Julianne - outbound to Turkey


As an Exchange student with Rotary Youth Exchange in Florida I have been through many difficult processes including, but not limited to: the application, the two interviews, stays at Lake Yale, language camp, visa applications, and dreaded public speaking. However all of these pale in comparison to the pain and anxiety that comes with those few months before departure. In my case I will be the last to leave, out of everyone, to go on exchange. I truthfully do think it is well worth the wait to go to the country of my choice, Turkey, but I am going to explain the emotional context of what comes along with this seemingly endless wait.

First of all, watching some of my fellow outbounds leave more than a month before me is pretty excruciating, just in the fact that I have so far to go before I even step foot on a plane that will begin my own journey. Not to mention that a lot of them are my good friends and watching them leave, knowing I will not see them for at least eleven months is harder than I thought it could ever be. I try to keep busy with learning Turkish, sports, reading, and hanging out with friends from school, but it is getting harder to ignore the gap that was filled with my missing rotary friends. On the other hand I do have the privilege to meet some of the new inbounds who are wonderful people and we are so lucky to have them. School friends are hard to connect to because we both know that we won’t see each other at school or any where else for that matter until next summer.

One of the major benefits of leaving so late (if you are hosting) is that you get to actually spend time getting to know the person you are hosting. This year our family has gotten the privilege to host an amazing girl from Germany and if I had not had such a late departure I would never have had the chance to gain a second sister. She has taught me so many important rules of etiquette that I have forgotten to use in my own home and taught me valuable lessons that I can use with my own host family on exchange. Hosting has actually been a very good test drive of cultural immersion; getting me ready for the real thing I will experience in Turkey. Being an exchange student myself has also helped me realize how I would want to be treated in her situation and act accordingly.

Overall I am not scared to go on exchange. Actually I am so calm about the idea of departure that it is scaring me. I am so excited and ready to go, however I don’t dare be open about my excitement for fear that my exchange won’t happen. Not until the last minute will I share my true elation about this opportunity. I do however want to express now how happy I am to be a part of this program, to have gotten the country of my choice, and to have made such great friends along the way. Even though the process of actually going on exchange can be difficult at times, I can say with certainty that it is all worth it in the end and I haven’t even gone on exchange yet!