Trail youth embraces cultural experience, plans for future

"My love for Canada will never change but after my year exchange, I have left my heart in several other places as well!"

“Ich kann es einfach nicht glauben!” I mean, I simply cannot believe it!

After a year of being away, I am suddenly back to where it all began.

Upon my arrival, I was asking questions such as “How do we say that again?” or “What’s the English word for that?”

Now, after almost one month of returning to the Kootenays, my English is again beginning to flow more smoothly and I can understand the role culture shock can play, even in my home country.

Living, completely immersed, in another culture for a year allowed what was foreign to become routine and what was routine to almost become foreign.

Now I feel that I have not only become a part of another culture, but that I have also become a much more independent, and international individual and I look forward to finding the balance between my two cultures and using them to define myself.

The familiar smiling faces of loved ones, country music, ball caps, and back roads has not only made my transition easier but has reminded me how beautiful our province really is.

My love for Canada will never change but after my year exchange, I have left my heart in several other places as well!

One day I know I will go back and visit my friends and family in Northern Germany because it really did become a second home to me; however, until then I have at least four years of university ahead at Carleton University in Ottawa.

Beginning this fall, I will be participating in the Bachelor of Journalism Program in hopes of working toward a journalism job, specializing in tourism and travel.

This past year’s experience has changed my life and I attribute the opportunity is to the Rotary Youth Exchange Program.

I would like to thank the Trail Rotary Club and its members, with a special thank you to Ray Masleck, for all of their help and support.

As my year abroad truly does come to an end, I see the impact it has left on my life and could only wish the same life-changing experience for future young travellers.

Danielle Clarke was a J.L. Crowe Secondary work experience student at the Trail Times last year and was in Germany as a Rotary Exchange student.