Manon deelt haar prachtige getuigenis na haar terugreis van een semester in Nanaimo, Canada. Deelnemen aan een schoolprogramma in het buitenland is veel meer dan naar school gaan en je talenkennis verbeteren, en Manon verwoordt dat heel goed in haar woorden.
Nanaimo, centraal gelegen aan de oostkust van Vancouver Island, is een schilderachtige stad met uitzicht op de Salish Sea en de Coast Range van British Columbia Mainland.
Nanaimo heeft een van Canada’s langste kusten en een zicht op de beboste bergen die zich rond de stad bevinden. Je kunt in slechts een paar minuten wandelen van de wildernis naar het centrum stappen.
De natuur is een groot deel van het leven in Nanaimo, maar het centrum, met zijn vele winkels, restaurants en musea, draagt ook bij aan de populariteit van de bestemming. Populaire activiteiten zijn whale watching, wildlife tours, de Harbourfront Walkway en het verkennen van enkele van de nabijgelegen natuurparken.
Going on an exchange year abroad is probably the most challenging and exciting thing I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. Most of the people don’t realize how hard it is to leave everyone you know, every single thing you’re used to: your parents, your friends, your family, your pets but also what you call home, the smell of your favourite breakfast, the feel of your bedsheets, the flavour of your coffee in your favourite coffee shop, … Stepping on that plane alone is a challenge that was way harder that I expected.
Usually we say the first weeks feel just like a honeymoon, you’re excited, you don’t think too much of the things you have left behind. But for me, these first few weeks might have been the worst. I had to rebuild everything, the most unexpected things. My wardrobe is different, the people I live with are different, the food tastes different, the house is different, the school system is different, the language is different, …
I never felt so tired, tired to speak, tired to make efforts, tired to adapt myself to new tastes and new smells, tired to repeat the same sentence over and over again :”Hi, my name is Manon, but you can call me [Menoan] (because you guys can’t pronounce French properly) I’m from Belgium, I’m 18. How about you?“, tired to rebuild a new routine, tried to remember everyone’s name and background, … tired.
But then I started realizing how much it was worth it. I met Lina, my sister from another mother, Tina my sunny Blondie Italian girl, Daria and Rike, my favourite German girls, Gabby and Bruno, my amazing host siblings, Nina and Todd my welcoming and carrying host parents, Alena, my soul mate from a different continent, and of course all the others Emma’s, Nina, Henrike, Johanna, Leo, Cadence, Mya, Park, Mathilde, and the others I can’t name. (I love you all)
I’ve also never had so much fun at school. I realized that I wasn’t defined by how well I succeed in school and realized how many other things exist besides it. Not only that, but I also understood why it was necessary to cut myself from everything I know to discover myself as I am today. And I’ve learned so many things about myself that you can’t even imagine. And all of a sudden, I had new parents, new friends, new pets, a new something I could call home, a new smell of my new favourite breakfast, a new feel of my bedsheets and a new favourite coffee at my favourite coffee shop. Not that the rest disappeared, but I got everything in double and realizing that hit super hard, but it’s so awesome.
Of course, I questioned a lot of things like: What the hell am I doing here? Why? Why did I do this? Why is it so hard to make friends? Why is it so hard to adapt? How did I end up turning 18 and being on the other side of the world, so far from everything I know? What am I going to remember from this?
But in the end I’m so grateful for everything I learned, every person I talked to, every smile I got, every moment with my friends and family, … Thank you all so much, I don’t have the words to tell you how thankful I am, I love you and I miss you. Thank you for making this year the best of my life. I love you all ❤️❤️❤️