Hi, I’m Catherine, I’m 15 years old and I’m an Australian exchange student living in Vantaa, Finland. Student exchange has got to be one of the best decisions I have ever made in my entire life. I have made so many friends from all over the world, experienced things I never would have been able to do back in Australia, become part of a culture, learn another language and so much more. It truly is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
My first days in Finland
I remember feeling so scared in the first three days I was in Finland. I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t know the language, it wasn’t as “magical” as I hoped for it to be and, to be honest, I was regretting ever coming here. Soon enough I begun to appreciate the country, it’s people and it’s customs and now I don’t ever want to leave!
One of the highlights of my exchange so far has got to be when I met up with a bunch of exchange students in Oslo, Norway for a trip organized by Explorius. It was a great way to meet people who are going through the exact same thing as you and share exchange stories. Nobody except other exchange students can relate to and understand everything that you go through when you are on student exchange. That’s probably why the Oslo trip made such an impact on my life.
New friends and experiences
Another highlight is definitely all the friends I have made. Even though I have only known them for a few months I feel as if I’ve known them forever. They make this whole experience even better and at the same time help me learn about Finnish culture. I even enjoy going to school so I can see them!
I have met and befriended people from all over the planet, each with a story to share. There is no better way to learn about the world than by talking to people from different corners of it. Exchange makes you more geographically and culturally connected with the world, not just your host country.
My exchange has been a long road of ups and downs, new experiences and new friends, embarrassing language mistakes and interesting food. As hard as exchange is mentally, emotionally and physically (it’s a proven fact that exchange students are always hungry), I can say 100% truthfully that exchange is the best decision of my life and the hardest thing I will ever have to do is say goodbye.