think that that achieved making them die of jealousy for at least a couple days–the American dream.

  • The hype

   Maybe that’s a little bit my fault too. Most of us European kids live envying American kids because of their school dances–especially Prom. So going to that was in my head one of the biggest highlights of my life. Actually, it was not the greatest experience in history, but it was cool for sure. 

  • Guests

   That’s the greatest idea that whoever invented Prom had. It is so nice to be able to invite someone to the dance even if they are not a senior or a junior or don’t go to the same school. I loved being able to bring some of my sophomore friends to Prom with me since it was the last (and first) Prom of my life. This leads to another point…

  • Dates

   Ok, I don’t have any problem with people going to Prom with a date. I’m just saying that it can be a little… awkward. I mean, people in a long relationship that know each other well already and are used to spending time together are perfect. They are so cute–especially if their outfits match.

   The problem is when people go with dates that possibly they have never hung out with before. They take awkward pictures with their parents, go to dinner, and then to the dance. They meet each other’s friends, and they try to dance together, but they lose the other among the myriad of students. And when they find them, they uncomfortably end up with one or the other’s friend group. 

   I heard some stories too–people that found the other person’s boyfriend/girlfriend there that they didn’t know existed, people used them only for taking pictures and going out to dinner, and others were left without a ride. I think going with a big group of friends it’s way more fun!

  • Theme

   That could be interesting, if there was a way to dress accordingly. I feel like some people didn’t even know about it and it was not really vital to the good success of the dance. 

  • Weather

   Of course it was raining. That’s Michigan, after all (right?). The run from the car to the entrance was very cold, wet, and risky. Running with high heels on a slippery floor– iit’s a no. 

   There was no way to dry my dress and hair but I’ll remember that moment as a reminder that yes, among all the U.S., destiny brought me to Michigan.

  • Ticket cost

   $30 seemed reasonable to me. I heard about other schools in other states or within Michigan by my fellow exchange students where they paid three times as much. The location was nice, there was no water, but it looked good so, for a once in a lifetime experience, I was happy to have spent that money.

   Overall, it was a very nice experience and I’m glad West Ottawa allows exchange students to attend prom. 

   We want you to know that we appreciate it. We’ll talk for a long time about Prom 2022.