My best memory from the trip is the time I went swimming in the Pacific Ocean. At that moment, the sun was setting and its rays were reflected by the water, which reminded me of how lucky we were to go on this trip.

What surprised me the most is how the people that live there help each other. For example, if the bus is full and an elderly person arrives, the youngest people on the bus give up their seats. The landscape also surprised me: the snow capped mountains, the rivers and streams and the phenomenal number of trees. I also noticed just how open minded and accepting people are regardless of their differences. Their open mindedness made me think about how here, people judge more easily and how we should follow their example.

The experience with my twin went a lot smoother once I arrived at her home because she was more comfortable. She could speak in her first language, and she was in her own environment as well. My host family made me feel welcome very quickly. They treated me as if I was a member of their family: they included me in their activities and in their family life.

My point of view changed on a number of aspects. The vegetation there is much more present and diversified. Vancouverites are also completely different with regards to their social point of view. For example, they are much more inclined to accept people of other nationalities, other cultures or other sexual orientations.

I strongly recommend this experience to other youth because I think that it was a good way to go on my first trip without my family. The trip was really well planned because we did lots of activities and never had time to be bored. One suggestion I have for other youth going on exchange is to take full advantage of the experience and the time you get to spend with your twin. You have to remind yourself that you only get to go on this trip once. If you don’t take advantage, you’re going to regret it. In short, I am very happy to have participated in this unique experience.

by Marilou Daraiche

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