Adele – Universidad Pontificia Comillas, Spain
Semester 2, 2016
Australia, Belgium, England, France, Holland, Iceland, Mexico.
This picture sums up my experience perfectly because it demonstrates how unique an experience exchange really is. Nineteen students who come from seven different countries and didn’t know each other a few months ago all united by the fact that we decided to study in Spain for a semester.
One of the most special things I am going to take away from my exchange is the friendships I have made over the course of my time here. People who were complete strangers to me a few short months ago, I have now lived, studied and travelled with. At first, I was so daunted by the idea of moving halfway across the world and not having any friends or family with me at least for the initial period but what I quickly realised was that so was everybody else. This meant absolutely everyone was so open minded and accepting in a way I’ve never witnessed before and that is something I will really never forget. In the world today there is so much hatred and disharmony because people are so unwilling to accept people and cultures that are different to their own and it has been so refreshing to be in an environment where it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from. The people that you meet when you’re on exchange really become like a family to you and you find yourself becoming so close to people in such a short space of time. Each night you cook dinner together, on the weekends you travel and have fun together and not a day has passed since I arrived in Madrid where I haven’t been surrounded by people who care about me, but what is the craziest about that is that we only met a few months ago. Everyone here is so eager to learn about each other’s cultures and to visit each other’s countries now that we all know each other. I think that by far one of the hardest parts about going home is going to be leaving all of the beautiful people I’ve met here behind. I have honestly made friends for life and know this is definitely not the last time we will see each other. Exchange truly is a once in a life time opportunity and I can’t express how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to participate in it. I was told by so many people before I left that I would come back a completely different person and before coming to Madrid I didn’t really understand what they meant. I have always been an open minded, accepting person but since coming here my awareness of other people and other cultures has skyrocketed. I have learnt so much about myself and know that the things I have experienced on exchange will stick with me forever.