For all the future students that may come across this:

Before we step on to the plane a head to our new countries, exchange students sit through a series of sessions, read packets of forms and emails, and listen to numerous people all telling them how to have a successful exchange.

We are told about the rules (the 4 Ds: no Drinking, Driving, Drugs, or Dating)

We are told homesickness will occur for everyone

We are told not to call our mommy and daddy for every little problem.

We are told who to talk to when we have problems at school or in our host families

We are told to try everything and never say “no”

We are told to make friends

We are told to learn the language

But here’s a few things they don’t tell you:

1. You are going to be tired all the time.

Exchange Student Fatigue I swear can be its own diagnoses. We are dealing with  time change, constantly process your surroundings, understanding everything (even your own language because people around you will sound different), adapting to new climate, along with the 100 other things I can’t think of. SO, taking a day off to relax is not a bad thing. Sleep is important along with whatever else you may need to be at your best.

2. They tell you to learn the language but they don’t tell you how.

If you are lucky maybe you get a book or find an app. If you are really lucky maybe you get language lessons. Sadly there is no fail safe or crash cours way to learn an entire language. But what has helped me the most has been studying sentence structure along with verb conjugation. Vocabulary comes over time. But if you don’t learn the foundation of a language you can’t use vocabulary.

3. Sometimes you have to take action.

When you first arrive you feel a little bit like a celebrity and wherever you go people want to know about you. However after a week or two this wears off and you get bored since you don’t yet have real friends. This is where you have to take action! Of course you also have to say “yes” when you are invited to something but you can also be the one to invite people. Otherwise you will be waiting around months to go out and have some fun.

4. Be honest!

No one on earth likes everything. Everyone has preferences. Even exchange students. So while you say yes to trying everything, it is A OK to say honestly what you do and do not enjoy. It is not rude to not like something. The problem is that we often say that we like it when we don’t and then for the rest of our exchange we are stuck eating and doing things we would really rather not.

5. It’s not all about you

We as exchange students sometimes get up on a high horse and feel entitled to what we want. But the reality of our position as exchange students is that we are ambassadors for our countries. We are here to represent our cultures and learn the culture of our host country. So when you are in a situation that you’d rather not be in here’s what you gotta do: smile, be appreciative, and keep busy!. In the end the challenging times are going to be what makes you enjoy your highlight times more.

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