Tuesday, June 5, 2012

More Reflecting...

Today two of my friends at school started crying. Yesterday I cried. A lot. With my brother hugging me and comforting me. But as much as I think I'll cry this month, it's going to happen. I'm going to leave. I can't stop thinking about it. I love it here, so much. Like I said in the last blog, five years and I'm back here. I know I'm not the same person anymore. I've changed drastically, in a way that no one can ever take away from me. I have seen countries and places I have never been too, nor ever thought I would go to. I have (as AFS said) experienced more up and downs in one year than I ever thought possible. I've learned how to evaluate myself as a person, and actually reflect on myself and my life, all while living as another nationality.

Part of the hard part of going home, they say, is accepting that everything may or may not have changed back home. I don't know how my old friends have changed, or even the area I live, but it's a different year that has happened in America. Prom, homecoming, learning to drive, playing sports, going to school, taking SAT's, seeing your biological parents every day, and probably getting annoyed with them because you're a teenager. All things I haven't done this year. All things that seem well... opposite of my life.

That scares me to be honest. The idea of normality. Especially just with the language alone. Am I ready to go back to speaking English all day long, and dreaming and thinking once again in English rather than dutch?

But there are positives. I have finally made the step that at some point every teenager makes with his/her parents. That step that you realize they aren't out to get you and not let you have fun and all the things I used to think last year. I think it might be the culture here, but I just can talk to my parents so easily now. No sneaky, evasive actions. I don't mind saying this because it's true, I've finally gotten over that feeling with my parents. I guess leaving them for a whole year changes the idea you have of them. But I'm excited to start my new relationship off with my parents. A whole new beginning for me in the states, and a whole new relationship to begin with my parents.

So I decided to make a list of things I'm looking forward to as I am home. Because right now it's hard getting myself motivated to want to go home.
Driving- After riding a bike all year, and watching my brother get his license I can't wait to get back behind the wheel of my car.
IHOP- I know that's a weird one, but I'm really looking forward to eating American pancakes again, because Dutch pancakes are like crepes.
Working- I actually really have missed working, and I will be happy to start again and begin making money again.
College Visits- I haven't had the chance to see any colleges really, so I'm looking forward to doing that with my parents or going to visit friends already in College.
School- I have actually really missed actual school. School is far too overwhelming in a foreign language, and I am definitely looking forward to being able to do homework without first having to translate it to make sure you know what it's actually asking.... (finally I don't have to do that anymore with work, but in the beginning... whoa. haha)
MY CLOSET!!!- I have actually been thinking about this for a while, and the first thing I want to do is clean out my closet. I went a whole year with out all of that stuff, so I can't wait to remember what is in there, and then sell clothes.
Getting my hair cut- I have only gotten my hair cut once this year... so it's definitely time for a hair cut...

I'm sure that as the days go on, I'll think of more things I'm looking forward to. like seeing my dog or just being able to sleep in my old bed again. But I leave you with more wise AFS wisdom from old exchange students I believe. Because this describes it better than I could. So, enjoy.

"A year has passed and now we stand on the brink, of returning to a world where we are surrounded by the paradox of everything and yet nothing being the same.
In a couple of weeks we will reluctantly give our hugs and, fighting the tears,we will say goodbye to people who were once just names on a sheet of paper to return to people that we hugged and fought tears to say goodbye to before we ever left.
We will leave our best friends to return to our best friends.
We will go back to the places we came from, and go back to the same things we did last summer and every summer before.
We will come into town on that same familiar road, and even though it has been months, it will seem like only yesterday.
As you walk into your old bedroom, every emotion will pass through you as you reflect on the way your life has changed and the person you have become.
You suddenly realize that the things that were most important to you a year ago don't seem to matter so much anymore, and the things you hold highest now, no one at home will completely understand.
Who will you call first?
What will you do your first weekend home with your friends?
Where are you going to work?
Who will be at the party Saturday night?
What has everyone been up to in the past few months?
Who from school will you keep in touch with?
How long before you actually start missing people barging in without calling or knocking?
Then you start to realize how much things have changed, and you realize the hardest part of being an exchange student is balancing the two completely different worlds you now live in, trying desperately to hold on to everything all the while trying to figure out what you have to leave behind.
We now know the meaning of true friendship.
We know who we have kept in touch with over the past year and who we hold dearest to our hearts.
We've left our worlds to deal with the real world.
We've had our hearts broken, we've fallen in love, we've helped our best friends overcome eating disorders, depression, stress, and death. We've lit candles at the grotto and we've stayed up all night on the phone just to talk to a friend in need.
There have been times when we've felt so helpless being hours away from home when we know our families or friends needed us the most, and there are times when we know we have made a difference.
Just weeks from now we will leave.
Just weeks from now we take down our pictures, and pack up our clothes.
No more going next door to do nothing for hours on end. We will leave our friends whose random e-mails and phone calls will bring us to laughter and tears this summer, and hopefully years to come.
We will take our memories and dreams and put them away for now, saving them for our return to this world.
Just weeks from now we will arrive.
Just weeks from now we will unpack our bags and have dinner with our families. We will drive over to our best friend's house and do nothing for hours on end.
We will return to the same friends whose random emails and phone calls have brought us to laughter and tears over the year.
We will unpack old dreams and memories that have been put away for the past year.
In just weeks we will dig deep inside to find the strength and conviction to adjust to change and still keep each other close.
And somehow, in some way, we will find our place between these two worlds.
In just weeks.
Are you ready?"


  1. Your looking forward to the college process has got me thinking that this might be the thing that helps you overcome that "normality" concern. To approach your college search with your wider eyes will allow you to really pinpoint what college is right for you -- I would imagine you will now approach this differently in the same way you are seeing your parents differently. Instead of looking at the colleges that have been the automatic thoughts for you growing up in small town Virginia, I bet you look broader and deeper and end up with some really exciting choices. And as a past college counselor, I want to say here to hold firm to what you want out of college. One of the things that happens to everyone in the college search is pressure from friends on what "cool/acceptable" schools are. This can make students limit their searches because they worry that they are not right about a school out of their friends' knowledge. So, hold onto your broader view throughout the process, and I look forward to hearing what you want out of a college -- a college that can offer you the broader world that you have entered and want to stay in.

  2. PS -- Thanks for letting me know these blog posts were here!!

  3. Prachtig blog!
    I'm from nyc but live in Mexico, and I'm going to the Netherlands with AFS as well (2012-2013). You've helped me get an idea of what it'll be like, at the same time you're getting me really excited about the experience.
    I hope you get to go back real soon,
    meanwhile I'm hoping to maybe get adopted! hahah
    Bedankt voor de blog!

    1. Thanks for the comment!!! Hoe is het met jou nederlands?? That is really exciting, you're going to have a great year! the Netherlands is a beautiful country!! Succes hoor met jou jaar!!

    2. Dutch is my biggest obstacle and goal, at least I understood what you wrote.
      Nobody, not even the people at the Dutch embassy speak it here hahaha but I'm doing pretty well teaching myself.
      I've also made a few friends in Holland with this website http://goo.gl/MwkWK and they are helping me out.
      What helped you the most for Dutch? or the Netherlands in general?

    3. You should be very proud of yourself then. I came here not speaking any Dutch at all, and picked it up very quickly and almost got the top three on the proficiency test. What helped me the most is just speaking it. Once I started talking to people and speaking it, my dutch got so much better, very very quickly. And also typing it. Type to friends on facebook or things Like that. :)