Pauline fortæller om sin erfaring som udvekslingsstuderende i pandemien

Pauline Clémentine Dano er en Rotary udvekslingsstuderende der kommer fra Mayenne, en lille by i det nordvestlige Frankrig. Hun har boet i Akueyri i det nordlige Island denne vinter og studerer ved gymnasiet der. På grund af pandemien har Pauline som andre Rotary udvekslingsstuderende oplevet den enorme “situation uden fortilfælde” som hun kommer nærmere ind på i den følgende kommentar. Hun har ønsket at skrive den på engelsk:

With her first host family: Askur Ari, Reynir Hjálmarsson, María Ásgeirsdóttir, Àsta Ninna and Pauline.
Rotary students have more than one host family during the year. Here is Pauline with her host parents no.2, Robert Duane Boulter and Inga Karlsdòttir.

2nd April 2020.

– So it’s my choice to stay in Iceland! A lot of other exchange students from my district in France decided to come back. But I think Iceland at this moment is safer. To be honest, sometimes it’s a little bit boring to not see all my friends which I would like to do, and they miss me, but I understand the situation and continue to see just one of my friends to limit the contact as much as I can.
My host family is really awesome with me and it’s thanks to them if the period of time is not so hard for me. But I’m switching Rotary families this Friday, we will see how it’s gonna be, but I’m sure my last family will also be awesome!

Young ladies at a junior college dance.

About the studies, so I’m in the old Akureyri junior college, in class 2.VX. I already have my final diploma in France, so to  study here is not a main goal for me. School was really to see my friends and work my Icelandic. I’m trying to follow the classes but for an exchange student who doesn’t understand Icelandic; well it’s really hard and also difficult to find the motivation to really work because I don’t have to. But I know from my friends the school is working pretty well with call conferences classes and a lot of projects. Some of them are really worried for the final exam and the shape it will take.

The online connections with family and friends have been actively used by Pauline during the pandemic.

Personally, I realized when the exchange students with AFS left, that I have to enjoy my exchange more, with a little or less focus on the school but more on my exchange. I’m always attempting in my class, at least I try because sometimes I’m really lost with all the mails in Icelandic. But also, I don’t want to bother my classmates so I’m not asking help to understand better, because for me it doesn’t matter to pass classes or not.

I do miss my family in France and it’s quite weird not to be with them in this situation, but I know they are not worried for me and they know I’m really good here. I call my parents  more often now than few months ago, but my exchange is in its last part so I know I’ll see them soon, hopefully, when the situation will be better about coronavirus in France. I’m also speaking a lot with my friends in France, and I miss them but I’m trying to focus more on my life here because, like I said, it’s the last part of the stay. I’m leaving in 2 months and a half. We are using every kind of social network and mostly WhatsApp with my parents.

Time for a couple of selfies with friends from school in Akureyri.

With my friends in Iceland we still are in contact of course but a little bit less. I understand because they have a lot of work to do! But Easter vacation is coming soon so we will have even more free time! We are doing some meetings online on Zoom for example. They use it for class meetings; it’s really good app. I continue to see one of my friends here and we are doing a lot of things like we went for a trip just the two of us one day to visit a little bit of Iceland, like Goðafoss etc… but without meeting anyone! I’m going out of my house a lot but always with the same person.

Icelandic “little sister” Ásta Ninna with Pauline.

Well it’s difficult to do activities right now in Akureyri because everything is closed, the swimming pool, ski station, library, coffee houses etc… I’m just jogging some time!

My exchange will still be the best experience in my life! It teaches me so much every day and I learn also from this situation! Of course, this coronavirus affected my exchange because I’m going out less and I’m not going to school or I don’t even have my volleyball practice, but it’s still awesome. One thing that going on an exchange year teaches you: it’s to stay positive and try to see the good things everywhere.

I have met extraordinary people and it’s not because I’m not seeing them now that it changes something. This situation motivates me to come back as soon as possible in Iceland! Why not next summer!

Yours, Pauline.