Is this an “exchange?”
When I applied for this program, this was the first question that came to my mind. And of course, there were more that followed quickly after. “What makes an exchange? Am I being an exchange snob? How can I possibly prepare for this 2 week exchange?” To elaborate, in 2011-2012, I was a Rotary Exchange Student to Wroclaw, Poland. I lived with three different host families over the course of a year straight out of high school and went to a normal Polish school in the city.
So the question that became the most important to me was this: what makes an exchange? Is it the duration? The country? The people? Where I stay? Where I go? What I do? How much food I eat? How much weight I gain?
Can an exchange really be defined?
I’m working on living in the question right now, so I don’t think I have the right answer for these questions quite yet. But I think I will work on exploring and asking myself these questions as time goes on in England.
My travel agent was kind enough to make special accommodations for me. So before all of my fellow classmates from SUNY New Paltz have ventured across the great azure ocean, I have come almost a week early to visit my beloved host country and my beautiful host family. After 6 hours in a car to get to JFK and 15 hours by plane, I have arrived in Wroclaw, Poland to live with and visit my host family! I’ve already been here for two days and every moment has been wonderful. My host mamusza (mama) has made so many delicious foods and all of my favorites have been readily available to me in the sklep (shop).
Here I am literally an hour after I got off the plane with my host family (all of whom are sporting their new New Paltz Hawks shirts!):
(From right to left): Tato (Arek), Wiki, me, Mamusza (Anna), Basia, and Krzysz.
My host sisters and I went shopping at one of the many malls in the city, which was not unusual. Wiki and Basia love to shop. After we came home for a traditional Polish dinner (soup followed by PIEROGIES!!). And then was the walk through the Rynek. Oh, how I love this place. It is so beautiful and old, with such history in every step. Rynek is Polish for Town Square. It is always a wonder to me that something as simple as town square can sound as elegant or exotic as RYNEK.
My beloved host family has already given me a lot of tips and suggestions for being in London, which I am grateful for. I look forward to the adventures that lie ahead of me on my journey to England and hope with all my heart to grow and become a better person.