I was sixteen (It was a year ago). That day, at school, an announcement was made. As far as i remember, it said – Our school ( St. Xavier’s Sr.Sec. School ) is planning a student exchange program with a Danish school. Students of 11th grade with a passport are eligible to apply. Those eligible and interested, may submit applications with their parent’s consent and signature, to Dr. Shaji Thomas.
I was in 11th grade. I had a passport. Therefore I was eligible. But I had to convince my parents. So, that day at lunch table–
Me: Hi Dad!
Dad: Hey how was your day?
Me: Great! Um.. Can I go to the student exchange program to Denmark?
Me: Please It’ll be fun. I’ll get to learn a lot and it”ll be a whole new experience, and..
Dad: *before i could complete my please-speech* Yes. Okay.
Me: *surprised+excited* What! Seriously?!
Dad: Just tell me where do I have to sign
Me: *Yay-moment* You have to give a written consent and..
Mom: *before i could complete* To me- No! How can you..? You’ll go alone , How will you manage..?! To Dad- Why did you allow her?!
Me: *with a puppy face* Please mom
Next morning, my application was ready with the consent. Yay. I was on the top of the world. The thing was I’d never traveled alone. Like never. Especially without my sister. Also I did not even go on a school trip before. And this was an exchange program. Oh my God. I was very excited about it. I was going to have a whole new experience!
But there was a tiny problem, my best friend, Riya was not ready to go. Which meant was literaly going to be all alone on a foreign land. ( My sister was not eligible to go and my best friend was not ready to go ) Humph.
I didn’t not want to lose the opportunity where I’ll get to learn.
So, I was all like- No matter what I’ll go and have a new experience and learn.
A month later, an announcement was made- Sixteen students are selected, from the forty applications received, for the exchange program.
My reaction to the announcement- What?! Am I not selected? Why didn’t they inform me anything!? Oh no.
I rushed to Dr. Shaji Thomas. *I could hear my heart beat very fast and loud.* He was in the staff room. I was panting when he saw me. He smiled at me and raised his hand with a thumbs-up. Phew. Yay.
I was more than super excited this time (haha). But I didn’t know any of the 15 students selected (this worried me a little because I’m not very good at making friends or socializing).
A few days later, a meeting was organized, we were provided with information regarding the tour. It was a ten-day-trip. Six days in Copenhagen (for the exchange program) and four days in Istanbul, Turkey (for a tour. This came up as a surprise. Yay.)
Various documents were collected, visa application and many more formalities were completed.
Oh.My.God. This was actually happening. I was nervous+excited.
Packing time (woohoo 😀 ) I bought jackets and scarfs and stuff. My mom gave me many packing and traveling tips. ( I wish I could take my mom with me )
It was 29th April 2014. All set for the amazing tour. I was on the 100th level of excitement. (Yes seriously, because this was my first time traveling without my family and I couldn’t wait to experience it)
We took a train from Jaipur to New Delhi. Our flight was from New Delhi at midnight.
In the train i tried to make friends with the other fifteen students with whom i was suppose to spend next ten days in a foreign land. (wow). Among us, there were six girls including me, ten boys, two teachers and our principle, Fr. John Ravi.
We reached New Delhi railway station and I had to drag my suitcase (this was a huge task. lol) all the way to the metro station. We took a metro train to the Indira Gandhi International Airport.
We reached the airport. How do I explain the feeling I had. I am running short of words. I was the happiest person at that time.
We got our boarding passes. We had one hour or so to explore the duty-free. We tasted ice-creams, window-shopped every store and we were having fun. Suddenly I was feeling lonely, I was missing my family and i was nervous.
It was time! We were ready to board. Our teacher asked us to take out our passports and boarding passes. Then something really stupid happened. One of us said that he kept his passport and boarding pass in his bag which he gave with the rest of the luggage.
Why will someone give away his boarding pass with the luggage?! It is a pass to enter into the plane. If he didn’t know this then he should’ve asked. Right? Huh. Our teacher then had to talk to the people in uniform And our flight delayed by thirty minutes.
Finally when we were in the plane, I don’t know why but I started imagining our flight being hijacked by the old man with a weird beard sitting next to me. But Nothing of that sort happened, Of course.
We reached Copenhagen. Danish students and teachers welcomed us at the airport. They said it was a pleasant and sunny day but for me it was very cold and i had to put on my jacket.
My host was Ida. She was very nice person and her family too was very friendly. Thank heavens I was comfortable in their house and it was not difficult to adjust.
The Danish student were told by their teacher that Indians are vegetarian. Therefore Ida’s mom had cooked spinach lasagna for dinner. But I am not a vegetarian. Majority of Indians are vegetarian but not all. So I told them that I am a non-vegetarian and they can cook meat.
That night I slept well. I was very tiered of the traveling.
Next morning, we went to school. Their school was very beautiful, Though small, if compared to our school. We attended some classes. Their teachers were also very friendly. I liked it because i got to learn something new and different. Their education system was a little different from ours. It was great learning about it.
Next day, we visited some park which was very huge and beautiful. there was some festival maybe, I don’t remember why’d we go there. Next day there was a event in their school and we also performed. It was fun. We learned about danish culture and they learned about Indian culture. It was Really a great experience.
We also visited the castle of Elsinor, Kronborg. It was very beautiful. Then we went to Sweden, on a ferry. We were there only for a few hours. We walked in some city and bought chocolates.
My next host was Ronja. This time two students had to stay with one host. Niyati and I were hosted by Ronja. I had to share a room with Niyati which led us to be new best friends. Yay. We enjoyed a lot we visited the longest shopping street of Europe and it was simply amazing. i bought pants and boots and accessories and stuff. We enjoyed a lot.
We visited two more schools in Copenhagen. It was fun too! I met different people and i learned many things about them and their culture. Also I learned to adjust in different and not so favorable situations and people.
Our six days in Denmark were over. Now we were heading to Turkey. Yay!
It was pleasant in Istanbul. There, we relaxed for a day then went on a city tour the next day. Istanbul is very, very beautiful. Worth visiting. We had lunch at an Indian restaurant, and the food was so good, it never tasted better (haha) Because we ate normal Indian food after one lonngg tiring week. Then we visited some local markets and ah, we had this amazing turkish ice-cream. It was better than the best (You HAVE to try this one) so smooth and soft and yummy.
We also visited some famous mosques and museums. They were a treat for our eyes.
Then we went on a cruise party too! It was sooo much fun. We all were dressed-up nicely and we had a gala time and a fancy dinner. What a night it was… aw now I’m missing it even more.
Mid night pranks at the hotel were the awesomest (awesomest is not a word. lol).
By this time we all, sixteen students, became very, very good friends. I still can’t believe that I made best friends with fifteen new people in just a week. Yay.
It was 10th May 2014. End of the tour. We were returning. I was happy+sad. Happy because I’ll get to see my family and sad because i’ll never get to go on this same tour with these people again.
This tour, the exchange program, gifted me with more than a ton of memories to cherish for life. Moreover, this trip changed me a lot. It made me a better person all together. I learned how to make friends, how to adjust to a new culture, how to stay without your family, How to spend money- wisely, how to pack your stuff properly, how to take care of your luggage and carry it on your own, And how to stay happy when the situation is not in your favor. Also. the basic human nature is same everywhere and people are not bad, they are nice, it’s just a new culture and lifestyle. Every culture is beautiful in its own ways.
Thank you very much mom and dad for allowing me to go.
Thank you very much universe for blessing me with this trip.