Lasting international friendships

14 years ago I was a Rotary exchange student in the west of Canada for one year. My sister had lived in Canada for a year when I was ten and her exotic stories about lockers in school, Halloween, huge piles of snow, huge empty landscapes, ... had made me dream of my own exchange. I am really just a copy cat :p. My parents gave both of us the opportunity to live abroad in a new culture with host parents attending a different school system. During both our absences my parents were hosting a foreign student in our home.

It was the best year of my life where I developed more independence, awareness & openness to other cultures and a critical mind to my own culture; where I learned to overcome homesickness, to take initiatives, to speak in public , ... Every young adult should be submerged for a while in a foreign culture! I can really recommend it. This is an opinion shared by Rozebril and many other students who have live abroad, I think.

Most of all my exchange has given me lasting international friendships, similar to Carol's story. Thanks to the social networks & e-mail etc it's quite easy to keep in touch with each other lately.

And so all of a sudden I got an e-mail from a Canadian friend I hadn't seen in 10 years to let me know that he has a 3-day stop over in Brussels on his way to an India. Yeayyyyy. So we had the joy to host Pastor Doug Johns 3 days in October with us just before our vacation and one more night in November just after our vacation. It was a pleasure to see him again, to share about our families and hang out as in the old days.
There seems to have been a picture curse though as we both didn't think a moment in October to take a picture and last week I took lots....and we accidentally erased the entire picture card afterwards. Argh. Fortunately Doug had taken some too.

2009 - Leuven

1999 - Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

2009 has truly been the year of international reunions for me. My Australian host sister came over to our wedding. It had been 20 years since we'd last seen each other!!! I still think that was so unbelievable.

And also one of my Canadian host parents had taken the occasion to fly over for our wedding and to spend some time with us before the wedding to explore Belgium and some more of Europe. We had the time to spend time together and share with them the last preparations of our wedding.

Aaaaah all of this is so heart warming and fantastic! It's been so fantastic to see all of you again!


rozebril said…
Kunt ge dat nu geloven... ik zit hier gewoon te snotteren bij die foto van dat weerzien van uw "gastzus"!
Shan said…
How lucky for you!! Great pictures.
Luisa Perkins said…
Oh, lovely! You are truly rich in friends.
Poetikat said…
That must have been such a wonderful experience for you to be a foreign exchange student. So nice also to reconnect with some folks from across the ocean.
You made a lovely bride!

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