For me, exchange was an interesting experience. The best parts of the experience were the language immersion and how far I was from my comfort zone. Although I am only a French II student, I still managed to participate in discussions and was able to connect with many people. It was also helpful to be forced to be more confident than I am at home. I realized that if I wanted to have a good experience and connect with people, I needed to be outgoing and confident.
The most challenging parts of exchange were dealing with things that made me uncomfortable and keeping up with the conversation. A lot of times during my exchange, I found myself in situations in which I had to be more outgoing than I usually am, where I had to push myself to be more confident. I know that if I had been my same shy self, then I would not have had such an amazing experience. Also, because of the language barrier, I had trouble understanding what people were talking about, so I had to constantly pay attention to what people were saying. To my surprise, the people at Le Salesien did not engage with me that often, such as asking me questions about myself and my country, so I had to contribute to the conversation in different ways. Despite this, I became friends with my host’s group of close friends.
I found that it was very difficult for a student exchange to make friends outside of their host’s friend group at Le Salesien because I did not have my own schedule, but luckily the friends I made were very kind and welcoming.
I found that Canada is very similar to America. I did not learn that much about the world as a whole as I have on other travel experiences, but I learned a lot about myself through this experience. I learned that I still operate well outside of my comfort zone and, even if I am a bit shy, I jump right into making meaningful connections with others. After this experience, I have been much more confident in myself and my actions.
I definitely would recommend going on exchange to others. Even though my experience was not as exciting as others who go to more exotic places, I still believe that no matter where you go, you will always learn something about yourself and you will leave as a different person.