Life in the U.S. / Student Spotlight

An Open Letter to Exchange Students

Last month, we received a special letter from one of our former exchange students, Emmi. The letter traveled all the way from Finland with an important message for you 🙂

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Dear exchange students,

I have something important to share with you.

The year you’re living right now in the US is one of the greatest gifts you’ll ever receive. It is going to change your life in so many ways, you can’t even imagine.

The reason I want you to hear this is because I would’ve wanted to know this when I was there.

Some days living there is going to feel unbearable. On those days, it’s easy to forget that you only have one year.

Don’t fight the negative feelings but do not let them take over.

When everything feels weird and unfamiliar: let it. You’re there to explore. To feel. To live.

When people suggest that you join as many school activities as possible, do it. You will not regret it.

If you’re missing home, you are allowed to. Blocking feelings is never good. But learn to live with it. You only have a year. Get everything you can out of the year. Because once you get back, it’s going to be the United States that you miss. And it’s not going to go away. It’s the way you may miss your home country right now. But you know that you’re going back to your home country. When will you visit the US again? Who knows.

So please do as much as you can. Your home country will wait for you there. But the year won’t. It’ll keep going on even if you do nothing. So make the time worth it. If your host family asks you to go to the grocery store, say yes. ALWAYS say YES.

That’s the magic word of an exchange student. Say yes. And there is always going to be some sort of an adventure.

Make as many memories as you can. Because when you get back (to your home country), all you will have left is the beautiful memories you’ve made. The photos you’ve taken.

And I know people always say they will stay in touch. Yes, the best friends will. But not everyone. Stop waiting for tomorrow. Do it today. Because you will only regret the things you didn’t do there.

Because when you get back, I’m not going to lie, it is going to be hard. You will have two home countries. You will miss some people for the rest of your life.

So please do your future self a favor: make your year beautiful, so when you get back and you miss some people so much it hurts, it will have been worth it. Make it worth it.

An exchange year really is a life in a year.

– Emmi from Finland, Aspect exchange student 14-15


Emmi and Adriana from Italy during an Easter egg hunt last year in Washington