Letter: A life-changing experience through Rotary | AspenTimes.com

Letter: A life-changing experience through Rotary

A life-changing experience through Rotary

Deciding to spend my junior year abroad living in Nantes, France, was an experience that has forever changed me, my ideas and views on different parts of the world and values of life.

Living abroad taught me more about the world and myself than anything ever has. When you find yourself in a foreign country where you cannot communicate or express your ideas, people live and think differently, and you are lost in an unknown part of the world you are forced grow and mature so that you can rely on yourself.

I spent a year in France and came back a transformed person — someone who was now fluent in a new language and had connections with people in every part of the world. I have to say that probably my favorite part about my year abroad was the people I met and the relationships I created with them. The amazing thing about Rotary Youth Exchange that is different from other exchange organizations is that you are completely immersed in the culture — living with a native host family and attending a regular school that is programmed with that country.

I created a relationship with my host families that is a bond like no other and one that I know will last a long time as I still talk to my host mom and sisters almost every day. But besides the immersion in a new culture, Rotary Youth Exchange Students get the opportunity to meet other people who have the same sense of adventure as themselves. While living in France I made friends with not only from France, but kids from about 30 other countries as well. I now feel like I have a sense of how people in other parts of the world live and have a wanting for more travel. It has sparked my interest to learn more languages so that I can communicate with a variety of people who have different ideas and ways of living than myself. During my year abroad I was also fortunate to be able to travel all over Europe — from Italy, Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Germany and much more. I now have the love for being in new countries and trying their foods, admiring their architecture, hearing their language, and meeting their people.

If you are like me and have a love for adventure and life changing experiences, apply to do a year abroad with Rotary Youth Exchange! If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask as I am always happy to share my stories with others. Applications must be completed by Oct. 15.

Melanie Doyle

Grade 12, Aspen High School

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