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    Posted March 15, 2014 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Why study abroad? Ask Michelle Obama

    Going Abroad is Vital for Future!

    My name is McKinzie Spence, and I'm from the USA. I spent a semester in Lille, France through AFS from September 2013 to Januray 2014. My main goals were to become much better in the French language, and to gain independence. I ended up living with an amazing host family, learning how to cook amazing food with my host dad, who is a chef. I went to high school, just like any normal French teenager, where I met other exchange, and normal, students. I was able to take opportunities to visit parts of France other than just my town, and spent some time in Paris and the Alps.
    I faced a bit of homesickness while abroad, and am missing my host country very much now that I've returned to the US. Something that you are warned about as an exchange student is that, by building homes, families, and friends around the world, you will always be saying goodbye to somewhere, or someone, you love. The good thing is that you always have a place to stay when you go back and visit!
    I didn't expect to become so close to other ex-pats like myself while in France. My organization's chapter in my host city was composed of a majority of Americans, and I was in class with a New-Yorker as well. The other students that you meet while studying abroad always have a special connection to yourself: they're going through the exact same experience. I have three friends that I met while on exchange that I still speak to on a daily basis, and they will continue to be included in my life after leaving for college and starting our adult lives.
    I think that my exchange experience taught me a lot about myself and gave me a much broader world-view. It made me realize that everyone is a global citizen, and we are not limited to one country, state, or town. As my generation starts to go out and explore the planet they live on, I hope that the ones to follow will do the same in higher and higher numbers. If more people would take the opportunity to visit other countries and meet incredible new people, the world might become a little more welcoming and less intimidating for generations to come.
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