Over a year ago, I made the decision to travel alone on a 23-hour flight to a country I had never been to, to attend a university I had only just heard of, to experience things that I had once considered the smallest fragment of a dream. Deciding to go on exchange was easily one of the greatest decisions of my life.
However, this isn’t a happy story. This isn’t a blog post about how exchange changed me for the good. Last night, I was talking with my friends about exchange and about how every person has a difference experience. I argued that exchange is truly what you make of it. I was fortunate enough to be accepted to a university that was known not only for it’s excellence but also for it’s insane partying, nightlife and student campuses. I set myself up to have fun – I found out what clubs night were best and I attempted at trying every single one. But not everybody took that opportunity, and it’s for those people that I am sad.
Now I’m back at home, and have been for almost a year this coming June. What’s the hardest about being an ex-exchangee is that people who haven’t been on exchange don’t know what it’s like to come home from exchange. You spend six months to a year of your life experiencing new things, new people and new places. It’s not like being at home, it’s not like being at your regular university. My boyfriend – if you can even call him that anymore – generally likes to bring up how much ‘funner’ I seemed whilst overseas. He saw photos I’d been tagged in, where I’d go out every single night and I’d enjoyed one-too-many alcoholic beverages to be considered healthy – but what he doesn’t fully realise is that being on exchange is the equivalent to living in a fantasy land. You are not invincible but you sure as hell may as well be. I was fortunate enough to have paid my rent prior, plus I’d paid for my flights, I only had a maximum of five hours per week (!!!) at uni and food and drink was so cheap – why wouldn’t I make the most of my situation? At home, I live in such a different situation. I worked three jobs when I come home from exchange, just to give myself something to do, and recently I’ve picked up an internship too. I don’t have the time, energy or money to go out in Australia. It’s expensive and everbody acts like a dickhead.
And that’s why I’ve got the homely woes, you see. I made the absolute most of every opportunity thrown at me whilst I was abroad. I ate new food, drank too much cheap European vodka, I travelled to so many countries that now I feel like a completely different person. And now, I’m stuck back into the dark abyss of a mundane life. The plus side to life after exchange: I now live with a girl I met on my first day in Sheffield, England. We studied the same degree for two and half years at uni, and had never met before and then she became my best friend, now flatmate.