I don’t know if all of you have the same feeling as me after going back home, but here is my story.
I haven’t been shy since I turned 12 and started to wear braces. I never had problems with my look, with having friends or traveling. I was kinda mature, independent and knew what I wanted to do in my life. So my exchange wasn’t exactly about that. But it changed my life the way I wasn’t expecting – all of us experienced this.
The changes started quick (earlier than magic three months). In my case firstly I started to see the change in my body – obviously I gained weight (again like most of us). Later I saw more interesting changes like having feelings different than happiness or sadness (yeah I was kinda heartless before exchange haha). Later I realized how much I have learned and grew up. How problems are not problems any more. How being sometimes lonely is not the end of the world. How forcing yourself to be a good exchange student by not staying all the time in your room, trying to talk with host families in a free time, helping them in the house, going for Rotary meetings, helping with Rotary programs, being thankful and even going to school every single day is not that bad and you actually like it. Changes go on and on, because exchange is not only going to other country and someone is comings to yours – it’s also in my opinion (ex)changing yourself into a new person who is mostly better you, who will not be recognized by your family or friends, but it’s ok, it’s good, it’s really good! Remember this!
Going to the topic of this post. After all these changes happened I returned home. My parents already knew that I had changed, but my friends didn’t. About some things I hadn´t even though. My friends told me – for example I started to wear dresses, I stopped to friend zone boys and actually started to flirt with them. I didn’t care about what people thought about me any more. Then came first day of school and it began – all the things which seemed impossible for some people were pretty easy. I came to my school knowing only few names (because all my friends have graduated when I was on exchange). None of them were my friend and after less than a month I had friends who I could hang out with, in the first week I wasn’t sitting alone in the classes (and it wasn’t because someone had to sit next to me because of no more free spots) or staying alone on the hallway. After four months I started to have a boyfriend (another huge change at me for my friends who remember my ex from the beginning of high school and few random kisses, because as I mentioned earlier I opened my heart for feeling during the year abroad). I count it as a little success after exchange hahaha
Later I had a huge challenge with organizing Rotary meeting in my city for exchange students in Poland. That’s a thing which is organized by Rotaract club every year and as I’m a member and I didn’t know how hard it was I have decided to do it. I supposed to have a lot of help from others members, but like we all know everyone has their own lifes and not everybody can help you and of course I revived some help, but so mostly I had to do everything by myself – luckily one of the guys who was organizing this meeting two years earlier helped me by telling me what I have to do, giving me all the contacts and other stuff, but it was still crazy. It was all did in three weeks, one of the most difficult weeks in my life, trying to get everything done so all the Rotary people will be happy and what is more important make this three days amazing for almost 60 exchange students. After having a huge problem with booking a hotel, because there was also some other event in my city and all the hotels where booked, I had some other issues and finally few days before I was just praying. Finally it all went so good, awesome and exchange students were very satisfied. And from then on I knew that the only way I could have done it is because I “survived” a year on exchange.
During this year I also applied for new in my country Rotary exchange program (New Generation Exchange), which is a program for few weeks (6 weeks to three months) in the other country where You can have an internship. I would never say before my year in US that I will go on next vacation to South America – and I did, I’m here in Colombia. I stay here for a little bit longer than two month and I feel so good. I feel amazing being exchange student again, living in the other country, meeting new people, learning a language (which we all know is sometimes so hard), traveling and loving it so badly that I don’t wanna go home.
I could go on with things which became possible after coming back home, but I guess this already says enough. I just wanna add; everything is possible during and after your exchange. It’s your life, your new life! Take chances, don’t overthink it, make this year your year, makes your dream come true during rest of your life and when you come back home remember that you are exchange student and that you will always be, not all the people will understand you, for the closest one or just friends (for me it’s my boyfriend) it may be so hard to figure out why are you going abroad again, why do you keep in touch with people who you met few times and who are miles away from you. But I can tell you one thing – do in Your life whatever YOU want to do and not others wants you to do – be independent, be different, crazy, free and You will have a great time! And now go live your life, have fun and remember you can only reagent things that you haven’t done
This post was written by Magda. She is 20-year-old Polish girl who did her exchange in Colorado, USA.