The last 100 days of exchange.
Even though things seemed like they were gonna last forever, and you were lost in this fairytale of amazing things, it happens for all exchange students, – the year is about to end. I have gathered all the thoughts and events that will happen once the days starts to count down, and I am sure all exchange students can somehow relate to some of this one way or another.
You will start to not care about what people think.
The time is running out! You no longer feel the need to be somehow impressive to anyone at the school, you already have amazing friends and you can now enjoy every moment with them and not care about gaining new. That cool clique you were dying to be a part of? Doesn’t matter. That cute senior guy you kept smiling at in the hallways? Doesn’t matter. Wondering whether people think you’re strange or acting weird? Doesn’t matter. Absolutely irrelevant!
You stop to look at what you have and wishing you could stop time.
I sometimes find myself in a social gathering looking at all my beautiful, funny and awesome friends I have gained throughout my exchange and I am beyond grateful for them. Americans are great, they are absolutely great. Take a minute to just realize (hrrmm, just realizing things) the people around you and make sure they know how much they mean to you. Flashbacks will start to wander in your head and memories will suddenly pop up. Like singing and dancing in your room with my host sister, midnight runs to mcdonalds with my best friends, all those times I’ve had deep conversations with my host mom, driving around town with that very cute senior I was talking about earlier. All these new people I have met and will never forget. Cause let’s be honest, those are what made the year so great.
You start to miss home, A LOT.
During my year in America I haven’t experienced a lot of homesickness at all. I was so busy being excited to be in the United States, which I have always been fascinated by, that I didn’t have time to think about my small country in Europe. Recently I have thought about home, my family, friends, my old routine a lot and I do kinda miss it. Don’t get me wrong, I love it here, but I think all exchange students can agree on that there’s nothing like home. I can safely say I am about ready to head home to my small, yet beautiful country.
You will realize how far you have come, and how much the people at home hasn’t.
I am in contact with my family and most of my friends at home, and as I keep myself updated with them and their life events i realize how things back there is still completely the same. Sometimes I feel like I am missing out on the life at home and all the big events, but really I am just missing out on what’s in front of me by doing that. Instead of wishing I could be at home partying and staying out without a curfew (oh god I miss that) I am really just putting my head somewhere else while my body is here. The people at home aren’t going anywhere, they’re not on the same adventure as you. You will realize that nothing has changed at home, the people are still the same people doing the same things – and you? you have a backpack full of memories and new experiences and life lessons. Never forget that.
You now have friends for life on the other side of the planet
How cool is it to know that you have incredible friends thousands of miles away from you? It makes me so happy to know that in the future, I can visit them again and it will be such a crazy experience. If you go to a school with other exchange students from other countries you also have new friends there, and they might even be easier to see in the future if they’re from the same continent as you. It is crazy to know how many new people you have around the world, beyond blows my mind. The only thing is, as you leave your host country, you are not sure when you are gonna see them again and that can be frustrating. Just trust that it won’t be long.
You start thinking about the future and the rest of your life.
Being on exchange is one long and wonderful fairy tale. You find yourself in a vacation mode and with absolutely no worries or a lot of responsibilities. But suddenly you will have to get out of that mind set and think about your future, your studies, ACTUAL responsibilities! For me, I have to apply for school (gymnasiet) back home, and that is a pretty big choice itself. American High Schools are a lot more fun and less study-study time than Danish schools, and now it’s all about to end. It’s time to get that brain turned on again.
And of course, THE EXCHANGE WEIGHT.
They say exchange students almost always gain weight during their exchange, and I can tell you this – it is not a myth. Although I haven’t gained double my weight or anything, I have put on a few extra pounds, and the other exchange students at my school have too! The reason is that the food and nutrition is, especially in America, wayyy different than in Europe, and we tend to eat very healthy compared to the united states. But no worries, the weight will fall off as soon as you get home and get into your normal life again. I think all the weight I have gained is after all a proof that I have had a good time away.
You are mind blown by the fact that you actually did it.
As I was standing in Copenhagen airport in August I felt my stomach turning upside down while waving goodbye to my family. My adventure was about to start but oh boy, how I wanted to turn around and fall into my mom’s arms. Now I am here 7 months into my year and I am so so happy that I did not turn around. I now see how many things I can do and how strong I actually am (yeah self credit, no shame) but I can still not believe that me, myself and I went on a plane alone and basically started a new life in a new country. That is something you will learn a lot of life lessons with and I definitely have.