It’s been a long day without you my friend
And I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again
We’ve come a long way from where we began
Oh, I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again
– Wiz Khalifa
This is it. My exchange year is officially over. Ten months of my life that could not have been more exciting. It’s hard to explain how much impact that time had on me. Starting a new life in another country from scratch is definitely not for everyone. It’s challenging and sometimes difficult but also so much fun. What seems like a very long time to be away from home alone, went by so fast because I was never alone. A random house becomes home and strangers become family. People still ask me why I did an exchange year and I still don’t really have an answer. It would probably be „for the experience“ but that sounds so dry and doesn’t describe it very well. Improving my English was also just a minor aspect for my decision.
The reactions here were always positive. Since the US is huge many people don’t really get the chance to visit other countries. That means most of them were super curious when I told them I’m German. They always know someone who somehow has a connection to Germany and it was always fun to hear the stories. I also got A LOT of questions that made me laugh. My favorite one is „So do you speak German?“. I met so many kind and heart warming people and will miss the way people are here.
Making friends was kind of weird for me at first, because in the beginning I was hesitated to get close to people for different reasons. You have all your good friends in your home country and even if it is stupid it feels like betraying them. Then, you wanna find the „right“ friends who don’t only see you for your foreign nationality. At one point I realized that both was a waste of my precious time. Now I can’t even remember the time I didn’t have my American friends. It seems like I’ve known them forever and it was inexplicably hard to leave them without knowing when I can see them again.
I can call myself lucky saying that I clicked with my host family right away. I admire their decision to take in a stranger for a year. I was a part of their family never just living with them. I was a sister for the first time in my life and it was so wonderful. Saying goodbye was heartbreaking.
There are so many things I learned during my exchange year. About different cultures, people, and myself. I now have friends in Norway, Sweden, Spain, the US and I also gained a second home. A part of me will always be in California and I’ll never forget my exchange year and the people who were a part of it.
But isn’t that what traveling and living is about; looking beyond our comfort zone, loosing parts of your heart to different places, and feeling at home at more than one house, city, or country.