Hayden’s Exchage Story – “Just Do It”

Hayden Exchange StudentAlways as a child, my mum told me that to properly live, one must wander. As comfortable as the nest is, you probably won’t experience much hidden behind it. In 2014, armed with a 20kg suitcase I watched my mum fight back tears as I entered the International Terminal of Melbourne Airport.

It is a strange feeling to witness the world in front of you change. Even weirder is the feeling that you yourself are changing. For 11 months, Sweden threw all she had at me. Now, writing this I see how such an impressionable mind has been changed – for the better.

Technologies such as the internet are bringing the world closer. So now, more than ever, it is vital that we adapt to our globalizing world by developing our cultural and linguistic knowledge. Apart from the job (and travel) opportunities of knowing another language, it’s also a great party trick. Learning a language in another country is a lot easier and more fun than learning it at school. As an adult, learning a new language is much harder, and adult responsibilities limit the freedom to travel.

My life would never have been the same if I never left our corner of the world. In my future travels I now have accommodation in lands as exotic as Mexico and India, as a result of meeting other exchange students in Sweden. I would have never expected to be able to climb a mountain in the Arctic Circle. Battling wind and snow surrounded by a group of some of the kindest, adventurous and most loving teenagers from around the world. I no longer fear judgement. I no longer worry about talking to strangers. I no longer fear being myself. I overcame more than most do in their lives through my exchange, and I was only 16.

You don’t have to watch Shia LaBeouf’s “Just do it” video to be inspired to study abroad. It’s more than just travelling. It’s more than just school. It’s more than just an adventure. My host mother always told me, that when I am old and rocking on a chair and I recall the 5 best things in my life, my exchange year would be one of them. I could travel, but then I wouldn’t see the real culture. The jewels of a country are the people, and being an exchange student I met these people, lived with them and gained an in depth understanding of them. A simple thing such as table manners can sometimes only be learnt by living with the people of that country.

You will learn more in one year on exchange, than you will learn in a life time at home. “Just do it”.