At first my parents didn't mind the idea and originally I was hoping to complete my final year of high school on exchange but after contacting my school about it they said I'd have to repeat a year once I got back as the schooling systems overseas would be so different. That was something I definitely didn't want to do but luckily I discovered you could still go on exchange after you finished high school and have it as your gap year before commencing university. Unfortunately as my parents gradually found out more about the program and how serious I was about going on exchange they began listing me all the reasons why I shouldn't go. They didn't want me to go to America as they wanted me to go somewhere I'd have to learn a new language, they said the cost was too expensive, they said I'd be wasting my time doing another year of high school and that I should just do a university exchange when I'm older.
I started to have panic attacks that I wouldn't be able to go on exchange- I couldn't get to sleep, I was constantly on edge and experienced this horrible feeling of anxiety that I'd never experienced before. The thought of going straight to university after year 12 petrified me. I had worked myself up to going to the states- suddenly I felt I was destined to go there. I was so determined to go there I pulled out every trick in the book in order to get myself a place on that exchange program. I listed all the reasons why I should go and also any arguments to counteract my parents' excuses of why I should stay in Australia. I told them how I didn't have a passion for any other nation as much as I did for the USA and that their high schools are so much more community spirited. I told my parents of all the new clubs and subjects I'd be able to try out for the first time. I told them I didn't have enough time in Australia to learn a language to enable me to go a foreign speaking country and that it wouldn't have been as enjoyable. I told them about how different the United States is in comparison to Australia and that it would be a completely different experience. I told them I needed this extra year to mature and prepare myself for university. I told them I truly believed the experience would be a huge investment into making a difference for the rest of my life. I told them I wanted to experience the life of American teens and how I'd met Americans on my school trip to China and they were the most wonderful bunch of people I'd ever met.
I also told my parents that I was willing to pay for the cost out of a bank account under my brother and I's name which had money we'd inherited from relatives who have since passed away. I think that was the main clincher that made them agree to let me go. Whilst I really did want to use the money to pay for university I knew that this was a much more worthy cause.
Being able to go on this exchange has been like a carrot dangling in front of my nose. It's helped motivate me to do the best I can in my studies this year. When I was at a point where I didn't think I was going on exchange I almost felt like, 'why bother with exams and study in 12th grade?'. If I did well at the end of it, my 'reward' would be going to university. It seemed more like a punishment.
It almost feels like I've won the lottery now that I've got my parent's permission and EF's acceptance for me to spend the next year in the United States of America. It's going to change my life and I know I'll be able to embrace university head on when I return- something I'm now excited about.
And you know what the crazy thing is?! Now my parents go on and on about how good the exchange program will be for me and boast about it to any person they meet. Even before I've stepped foot in America I've learnt something new from the exchange program; if you really want something and you persevere it will come your way.