4 jaar geleden: Helen in Canada

Woensdag 01 juli 2020

Vier jaar geleden, op 1 juli 2016, schreef Helen dit Engelse bericht. Haar High School Year in Canada was net afgelopen. Via dit stukje tekst heeft Helen haar ervaringen gedeeld en haar dankbaarheid naar anderen opgeschreven. Ze vertelt op een leuke manier wat je in een jaar allemaal mee kunt maken en leert. Wie weet kijk jij over een tijd ook wel zo terug op een geweldig jaar in het buitenland. 

“Don't know exactly how this happened, but my 10 months of exchange in Canada are already over...This was the best experience I've ever had and maybe also ever will have.

When you start thinking about what you want to do with your life after high-school, it occurred to me that: hey, maybe I want to learn things in a new and different way? And that is what I did. I didn't always know that you actually gain so much from going on exchange. I always thought I would lose time and fall behind on my friends. And although I am proud of them to pursue their dreams and go to university or college, I am 100% sure of this, when I say: Exchange teaches you so much more than I thought. I had the summer to enjoy and to pack my suitcases, it was finally time for me to go, go to the other side of the world and not realizing: this will be my life for the next 10 months. 

It was hard, but at the same time satisfying to be on my own right there and then. Because I always liked to do things on my own and be alone at times, just to explore the world with just my point of view on things. But actually, I realized that I really do need people. I can't always do things on my own. I found a way in Canada, to be more open about who I am and what I think and feel. This would've never happened, if I wouldn't have experienced this whole year. One other thing of many things that I learned of exchange: Do not ever judge people too fast or just don't judge them at all. You never know exactly what their story is, so be careful who you talk about and what you say.

Canada has so much more culture to offer than I thought. And this country is so big, it is still hard to imagine. Just because the country I grew up in, is smaller than New Brunswick, fits about 12 times in just the province of Manitoba and it so populated... But because it is so big, it has so many different kinds of people, different sceneries and different cultures / ways of living. It is beautiful.

I want to encourage anybody who is thinking about going abroad for whatever period of time, to actually do it!!! Be realistic and know what you might get yourself into. But also, be open minded and accept the fact that people do things differently than that you are used to. Trust me when I say (and I think the majority of exchange students will agree with me): exchange will do you good for the rest of your life. You will grow from it, learn from it and hopefully realize that life is all about happiness, joy and living YOUR life.

I also want to say a big, big thank you to every single person that has treated me well, accepted me exactly the way I am and helped me along the way. Helped me, while I was making this journey. For the host families I had: thank you so much for taking me into your home. It is a gift for a young person, who is still to say at least a little bit nervous to have this whole experience, to be treated as family and to be taken in to a home that will be his/her home too. And thank you for all the friendships I got in these 10 months. You don't know half what it means to me if you wanted to get close to me. I was scared to talk to people, although I never was before. But I knew that friends will make the difference and that is why it was so important to me. And it did. I can say I am lucky to have made all these friendships. Whether it was with true Canadians or other exchange students from all over the world.

I never thought it would actually happen, but I changed. I'm proud of who I was, but especially of who I have become over the last 10 months. I worked on a lot of things, things that have to do with me, my life and my future, and I will continue to do so for the rest of my life. I learned and grew and it was the greatest gift I could ever ask for. 

And now that I said what I wanted to say and hopefully showed my appreciation enough for everything and everyone from these past 10 months, I want to share an anecdote with you. Going to a different country for exchange almost always comes with learning a new language. In the beginning, you don't know how it will ever get easier. But after a while, you realize: wow wait, I didn't even have to translate that. It just happened and I even said it right! And then in the end, you are getting more and more fluent and you can even try to sound like a real Canadian, American or whatever nation that lived in your country of exchange.  Although I can't even imagine what I sounded like 10 months ago, I do remember some incidents when I made funny comments by accident. When I said: "I love your head!" Instead of I love your hat. Or when I told people that my bag was sore. Normally, people's back is sore. But no, my bag was sore lol."

Auteur: Helen, oud into deelnemer

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