DISadvantages of being an Exchange student

25. února 2009 v 1:08 | Martin
This article is a continuing of "Advantages of being an Exchange student". As well as there are many possitive things of being one, there is also a great number of disadvanges. I had thought (and sometimes been afraid) of most of them before I came here. Some, like not getting along with my host family, have really happened, but most of them have not. I have been able to understand people and make some friends, none of my planes has crashed:) and I have not been homesick almost at all. However, there are different problems for exchange student than just those. Problems that may not look like a big diffuculty for a short term, but when you have to deal with it every day for a year, it becomes more important.

The first and for me the the biggest disadvantage is that I do not have a car here. There is nothing that can be done about it, so I may as well take it how it is and dont fuss about it, but because it is so annoying I will. As always when there is some problem, the main point is not to be the only one who has it. It wouldnt matter if the driving age was 18 like in Czech, actually I am quite used to not having a car for I never had one and I can barely drive it. But everyone here who is my age, and especially all boys, has a car and that makes the kind of life they are all living. They drive to school, to eat, to go to parties, to go pick up a girl and to go see one another. Often they just drive around without any purpose and wait to see someone driving too..
So unless I want to live home-school-home life, I have to keep up with others and get around by car also. My host parents and my host brother are more than willing to give me a ride, but of course they need to know it in advance. They can take me when I tell them the day before, but that is not the way it usually works here. I often get a message if I can be in 20 minutes somewhere or if I can stay after school and go eat or something (today I missed a free pancakes day one of the fast foods was making, just because I didnt have a ride home:). At times like this I can try to call my family, but it is not always possible for them to pick me up.
There is another way how to move around - to find someone who picks you up and then drops you off. I sometimes ask my friends to do that, but not too often. First, we live quite far from the town and they usually have to pay for their gas. And even when I offer them I will pay it, it is always rather odd (Most of the people dont want anything, but once one guy wanted 10 dollars!! Fuck off, I am not gonna let myself get bitched out of money like this:)
Second, by saying yes, they are automaticaly taking the responsibility for me. They are bound to return me home and no one knows what might be going on in several hours. The biggest problem is to get a ride to a party. I usually go with my host brother who takes us back, but if he is not going, someone has to take me. In situations like this I try to sleep over -the last thing people want is to drive around the town at night, tired and possibly drunked from the party, and drop people off.
Only once have I tried to organize something myself - there was a movie I wanted to see and I thought how nice it would be to invite others. Everything went smoothly until the only car I had managed to get broke down. The girl who owned it didnt know how to repair it and as there was no one else avaiable, I had to call it off. Since then I have always left the organizing to someone else, it is just too much for me:)

The second problem is that the house in which I live is not mine. That is again obvious, but having a free house is one of the most valuable things a teenager can have here. You might be a total idiot, but as long as you can have a party from time to time, you are in the center of everything. A party doesnt have to neccesserally mean fifty drunked people throwing up all over the house like in movies. Even a small number of friends over, just playing pool or videogames, can change your possition from being sort of a burden to being the chief. After all this is not so suprising - people just like to hang out with someone they can profit from rather then with one whom they need to provide a taxi service. I miss the independence I had in Czech, where - though I did not have a car - I could at least get myself home. Again, I technically can have people over - my family wouldnt be against it - but I just need to have the feeling that it is up to me what we will do and who will come. And also that if somethings goes wrong, it will be my problem and not my host family's.

The third difficulty is more of a psychicall sort. As an exchange student, you have not only left behind all your friends and people you had known for years, but also everything else you had been used to. All the buildings, shops, roads and parks and trees, everything is gone and you dont have anything "for sure". The language is different, the tv is different, there is no history you could share with others. Everything is new and though I have been here over 6 months, I still cannot call it home. On the other hand, this has changed a lot in past few years and it is probably better than it has ever been. Internet, movies and music help overcame that feeling of being foreign. It came to me almost like a shock to hear people discuss the Lord of the rings or Queen, and being able to talk about it too. All this must have been much worse when internet wasnt as common as it is now. However, I sometimes wonder if things are going to stay like this. I have the feeling that most of the people have not realized how unusuall the situation today is -everything is working, no war or hunger, freedom,.. I just cannot imagine what I would do if things went wrong and all these crises became really serious. So far I have always lived with the image of having a peacefull life from the beginning to the end and I dont want to change it...but this is off topic and hopefully will not happen.

The last but not the least ;) negative is that almost the whole school knows me. That could be considered like an advantage and it often is, but it gets on my nerves sometimes. It was I who made sure people would know me, that I am the Exchange. Generally I dont regret it, but there are times I wish I hadnt done it. For example, after I had gone to my first party, the next day I felt like some zoo creature. People were shouting: Maartiin, I heard you were drinking, is it true? Maartinn, I saw a picture of you on facebook, Maartin.. One girl got so excited that she couldnt wait till the class was over and started yelling across the whole classroom. The teacher wasnt paying atention but heard "alcohol" and "Martin" and kicked me out of the class, just to make sure I guess. Nothing serious but it wasnt fair.

Being an exchange is definitely not fun all year long. For me, however, bad things are as important as good ones. For one, if there were no bad times I would have nothing to write about. As you have probably noticed, this blog (though often in funny ways) tells mostly about all kinds of unpleasant situations that have happened to me. It stands to reason - Who would want to read how wonderful time I am having while they are stuck in Czech? :)
 

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Komentáře

1 svikruhinska svikruhinska | E-mail | 13. března 2009 v 4:21 | Reagovat

Absolutely true...no ride no fun..

2 alex alex | 14. dubna 2009 v 23:35 | Reagovat

thanks for this article, i am condidering being an exchange student for a semester or two, and i am trying to get an idea of the advantages/disadvantages

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