We love to receive stories from the current students as it allows us to see how they are getting on. Recently we ran a competition, where students could send in their best story. We received many fantastic stories but a few stood out. One of these was Luciaa Sanna’s story. Take a look.
My Exchange year.
My name is Lucia Sanna, I am an International student.
In the meantime I kept thinking ‘’ what and who is waiting for me on the other side? What if……?’’.
I really asked myself this type of questions.
But then I quit thinking about those questions because I wanted to enjoy every second of my exchange, and the journey was part of it. I did not want to have expectations. I just knew that my host country was Ireland, now I have been here for six months.
Here in Ireland I am not the only foreign, I am here with other crazy foreigners. We are like a family, we help each other, we learn from each other and will always be close including the ones who left earlier the country during the year.
Let’s know them..
During all of this, there are of course also the bad feelings.
The desperation when I repeat something again and again and they just can’t understand it because of the language.
The listlessness when just everything is growing over my head.
Of course the homesickness and the thought:
‘’ How would my life be at home now? , What would I be doing there? , What are my friends doing, my family..? and if they miss me at all…’’
The lack of understanding when I just can’t comprehend the actions, that for the people here are normal.
I am feeling all of this at the same time, but also sometimes more, some less, and to this there belongs a much more, which is coming up in little moments and maybe also is affecting me.Sometimes I can feel like there’s a lot of pressure on me. My sister did my same experience last year and she told me ..
‘’the experience has to be life changing, eye-opening and completely amazing and that you, when it’s time to go back home, have to feel like you never want to leave.’’
‘’Like you’re supposed to book your plane ticket as late as possible and get all ‘OMG DONT TALK ABOUT I WILL CRYYY” when someone mentions your return.’’
But I wasn’t.. The time was going and I was just waiting to go back home.
Now I understood that :
I can’t spend a year having fun and being happy every single minute. Doing an exchange is hard. It has its ups and downs, just like the life back home. The only difference is that the ups might be even higher and the downs even deeper.
Doing an exchange is amazing, no doubt.
It is, truly, a great experience.
But, I get bored sometimes, just like home. I complain about school, just like home. I get annoyed at my host parents, just like my real parents. I have days when all I want to do is to lie in my bed and eat chocolate.
Days when I feel like I rather being back home and ask myself: “why did I go?”
And you know what? That’s okay.
I understood this.. But before ..
I was calling every single day my dad asking him : ‘’ please, book a ticket for me, I want came back at home.. just for one week, just to see..’’
And even though I knew why I did it, I felt like I was letting people down, letting myself down, because I wasn´t always enjoying myself. I felt like I had to live up to this idea of a perfect exchange, being the perfect student, but it wasn´t the perfect year and I wasn´t the perfect student. It is so much harder than I thought.
I started to appreciate all the things I used to hate about my home country.
I was missing my friends and family but most of all I was missing being in a culture where people understood me and where I understood people. I was realizing how blessed people who live in their home countries are because they never run into awkward cultural situations where their intentions were good but they were interpreted in a different way.
I was so excited , I was felling a lot of things that I can‘ t describe now!My dad phoned me, he said that he had booked a ticket for me to came back home for one week. I was looking forward to it but I was also scared. I had stayed in contact with all of my friends but in the last six months I had lived ‘’a second life’’. I knew that I was living this ‘’life’’ in Ireland and the people in Italy were still living their normal life.
I was sitting in the airport, waiting. Someone asked me something, she was a woman in a wheelchair. We started a conversation. She was from England and she was in Ireland to visit her daughter and her grandson. She was happy! Even though she had a disability you could see she was happy. I was asking to myself ‘’how could she be so happy?’’ I asked her even though I knew that I hadn’t spoken to her before.
I think that she could fell what I was felling. She understood more than others . The woman explained to me her own take on life. ‘’ If you love someone you have to let this person be free to choose his\her life, to make his\her choice and all you can do is just be happy for him\her.’’
‘’to love someone it doesn’t always mean you have to stay in the same place.It can be a long way from here (where you are) to where the person is but you must remember that the distance divides bodies not hearts.’’
After my ten days in Italy and also after a lot of thoughts on my behalf, I came to the conclusion that she was right.When I arrived back home to Italy I understood that something in the last six months had changed.My friends had changed, my family, my house, my city.. Myself !
I then understood why being an exchange student was awesome.
You will learn a new language. Or maybe more than one. Or just swear words in other languages 🙂
You will realize who your real friends are. Before I departed for exchange, everyone told me something like “ I will miss you” but I can tell you now that usually just two people on five really think that. I realize how important family is, ‘ they will always support me also if miles away’.
Travelling is the best way of learning. Teachers at school might tell you how a country works. They might explain you the culture and teach you the language, but the best way of learning all of this is to be there and see things with your own eyes.
Everyday is different and everyday I am feeling different, everyday shows me an other side of me and with that everyday is a new experience I learn to appreciate. I can’t really explain what it feels like doing an exchange year, living a year in a foreign country, leaving in a new family, getting to learn a new culture and all the other hundreds of things because this experience – and already now I am sure of this – is definitely unique.
The exchange will always be, even if you didn’t have the time of your life all the time, a great experience and something you should never regret that you did. An exchange isn´t always fun, it´s not always easy, it´s not always glamorous, but it is ALWAYS worth it.