One year is gone since I’ve left my friends, family, and my home to return to my friends, family, and my home. Sounds weird and I can tell you, it definitely is as weird as it sounds like. Looking back on the last year and reflecting some moments made me want to share some stories and feelings. So, after a long „break“ on my blog, here is another post.
June 27,2016. I had to go back and leave this life I built. My new life of which my friends and family at home barely know anything. Sure, I told them about it, they saw the pictures on Facebook. But they don’t know what it was like. They don’t know what bus I had to take to go to school everyday. They don’t know how I got so used to my name being mispronounced. They don’t know how deep my connections with other exchange students, friends and family were. They don’t know how lonely and sad I felt sometimes, but how great the experience was in the end. Most of all, they don’t know what I had to leave behind.
However, the day was there and I shared lots of tears but also laughters. I remember the last night at „home“. I gave my host family a scrap book I made for them with pictures of us through my whole year. It was so emotional and I don’t think I’ve ever been such an emotional mess before. On the one hand I was super excited to return home. I had made a list of food I would eat again right away and friends and family I want to visit but on the other hand I knew that I wouldn’t ever live the life again that I’ve lived the past 10 months. The second one, was much harder. ‘Cause what you’re leaving behind is not a country. It is not the people. It is the experience. Leaving after your exchange means it will never be that way again. You can come back, but you won’t have to take that bus to go to school. You can’t text your exchange friends anymore to see if they want to hang out with you. Even with your host family it will be different because you will probably never live with them anymore. Those things were hard to except for me. I knew this thought was extremely terrifying. It was also really sad. I now realize that it was good. It had it’s charm and I cherish all memories I have from that time. I think I still start 60% of my stories with “During my exchange..”, which is probably annoying the crap out of the people around me, but I don’t care. Because it was amazing.
I think back on my exchange every single day. I still contact my host family and friends and sometimes it makes me cry. Not because all of the „homesickness“ but because of the many beautiful memories. Because I am thankful to have met such great people that have impacted my life greatly.
I often say it was the best year of my life, but I don’t think that is true. Life has much more to offer, but in many ways your exchange is extremely unique and memorable. All I know is: life goes on after your exchange even though it’s not always easy to return home. I have faced hard times with adapting again. People changed, and even more important YOU changed yourself. Some might stay active in the exchange community, others won’t, but your exchange year is something that you will forever remember and all you can do is cherish all the great memories you have made.