I’m Sofie, 24 years old from Grimstad, Norway. I started my Colombian adventure and exchange with the Red Cross seven months ago, in August 2017.

I can think of two keywords that best describes going on exchange: learning and new. 

I am learning something new every day.Learning, being exposed to a new and different culture for a long time can be both enjoyable, fun but exhausting at the same time. There are a few things that works differently here in Colombia than in my home country Norway. Sometimes I want to press pause, go home to Norway, to my family and friends, to a system where I know how everything works. I want to speak my language and be able to express myself in the way I'm used to. I want to walk in the street, not feeling like everyone is looking at me because I look different, I want to just be. However, that is also an experience, I'm here now, I live here for these nine months. I need to adapt, I need to understand, to learn, also when things get tough, also when I am tired, when I miss home, when I feel alone, when I am sick. It is an adventure, and that’s how it’s like.

Who said adventures are only ups?

It is important to talk about the tough sides of adventures. Adventures are amazing, and I see myself as an adventurist – who love new experiences, meeting and learning from new people and cultures. But that doesn't mean that every day of my exchange, my adventure, has been thrilling.

Learning and new things that can be overwhelmingly exciting and fun.

Learning and new things that can be scary and exhausting.

For me, it's a mix of good and bad that makes the overall experience a memorable one.
The scary and overwhelmingly exiting, exhausting and fun experiences. Because, after feeling down, after feeling like I don't fit in, feeling tired of expressing myself in Spanish, tired of systems I don't understand. That moment when I feel like I managed it, that moment will somehow feel a lot better and bigger an achievement when it's not always like that.

Feeling the development from the beginning of the exchange, how I felt, versus how I feel now, seven months into it – it feels nice, because I did that. I made it good, learning about myself and what I need to feel good, experiencing the contrary.  And the reality is that it’s not always a joy, but that’s life.

Who said adventures are only ups?

 

By: Sofie Sundström Bele, FK participant in YDEP