Connecting across cultures

Being an exchange student is an experience that not many people get. Although it can be overwhelming at times, there are so many amazing things to learn and discover. It can be hard to speak in a new language while you are all alone in a new country, but the difficulty only makes you stronger.

This year I got the opportunity to travel to Spain. I have seen many things so far during my exchange trip: the beaches in Cadiz, the golden sunsets over the cathedrals in Seville, the colorful Spanish style roofs beneath the bright sky, miles of Roman ruins, and the loud fiestas on the streets. This trip has opened my eyes to another part of the world.

A study abroad trip requires staying with a host family and going to a school with local students who are your age. Through this, you can make close relationships with new people and while learning about a new culture. I live with a host mom, a 13-year-old sister, an 18-year-old brother, and a host grandmother, and I am getting to know each of them more and more every day.

Many times, exchange students are in a country where their native language is not the language being spoken Learning another language can be an exciting experience, especially once you start seeing yourself understand it more and more each day. At the beginning of my trip, I had to have everybody repeat themselves two, three, or sometimes even six times before I finally figured out what they were saying. I still struggle with the language barrier, but it has become much easier to understand and communicate with locals.

I have gone 4,273 miles outside of my comfort zone, and it has changed me for the better. Life abroad is an experience I would recommend to anyone blessed with the opportunity.