Camille - Granite Bay, California
Entered on September 12, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I believe that you are stronger than you know. I went to Switzerland for a year, and in that year I had many hardships with learning the language and fitting in with the culture. While I was in Switzerland I had to realize that no one else was going to do the hard work of learning French for me, I had to do it myself. I also realized that I am a much stronger person than I thought I was.

My freshman year I decided that I wanted to go abroad to learn French. Of course my first choice of countries was France, and when I didn’t get that I was discouraged, I realized that I signed up for the exchange because my parents were so happy with me and that I was getting the attention I always wanted from them.

Once I got to there I realized how little French I had learned in my three years of French classes at Del Oro. Again I was discouraged because I couldn’t talk and tell people what I needed. After hiding myself in my room for a couple of days I thought, “This isn’t going to help me learn,” so I stared watching TV in French with my host sister so that she could explain things to me when I didn’t understand.

After some time I started to understand things and then school stared. I think this helped me the most. This helped the most because I made friends in my class and they helped me learn and showed me what to do to integrate into the Swiss culture. Even though my new friends were helping me I had to do the things myself. I had to go socialize and make the effort and I had to learn to rely on myself more.

After about six months I was starting to understand most things people asked me and was able to answer their questions. By this time I came to understand that there was so much more I could have done in my first couple of months to achieve so much more, but at the time I wasn’t confident so I didn’t think I could.

While I was in Switzerland many hardships came my way and tested me along the way. The first test was my second host family. They were a test because we didn’t have the same view on my exchange experience, and towards the end of my stay in their house we had a huge fight. My second test was my god-mom passing away while I was in Switzerland. When this happened I wanted to come home immediately to be with my family but everyone pushed me to stay, saying it was my god-mom’s wishes that I stayed in Switzerland. In the end I found I was stronger than I thought.

All in all I found out that I am much stronger than I thought I was. In finding that out I began to believe in myself a lot more. Now I even find myself not caring what others think (except for my mom!). The one thing I want to tell everyone is to stay strong, because you never know how far you can go until you get there.