Exchanged (Dorina Dimitrova)
Small towns. Everyone knows everyone and they know everything about each other. Every
day you go out with the same people on the same places and you do the same things
because nothing new really happens there. There are no opportunities, no entertainment,
no new people to meet and suddenly you are stuck with the same old boring routine. Then
from а friend of а friend (because that is how you find out about everything in the small
town) you hear about exchanges. And you think to yourself that finally something
interesting is happening, you believe this is just like а trip outside your country. You know
that this is an opportunity which rarely happens so you decide to go for it even without
fully realising what you are getting yourself into.
And then you leave. You are excited, you wonder what to pack for this “weird” country
where the weather is completely different each day.
You arrive there and you are in shock. Everything is totally different from what you
imagined. You are in а house with sixty people from all around Europe. You don’t speak the
same language, you don’t share the same values, you don’t have the same habits. Suddenly
you have to live with them, you have to cook with them, you have to spend your whole days
with them. At the beginning it annoys you sometimes, it scares you but at the end they
become like your family- you may not always get along but you love each other so much.
But exchanges do not only reflect on how you communicate and act with other people. They
also change you personally. You face your fear to speak in front of а crowd, to make а fool
out of yourself, to approach strangers, to feel free to make mistakes and learn from them.
Then, for those two weeks as cliché as it may sound your life completely changes. You not
only get attached to people from all around the world and you realise that everywhere in
Europe you will always have а place to stay. You also change your mindset, your thinking
about the future and you start finding opportunities where you thought before that they
were not any.
Out of nowhere, this amazing dream called an exchange is over. You know that if you can
you will always come back there, to this place which you now call home. The harsh reality of
the small towns hits you and then you realise that hoping for things to change by
themselves is never gonna happen. The solution comes to your mind, that YOU are the one
who is going to make а difference. YOU are the one who is going to change things. YOU are
the one who is going to find opportunities not only for yourself but also help other people in
need. Because that what exchanges do, they teach you how not only how to think about
yourself but also about others.
Thank you exchanges for changing my life.