Second home

Ever missed your home,
While being at home?
Well, this is what happens;
When you become a part of a foreign family,
When foreigners become your friends,
And when a land, not so foreign anymore,
becomes your home!

-Khushi Goyal

Ex-changing my life

I vividly remember my first French lecture in 11th std during which our teacher had informed us about the Indo-French Exchange Programme. My mind had instantly started playing scenarios of what and how it would be if I were to be a part of it. Fast forward to today, it’s already been two years since I participated in the same, the memories being nonetheless crystal clear in my mind.

The entire journey was and still is so overwhelming. It enabled me to explore a new country, adopt a different culture, speak a foreign language more confidently, meet new people (who soon turned into family and friends), and most importantly exchange thoughts and opinions with people who didn’t share my language, nor my culture. Moreover, it gave me a deeper understanding of my own city, country and culture as well (trust me, I hadn’t been to several places in Pune earlier, which I then got to visit with my correspondent).

However, for me, the best part about being an exchange student is not discovering a foreign country as a mere tourist. Exchange programmes aren’t just about visiting the tourist attractions or savouring the culinary specialties. It’s much more! Making chai-poha for my host family, drawing and colouring along with my correspondent’s little cousin, listening and dancing to French songs with my host parents, cooking with my correspondent and her sister or learning french swear words from them,  going through my host family’s old pictures, hanging out with my correspondent’s friends, giving presentations about India in their classes (that, too, in French), enjoying the late-night conversations and discussions with my host family… these little, yet invaluable moments truly made my journey unforgettable.

Moreover, since it was an “exchange”, my correspondent, too, got the opportunity to explore a new country in a different way; while staying here with me and my family. This brings me to another significant benefit of an exchange program- it wasn’t just I who got the exposure, but my own family as well. My family, too, got a chance to meet, talk and stay with a person who didn’t share the same language, culture or country. Be it my mother watching Bollywood movies with my correspondent and teaching her to put mehendi or my father asking her about the life in France; my brother teaching her new English words and expressions (and learning French ones from her) or my sister sharing our childhood memories; my cousins chatting and playing with her or my correspondent tasting the apparent spicy Indian dishes with my family… it was so overwhelming to see my whole family have this kind of an experience, about which they talk to this day!

I had once read a quote: “Travel far enough, you meet yourself” and today it makes much more sense to me. This exchange programme helped me improve as an individual. I became stronger, braver and more responsible. I also became bolder and much more confident, both as a person and as a French-speaker. I could genuinely feel the change in me. Being an exchange student, for me, was life-changing in every sense of the word, and I can never imagine my life otherwise. After all, it wasn’t merely a month in my life, it was a life in a month.

-Khushi Goyal

La raison d’être

As I am typing these words, I’m letting go or rather overcoming one of my biggest fears: the fear of self-expression.

I have been an introvert ever since my childhood. The mere idea of expressing myself, especially in front of a large audience, makes me jump out of my skin. What if I slip up? What if people don’t agree to what I say? What if people judge me? What if people don’t like me? These questions have always daunted me; and pulled me from expressing myself freely. And this was why starting my own blog always seemed a far-fetched dream.

This brings me to “ma raison d’être” (ma-rehzon-DETre) (literally, my reason of being). Honestly, the credit to expressing myself on a platform such as a blog, goes to my friends. It is true that I have always dreamt of doing it, but it is them who gave me the courage to turn this dream into a reality.

“A friend knows the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails.” -Donna Roberts 

Friends indeed play an indispensable role in our lives. They are our support system, our cheering squad, our chosen family. They urge us to be a better version of ourselves and motivate us to aspire for the impossible. But most importantly, they make us believe in ourselves, when we ourselves don’t.

Therefore, as I commence this journey, I would like to thank each and every friend of mine who motivated me, had faith in me and inspired me to achieve my goals. Thank you for making me believe in myself and for pushing me to go beyond the limits. I would also encourage you, my readers, to express your gratitude towards your friends. Tell them that they matter, tell them how they make your little world a little better each day. After all, you, your personality, your life, without them, wouldn’t be the same.

Now, coming back to my blog; Writing, in general, is something very new to me, let alone being a blogger. I’m like a chrysalis inside a cocoon, wanting to become a butterfly. So, bear with me as I share my experiences and my thoughts on things that matter to me. Also, feel free to comment or write to me on whichever platform you like (Facebook, Instagram, Gmail, Twitter). Let’s make this an exchange. Let’s begin this journey of self-expression.

Khushi Goyal