„An exchange is not a year in your life, it is a life in a year“ and I have to admit that this is 100% true. Probably a year ago, I read this quote for the first and I hated it with all my heart. I thought it was the cringiest and gooiest thing ever, but now, 11 eventfully months later, I can say that I was wrong.
I fell in love with the right people, fell in love with the wrong people and I learned that distance relationships barely work. I was allowed to find out who my real friends are, I laughed a lot and I cried a lot. I honestly had the best year of my life.
Going on exchange gave me the opportunity to reinvent myself. None of the people I met during the year were prejudiced against me and that felt heckin‘ great. I’ve never been in a situation like that and I loved it. No one knew me as the girl that has never gotten a mark lower than a 3 and I was able to fully be the Luisa I wanted to be.
I realized pretty soon that there are more important things than outstanding marks in school. I became more relaxed concerning the whole school topic and learned how to make time for things that fascinate me (or …let’s be real here, how to make time for Sarah’s and my late night binge watching sessions). I would say learning how to use Photoshop was one of the best skills I achieved throughout the year. Not to forget the fact that I improved my spoken english (pretty obvious point, but I felt the need to add that one;) and learned how to go up to strangers. Don’t laugh at me, but before I went to Canada I always made my mom call the hairdresser for me because I was too scared and too shy to do it. Now I really don’t care anymore;)
Besides that, my year abroad let me dive into an unknown culture (a better description would probably be that it threw me in the bay and kept me under water), I got to know traditions and people from all over the world and I came back to Germany a lot more open-minded.
I’m not gonna lie and make you see things through rose-coloured glasses. The last year wasn’t always easy and my host family change, to be more specific: telling my previous host mom that I don’t wanna live with them anymore, was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I struggled a lot before I finally decided to move, since I didn’t want to admit that they and I quite simply because we weren’t a good match. I blamed myself for all the problems and thought that I have to change myself to make it work. As I’m writing this right now, I realize how dumb those thoughts were and I literally would like to smack my younger self.
However, from where I’m standing now, I’m super happy that I had to make this experience. Being forced to stand up for myself and my personal needs pushed my self-confidence and made me a lot more mature. On top of that, I got to meet some of the kindest and smartest people I know. I found my second family in Sarah and her kin (me trying really hard not to use family twice in one sentence) and I’m incredibly thankful for that. I love them with all my heart and can’t wait to go back next summer.
For some reason, I like to say that I learned and grew a bunch during the first four months of my exchange and that I actually truly enjoyed it the last six months. I’m planning on telling you about my first month back in Germany pretty soon.