In about...five months now, I'm leaving. Out of Perth, Australia, to live in what is probably my favourite country in the entire world.
I'm excited, yet somewhat terrified.
In January this year, it occured to me that I really don't want to go straight to uni next year. I wanted to travel, like my sister did. Discusions with Mum about this led to the idea that maybe, just maybe, I could go on exchange. After researching (and pre-applying to) several different organisations, I was accepted on and decided with EF, or Education first. They have a great reputation, and I know people who have gone with them, and they really take care of you.
I've studied French for the past five years, and gotten pretty good at it, if I do say so myself. Through school, I have taken part in two short-term exchanges- one for three weeks in year ten, and the other for two weeks in year twelve. I also hosted a short-term student from France in year eleven, which is why I returned there in year twelve. Anais, my exchange sister, is now one of my best friends ever. Each time I've been in France, I have fallen more and more in love with it. I've visited Paris, st Tropez, Gassin, La Croix Valmer, Toulon, Nice, Cassis, Cannes (all in the south, in Provance), Aurange (in the Alps) and Monaco. France is my love and I cannot wait to return. I hope to also visit London and Berlin during my exchange, and I would love to visit Rome as well. It all depends!!
I've been reading blogs that other people have written whilst on exchange and found that I like to know every single little detail, which is somewhat pathetic but oh well. Here's what I'e been through so far:
1. Research. It's not boring at all, in fact, really exciting (okay, I realise I sound totally pathetic here, but really, you get to find out a lot of information on exchange and you can really find the best organisation for you).
2. Pre-Application. With a lot of organisations, this is not binding, so you can pre-apply and find out some more information. I pre-applied to both Rotary and EF.
3. Information Meetings. I went along to an information meeting with EF. This was really helpful and helped me find out a lot more about going on exchange and what it would be like. We could ask any questions at all which really helped as well.
4. Interview. Most organisations have an interview as a part of their application process. This isnothingto be scared of, even if you are terrified before attending it, like I was!! They generally try to get a feel for you and what type of person you are, to make sure that you won't go off doing something crazy whilst on exchange!! I attended interviews with both Rotary and EF, as they were also non-binding.
5. Decision making time!! Now is usually when you will have to make a decision. I was accpted into both the EF and Rotary programs, and although Rotary was a lot cheaper, I really wanted to go to France. My division unfortunately don't send people to France, something aout them having problems in the past, so decided to give Rotary a miss. EF had accepted me and sent me a stack of forms, so I decided that EF would be my exchange organisation!!
6. Application Forms. A lot of these are sent to your host family. And whilst there are waaaay too many of them, they are there to match you up with with the best host family possible! I found it best to just fill them all out slowly. Forms in English and French, photo pages, health pages, letters to your host family, rules and regulations to sign, even things for parents to fill out!! The sooner you get these off though, the sooner they can be sent to your host country to start looking for your host family!!
7. Monthly Mailings. From here on, this is what happens with EF. In the eight months leading up to your departure, you will be sent monthly mailings at the beginning of each month. These include information on your host country- everything from history to fashion is included, visa and passport information, flight information, previous exchange students talking about their experiences, and fun stuff like books to read about your host country, 20 things you should do on exchange, and recipes of specialities from your host country. I look forward to them, they help me to count down until I leave!
I till have to get my visa and host family and decide what to pack and say goodbye to people and do all sorts of things, but, for now, I have great fun reading blogs of exchange student going all over the world, and dreaming about what my host family will be like. I can't wait until pre-departure orientation!!!