By Shubhangi Sawant, From Bangalore, Hosted in Brazil

Own only what you can carry with you: know the language, know people, and know countries. Let your memory be your travel bag.” -Alexander Solzhenitsyn

I will never be completely home again, because a part of my heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price I have to pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place. It’s not a trip or just an exchange program, it is a second life. Being on an exchange program is something I will never regret.

It is funny how someone who was just a stranger last month, can mean so much to me now. There would be many things that I did not like about the other country, there were many when I  would be felt annoyed but; All the little things that annoyed me so much are the things that I miss the most when I came back home.

Become friends with people who aren’t your age. Hang out with people whose first language isn’t the same as yours. Get to know someone who doesn’t belong to your social class. This is how you see the world. This is how you grow.

Being on an exchange program taught me one major lesson:

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” When you start stepping out of your comfort the zone that is the time when you really experience the world around you. Comfort zones are like boundaries which restricts you from trying something new.

Of all the books in the world, the best stories are found between the pages of a passport. We age not by years, but by our stories. These stories are like stone carvings which cannot be erased. The only advice that I got before leaving is to empty the stories in my mind so that I have enough place to add new ones and trust me an exchange program will have hundreds of them to be remembered.

Home is a person or a place where you would like to go over and over again and I think Brazil is my second home.