Wait, Why Did I Choose To Go On Exchange Again?

It seemed like such a fun idea at the time. Going abroad, meeting all these new people, getting to ´start over´, learn about a new culture, travel. But in every exchange there comes a time when things start to get normal. Let´s face it, no exchange is a constant highlight, and even if it was you´d get to used to it you wouldn´t even notice anymore how much fun you are having. So when you are having a bad day, we all ask ourselves from time to time “Wait, why did I go on exchange again?”

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I know I asked myself so many times why I went on exchange, or why I picked the country I picked. I never really regretted it, or wanted to go home, but it just wasn´t what I had expected. It was harder to fit in than I had thought and getting close friends (besides other exchange students) wasn´t always easy. So why did I do it? Why would someone give up a good life, friends, family, for one year to go explore something completely unknown to them?

And even though I knew why I did it, I felt like I was letting people down, letting myself down, because I wasn´t always enjoying myself. I felt like I had to live up to this idea of a perfect exchange, being the perfect student, but it wasn´t the perfect year and I wasn´t the perfect student. It was so much harder than I thought and it made me realize how good my life was back home. I appreciated all the things I used to hate about my home country.

I missed my friends and family but most of all I missed being in a culture where people understood me and where I understood people. I realized how blessed people are who live in their home countries because they never run into awkward cultural situations where their intentions were good but they were interpreted in a different way.

Looking back I am proud I did it. Looking back I know how much fun it actually was, even though most of the times I didn´t even realize it. I see all these 16-year-old kids with their phones smoking and trying to be cool, and I remind myself that at that age I decided I wanted to do something more with my life. I wanted to learn a new language. I wanted to explore the world. And I still want these things, it makes perfect sense I would want that.

But it´s amazing that at such a young age I already knew what I wanted. Going on exchange only made that sense stronger. I see so many people in doubt of what they want, like or who they are. Not me. Not in the same way. The only thing I struggle with is to set my mind on where to go next, because I want to go everywhere (let´s face it, the struggle is real).

But to get back to the main question; if you are asking yourself “Why did I go on exchange?”, let me tell you why.

Because you want more from life. You are not the person that will always do the ‘ordinary´ thing, so don´t try to be! Trust me, I know how hard an exchange can be. Even though it might not feel like it AT ALL and you think you are the only exception to the rule, the more time passes, the more you will realize this is the year of your life. It will shape you in the way you act, the way you handle things, the decisions you will make. You have probably heard this so many times and you are probably thinking “Stop talking, you know nothing about my exchange¨ and you are right, but I do know about my exchange and I know I felt EXACTLY like that. I also know that my thoughts on my exchange changed drastically once I got home.

An exchange isn´t always fun, it´s not always easy, it´s not always glamorous, but it is ALWAYS worth it.

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