Annika verbrachte ein Schuljahr an der Lakefield College School in Lakefield, Ontario, Kanada.
There is no question that it is a big decision to go abroad. You have to have courage, be brave and leave home where you have spent all the time of your life thus far. This is not easy. But I promise you, you will not regret it if you decide to do so.
I had a hard time deciding myself. I love being home, being around my family and my friends. But even though I had this feeling, I knew that at some point I wanted to go abroad for a longer period of time. When I could not decide if I can overcome my fears, my parents made me compare all the things why I wanted to go abroad and why I wanted to stay at home.
I was scared that everything would change while I’m gone and that I will be very homesick.
As I never left home for more than two weeks, which doesn’t really count because I spent these with my aunt and my uncle, I had no idea how the year abroad and the homesickness would turn out. But I decided to take a risk and just go on with it.
Looking back, it was the hardest but probably best decision I have ever made.
On my way to Canada, I was very nervous. It was my first time overseas and my first time being away from home for a longer period of time, my first time at a boarding school, almost the very first time for everything. As I have never been to Canada, I obviously didn’t know how my school looked like. A lot of people were shocked when I told them that I hadn’t visited it before and asked me how I could have known that I made the right choice without having visited before. My answer was always pretty simple: I told them that I decided what I thought would be best for me and that I followed and trusted my instincts and my heart. And for me it was enough to have seen pictures of the school through the website to know that that is my dream school and that I will feel very content and happy there.
When I finally arrived at my new school, I was overwhelmed. Everybody was so friendly and some guys even helped me carry my luggage to my house. It felt so differently from home. The first few days went by really quick. Sometimes I felt a little bit odd but as I befriended my fellow students it became more and more natural. An interesting thing is that in the first days I mostly became friends with new kids because they were as scared as I was and it was easier to get into a talk with them. I honestly can’t really describe why. I guess it is because the ones who have been there last year had to catch up what they did in the summer. But after the Orientation Days went by, my circle of friends became wider and more diverse.
After a while I got into the way things work at a boarding school and if I ever had a question there was always someone I could ask, grads (students in the 12th grade), teachers, my advisor or my head of house, students who have been there the past years and many more. I basically could just stop in the hallway and ask any random person and they would most likely try to help me. I easily found friends and hung out with them almost all the time. I wasn’t scared anymore and my nervousness was gone. But even though I really liked it there and it has become a second home for me, I started to realize that I still have another home, far away. And all of the sudden I missed it. I missed my family, my friends, my house, my old life, the familiarity. Somehow I just started crying. But I knew that it wouldn’t help me if I stay in my room, therefore I went outside and hung out with my friends. It was obvious that something was wrong with me. So I told them what was going on and they helped me get over it. After having experienced that I knew that I could always go to them when I need someone to lean on or just someone to be with when I am crying. All in all I was around four or five times homesick during my time at LCS. It was much less than I expected.
Out of experience I can say that even if you can’t think about anything else in the moment you are homesick, it is going to go away and everything will turn out in a good way and go back to normal.
When I was in the process of deciding and I read the review of a former exchange student, I could not imagine how it is going to be. I couldn´t wrap my mind around the newness and foreigness and just their way of life. It all felt so far away. But as I am the one who is writing it now, there is one thing that I strongly recommend: Participate in house and school activities, enjoy your time and most importantly HAVE FUN! It is, without a doubt, going to be a very important part of your life that you will never forget. Build up relationships with your teachers and your advisor, they can be your friends! And always try to make new friends!
This year was the best experience of my life and I have no doubts that I made the right decision going to Lakefield College School. I loved it.