Today we are going to focus on the benefits of being a Rotary student. Just kidding, I don’t want to corner myself with just one subject. How about this, we’re going to start by talking about the benefits of being an exchange student and then proceed to whatever idea comes next. My first goal is to inspire my fellow youths to consider living in an unfamiliar country without their parents for a year.

Ok, that no-parents bit was just to exaggerate the sense of difficulty in the Rotary experience. Luckily, most of the time you get host parents, so you’re not completely parentless in a foreign country. Your host parents usually have a shelter of some sort which they should share with you; a place to hide from the rain and lay your weary head at night. Plus, your back-at-home-mom will want to talk every day, so it’s like you didn’t even leave.

My back-at-home-mom wants to talk most days, but before I left I said we should only talk once every two weeks, so I can really dig my roots in to this new home of mine. I want integrate to the Slovak lifestyle, even if it costs me some of the comforts of my old home. That plan isn’t exactly working out, though. Even with me being a pure-bred negotiator, I end up facetiming my family once a week. What can I do? Mom wants to talk, and I’m not going to put up too much of a fight against that!

So I’m clearly not even doing the one thing I said I would, which is talk about the benefits of being a rotary student. But guess what time it is? Time to change that! (in my head this sounded like a badass line, maybe read by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. However, reading the sentence a second time showed me it doesn’t read that way and is more or less an awkward cliche. If you want to go back and reread that sentence -the one right before this lengthy parenthetical addition- that would be great. Thanks) * ACDC’s ”Back in Black” starts playing* *Somewhere too close for comfort a Tiger snarls ferociously* Fireworks shoot out of the nearest acoustic guitars and silverware drawers* *The Rock leans in to The Mic to repeat himself once more* Time to change that!

The Pros

-Plenty of time to write silly blogs in your room

-Plenty of time to erase the dumb parts of your blogs (I choose not to do that, but there is time to do it)

*From here on we’re shortening ‘plenty of time’ to just ‘time’ with the exception of dire need*

-Time to consider your life goals

-Time to start working on your life goals (Right now, my goal is to be a writer for SNL)

Plenty of time to tell people, ‘yes, I know writing for SNL is a long shot’. (Gotta shoot for the stars)

-Time to procrastinate by watching Netflix, and Youtube videos explaining why the Paul brothers are exploiting children for money *double dab*

– Opportunities to travel the surrounding countries

-Learn to appreciate communication in your native tongue

-Master communication with hand gestures, facial expressions, spontaneous bodily noises, eyebrow raises, morse code (depends on the country), carrier pigeon (also country dependent), sometimes telepathy (depends on the amount of “Long Island Medium” episodes you’ve watched), braille?, and by the end, hopefully your host language

-Learn to endure long periods of time in close contact with large groups of loud, excited, sometimes smelly, rotary students. (This may be considered a hyperbolic, but helpful simulation of the dorm life in college)

-Make new friends who have cool accents

-Form lasting connections with family and friends from your host city

-Bond with other rotary students and rotex through the shared experience (some would say ordeal, I wouldn’t) of living on your own in a foreign land

-Time to read

-Time to philosophize

-Time to strategerize, as my good friend, George W. Bush, would say

-Opportunities to try new things (Handball, in my case)

-Time to Discover more about yourself (for example, I discovered my dislike for modern country music does not change when I move to Nove Zamky, Slovakia)

-Opportunity to observe the world through a different lens, and adjust your prescription accordingly

-The joys of not knowing what you’re doing, but trusting things will work out

The Cons

-None that you will regret.

The hardships of Rotary are what make it such a great experience. This year is about enduring, learning, and adapting, and you can’t do that without some uncomfortable obstacles to overcome. In short, living abroad for a year will not accrue regret, unless you’re the kind of person who regrets amazingly life enriching experiences. If that’s you, you’re out of luck.

That’s it for now, folks. Thanks for Stopping by. Join Rotary!



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