What is exchange?
Exchange is change. Rapid, brutal, beautiful, hurtful, colourful, amazing, unexpected, overwhelming and most of all constant change. Change in lifestyle, country, language, friends, parents, houses, school, simply everything.
Exchange is realizing that everything they told you beforehand is wrong, but also right in a way.
Exchange is going from thinking you know who you are, to having no idea who you are anymore to being someone new. But not entirely new. You are still the person you were before but you jumped into that ice cold lake. You know how it feels like to be on your own. Away from home, with no one you really know. And you find out that you can actually do it.
Exchange is learning to trust. Trust people, who, at first, are only names on a piece of paper, trust that they want the best for you, that they care. Trust, that you have the strength to endure a year on your own, endure a year of being apart from everything that mattered to you before. Trust that you will have friends. Trust that everything’s going to be alright. And it is seeing this trust being justified.
Exchange is thinking. All the time. About everything. Thinking about those strange costumes, the strange food, the strange language. About why you’re here and not back home. About how it’s going to be like once you come back home. How that girl is going to react when you see her again. About who’s hanging out where this weekend. At first who’s inviting you at all. And in the end where you’re supposed to go, when you’re invited to ten different things. About how everybody at home is doing. About how stupid this whole time-zone thing is. Not only because of home, but also because the tv ads for shows keep confusing you.
Thinking about what’s right and what’s wrong. About how stupid or rude you just were to someone without meaning to be. About the point of all this. About the sense of life. About who you want to be, what you want to do. And about when that English essay is due, even though you’re marks don’t count. About whether you should go home after school, or hang out at someone’s place until midnight. Someone you didn’t even know a few months ago. And about what the hell that guy just said.
Exchange is people. Those incredibly strange people, who look at you like you’re an alien. Those people who are too afraid to talk to you. And those people who actually talk to you. Those people who know your name, even though you have never met them. Those people, who tell you who to stay away from. Those people who talk about you behind your back, those people who make fun of your country. All those people, who aren’t worth your giving a damn. Those people you ignore.”
And those people who invite you to their homes. Who keep you sane. Who become your friends.
Sometimes I find myself on the Internet without any specific purpose, just browsing and being on Facebook, Twitter or whatever your own personal addiction is. And at some point it just gets so boring that you become irritated, it just becomes a waste of time. Sounds any familiar?
Well, I finally found a solution to this problem. Apparently, of course I knew that before, Internet has soooo much to offer!
I discovered this AMAZING website that might be a key to all success. In any other case I would recommend you or simply suggest to sign up for this website, but not right now. At this point I’m forcing and begging you to go sign up for stumbleupon.com, one more time STUMBLEUPON.COM.
This is something that will brighten your existence.
Okay, so how does it work.
Go on this website, log in either with your email or Facebook account. Then you’ll be suggested a list of interests that you can choose from. Pick things that you’ll be willing to know more about. After this you get directions from the website itself, but what basically happens is that you’re getting different suggestions on what might be interested personally for you and, believe me, these suggestions are extremely helpful and accurate.
Internet is not boring anymore, YAAAAAY!
This describes an exchange year perfectly and probably every other exchange student can relate to each single sentence.
At this exact time next week I will be back in my home country already and this thought is TERRIFYING. I mean it. People keep telling me how brave I am to go to a totally different country and adjust entirely. You know what? I wasn’t a bit scared when I was coming here but now I kid you not I feel like I’m gonna come home and stay in bed for days. I don’t feel like I am coming to a native country, I feel like I’m coming to some place relatively even more foreign to me than the USA. I was coming here knowing how many adventures are awaiting me, how exciting my life is gonna get.
I was gonna give an advice to every citizen of every city that will be hosting exchange students next year: DON’T GET CLOSE WITH THEM, THEY TEND TO LEAVE F O R E V E R.
But obviously it’s worth it. It’s an incredibly beautiful bridge that goes both ways. You share to be shared with. You open your soul to reach the bottom of someone else’s. You love to be loved so dearly. Moreover, every other person can leave you too.
I now know that I am strong enough to make my life an adventure wherever I am, it’s just that this adventure right here was too beautiful to leave it behind.
The town I live in, Zion, is literally located along Lake Michigan’s shore. Here in Midwest we’re not really getting spoiled with nice weather, so whenever it’s decently warm outside my favorite thing to do is going to the beach.
Water is so calming and peaceful, but then you think about all the possible natural disasters and it’s amazing how something so steady and harmonious can be so powerful and merciless.
I don’t think there’s anything out there in the world that has such a significant impact on me. The look and sound of waves give me more energy than a full night of sleep. Whenever I am facing the lake I realize that is seems to be unending and I feel the most freedom, peace, and strength.