But a full quarter of it was taken up by a poster, with a picture of a girl emerging from a suitcase. It said “Come out of your shell” and had a number to call.
I called because I didn’t know it was impossible. Had it said “Call this number to become an exchange student” I’d have known it was impossible. My parents would never let me. We didn’t have the money. It would mess up my normal education flow. I had no business doing it. It was impossible.
But I didn’t know what it was for, and curiosity took me to a phone booth where I called the number and asked what it was. They told me, I thanked them and was about to hang up. They said “Can we send you an application?” and it seemed impolite to refuse. So I gave a friend’s address, so my parents wouldn’t freak.
And then because the paper said only one in ten people were selected, and I knew the chance was remote, I applied. I finally told my parents before the final family-interview, before they sent my paperwork abroad, to find a host family.
Even though it was “impossible” for various reasons, I ended up being placed with a family in the US. My future husband lived down the road. (Though it took us four years to get it through both our hard heads that we liked each other. We were young and stupid.)
Four years later, when I moved here, and we tried to decide what I should do for a living, I tried all the sane things first. I wasn’t markedly successful at any of them.
Read the whole thing.