Sunday, April 30, 2017

After Eight Months of Exchange

         I don't know how ten months turned into ten weeks, but it happened, and it happened fast. It was a good week. I got to play tennis with a friend on Monday, which was good because the rest of the week was rainy and colder. Thursday, I explored Lyon with my friends, and it was cool to thoroughly cover the town. I had gone before, but this time, I feel like we did more. Friday night I was at a party. I spent the other days at home working and annoying, hugging, joking with, and speaking in English with my host mom.

In Lyon with my friend in the Croix Rousse 
At a park/zoo with my friends in Lyon

         Here are some things I've noticed after....oh goodness...eight months in France.

        1. Time and emotions are messed up. Halfway through my experience, it felt like an eternity since I had seen my parents, but now, when it really has been a long period of time, it seems like it was just yesterday we were saying goodbye outside the JFK the bushes....with the hotel man staring at us awkwardly and smiling.

        2. Yes, I admit I had misconceptions about my exchange year. Before I left, I looked at all the problems and uncertainties in the US, and I told myself, "Well, surely when I get back, this and that problem will have taken care of itself." In reality, it's me who has changed, not everyone and everything in the US. That's ok. After this year, I feel like I can say "I can conquer the world!" Look out! I am bringing back evidence this time!

       3. It's not you, it's me.  If I could, I would keep traveling the world, exploring new cultures, trying new foods, doing things for the first time that scared me, and much much more, but I can't...yet. That's why I am enjoying my time in France to the maximum. If that day does come, however, everyone back home has to know that it's not them, it's me. I used to be ashamed of my longing to go everywhere and do everything, but now I am not. My curiosity is simply a big part of what makes me me.

       4. The last 100 days are the best. Maybe it's because I fluently speak the language now, or maybe it's because my family and friends here are perfect for me. Whatever it is, I just don't want it to end.

       5. I am so happy with all I've done.  It felt like I had so much time at the beginning. It was way more than a two week vacation, so I didn't rush to accomplish all that was on my bucket list in France. I actually never really thought about it. Now, I realize I have so much left that I want to do, but sometimes I like to think back on all I've done, and I tell myself, "Wow, if it wasn't for this year, that may have never happened!"

        6. I enjoy school. Ok, I don't enjoy the actual fact of doing trigonometry, but I sure do enjoy being able to do my schoolwork in my second language. I only have six weeks left, so I just enjoy even being in class with my friends. I know I am going to miss that.

        7. I finally found my "species". There are cats, there are dogs, there are humans, and then there are exchange students. We of course are humans, but it's just different. I just never felt like I fit in back in the US. This year, I met exchange students from all over the world, some who didn't even speak my language, but I so very quickly felt at home, like I was finally talking to someone of the same mindset.

       8. People are still acting like I left yesterday. I seem to be the only one who writes "See you soon!" when I send something to my Americans. Really, guys? This is the moment you have been waiting for, or almost.

       9. Do I have to call it host family? It's a shame. When I get home, I will have to continually say "My second host family". In my US family's eyes, they will just be another family in the world, but to me, they are much more than that.

     10. I am really going to miss my host dad speaking English, or trying to. I know he is going to have something to say about me including this, but oh well, I am going to anyway. Those are honestly some of the best moments of my exchange year!

Maybe the journey isn't so much about becoming anything. Maybe it's about un-becoming everything that isn't really you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.


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