Friday, July 13, 2012

Reflecting, but this time on American Soil.

So I told myself I'd keep this blog going for as long as I want to, or as long as I need to. In case you didn't know, I'm home now. Safe and sound in the United States. I can't lie in my blog and say everything's going well, but it's going as well as it could be. Everything around me is going well, and my parents are more than thrilled to see me. The relationship between my parents and I is going great, better than it has ever been and I'm very happy about that. But I miss it. I miss the Netherlands so much. I cried for a while on Sunday morning, what would be the first full day of being in the States.

I keep busy. That's one of the few things that's helping. When I'm sitting alone or just doing nothing that's when my brain starts to wander... It feels like a dream. The longest and best dream I've ever had. I can't wait to go back, and being here and noticing little things is just making me want to go back even more.

Let me tell you some of the things I've noticed since I've been back. First of all door handles are much lower. I have no idea why I noticed this, but every time I reach for a door I don't understand why I haven't hit the doorknob yet... oh wait there it is. But why is it near my hip?! The other thing I noticed is how people react to politeness. A few times in the grocery store, I've wished people a nice day. And they look at me very quizzically, and say thank you. But I don't understand this yet. Why were they so confused? Are Americans lacking so strongly in politeness that they don't wish everyone a nice day, regardless of their job? I'm sure I'll figure this one out. But in the mean time I now know that I have become much more polite over the year. Which is never a bad thing.

I'm still just so glad to have been able to do this year abroad and grow so much into this person I've now become. I'm happier with myself than I've ever been, and I just wish more kids could just experience what I did. That is one of the reasons I want to become a volunteer for AFS. The volunteers for AFS Nederland were so helpful and so important and really just made the differences at the camps we attended. I want to give that same feeling to future AFSers who are coming to America, and maybe one day volunteer for AFS Nederland if I go back to live there.

I start work on Monday, babysitting for my little Dutch girls, so I can start speaking Dutch again with their parents! And the girls too I think. I'm really excited! And I'm going to get my old job as a Hostess back, and start training to be a server. I'm going to start a scrapbook for myself too, so that way I have something from this year to work on to keep me busy.

It feels like a dream... I can't believe that I was in the Netherlands for so long, and now I'm back... Everything looks the same, but I don't feel the same.

Friday, July 6, 2012


I had to look up the google translate for that word.... Onrustig in Dutch. And that's how I woke up this morning feeling... Today is my last day, its 10 am here, and I've got something that feels like it's going to be a long day today... I've done everything I needed to do before I left paperwork wise, said goodbye to almost all of my friends, went to the AFS end camp which was wonderful, but I'm still not prepared to go....

At camp we focused on three things, what we had learned, moving forward and saying goodbye. It was a very emotional weekend... I can't explain to you what it's like to be in a room filled with kids from all over the world, all hugging each other and saying goodbye. Some crying, others not. But everyone feeling the same exact thing. This is it. This is goodbye. But not farewell, oh no no. This is goodbye until the next time.

What a long day I feel this is going to be... My brother Brian is having a party tonight, and I'm not sure yet if I'll end up crying a lot or if I'll be happy... It's just so hard to leave. It might be hard to imagine that I've built a new life here, I have a wonderful family and a wonderful group of friends. And the hardest thing is, I've built a life that I like more than my other one.... and that's where I'm struggling. Everyone keeps saying oh but you get to see your old friends again, and your family. Yes, my parents will be there for me, but how many people have actually read this blog, or contacted me during the year... not as many as you'd think to be honest. I'll be fine next year though, after the culture shock goes away of course... because I've made friends here that I know will keep in touch with me, and people I know will be glad to see me when I come back on vacation. And I have a friend who was an exchange student in Norway and is going to help me a lot, because she just got home a week before I will. And she's going to be at the University in my town, so I'll have her to go to also. She's been a great help for me, as I have for her.

I think that when I go back I'll feel how much things haven't changed at home. Because I feel that I've changed a lot in this year, in ways I never thought I even would. There's been ups and downs, but through it all I've made it. This is the end of my year. And I've chosen to do something that many people never even dare to do. I think I Will keep blogging once I'm back in the states, because it makes me feel really good to write down everything I'm feeling. I've talked about how much I feel I have changed haven't I? The way that I look at things, or the way I talk to people... I feel I've changed so much. I couldn't believe it when I opened my letter up from the beginning of the year... the way I spoke to myself was mind boggling... I've gained a lot of self confidence in this year, and no one will ever be able to take what I've done away from me. And this, among other reasons is why it will be so hard to go home, because who even remembers what they were saying 11 months ago.

I'm going to miss the Netherlands. I hope I can come back here one day, and I'm going to keep speaking Dutch so I won't lose it. I'll miss biking to school... and biking with no hands, which took me a long time to learn. Or biking with someone sitting on the back of your bike, that I'll miss too... And of course I'll miss my family here, they've been such a big part in this year that you can't forget about someone like that. So this is it. I have to go finish the last few things I have to do today, and then well... just wait I suppose. And I have to keep telling myself:

Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.