AIESEC Toronto

Live the Experience

Month: November 2014 (page 2 of 3)

Take Me To: Norway | Alison’s AIESEC Exchange


I went to Oslo, Norway this summer on a Global Citizen exchange for 6 weeks. I was living with 11 other interns who were all from different cultures and we had to organize a summer camp for Norwegian and refugee children ages 6 to 14. It was hard at first because everyone had different ideas about the camp, and we had different communication styles due to our cultural differences. However, we had utilized all our strengths to make everything happen! I have learned more about my strengths and myself. Learning about the culture of others allowed me to know more about the team that I was working with, and to know more about their perspectives. Keeping an open mind and communication were definitely the key!


I believe that learning about the Norwegian culture through the children from the camp is also valuable. Although many would say that Norwegians are distant and not as passionate as North Americans, I must say that they can also be very sweet when they get to know you better. Some children would come to me at the camp everyday for a hug as soon as they arrived and before they went home, and they would always want to play their traditional Norwegian games with me.  Knowing some of the refugee children’s experiences made me realize that we should really treasure what we have. We shouldn’t take anything for granted!


I must say that the most memorable experience was the 12-hour hike through altitudes of up to 1800m. The hike was very challenging, as we had to hike up and down multiple times, and there was even a part where we had to do rock climbing without any safety gear!


We got to see the gorgeous Norwegian nature, but I think most importantly we all became much closer to each other after the hike. During the 12 hours, we helped each other out, we talked to one another, and I am happy to know that they are all very nice individuals with very kind hearts. It is great knowing them, and I am sure that whenever I go to the city that they reside in, I will have a friend and we will never forget one another!



Thanks to AIESEC for this internship, TusenTakk!


Take Me To: Colombia | Shiaoshiao’s AIESEC Exchange

Photo 2014-11-07, 10 34 48 AM

As I sit on the green grass and watch my Grade 11 students play, my right arm coated with the paint from their presentation on Jamaica, and after teaching grade 8 vocabulary and role playing in learning the values about friendship, I realize that I have had the unique opportunity of teaching 1800 kids in the course of my internship.

1800 kids sounded like an arduous task at first because well, I don’t have remotely any experience in teaching, much less classroom management of every grade from kindergarten to grade 11. In itself, this presented some amazing and challenging experiences.


Photo 2014-11-06, 12 19 09 PM

I came to Colombia because I had Colombian friends who are some of the most hospitable people I have ever met and it came as a huge contrast from what I heard about Colombia through newspapers, media, and foreign affairs departments. I wanted to find out what it was like living in the country who still as of today, is responsible for manufacturing 90% of the world’s Cocaine. Actually, the province I live in is considered one of the most dangerous. Pasto, the capital of the province Narino, is the only ‘safe’ city by Canadian government standards, nestled in a valley in the shadows of an active volcano, Galleras. Talk about living on the edge.

Photo 2014-09-14, 4 57 50 PM

I remember my first morning and drive into Pasto vividly. We were driving from Chachagui, the town where the Pasto airport was located. I landed at 8am, having little sleep and sitting in the car with local AIESECers was a welcomed change. Drifting on the windy highway, listening to blaring dance music, I saw lush forests sitting atop mountains that went forever. It dawned on me that I would be living in the Andes mountains for the next 3 months. I was anxious.

Photo 2014-10-18, 6 06 24 PM

Now, two months and a week in, yes I live at an altitude of around 3000m, but Pasto has shown me its quirks, charms and the people that I have come to know and befriend here remind me of the warmth that my Colombian friends exuded. I found myself right at home. I live with a landlady who doesn’t speak a word of English and we laugh heartily often, I have had strangers drive me to the bus stop because I was lost, students who took me to parties and made sure that I felt comfortable, friends who stayed with me when I was in the hospital and ensured that the doctor could understand my symptoms, teachers who would walk me to the bus because there was a transportation strike. Even though I’m not a party animal like everyone here, I had made friends that I could count on for anything and even if it’s just a walk in downtown, or an outing to have coffee, those simple moments often fabricated some of the most memorable of times.
Photo 2014-10-15, 11 15 45 AM

Of course, I’ve had my bad times. This one class I was teaching made me so frustrated that I cried. Getting suspected food poisoning meant I missed my trip to Bogota and I lost so much strength and weight in the matter of 3-4 days. I lost my smartphone in a taxi.

Though, when you’re on exchange, these bad events often seem like blessings in disguise –  you learn to pick up yourself and smell the roses rather than obsessing about the dirt on your clothes.

Photo 2014-10-24, 10 34 24 AM

Consider supporting your teachers more, consider teaching abroad, or even teaching in your community. One of the greatest gifts humankind has to offer is education because one can make more informed, logical, and moral decisions that have the potential to better the world around them. If this exchange has taught me anything, it’s that education is the foundation of our futures and it is every bit part of our common responsibilities to nurture, foster, and support ways so that quality education can reach the most remote areas of our planet. If this exchange has taught me anything, it’s that our fear largely stems from an absence of willingness to understand and to connect. The more I travel, the more I learn that the human connection only needs an open heart, mind, and the empathy necessary to cross the invisible but apparent barriers that block us from sharing our common humanity and future. If this exchange has taught me anything, it’s that we are truly on our own in this world, and it is up to ourselves to invoke the internal change if we seek the same change within the surroundings around us, regardless if we are on exchange or not. Exchange makes you realize that you are a tiny raindrop, but raindrops can make waves. You will miss home, it will not be 100% amazing, but it will change you.

Photo 2014-10-24, 12 09 47 PM

Older posts Newer posts

© 2018 AIESEC Toronto

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑