So I want to keep a fairly detailed account of how this whole exchange process thing goes.
For myself just as much as for others.
I was thinking about where to start and I realized, it all starts with a dream. That sounds a bit too philosophical or as if I’m trying to make this bigger than it actually is. So maybe “a dream” is an overused phrase, but you do have to have a desire to go somewhere before you actually do.
A lot of things influence whether or not you’re interested in things like traveling or what destinations you’re most interested in. Your parents and family situation, the media, your socialization, ect, all shape your thoughts in some way.
My parents, for example, worked really hard (and still do) but they didn’t buy fancy clothes or brand name items, they saved, they budgeted, they planned, and they stretched every dollar so we could go on amazing vacations. They instilled a love of travel and adventure in me.
Unfortunately it didn’t rub off on my brother…
They also put me into French immersion in school. This was hard, and when I was younger, I was probably pretty frustrated with them because no one spoke French, so if I needed help, I was on my own. Thankfully, I was gifted with an aptitude for language (and English isn’t my first language) so I always did well in French, but imagine if I didn’t have to practice every day?
I wouldn’t be doing most of what I’m doing now. I’m able to tutor others in French, I’m able to double-major in French (and Journalism), I’m able to travel, I’m able to adapt, I’m self-reliant (kind of) and now I have this amazing opportunity to study for a year in a French-speaking country all because I picked up a language as a child.
French classes through the years have exposed me to a lot of French culture as well. Movies do that too. In North America we really like Europe so portraying French culture as beautiful (as one example) was easy and common.
Without this background of French culture, would I want to live in France for a year?
Now, I’m not actually going to live in France, which is a bit of a bummer for me because I am so hooked on French things, but my French speaking abilities, and love of Europe are still putting me in an awesome place, both to live and gain access to other adventures.
If I didn’t have a desire to go get out of my little box, if I didn’t have a love for people, for Europe, for adventure, if I didn’t have a penchant for language, for culture, or any of the things I like now, would I have applied to go anywhere? So maybe I won’t be in France, but being in Belgium doesn’t stop me from going there… and then going to other paces too. The things I love are applicable outside of France.
Anyway, passion is one thing, you also need to seize opportunities and believe you can achieve the things you want. You have to believe you deserve them and that’s it’s possible for you to get where you want to get to.
It wasn’t enough for me to say in ninth grade that I’d go to Carleton for Journalism. I had to write, to practice it and fall in love with it. I got involved in my school newspaper, I took extra English classes, I took classes that would compliment what I wanted to learn about later. And then I had to apply.
That can be scary for people because of the reputation the program has and the fear of not being good enough. How could I be where I am now if I let my own self-doubt stop me? Imaging myself somewhere without actively pursuing that goal is useless.
The same applied to my dream of living in Europe. I wrote it really high up on my bucket list (it’s #4, right after family related goals) but if it just sat there would I ever have a hope to achieve it? I have “Go to the Moon” on the list too, but that’s not entirely realistic… I’m not pursuing any kind of astronaut related stuff. It would be super cool though.
Anyway, I had to apply for the exchange program despite knowing the competition there is, despite not having amazing grades, despite any doubts that I wasn’t good enough or that I didn’t deserve it. So I did and while I didn’t necessarily get the result I wasted most, I’m able to experience something other people only think about or dream about.
So I would say the first step to going on an exchange is to want it. Then you set about actually doing it, but that leads into the second step of research/filling things out and the actual program application which I’ll talk about in the next post.
I don’t know if this was a particularly helpful “first step” but it was something I wanted to say. For me, this exchange is a big deal because I love traveling and I like going on adventures. For someone else, this might be kind of a cool idea, but not something they would be excited about themselves.
Anyway, God Bless!
Oh, a few updates, I managed to get the three essays due for the 9th done. I think they were ok 🙂
I’ve written my first exam, the one I said would be my hardest and the one I had the least time to study for… I think it went well actually, despite the lack of study time, and I’m a little worried it might turn out to have been my easiest actually.
I’ve discovered a love for the old TV show, Boy Meets World (thanks Esther), and I also started watching House of Cards two days ago (I’ve watched 8 episodes), so I really don’t want to study or think about school related stuff at all.
I still have one more essay to write and two books to finish reading before my exam on Friday.
I get to start working again! Unfortunately, my life is too complicated to make work schedules simple so I have two half-days and one full day planned for the next three weeks, which isn’t much and cuts into my sanity and peace of mind, but I’m doing it anyway (not enough time to study before my last exam).
I’m at the hard part of exchange planning, more about it later, but let’s just say bureaucracy is awful! I’m trying to apply for a visa, and get tickets and insurance and stuff and everything is complicated and costs a lot.
And I think that’s it for now.