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An Exchange Experience to Remember

Ruth (current YES student, Ghana, hosted by IRIS) has been a wonderful student ambassador for her home country of Ghana since she arrived. This month, Ruth was also recognized as Student of the Month for her enthusiasm, willingness to try new things, and her helpful attitude in her home, her school and her community. Below, Ruth shares what her experience as an exchange student has been like so far.

Very few people embrace the idea of leaving their comfort zone, their home; a place they’ve been all their life, but the curiosity of experiencing something new and different as well as life changing and the ability to take risks propelled me to be an exchange student. Plus, I’ve always loved traveling.

My plane took off from Ghana at exactly 10:30 p.m. Me, a very enthusiastic, anxious and excited 16-year-old female, was flying for the first time in her life. My friends and I once wrote outrageous and funny stories about our first flights in our journals. Some of which I still laugh about whenever I remember them. That was how happy we were about our new lives.

For me, my exchange year began the moment I made up my mind and ceased the opportunity to apply as an exchange student. Up to right now, I’ve had absolutely no regrets. Though it has not been easy, it has not been difficult either. I have people who are always there to support me through thick and thin.

There have been days made up of only tears, but my smile never refuses to appear before they end. Thankfully, the smiley days are more frequent than the bitter days. No matter what happens, I always embrace who I am now, my culture and who this experience is making me. I am ready to experience and try any new things I can while abroad.

Being an exchange student has exposed me to things I would have never imagined to experience in my entire life. It has helped me improve as an individual and a communal human. I will always ride the exchange bus whenever I get the chance. I would also encourage everyone out there to never miss the opportunity of being one of the selected youths who gets to ride the exchange bus, as it stops by their doorstep only once each year.

This is a once in a lifetime experience I would not trade for anything else.

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