“I was so sad to leave.”
This was what went through her mind before leaving.
Going for an exchange changes you. Before you start, you worry about how you’ll fit in, what problems you’ll face, what kind of people you’ll meet, and so on… Worries, worries, and more worries.
Beatrice Wong, an actuarial science student from Heriot-Watt University Malaysia, joined a project called Modern Manor of China. Prior to the project, Beatrice had absolutely no clue on agriculture. Once in China, she became more aware and knowledgeable in a field far different from actuarial science. “I can’t say I am an expert of organic planting now, but at least I get some idea of going “green” in daily life.” Farming, organic plantations, land conditions, be it only basic, but she has learnt them all!
Being part of an exchange not only provides you the chance to expose yourself in fields totally unrelated to what you study, but also gives you a chance to build your character, usually in times of conflict.
Before the Journey Ends…
One week before the end of the project, two other volunteers decided to leave. This incident was one that stuck around in her mind for some time, and soon became one of her most memorable incident that happened throughout her exchange journey. Beatrice was mad of them, because their departure meant that the remaining volunteers had to rearrange and change their plans, causing much trouble. “But then I tried to see things from their perspective, and I understand why they decided to do this.’’ Although Beatrice did not specify what were the reasons, she took a step back and changed the way she looked at the situation, and understood the reason for them doing so.
Being on exchange means that your journey will be full of uncertainties, there will be ups and downs, and moments where you question yourself: why am I doing this? But at the end of the day, the experiences and learnings will prove that everything was worth it.
Upon completing her exchange journey, Beatrice wishes the youth in Malaysia to “be brave to take on challenges while you are still young!”.
Original story from Beatrice Wong (Student I Heriot-Watt University Malaysia)
In AIESEC, we believe in developing leadership through practical experiences in challenging environment, and we do this by delivering cross-cultural exchanges. We have created thousands of stories ever since we started in Malaysia 50 years ago. Here’s just one of them.