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Biggest mistakes I have made as an exchange student

1. I focused too much on my life in Austria
When I first got here, I didn't want to leave anything behind or miss out on anything happening in Villach. I was thinking too much in the future, about when I would get back and how different everything would be, instead of building a "new life" here. This made the first month (or so) super difficult and contributed to the bad integration at my first lycée. Comparing the people I met to the people I already knew in Austria wasn't fair to them and I didn't really give them a chance. I just wanted a copy of everyone, which was pretty close-minded and would not lead to unique experiences.

2. I don't go up and talk to people
Ok. I can't talk to people! It's hard to go up to strangers and talk to them! I have read countless articles on how to be self confident and just talk to people and I have tried, but its so hard! I have definitely noticed the repercussions that this has on my life, most of them are negative. It's so weird when you notice all of the social cues and know what you should do, but are too afraid of rejection or an awkward silence. I think that this has definitely changed since I have been here though. I can now come up with interesting questions to ask people, and I can hold a conversation, even if it's boring to me. I think that this also has to do with my level of French, which had definitely improved - I feel much more comfortable speaking in French now.

3. Not doing very many extra curricular activities
This one has more to do with the amount of friends/acquaintances I make, and ties in with #2. I am very happy with the friends that I have made at school here - some of the weirdest and best people I know, and having a few close friends is the best, but having a lot of peripheral friends can be great too, if you just want to check in from time to time. If I had done more activities or gone to more events, I might have made more friends, which might have allowed me to learn more vocab. I don't know - this one might just be me worried that I haven't spoken enough French here and stayed in too much.

Anyway, I hope that if you are an exchange student reading this, that you learn from my mistakes and try focus on your life with your host family, talk to more people, and always say "yes" to invites!

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