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May 30, 2013

Local Voices From Around the Globe: Exchange has taught me to love my flaws


We’ve been warned about reverse culture shock and how it is usually worse than culture shock. Reverse culture shock is when you return home from a long trip and you just feel out of place. Everything feels familiar, but not right. I have matured so much because of my year away, I’m curious to see how I feel when I get home.

I remember talking about my exchange being dreamlike in the beginning of the year; it feels more like that more then ever. I try to recall events and it’s a big blur. I have to remind myself that ordering coffee in Hungarian and walking next to the Danube River isn’t normal for most teenagers from upstate New York. That meeting kids from completely different cultures and backgrounds isn’t what I’ll do on a normal weekend. That traveling three hours means being in a different county and not country.

I have friends going on exchange, and I can’t help but feel jealous/excited for them. We will have very different experiences, but I know what they will go through.

In conclusion, exchange is one of the best times and worst times of your life.

Grace Heneghan is a Cooperstown Rotary exchange student who traveled to Hungry. To read more about her adventures, visit her blog at

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