Anika went on her SCCE student exchange program (Select) in USA in 2019.
Here is an interview with Anika sharing her thoughts and experience from her student exchange. Enjoy!
Why did you choose to go on a Student Exchange?
I had seen all my friends in years above me nervously depart on their journeys, and I also saw them on their return to hear all the amazing stories and life changing experiences they had. I knew that the opportunity of a student exchange was a once in a lifetime chance and there was no way I was passing up the opportunity to grow and develop like I had seen my friends do!
Do you have any advice or tips for someone considering Student Exchange?
Just go! The nerves, all the ‘what ifs’, being scared of getting homesick? Thats all apart of it, and I can guarantee every single exchange student out there was nervous before stepping onto the plane, but we had each other to get us through! The amount you learn and gain from a student exchange outweighs the nervous butterflies and the fear of homesickness by miles!
What are the main benefits of living and studying overseas?
Studying abroad teaches you more than you could ever learn out of a textbook, not only can you learn how people live on the other side of the world, you get the opportunity to immerse yourself in a culture you may not even have known existed.
What was the highlight of your experience?
My final day of school, all though it was very bittersweet, my classmates and my teachers celebrated the time i had had. Everyone sat together at lunch and asked me to share some of my Australian culture with them which I thought was an amazing honour! It was a day I’ll never forget.
How do you think exchange changed or challenged you?
Applying for exchange is kind of like a lucky dip, you don’t know what you are going to get, but no matter what you do, it will all be as equally amazing. On my exchange, I got the chance to learn about a new religion where my host family and friends shared their beliefs and I shared mine. At times, living with a family who’s religion was different to mine back home was challenging, we had views that clashed and the way I was used to living was very different to what they had expected of me. In the end, I knew that their views were just as valid as mine, just different, and the opportunity to really learn about their faith was something I will be forever grateful for.
What tips do you have for someone about to start their new school?
Don’t have any specific expectations, and walk into your first day open minded and excited for the amazing experience that is ahead of you! Everyone at your new school will be thrilled to learn about your culture and of course to hear your accent!
What are three ‘must do things’ when going on exchange?
The number one thing to do whilst on exchange is go to a sporting game!! Sounds basic I know, but the crowds, the spirt and the excitement of the first college basketball game i watched was amazing, a feeling I’ll never forget.
Number two is to eat as much of their cultural foods as you can! Trust me, you will miss it, and it is such a great insight into their country.
Number three, talk to as many people as you can and try meet as many people as possible, everyone has something different to share with you or for you to learn. Plus, you never know, they could become life long friends from the other side of the country.
Was there any unexpected experiences or benefits for you?’
The thing I benefited most from, was being able to be myself. Going solo to a place where you don’t know anyone is daunting, don’t get me wrong, but it was an opportunity to start fresh and become the person you always knew you wanted to be. That was the most valuable thing I got out of my exchange, I got my old self back and was able to be the happiest I could be through my time on exchange.
Can you sum up your experience up in two – three sentences?
My exchange was the best thing I’ve ever done, I went into it maybe with the wrong expectation of it all being easy and I would have the ‘time of my life’. I had a lot of challenges with my family but in the end they only opened up a whole new world to me and I did have the ‘time of my life’ just in a different way to what I thought.
Exchange is a rollercoaster, the crazy nerves at the airport and the worry of the first day of school and making friends changes into the joy of the experience you are having and the friends you know you will have for life.
Don’t let the challenges define your time, let the way you take them on board make your time even better.
Thanks for sharing Anika!