LUCY-ROSE'S SHORT-TERM EXCHANGE TO SPAIN
My name is Lucy-Rose and I went on an exchange straight after finishing Year 13 at high school.
Going on exchange straight after finishing high school never really occurred to me, and since most of the opportunities through school were for years 9-11, I thought my window had passed. However, I heard about an exchange programme that would allow me to get to Spain, which had my attention.
For me personally, going on exchange after school was the perfect choice. It was amazing to do something out of the ordinary and get some life skills before coming back for uni. It was a great change in surroundings and allowed me to make the most of the time I had free without worrying about any school related stuff like internals or leadership roles etc. It meant that all I had to focus on was learning the language and having a good time. I also believe that going at the end of high school it a good time to test out independence a bit. At 18 years old and having just finished school, the world is your oyster. At 18 you have a bit of knowledge under your belt, and exchange gives you a chance to grow this knowledge. Plus, 18 makes you and adult and allows you some more opportunities than if you went during high school at a younger age.
Another thing I loved about going on exchange after Year 13 is that it gave me an itch I want to scratch. Before going I was a bit unsure about my uni degree, but I was going with it anyway because I thought it would be best to do it sooner than later. Having loved my exchange so much, my primary goal became to make my way back to Spain. Luckily enough, my major is in the Spanish language, so my exchange gave me the motivation to do well and also helped boost my grades. This degree will no doubt help me in getting work over there.
An important thing I learnt was that you change and grow as a person while you are away. It is sometimes hard getting back in the routine of things once you have essentially lived a different life, have learnt so many more things, and had different experiences with different people. I think that going while still at school would make it hard to adjust back upon returning since you've grown as a person and others still expect you to be the same as you were before you left. I can imagine that coming back to school after such an experience would be hard for many reasons, hence the appeal of going after school suited me.
I loved every minute of my exchange and would have chosen to stay another couple of months in a heartbeat. However, uni dates didn't concur. It didn't leave me the opportunity to spend even one month more (which seems like a lot but goes with the blink of an eye), which would have been no problem given I was still at school simply cutting into a bit of Term 1.
Overall, for the me positives outweighed the negatives by far. The benefits of an exchange are countless, as are the memories you'll make along the way. The negative parts hardly carry significance when you know that a) someday you'll be able to return, and b) you're only a school kid for a few extra weeks, it doesn't hurt to get up and make the most of the day.
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