By Malikah Rafiq from Srinagar hosted in Denmark on AFS Programs 2018

“It has been around three months since I have been back from Denmark, a lot has changed since the last year before I went in my exchange, there is a change in my perspective, there is a change in the people I used to know, even my once-sacred room has changed. After my exchange I’m a lot more tolerant towards others and a part of the reason could be volunteering I did in a kindergarten back in Denmark, being surrounded by kids for five hours for 2-3 weeks made me tolerant and it was not only the volunteering that made me tolerant it was also that I saw people being tolerant towards me which made me realize that not everything and everyone has to be shouted at to be understood, being calm is better and much more effective.

One of the biggest skills I learned was money management since everything was expensive in Denmark I learned how to have fun in a limited amount of money. I also gained confidence – the confidence to walk on the streets all alone. It’s a very simple thing but I just never had enough confidence to do it. In Denmark, it was a whole other story. If I wanted to go I either used my cycle or the local transport and that was it. Nobody drove me around. I was independent and responsible.”

The exchange makes you stronger, it shows you that the world is bigger than the walls of your room, it makes you empathic after looking at the global problems. It makes you appreciate the small things in life. I do believe in a bigger picture but in a different kind. Because I believe we’re all placed in this world for a reason. Remember we are the bigger dominoes of the future — what we do counts, so don’t think of yourself as ‘just a teenager’ you are the future. we all collectively need to take responsibility as a community.”