Pernille Thorsgaard

Swansea, Wales, Storbritannien

The life chancing year

​Have you ever thought about changing some of the things you’ve done in life? I have. But to be honest I’m glad it’s not possible. If I had to go back in time and change every single thing I did wrong, I wouldn’t be where I am now. If i hadn’t made the decisions I made back in time I might never have come up with the idea of being an exchange student. So I wouldn’t call the things I did in the past mistakes. I’d rather call it life experience and guidance to new and better possibilities.

A lot of people think that taking an exchange year is waste of time. If you asked me a couple of years ago I would probably have said the same thing. But if you ask me now? Then I would say it’s because they haven’t tried it and they’re in a rush because they think you have to finish school as fast as possible. But we’re teenagers. We’re suppose to enjoy our lives and try new things. Of course we need to take school seriously but we have our whole life ahead of us. Why not take advantage of that. Because that’s exactly what I’m doing.

I’m using the opportunity to come out and try new things. I’m doing this year not just to experience but to grow as a person. While being away from everything I’m used to, I learn how to take care of myself, how to act probably to other people and lot’s of other stuff

While being away you’ll grow as a person but your personality and your matureness will also improve a lot. I don’t think it’s wasting a year. In fact I think everyone should have the opportunity to go for an exchange year once in their life. Yes you start college or whatever you return back you a year later. And so what? You’ll get this incredibly experience and college is not going anywhere. It’ll still be there when you come back. And you’ll come back as a much wiser human being who had this amazing experience

It might sound terrifying to be away for a whole year. You just need to do it with your arms and mind open and then everything will be okay. But it’s not easy. There will come some hard times but that is a part of the whole experience. Learning how to deal with problems and finding a solution on your own. Some things will be harder than others and that’s when you have to realize that it’s okay to ask other people for help. You can’t go through life on your own so you’ll need to learn when or when not it’s necessary to ask people for help. This is something you’ll learn during the stay.

You may not feel like your changing or doing progress. But believe me, you do! And that is something other people will notice. I’ve only been here for almost a month and my family can already see a big difference. I’m taking school very seriously, I’m becoming more mature and my language is improving. Then try to imagine what a whole year will do. You’ll come back as a complete new person.

Being in a another country and having to live like them will give you a much better knowledge about the country and their culture instead of just reading about it. You may see a big difference between your homecountry and the country your exchanging in. But you might end up learning something useful. I’ve learned to appreciate things a lot more and be more polite than I would have been back in my homecountry.

​I sometime get asked if I regret going. To be honest I would regret if I didn’t go. Back when I was thinking about taking an exchange year I wasn’t sure how to ask my mom. I even thought about not asking her at all. But I’m really glad I decided to do it. The things I’ve learned just by being here a month is something that would takes months, maybe even years to learn in my homecountry. So I couldn’t be more happy about my decision and I definitely don’t regret going at all!

I can’t wait to see how much I have to tell when I come back. It might even be enough for me to write a book.

Don’t be afraid to take chances in life. Sometimes you just need to take this small or maybe big step out of your comfort zone. You might even end up expanding your comfort zone. Life is about taking chances or else they wouldn’t be there. You just need to be brave enough to catch one.

Once you’ve catched it, it’s all about using this chance the best way possible. If it doesn’t go as planned don’t be afraid. Don’t take the step back into your comfort zone. Stay and try to find a solution or try taking some of the other chances that flying outside your comfort zone right in front of you. At some point you’ll find that one chance that chances everything.

It might take som failures but once you’re there it’s worth it. So don’t be afraid to do what you want. Wether it’s taking an exchange year, saying your opinion (you may want to keep the law in your mind for this one), traveling the world or whatever you want to. Even if it’s just a small thing such as inviting someone out. If you fall then find a way to get up the ladder one more time. At some point you’ll get to the top and even though it may have taken some time. Just remember that you found a way to get up there.

This is a mind chancing experience and you’ll end up seeing things in a totally different way that you’re used to. I look at the world in a totally different perspective now. I know stuff is happening outside my country. Horrible stuff. Stuff that I didn’t think so much about when I just were at home. You’ll learn to be a lot more caring. To others but also to yourself. This experience has made me a lot more open to other people and I’m becoming a much happier person. You’ll get so much joy in life and you’ll notice how kind people can be as long as you are kind to them as well. I was walking with one of the other exchange students in the town, and a guy stopped us to ask if we wanted to buy a bracelet to support the soldiers of the army. Now if this happened back in my homecountry I would say no. But I decided to buy it. At this point I think it’s important to support the people that’s doing something special for others. Especially people that are in the army because they’re doing something most people are afraid to do. Risk their own life trying to safe others.

It might sound like you’re turning into this hippie freak that thinks life is a gift. But you’re not. You’re still yourself but you’ll just think differently at some points.

So it’s important to think of all the possibilities you actually have. If you don’t do something you’ll end up looking back and thinking “What if i did this”. Instead you can look back and think “I’m so glad I did this”. If there’s something you think about doing, stop thinking about the things that can go wrong and instead think about all the great things you’ll get out of it if you do it. Always have in mind to look at the positive things instead of the negative things and you’ll end up doing a lot of interesting and life changing things.

So if you’re thinking about taking an exchange year just remember:an exchange year isn’t a year in a life it’s a life in a year .

Pernille Thorsgaard 16 years, Denmark

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