Exchange

Is An Exchange Really Worth It?

A few days ago someone told me “My family would never accept you. I mean, you took a year off to go party in France, you’re 19, and just barely started college”.

Good thing it was over the phone cause I swear I would’ve slapped the heck out of this person without thinking it twice. My mind was clouded in anger, I felt insulted, as if this individual had said something about my mother.

When this happened, I did nothing, I just decided to ignore itand continue the conversation at pure ease, as if nothing ever happened. Days later, here I am, writing this essay or article or whatever I decide for it to be.

Trust me, it’s not the first time I ask myself this. Most of my friends graduated at 17, already have 2 years of college, half of their careers, or almost ready to graduate and continue on with their masters. Then there’s me.

I also graduated at 17, but I decided to do a year abroad in France, learn my third language, and start college at 18. I started college at 19, turns out life does not always end up as expected. Anyway, as I mentioned before, I have thought about this several times before.

Was it worth it? I’m 2 years behind, still not sure about life, and seeing how everyone around me is at least halfway through their career or one year away from graduating. Was it really worth it?

The answer is yes. Hell yes. Hell yeah. In any way you want to see it, the answer is yes. Am I graduating 2 years later than most of my friends? Yes. Does that mean I’m a failure? No. Going on exchange made me understand a lot of things.

Things that people are not able to learn inside a classroom. It taught me tolerance towards others. It taught me to be curious towards other cultures, and not only cultures, but towards every aspect of life. I learned how to investigate, ask, learn, comprehend. It taught me that being lost is not a bad thing. Sooner or later you will find yourself.

It taught me that family could extend to places you never thought it could. It taught me that the world is not as big as we think it is. And let me just ask you, could I learn that during the first two years of college?

Exchange is hard. Living abroad is hard. Not understanding a word is hard. Not knowing what is happening is hard. It’s a shit show, trust me, but it’s a shit show that is worth going through. It’s worth living it every second of every day.

So, to the person that said that to me, I do not care what your family or really what anyone thinks of me and the fact that I took a year off to “party”, Sure, I had a great time abroad, but it was full of obstacles I had to overcome. Obstacles that made me who I am today, and I could not be any happier with the person I became.

 

This guest post was submitted by Ana Vásquez

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