An exchange year as such is not always a piece of cake. If you don't get along with your counselor, it may become even tougher.
One of the most important things we need in our home and host country are support and care. Before, during and after the exchange year a lot of questions fears, problems and occurrences may appear. In such situations it is helpful to have a shoulder to lean on, to have someone listening to you. It isn’t any different with me. I am grateful for all the people who take time to listen to me and care about the things I do. I know that there is a friend when I need one. But I wasn’t that lucky during my exchange year. Like all of you know, most exchange students get an area representative (care worker) who is supposed to stay in touch with you, providing you with support throughout the exchange year. There also is an partner organisation which should give us advise when needed. This is exactly what I had wished, but unfortunately it happened differently. It started out with the care on the way to the US. Nobody really looked after us, and after a few words about logistical matters we were left all by ourselves. Fortunately we were a large group and helped each other when needed. Finally everybody got to his or her destination. Then, about two weeks after my arrival in America, I met my area representative for the first time. She made a pleasant impression on me, but I had to change my opinion, just after our second meeting. I turned to her to talk about some problems with my host family. Doing this, I totally disregarded that she was a very good friend of my Mum and the flute teacher of my host sister. The end was that she did more harm than to help. She immediately talked to my family about me, and that without me being present. Accordingly, I lost my faith in her and wasn’t upset a bit about not hearing from her till the end of my exchange year. There were arranged meetings, picnics, pizza dinners, and trips, but I always found out about it afterwards. They just told me about the events you had to pay for. Later I heard from a friend that it has been the same with her.When I asked why nobody cares about my problem they told me it was a mistake and the next time they will do better. Sometime, after nothing had changed I gave up and I accepted my situation. During my whole exchange year I had to cope with problems all by myself. Thereby I founded out, that I am able to solve problems in an efficient way, and to make compromises. These abilities are even helpful today, and I am glad that I have learned it. In sum, my exchange year turned out to be a wonderful and memorable experience. Nevertheless, the American partner of my exchange organization should work on their attitude and functioning. It might not be easy, but it would be very helpful for future exchange students. On the other hand, many exchange students told me that they didn’t have such problems, and that their relation to their area representative was rather positive. That sounds hopeful, leaving a basis for improvement. For myself it helps to know that there are others who where in the same situation and that we have learned to deal with it.