It is not always easy being an exchange student, but seriously, who said it would be? There have been mornings when I wouldn’t have wanted to get out of bed. Not because of the usual god-dammit-it-is-Monday, but because I know that I have a whole day full of speaking a completely foreign language ahead of me. There are also days when I just jump out of bed thinking about what challenges the day will bring. But one thing I can say for sure, every day when I go to bed, I can safely say I have learned something new. And that is why I love this.

You only need to go to buy a loaf of bread or a bottle of cola and you will learn something, be it of the ways of the people you live among, or a couple of new words you might need for your shopping. And the best part often is that you don’t even notice everything you’ve learned. The human brain is a magnificent construction, it just kind of like sucks everything around it. If you’d sit in a room full of German-speaking people for long enough, you would learn the language. Without even thinking about it.

Whilst being an exchange student you will arrive in odd situations. Just normal day-to-day conversations can bring surprises, when you compare your own country to the one you are visiting. Most people are very interested in other cultures and want to hear about yours just as much you want to tell them about it. If you find the language barrier a little too high, not to worry, the people you are talking to are usually very tolerant.

As a Finn I can say that when I hear somebody even trying to speak Finnish (which is a difficult language, I know) it immediately raises them higher in my eyes. Because I know, from experience, that what he is doing is hard, both physically and mentally, crazy and also a bit funny to look at. But not many have the guts to do that, and that is why I respect him.