you know you've been an exchange student when you meet someone, briefly (and i do mean briefly-- tea and cake will do) and you think, hmmm, i really wouldn't mind living with them. an exchange year is an experience, an adventure; one of those things that creates stories on a daily basis. but the excitement of september-- of, oh my god, i'm in a foreign country, i'm eating foreign bread, the novelty of trying new words, the newness of a language where every word understood is a triumph-- fades. the novelty wears off, and you're left with life. a startling mononity, but without the comfort you've grown to expect. you have new parents, but they're not your parents. you have a new family, but they're not your family.
you're a new person-- an old person, the same one as you were, in the beginning, but without this support that you'd gotten used to, hardly ever noticed any more. it makes an interesting panic moment the first time you realize how much you rely on the people you never notice. but you learn a lot-- as the calendar months fly, and believe me, they do, even though in real-time it seems like forever, you discover so much, cornily, about yourself. you learn how much a part of you culture is-- how your culture defines you and changes you and, cast into a sea of somewhere else, you may be suddenly at a loss.
some days are challenges, others breezes, others, still, end in tears, others in the confusing feelings of never wanting to leave this place that you call home. the year is harder than you thought, harder than you expected. perhaps, a lack of preperation, the glowing promises of, signing onto the best year of your life, made you think it would be easier. expect to work for it-- work hard for it. friends do not come easily-- the wonders wear off, and you have to just, work hard for it. bus as far as years go, it is a rewarding one. friendships, both internationally and domestically, are strengthened. you start to get the feeling that if being physically uncapable of understanding math isn't going to break you, than not so much will.
the idea of going home leaves me with equal parts excitement and fear. i'm excited to start university, to see my family and friends, to be allowed to drive and not be afraid that misunderstanding a word will send me into previously unthinkable amounts of confusion.
so it i with qual parts trepidation and fear that i say that i am finished. i am heading back to the united states on june 2, approximately a month before the end of the program, in order to firm up the future.