Hastings, Nebraska to Sweden
In July 2011, I left my hometown of Hastings, Nebraska to begin my exchange year in Sweden. During my time there, I learned that everything that was told to me about youth exchange was true. It changed my life in a way that I can’t describe through a couple paragraphs. My views and opinions became much broader and I feel like I’ve gained a sense of perception that is hard to come by in students who choose not to go abroad.
Fast forward to now, I find myself as a 4th year geology major at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Before my exchange, I had wanted to be a diplomat but while in Sweden I found that my true passion lies in science and figuring out how the world works. Rotary opened a lot of doors for me – allowing me to meet geology professors from all over the country, because they too are involved in Rotary. Youth exchange has benefited me in ways that I couldn’t even imagine – it gave me the confidence to make friends easily, it’s allowed me to understand others instead of judging them, and it’s given me the strength to be able to undergo stressful times and succeed.
Chappell, Nebraska to Taiwan
In 2013, I took a leap into the unknown. After months of preparations, I boarded a plane to my new home, Taiwan. The whole process of becoming an exchange student is not meant to be easy, because to be an exchange student is vastly challenging. The Rotary exchange program changes lives every year and gives you the safety net that most programs lack.
Looking back at my exchange I can tell you that it is hard. Learning a new language is hard, learning about a new culture firsthand is hard, but it is one of the most fulfilling experiences in anyone’s life. You live with strangers and they become your family. You learn the language, the culture and if you are lucky it becomes your home. A place you can always return to and still have a strong connection.
My exchange year definitely has changed the course of my life. I am now planning to return to Taiwan to start college in the spring of 2016. So now once again I am embarking on a difficult, but I am sure, a rewarding journey. I doubt I would be the same person as I am now without my exchange. I am a better person because of my experience. I will forever be a Rotary exchange student and I hope you take the leap and become one as well.
Paxton, Nebraska to Helsingborg, Sweden
My exchange to Helsingborg Sweden in 2010-2011 from little old Paxton, NE., has helped shape me and mold me into the person I am today in many ways. But, it was not just living abroad and experiencing daily differences in the culture that shaped me. It was also because of the program I chose to go with.
Rotary has positively been influencing my life since 2010. Almost 6 years ago my decision to listen in on my very first Rotary meeting was just a stepping stone to many more meetings to come, and many overseas connections and friendships that will last forever. I attended meetings weekly once I got to Sweden, and got the opportunity to be a Rotex once I came home from my exchange. Staying involved was always one of the most important things to me, because in a way I wanted to give back what I could to the organization that gave me everything. To say my life changed because of Rotary would be an understatement. Coming from such a small town, but getting the opportunity to experience something so big like living abroad for a year has opened my eyes to more important issues that go on in the world. I feel as if I have a deeper connection to those whose interests also lead them abroad.
There is not a day that goes by that I don’t reminisce on that year that passed by too quickly. I am truly grateful for the opportunity and I will always talk highly about Rotary International and Rotary Youth Exchange.
Grand Island, Nebraska to Madrid, Spain
Being an exchange student has been such a major part of my life, and has shaped me into who I am today. I learned not only an extensive amount of things about my host country, but on my journey I learned new things about my own country as well, and learned to appreciate where I come from. I grew as an individual and experienced unforgettable memories, memories that before had only been dreams, but were able to become reality.
I met amazing people, not only from Spain, but from all over the world. They have helped me broaden my view of the world and be more open minded. I can now say I have a family on the other side of the world and can count on them for anything.
This exchange program has created great connections and networking for me and I am infinitely grateful for the opportunity I had to be an exchange student.