How one semester away changed my whole college experience

Traveling through The National Student Exchange program continues to change and shape my life



Story by Lauren Kritter, Staff Writer

As I wait until 11 a.m. to head to the airport, I have been thinking about all the memories I’ve had in my temporary home of New York and how I cannot wait to be back there.

My main preparation the night before was getting a good night’s sleep because I have found the good old saying, “New York City is the city that never sleeps” to be oh so true.

While I got ready to return to my previous life for spring break, I remembered if it wasn’t for Eau Claire’s National Student Exchange program, I would have never had this experience. The NSE allows you to travel and study in any state in the country for either a semester or a year. It’s a great alternative to studying abroad and the experience is like no other.

Since the beginning of the NSE program, 110,000 students have had the opportunity to experience life from a different point of view and experience new areas of the country. I was one of those lucky students and have a mind full of memories to show for it.

Here I am, a year and a half later, on my way to see all the friends I made while living out in New York. I get to go run around my old campus and act like I never left. It’s my whole other world and I am lucky to be able to call two places home.

The things I learned, experienced and the friends gained in those four short months  were enough to make me fall in love with my life, not only out in New York, but back home as well.

Although I don’t get to see my New York friends nearly as much as I would like to, the memories we hold are enough to keep our friendships going strong. They are the family I chose when I moved there, and bond is unbreakable.

I have not only my friends to thank, but also NSE for the new perspectives I brought back with me to Eau Claire. To me, that’s what college is all about: learning through every new experience you have. These new perspectives helped my learning process continue to grow as I came back to Eau Claire with an open mind and a heart for exploring and learning all there is around me.

As we landed at LaGuardia airport, you can bet I was ready for a blast from the past type of week with  Taylor Swift’s voice singing “Welcome to New York” blaring through my headphones for a solid 30 minutes.