Now, in an attempt to skirt around all the clichés and hackneyed phrases that tell one to make the most of life (oh dear, I just did it), I’ve invented my own expression: live life like you’re on exchange. What does it mean?
Exchange life is a bit like normal student life, but jacked up. It’s like looking at everything through a camera lens for which the focus has been substantially sharpened…well, that is if you’ve made the most of your exchange in any case. Everything is more vivid, concentrated, heightened; when the end is always in sight, and there is something (or someone!) you want, there is absolutely no time to waste.
As a result exchange students arrive ready set to seize every opportunity that presents itself to experience something new or embark on a new adventure. And generally the further afield they have come from, the more crazy and jam-packed their schedules. Friends from America, Australia and Asia are the ones who are off every single weekend, taking advantage of their precious time in Europe while they can. Last weekend, a group of friends went on a road trip that encompassed 14 cities in 4 countries in 3 days (!)
This got me thinking about the people with whom I have the most fun, who have really enriched my experiences, from whom I have learnt the most and become a better person for knowing… and I realised that being on exchange didn’t necessarily have anything to do with it. It doesn’t matter where I am; my best friends (ya’ll know who you are) are the ones who make everyday and every place feel like Lausanne. I admire them for their innate positivity, ingrained decency…and their talent for squeezing out every tiny last drop from life. With them, everything gains an intensity that makes even the ordinary anything but.
Because it’s not just the place that makes the experience (though it certainly does help, especially a place as beautiful as here), but the people. It doesn’t matter if you’re not on exchange; you need to surround yourself with people who function at the same intensity as you. On exchange it just becomes more evident more quickly with whom you are going to enjoy your time to the max, and who is not a very good match.
So though I do not suggest always being quite as spontaneous and naughty as we exchange students often are, I definitely think we should all take away a bit of this exchange student spirit with us back to our homelands. We can’t afford to get comfortable or lazy on exchange… and neither can we in life in general. I know my friends will be living it large whenever and wherever they are in the world, and why shouldn’t we all?