I think a good analogy for an exchange is that it's like a show in the theatre. The first part of a show is always the rehearsing - learning the lines, where to go on stage, what else will be happening while you're performing and those kind of things. The second part is knowing what to expect and performing, everything in synch. Which means, the first half of the exchange is learning the language (or getting a good mastery of it), becoming accustomed to the culture and day to day life and making friends. Then comes the second half, which is easier than the first half because most of the hard work is done, and you now know what to exepect, understand what is happening and can communicate well to other people what you want.
It's also the best half of the exchange, but that is bittersweet because time goes by fast when you're having fun.
Extra, extra! Exhange advice section-
One of the aspects I like most about where I am now is having true friends, who I can communicate well with. I am really going to miss them - the first few months can be so isolatin because although people try to include you, you can never laugh along with the jokes knowing what the joke is actually about, whereas now it's possible to tell jokes yourself. Communication is the big thing, it's possible to have another level of friendship, because I can talk to my friends about more serious things, and they too confide in me, because they know I actually understand what is being said. It's probably the most rewarding part of exchange, when the friendships become more profound and meaningful. (Unfortunately it makes it harder to leave too!)
There are so many rewarding things about going on an exchange, it's an oppurtunity not to miss. To know that you are capable of making such strong friendships despite not understanding well the language for the first few months actually really rocks. I love the 'moments' I share with my friends and gosh to think I only have so much time left to spend time with them.
And although I'm talking here about friendships becoming stronger, there are still new friendships forming. In classes, if for some reason people sit in other places I'll probably end up talking to some other classmates, and that means I'll greet them too when I see them, which means we'll probably talk more, and viola! more friendships formed! There's absolutely no way of knowing how many potential friends one has in the world, I've learned.
I still laugh about the day (during the school anniversary) when hardly anyone came to one class (civics) and because it's an elective, there were kids from the other third grade class there. All of the friends I normally sit with had chosen not to come to class, as well as about half of the class. So what did we spend the class doing? Hiding in boxes and sellotaping bags to chairs . . . good times!
With (some) of my awesome friends