This summer I spent 11 weeks in Scotland, Northern Ireland and England on a JFAO exchange. I drank ~180 cups of tea, slept in 17 beds, had 12 host families, and met so many more people that toured me during the days and helped make my experience a memorable one!
I loved Scotland for the scenery, especially up in Orkney! The people of Northern Ireland were a wild blast, and England had such diverse agriculture. I was surprised to learn how independent they all are in terms of politics; for example each school system is completely different from another one. Being able to go to three of the countries that make up the United Kingdom (and also touring Wales for a week with a friend) gave me a lot of insight to the UK as a whole, which I loved.
I was able to explore many of the big cities in the UK: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast, London etc but of course what made this trip special to me was getting to know the countryside. When first arriving in Scotland I was so amazed at how hilly it was. And Northern Ireland was SO GREEN (attributed to all the rain… I think I had a maximum of two sunny days the whole time I was there). I reached England around wheat harvest so it was fun to see everything turning brown just like it would at home!
The people I met during this trip all had an impact on me. Every time I reached a new host family I was surprised at the hospitality that complete strangers were willing to provide me just because we had one thing in common, Young Farmers. I also had the pleasure of spending most of my days in Scotland and Northern Ireland with other exchangees which was a nice constant in the world of unknown (and of course they were all great to spend time with). I made lifelong friends that I hope I can see again one day.
Six months ago I wasn’t sure what I would be doing this summer, and now just like that it’s all over. I am forever in debt of Junior Farmers and the amazing experience it has given me.
Victoria Kyle is a University of Guelph Junior Farmer. To learn more about exchange opportunities for 2016, email firstname.lastname@example.org