During high school, as I started looking into potential colleges, but never pictured myself at Montana State University. I considered schools in Wisconsin and decided to attend the University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire. This school was three hours away and at the time it seemed outside of my comfort zone.
Now after getting involved with the National Student Exchange program, I realize that this was a bigger opportunity to truly step outside of my comfort zone. The idea of going somewhere where no one knew my name was very exciting to me. I wanted to do something new and creative and this was my chance. I decided to commit to this idea and talked to my family.
My parents were more than supportive of the idea. My mom always told me that there is so much out there that I need to experience, and my dad always reminded me that home will always be right here for me when I need it. I think that a major reason I was so set on this NSE adventure was because my parents had always encouraged me to “do my own thing” and something had called me to Montana.
If you are considering becoming involved in the National Student Exchange, I would highly recommend it. This program gives students the opportunity to travel and experience new things. At this stage of life, doing something that challenges you is extremely important for character development. In deciding on NSE, I’ve grown in many ways. I’ve experienced so many new things, but I’ve also grown as a person. Going somewhere new and distant takes some courage but once you do it you gain so much from it. I’ve learned a lot about myself while on exchange and would encourage others to take this opportunity as well. Something I have learned from exchange is to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves because it is important to live in the present. I also believe that now is the best time in life to do something like this.
I’ve learned that I can still be close to my family while living far away. I still have a close relationship with my family and when I see them it’s still so special. Doing this exchange introduced me to a new way of living and a new home. There are many reasons why leaving your home will be beneficial to you and I want to touch on a few of them. By leaving your hometown you are expanding your horizons and you will see just how big this world is. With exchange there is newness. New culture, new ways of life, and new experiences. Embracing the new will make you the best version of yourself.
Traveling will make you more resourceful and self-reliant as well. Fear will become just another emotion, not something that holds you back. New experiences make you mentally stronger and determined. I have found that I can really focus on the relationship that I have with myself. Detaching yourself from your family, friends, and from what you were used to will encourage self-discovery and freedom to focus on who you truly are. My appreciation for my family and friends back home has absolutely skyrocketed. I cherish every phone call, FaceTime, and letter or package. I do miss watching my little sister’s basketball games and cross-country races but when I get time with her, I love it more than ever. Exchange has opened my eyes to the realization that life is now and I must take every opportunity that is given to me.
Submitted by Cathy Johnson