The concept of exchange programmes is increasingly becoming popular among students in India, with many participating in exchange programmes to different countries every year. Not only do these programmes provide an opportunity to explore the culture and lifestyle in other countries, but they also contribute in the development of one’s personality. However, apart from the learning bit, students have the time of their lives on these exchange trips and return with great memories to cherish for a lifetime. Bayside Journal spoke to students who have recently returned from such programmes about the crazy experiences they have had.
When Poha Earns You Confused Looks in Brazil
While on a student exchange programme in Brazil, I decided to make poha (flattened rice) one fine morning for my host family and friends at school. I woke up in the morning and enthusiastically prepared the dish with as many ingredients as I could lay my hands on. It was a proud moment for me to be presenting the dish to them.
Now, imagine everyone is sitting at the table and I smugly place the dish in front of them and say, Presenting, POHA! The next thing I remember is seeing confused faces around me and then, everyone erupting into peals of laughter. I was later informed that poha means to f*ck in Portuguese.
– Rashi Mistry, 16
Impulsive Dancing at the Entrance of Bell Tower in Belgium
On a day trip to Bruges, Belgium, both of us and a couple of other Indians were accompanied by our hosts. After a brief tour, we were allowed to explore the city on our own. We, our host, and some of the others decided to climb up the Bell Tower in Bruges. We sat at the entrance of the tower eating a Dutch classic ‘frites met mayonnaise’ and that’s when we heard a man playing an accordion. And before you know it, all of us were dancing at the entrance of the tower. This has to be one of the most impulsive things we’ve ever done! Watching us dance, the man with the accordion played his tune to match our style too. We will always remember how that one song made all of us dance together. It made us realise that in the end it doesn’t matter whether you are a Belgian or an Indian, if you like to dance all you need is music!
– Shivani, 18, and Vyoma, 18
When You Get Mistaken for a Beggar
“This happened on an exchange program to Brazil last year. It was 3 a.m. and I was alone roaming around on the street. After that, all I remember is suddenly blacking out. I woke up the next day with all my cash and phone missing. Surprisingly, my passport was still there and some money had been strewn around me. As I was trying to make sense of all of that and trying to get over the fact that I was seriously hungover, a man passed me and tossed some money at me. So, apparently, people mistook me for a beggar that day.
– Zara*, 18
Holding the Map Wrong and Pandemonium!
I went on an exchange programme to Pennsylvania, US, as a part of a journalism workshop. Once we visited the King of Prussia mall, which is the second largest mall in the US. Forty of us went in together, out of which 10 got out on time, 20 got lost and the other 10 ended up going elsewhere. I was amongst those who were lost. Worse still, I had held the map wrong, so I led two more people into a completely wrong direction with me. So, basically, it was pandemonium!
– Alinda Gupta, 18
How a Wild Party Gets You Grounded
While on an exchange programme, I decided to go to party that I knew was going to be wild. It was just one of those days when you want to be reckless, you know. So, two hours into the party, I was drunk and making out with some random guy in a corner when the police brought the party to a standstill. Now, in the mayhem where people were trying to flee, a bunch of us decided to head to the another party happening a few houses down the lane. As I was in my supposedly drunken state (it’s hazy, I don’t completely remember), I forgot to cover myself. So, imagine my horror the next day, when I woke up bare in a completely alien house. By the way, yes, I was grounded.”
– Sneha*, 17
Having Your Social Life Completely Messed up
When I was on an exchange programme to France, I had started dating someone. Somehow I got close to this other classmate of mine who was having a terrible time because her host gave her hell. So, we’re in the plane flying back home and somehow we start making out, while everyone else was asleep. After about 10 minutes we stop. Both of us have this major panic attack together, complete with seizures and fits and we completely lost our cool. Needless to say I was dumped by the girl I was dating, but the girl on the flight and I started dating a couple of months later. This was pretty crazy and I messed up my social life completely.
– Keshin*, 17.
*Name changed on request