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My name is Luma, I am 15 years old and from Brazil. I’m going to spend the next school year doing a High School Study Abroad programme in a city called Southampton, in the UK.
A year is a very long time. Things change, things happen, you meet new people and new places. If we stopped to think where we were a year ago, we would be tremendously surprised to see how much has changed. Right now the only thing I cannot stop thinking is where I’m going to be a year from now. How much will I have changed? What will I have done? What will I have seen? Those are all questions only time can answer.
Writing this post is making me realize that this exchange program is not just something I’m dreaming of in a faraway time anymore. It is actually happening and it’s not more than a few weeks from now.
I would love to sit in my computer and write about how I’m going to get through every challenge I’m gonna face. How I’m going to deal with new people, how is going to be the first day of school, how I’m going to get along with my host family, how I’m going to adapt to a whole new culture and way of living and how much I’m going to miss everything that I have left behind. I’m definitely do not know all of it. What I know is that I’m very looking forward to figuring it out. To have a chance to face every challenge and along with it become much more independent and with a brand new vision of the world.
Since the beginning I have always wanted to do the Study Abroad program in the UK, where I had previously done a summer exchange program and fell in love with England. I wasn’t very sure of the city I wanted to apply for, so I picked a few ones at first but nothing felt quite right. I then received details of Itchen Sixth Form College — the one I’m heading to — and knew right away that it was exactly what I was looking for. Academically it is all a student can dream of, the staff are extremely helpful and lovely, and they all helped me very much and were very supportive.
The process to apply for the exchange program was quite long, and from picking a city to the day of heading to the UK it was a year of preparation. It requires you to get medical and school records, recommendation letters, take tests, answer some questions, lots of documents, patience, passport and if necessary a visa — in my case it was. It seems a lot of work and indeed it is, but I got a lot of help from High Schools International, their local partner in Brazil, and from the school. Because of this help, it never felt overwhelming. Furthermore, since I started the application process early I had time to do everything calmly. I imagine it will be different depending on where you come from, but I can assure you that with a little bit of effort it can be done with no problem, mainly keeping in mind all you’ll gain from the overall experience.
Personally, the moment this exchange program started feeling real was when High Schools International sent me details of my host family. They are extremely nice and I wouldn’t have asked for anything else. We have already made contact and I’m very sure we’re going to get along really well. I’m having a host mom, a host sister, two cats and two dogs, which for me was a very happy coincidence, since I have a dog and a cat of my own and it is not that common, so I got very excited to know that.
If there is something about myself that I’m very proud of is that I’m an open-minded person, but I cannot help but think that I’m still in a “box” of a sort that I need to get out to see how big the world actually is and all the beauty I still need to discover.
What I’m feeling now is something I never imagined possible. At the same time I’m counting the days to get to the plane that will lead me to this new experience, I’m already feeling a bit nostalgic about all the people and places I’m not going to see for a while. I catch myself trying to memorize my room, people around me and little things that are part of my daily life. It’ll probably be the same during this year and there’s nothing I’m most excited about than to discover all the little things that I will want to memorize forever.