Foreign-Exchange-Program

My six-month IFYE exchange was split between three countries of the United Kingdom (Scotland, N. Ireland, and Wales) and Switzerland. The UK and Switzerland were two very different experiences, mostly due to differences in language and customs, and I am very pleased to have had them both. Before arriving in Scotland, I didn’t have many expectations for my exchange … I just wanted to see everything and anything I could about life “across the pond”. Looking back I think this was a great way to approach it, because if I had had expectations, they likely would have been very misguided.

I found my host countries to be far more diverse than movies and other media portray them. Both have different accents, dialects, and languages, as well as many varying cultures with proud histories. Learning about these countries on a more personal level gave me a very unique perspective, especially during a U.S. presidential election year, celebration of the Queen’s 60th year of reign, and the 2012 London Olympics.  As an IFYE, I learned much about the world’s perception of America, my own political opinions, and the many things I take for granted in the United States.

The IFYE experience has had a positive impact on my life in so many ways. I created lasting friendships with other exchangees and the locals, many of whom I am still in regular contact with.

I gained 17 new families (even if they aren’t blood related), and learned more about other nations and my own in the process.  Most importantly, I found out that I didn’t know as much about myself before the trip as I had previously thought.  IFYE provides an experience you can’t find studying abroad or being a tourist…it is something you can only acquire by being totally submersed in a culture.