Before my exchange I felt like I needed to get away, that Sweden was not good enough or that I could not be content living here. Going on exchange opened my eyes to differences in the world, to really get to know a country and a culture on a deeper level made me realize many of the things I love about Sweden that I had taken for granted. It gave perspective. It has also helped me in being more understanding of different points of views, to accept different takes on what the world is like that I see missing in some of my countrymen here.
I have one friend who once told me that I had inspired him to travel more. We went to (swedish) high school together and he went backpacking first through Australia and later through Asia. These trips had a big impact on him and made him change course completely in life. He told me that I inspired him to gather the courage to go off on that first trip.
How many people has my exchange impacted? I’m not sure. I’ve been involved with youth exchange for a few years now and been in contact with hundreds (if not perhaps thousands) of exchange students in total. My effect on them is hard to estimate. Those that I have helped out directly in some very meaningful ways would probably be around 10-20. The friendships and beautiful memories created thanks to exchange keep growing. Our continuing involvement with Rotex is still going and keeps growing.