Last year, there were about a million foreign exchange students in the United States alone.

It’s a very popular program among many nations, giving people a chance to experience other cultures and perspectives while they’re young and learning. There’s an aura of romance around it, and adventure. But is it all it’s cracked up to be?

Several exchange students from around the world submitted tidbits on what the experience is really like.

13. Ennui – (Pronounced “on-wee”)

What’s your sad music of choice, though?

Source: Whisper

12. Adios!

Hey, better to realize this and not waste your time.

Source: Whisper

11. Culture clash

I think this would be deeply stressful.

Source: Whisper

10. Star-crossed lovers

I really hope this story has a happy ending.

Source: Whisper

9. Closed doors

Another victim of the cultural differences.

Source: Whisper

8. Caged up

This is my nightmare.

Source: Whisper

7. Home sweet home

Imagine how much they must miss you.

Source: Whisper

6. Chosen family

Just because they’re blood related doesn’t mean they were good to you.

Source: Whisper

5. Performance art

A good reminder not to exoticize people.

Source: Whisper

4. Fitting in

I assume from the use of the word “uni” that this person is in the UK.

Source: Whisper

3. Missing music

As a fellow piano player, that’s hell. Ask around!

Source: Whisper

2. A semester abroad

It really turns your world upside down.

Source: Whisper

1. Doggos

No matter where you go in the world, there are sure to be people who totally get this.

Source: Whisper

Traveling to new places and learning new things has got to be exhilarating – but clearly it’s an extremely bittersweet process. Here’s hoping that most who try it will look back in fondness, and have no regrets.

Have you had experiences with/as an exchange student?

Tell us about it in the comments!