I want to finish this blog, and try to explain how it is to come home after leaving a home - as briefly as possible. I write this in English, so my non-swedish speaking friends get a chance to read my blog without going through google translate first.
I'd like to start off by saying that my exchange year in Grant, Michigan, was the best year in my life so far, and that I never even dared to imagine that it would be everything it was. I ended up in a welcoming community, at a great school but most importantly, with an amazing family. My host family made me feel at home and at ease in such a new and scary place that Grant was to me, at first. It was not until after the first week in Michigan I actually realized what I had done. I left my home in Sweden to go to a country I had never been in before, to live with complete strangers and call them my family, in a town where I did not know a soul. Thinking back now, it is a pretty crazy thing to do, but also the best decision I have ever made.
Before I left, I thought that there would not be much of a culture shock, since both Sweden and the U.S. are developed countries, we live in a global world, and my country is so influenced by american music, movies and tv. Believe me, I was wrong. It's not just that people act differently, or that you have to adjust to a different rythm in your daily life, there are little things too. I never expected to react to the way the air felt, the way the water tasted, or that the doorknobs and vacuums were different! Going to church was not something I was used to before, but I started enjoying it after a while and it gave me so many friends and connections in our little community, and I am so thankful for that. I had never been a big sister, and suddenly I had three younger sibblings running around the house. I can't wait to go visit again and see them grow up, they're the craziest but sweetest kids I know. If mom and dad reads this to you guys, I want you to know that I miss you. So much.
There is a cliché saying that goes "time flies when you have fun", but it is incredibly true. Ten months have never passed by quicker, or been more eventful. I did so many things, saw new places and met new people. As June got closer, I started to panic. How was I supposed to leave my life here? My family? My friends? I can't recall crying as much as I did in May and June ever before in my life. While I was trying to make the most of the time I had left, there was a little voice in my head that kept going "this might be the last time you do this, or see that person". Anyone who spent time with me the last month knows what an emotional wreck I was. Saying goodbye is never easy, but man I never expected it to be this hard. It was physically painful, like a pressure over my chest or a punch in my stomach, every time I let go after hugging someone. Once, after saying goodbye to a friend, I actually screamed because it hurt so bad. It was horrible, and terrifying because I was, and still am, afraid of losing touch, forgetting and getting forgotten by others. It still is awful some nights, when the reality of not being able to see everyone whenever I want kicks in. Thank goodness for social media and being able to talk to people on the other side of the world.
Coming home was a relief in a way, because it meant I got to say hello instead of goodbye. It is amazing to see my friends and family after such a long time apart. The weirdest thing is to speak swedish again, and I keep wanting to use English or translate american phrases to swedish, which does not work that well. How can a person forget their first language? It does not feel like I was gone long now since my life is pretty much back to what it was before, even though I'm not the same person as I was. My perspective on the world is different, the way I think, of others and of myself, and I feel like I'm much more comfortable now than I was before. I'm currently working in a restaurant at an amusement park and spend my days off with my friends or simply sleeping. In the fall I'm goin back to High School to do my senior year. Who knows where I will end up after that.
I want to say a big thank you to everyone who was a part of my exchange year. Even if you only saw me once, or if we spent days, week or months together, you made an impact on my life and you were a part of the dream that I had for such a long time. I never thought a tiny town in western Michigan would mean this much to me.
America, you were amazing. I miss you and carry you with me every day.
Finishing a year as an exchange year is the weirdest thing. You leave your family and best friends, to come home to your family and best friends.
With all my love.
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