Leaving Herlufsholm was bittersweet. It hurts to think that I will not be able to live the Danish lifestyle any longer. I am excited to know that I am coming home, however, re-energized by the many great experiences and lessons.
Now that I have experienced exchange, I thought it would be appropriate to give out some pointers for those who are thinking of applying. Of course, I cannot speak for everyone. You will have a different experience. Even if you end up at the same school as me, you will experience things differently. So please read this with a grain of salt.
Exchange gave me so many opportunities to grow as a person. I have become much more independent and self-sufficient. I made life-long friendships. Overall, I had an amazing time, in ways words cannot describe. However, exchange was not all just fun. I faced a lot of challenges. I learned from these challenges and so here are some tips based on my experience.
- The first week will be rough, but it gets better.
For me personally, the first week was very hard, since I didn’t have any friends to rely upon. An easy way to start getting comfortable is to mingle with other exchanges (if there are any). As the days go by, you will become a lot closer to your new classmates and you will become a lot more accustomed to the environment that you are in. One thing that I found helpful was not to call home during the first week, especially when you miss those at home. Calling them will make you want to go home and see them even more.
- There is more school work than you think. (This only applies to students looking to go during the fourth quarter)
I was under the impression that I wouldn’t have much school work to do while on exchange; however, to my surprise, there was a lot more work than I expected. For sophomores, there are a couple of chemistry packets and of course this blog. Depending on your math and language classes, you may also have to keep up with those classes. I had to take a Spanish test covering the entire second semester after I returned. And don’t forget, the school where you go on exchange will expect you to do work too. I personally was assigned a lot of group projects at Herlufsholm. In addition, keep in mind that you are also trying to make new friends and experience the culture and the country where you are living. Your host and new friends may take you to places or events. You will likely find yourself busy with limited time after-school or on weekends.
- Bad experiences can be good.
I learned to take every opportunity that came to me even if I was skeptical about it. It may seem strange or uncomfortable at first, but I found that these experiences were most memorable. The bad experiences that result from good intentions are never that bad and can make for good conversation and stories to tell later. I found that what seemed to be bad experiences at the time often became funny learning experiences from which I gained a lot.