Exchange Student USA

Was it worth it?

A few weeks ago, one of my friends was asking me about my exchange year. She, currently, is on exchange too, so we were talking about what is going on in each of our lives. After some time we were talking about things we miss, things we think that weren’t that good. So she was asking me if it was worth it to leave everything behind. 4678 miles away everything would stay the same, everyone would go the way they were supposed to go, but we wouldn’t.

When she was asking me that question I didn’t really know what to say, so it took me some more time to answer.

I thought about all the good times, all the times that were the real everyday life, and about the times I didn’t feel good.

I thought about the day I arrived here, I thought about my first night in my new room, I thought about all the new people I met, and the new school I go to.

I thought about all the times I did my homework, I thought about every dinner I had, and I thought about home.

Then I realized why I wanted to come here. Currently, I am on exchange in the United States, which probably is the country with the most exchange students worldwide.  Every single one of us wanted to live the American Dream of freedom, and independence. We all watched almost every famous movie made in the US, especially the ones that show the life of American teenagers. Everyone wanted to be like them. So did I!

Every time someone at home asked me why I wanted to go on exchange so bad, and that was always my answer. But when I came here so many people were asking me why I came here, and why I chose the US as my host country and not England, or Spain. That was the moment I made up a short answer to be able to answer all those people without getting tired of telling the same long story over and over again, which in the end didn’t really match the real reason. And I really think, that is what most of us did.

And the most important part is that this is the reason why we have more “bad” times than we should. Did you ever hear you say that you miss public transportation, or even got mad about it? After thinking that you took the thought and said (more or less to yourself) that it is a bad thing here to not have it. This is how a lot of your harder days happened to be harder days.

Some people already noticed that overthinking or overreacting in those small things cannot make you happy at all, and make you miss home even more than you thought.

All those little things you worry about like public transportation, food, school, free time and free time activities, and also the whole social life, this is exactly what we all asked for when we came here! Yes, maybe you do not like living in a small town or village, but you knew before you came here that this is usually where you end up. Sure some people are the “happy” ones and live in a city but they also have their issues there.

If you worry about not travelling enough than you are not right here either. Exchange is not about travelling through every state, leaving home every break to go on vacation, or spend every weekend somewhere else. If that is what you wanted, then you shouldn’t be on exchange.

Exchange is more about learning the culture of your family than learning the culture of the whole US. It is about living everyday life, like all the teenagers do it. It is about improving your skills, and your character. Exchange is change in every way. In how you think, and how you speak. In how you act and how you feel. In who you want your friends to be and who you want be.

Stop overacting about things that are not a problem, stop making your year hard. We are all here to gain experiences and grow on them. Most of us are only here for 2 or 3 more months, let go of the thoughts that made you count days till you go back home, try to live these last days with the life you have here.

Dayanan Baptist

Hi folks! I'm Dayanan, 22 year old former Exchange Student from Copenhagen, Denmark. I spent my year in Michigan, USA back in 11/12'.

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