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Monday, August 21, 2017

Olivia Geveden: An Expanded Sense of Culture and Language within the World

Olivia Geveden participated in the 2016 Lexington-Deauville High School Student Exchange.  

An Expanded Sense of Culture and Language within the World

Three hundred and sixty five days ago, I never would have thought my life would be what it is today-- an expanded sense of culture and language within the world.

In 2016, I participated in the Lexington-Deauville Sister Cities Exchange program. I could not have imagined a better group of people to experience it with. Last year, the six weeks flew by and I started planning for the next year.

The biggest blessing of the exchange was not only getting close with my exchange partner but with others from the exchange. 14 other Americans participated and I made lifelong friends in Lexington. Plus the 14 in France that I stay in contact with, daily.

In 2016, Alice and I got very close. After she left, the distance brought us even closer. I invited her back this summer. After the much dreaded BAC, she came in July and we went to the lake for 5 days with Allington and Côme (two others from the exchange), went to NYC, Boston, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Maryland. We made so many awesome memories within the 3 weeks she was here.

Shortly after that, I went back to France for about a month... it wasn't long enough! Allington (one of my American best friends from the exchange) also went back to stay with her exchange partner, Côme. Allington stayed with Alice and I for one week before heading to Spain with Côme's family. Within that week, we went to Disneyland in Paris, Versailles, Paris for shopping and exploring, Deauville, and more! After Allington left, Alice took me to London, England! Since my family is from there, I was beyond excited and the trip did not disappoint! I had a week left after our trip. Within that week, I went to Monet's Garden, Honfleur, and several trips in between to see the exchange students from last year.

Rekindling old relationships was so rewarding after a year and something I wouldn't have imagined. I never thought that friendships like this, from 4,000 miles away, were even possible but thanks to Sister Cities awesome program, I got to experience something so beautiful.

As I said goodbye today to the people I grew even closer to within the last two months, I realized that I have changed immensely in all the right ways! I have grown to be okay with getting out of my comfort zone, experiencing new things, and learning each day from those around me.

I am already planning my trip for 2018 summer! I am beyond blessed to have been a part of this program and it forever changed my life! Alice was the easiest hello and hardest goodbye. One year! One year! One year!

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