sendcassietospain asked: Were your parents on board to let you go on an exchange from the very beginning or did it take some convincing? Do you think anyone could be an exchange student? Or does it take a certain type of person to handle all the culture shock? In your opinion, is a one month exchange too short to get something out of it?
Oh wow. Good questions.
My parents were very supportive, but because they trusted me and knew I had motivation other than just “skipping” a year of high school or wanting to escape my hometown.
I’ve thought about this myself, and although I think it’s important for everyone to step out of their comforts zones (whether that be by traveling or not), exchange is not something to take lightly. Anyone could be an exchange student, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’d profit from or enjoy it that much. Some people are just homebodys. I think it’s just important to think it through and make sure it’s something you really want to do.
Definitely not. Exchange is what you make of it. If you get out there, talk, make connections, and absorb as much culture as you can it’ll be a fantastic trip.
I read your blog and it sounds like you are a very motivated person with some great reasons for wanting to be an exchange student. I really hope you get to Spain - I’ll be rooting for you!!
hailieghbugg asked: Omg I thought I was the only one who spent my summer away looking under student exchange tags :P
Ahah not at allll, last summer I checked them at least twice a day :)
bulaniskandar asked: Hey! Do you mind if I asked you what exchange program you were in? I'm going to France next year (2014-2015) as an exchange student either. How do you feel when the first time you go there. The languages, the cultures, etc. How was your host family(ies)? Can you share the WHOLE story to me or just post EVERYTHING in your blog? Thanks before ^^
Well if you read my whole blog that’s basically everything. It’s hard to summarize the 10 most interesting months of my life in a few sentences :) I went with ASSE. When you first get there you feel like everything is different, and I mean EVERYTHING. Brace yourself. My host family was great. The new language was hard, but as long as you practice as much as possible you should be fine. Living in a new culture is not better or worse than home, just really different. But as long as you stay true to yourself and be nice to people everything will be awesome. I hope this helped and that you have an amazing year!
For all you future exchange students wasting away your summers on the exchange student tag, I just got back from France and would love to answer any questions you have!
”You can never go home again, but you the truth is you can never leave home, so it’s all right.” Maya Angelou
I’m writing this from the couch in the house I grew up in. In Maine. In the United States. My mom just walked past to get more coffee. My dad has left for work. My brother is still sleeping. He turns 14 today. Yesterday I had mac n cheese and played Apples to Apples with him and my best friends.
On Friday night I had a party with my friends. Whoopie pies, tacos, a walk to the beach, talking, talking, talking, karaoke, and horror movies at 3 am. It was good times. Some couldn’t come because they’re studying for the Bac (I no longer complain about the SATs), but we were: Justine, Elise, Anaïs, Mona, Lucie, Moorgane, Julie, Jeanne, Kanchan, and me.
Goodbyes weren’t too sad, because we have Facebook and Skype and everything, and that we’ll visit each other.
I spent the weekend absorbing the future and packing and spending time with Abigael.
Sunday night was my last night in Guisseny. We had friends over, which I though would bother me, but it ended up being really fun. I think without them the evening would have been a lot more somber. We ate delicious things cooked by Xavier and talked and sang karaoke.
On Monday morning I got up early to say goodbye to Xavier. Then made pancakes with sprinkles. At 10:30 we dragged my suitcases outside and, with some effort, got them into the car. After confirmations that I did indeed have everything, the 40 minute drive to Brest got pretty quiet, with Patricia, Abigael, and me all deep in our own thoughts.
Then we got to the train station and stamped my ticket and it was time to say goodbye. And it was just as hard as it was in August with my real family. Hugs and tears. Watching Abigael sobbing on the platform just about broke my heart. Then the train started crawling forward and they disappeared from view. I sat down and turned towards the window and tried to cry as quietly as possible.
Anyways. I changed trains at Rennes, which was not as simple as it sounds. Basically I learned a lesson the hard way: travel light, travel small, and have good suitcases. Just trust me on this one. Monday was not pretty. (Although now I have some excellent stories.)
But by some miracle I made it to Paris with everything intact, sweaty and exhausted as I was. Eventually all 7 of us staying in Paris that night got together and off we went to the hotel, led by a PIE rep. Of course we got off at the wrong shuttle stop, but we FINALLY made it to the hotel, got our rooms, and ate dinner. After clearing out some excess weight and securing my then broken suitcase with medical tape as well as I could, I got to lay down and sleep.
We woke up at 6, had a quick breakfast, and took another shuttle ride to the airport. I got my suitcase heavy duty saran wrapped (a huge relief) and checked my bags. People spoke English to me. We waited. We boarded. We took off. I said goodbye and thank you to France.
The flight was long. I always forget how loud airplanes are. But they gave us a lot to eat. Sometimes all you need is some super cheesy airplane pasta to make you feel better.
And the captain announced that we would be landing in New York shortly. We should put our trays in the upright position, buckle our seat belts, and store any bags under the seat in front of us. It was partly cloudy in New York, with temperatures in the upper 60’s. This was about the point where I started silently freaking out. Forget butterflies, I had giant hummingbirds in my stomach and a huge smile and when the ground came into view I couldn’t stop staring, taking in all the cars and buildings and neighborhoods in neat little lines. I’ll have to admit when we touched down I teared up a bit. Finally, after 10 months, I was in my home country.
Then the seat belt signal turned off and I jumped out of my seat. There was no more waiting, no more trains or planes. The amount of time in which I’d see my family and friends depended entirely on me.
And suddenly, my brother, running towards me. Behind him were my parents and two best friends and Sofia, our Norwegian exchange student. I stopped where I was and quite literally burst out crying. Dropped my bags and opened my arms.
Seeing them again and the following 15 minutes was by far the strangest thing I’ve ever experienced. It was like a dream. I couldn’t stop watching them. These people who I had known through computers and paper for 10 months were real again, living and breathing and 3D.
And being home is also really weird. At the same time, it doesn’t feel real and it feels like I never left. Everything is the same but different. New parking lots. Trees cut down. Restaurants opening where car garages were. Kitty still doesn’t like cuddling. My high school that’s under construction looks so different. My dog’s mostly deaf. Lots of English. Talking is normal but there are particular words I have trouble remembering. I’ve realized I’m terrible at translating things from French to English. My brother still leaves his dishes on the table and is weird in general. My parents are my parents. Everyone keeps smiling at me and hugging me and poking me to make sure I’m real.
It’s good to be home.