Madeleine – Exchange to Wilfred Laurier University, Canada
Semester 2, 2016
A good friend of mine once told me that exchange isn’t meant to be easy… part of the word itself is ‘change’. She liked to think of the word “ex-change” as “EXTRAORDINARY CHANGE”!
And she was right, this change truly is extraordinary! I won’t lie though, student exchange has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I have been here 3 weeks so far and I have had more hard days than easy ones. It’s hard on you mentally, emotionally and physically. Essentially nothing is wrong – it is only different! I try to look at it as a brand new experience with unlimited possibilities, rather than an overwhelming sense of the unknown.
It’s important to grasp every challenge, every offer, every invitation, and every experience! Be you, embrace every opportunity and come home with no regrets. This all sounds idealistic and impossible at the start of any overwhelming journey! Nonetheless, have no doubt that this ‘change’ will be one that will shape you into a person with confidence, cultural awareness and mental toughness.
The challenges I have faced have mostly been associated with the enormity of university life, and learning to overcome obstacles in different ways. ACU Melbourne campus is incredibly small compared to my university here in Canada. For example, the library here at WLU is 7 stories high, and bigger than ACU’s Melbourne Campus main building, the Mary Glowrey building. I have gotten lost and been late to many classes and stepped into the wrong room one too many times. There are only so many times you can play the “I’m an exchange student” card and get away with fairly legitimate late-arrivals!
One of the most difficult things so far has been overcoming the distance from home. It is incredibly daunting coming into a country where you have to make new friends whilst having little idea of how to get around safely, in addition to having to cook, clean, study and manage your own finances. Talking to my friends and family has helped me overcome my own personal barriers and give me confidence to get out of my comfort zone. Of course I am dying to watch a live AFL match, eat a few packets of TimTams and have one of my mum’s home cooked dinners! However I am so excited to be here and soak up the atmosphere – it’s not every day that you wake up with the opportunity to roam a foreign country!
Going on exchange isn’t just about experiencing a wonderful change in culture, its about pushing your own limits and working hard to become the best person you can be under challenging circumstances. Its hard and scary, but its bound to be one of the most thrilling and amazing experiences I will ever have.