“It started during my winter vacations. I kept hearing all my friends super excited about going home for a while, and how they couldn’t wait for summer vacations to be with their loved ones for entire 2 months!
I, on the other hand, had a really strange feeling evoking inside me. I didn’t want to spend all that time sitting at home doing nothing! Hence, I spent my entire winter vacation searching about things that would keep me busy during my summer holidays, as well as add on to my CV.
That was when I stumbled across AIESEC.
A few days later, after researching about all the projects and giving interviews, I finalized my exchange in Turkey! To my surprise, it didn’t take me more than a day to convince my parents to let me go abroad all alone – when I was just 18!
That’s how I got to spend 6 weeks in Turkey, and I had the best days of my life.
This Global Volunteer exchange made me explore and uncover parts of me buried deep within, and I couldn’t have been more grateful to AIESEC for giving me this beautiful opportunity.
I wish everyone could live something like that, so I’ll share a bit more with you right now.
Here are 7 things I achieved thanks to my Global Volunteer Exchange to Turkey, with AIESEC:
1. Contributing to a better world and travel to another country
The concept of volunteering has always fascinated me the most. Helping others around the world while fulfilling your travel bucket list is a really great combination that AIESEC offers you.
I was working at a rehab center with specially-abled kids and adults and at the same time quenching my thirst for wanderlust on the go. All thanks to AIESEC!
2. Traveling on a budget
If at all I have dreamt about something passionately, it was traveling the world. But I never had enough funds to finance any of my trips!
AIESEC was my one-stop solution for affordable traveling.
The thing with traveling that drains out your pocket the most is when it comes to accommodation. But while I was in Turkey, I stayed along with my host family for 6 long weeks and I couldn’t have asked for better hosts than them.
They are more than family to me now!
3. Experiencing solo traveling
One of the most important things of what an individual must strike off his checklist before he turns 30 is a solo trip! I was beaming with joy when I strike this off my list merely at the age of 18! The feeling was just amazing!
4. Getting to know my latent talent
I strongly believe that traveling solo changes you as a person from within.
I never knew I could handle the pressure of surviving in a country without even knowing its native language. I never knew I could keep myself at cool while I changed 5 flights to get back home because I missed my connecting flight. I never knew I had the courage to go around exploring different cities within Turkey, all by myself!
I was truly surprised getting to know my all the things I was able to do by myself.
And most importantly, this experience helped me realize that I was a person of content, and to ignite my latent passion for writing once again – so much so that my first travel blog made to the top 5 on Google’s first page!
5. Learning about a different culture
Being a huge fan of Turkish drama, I thought I knew almost everything about Turkey, but I was so wrong!
It’s only when one goes and actually stays there, one gets to understand the real essence of the culture. I ended up loving their culture so much that now my house is full of Turkish chai and souvenirs.
My vocabulary of Turkish words and phrases increased from a mere 50 words to approximately 250 words when I returned from my exchange. By the end, I was even speaking in Turkish with my family members for almost a week since I got so used to the culture.
6. Making new friends from all around the world
My favorite and the most exciting part of the Global Volunteer was that AIESEC conducts a lot of cultural evenings!
Volunteers from all across the world gather around, wearing best of their traditional outfits, and bringing a bit of their traditional cuisines.
At first, I was skeptical about how it would all turn out to be, What will these people think about India? But the cultural eve was the best ice breaking session we all had.
We tasted flavors of different countries, danced in Spanish, French, Turkish, Hindi and Arabic music and what not! Now I can say that I know a bit about many many countries around the world.
7. Winning the trust of my parents
It wasn’t just me who started believing in myself, but also my parents and the people around me.
I was a whole new version of me when I returned from my exchange. I was more confident and even more independent, and my parents, my friends, and family noticed and felt the same.
I could see that my parents were really proud of me, and I could make out from their sparkling eyes that I had won their trust. Sending a girl all alone when she just turned 18 to a country overseas was a brave thing my parents did. And AIESEC made sure it reaped great results for their daughter.
To summarize it all, my exchange has helped me grow as an individual.
This trip has invoked a unique kind of spirit and passion in me.
I have never felt closer to accomplishing my dreams. It made me turn my CAN’Ts into CANs. It truly was a life-changing experience for me.
So if you are someone having second thoughts about going for an exchange, don’t!
Just go with the flow and you will do wonders. You won’t even realize, but you will be surprising yourself each day on this journey!”