She didn’t understand when I responded
“Yes, and then a thousand times over”.We talked for awhile as I did my best to express how much good a year abroad does. How much you learn. How much you grow.
Before leaving I read on a blog "it won't necessarily be the best year of your life, but it will be the year where you grow the most."
AFS also warns not to go into this expecting a fairy tale. And that is fair, but there are definitely moments in my year abroad that came right out of a storybook!
It’s a 10 month long adventure.What I love most is that for the first time in your life, you're on your own. Of course, you have all the support from AFS but every relationship you make outside of the program is yours. No one around you knows your family or where you grew up, all they know is you. So when that's enough to make friends and a second family, there’s no one to be proud of but yourself.
I'm young, I have an amazing family, I wouldn't consider a single year of my life as bad, but this year has definitely been one of the best.
Of course, not every day is easy. Some feel like the worst. It can be really really hard. I shed a lot of tears in the first months here. Imagine the pathetic, over dramatic scene from movies. A girl crying in the bathroom stall, and you have me back in September. I missed my family so much, it actually hurt.
There are times when I feel beyond lonely. I am relying on italicized and bold words to try to recreate the emotions that exchange students go through because I don't know words that could accurately describe them.
No two exchange students have the same experience. Some don't ever get homesick, some go home early, but we all learn and grow. And most importantly, nobody around you wants you to feel like that, so it gets easier and easier every day.
To be honest, I spent a lot of time in the first few months counting the days and thinking about my life when I get back. But now that there are only four more months left, all I want to do is freeze time. I know that this is a year like no other. Opportunities that I've had this year will never come again. I'll never again be 16 and in Paris with my best friend. I'll never again go to the cafe in Tournon between classes. I'll never again yell out my window to Eliza. I could go on for pages with these moments that make me smile and laugh. But memories of these times will have to be enough. Oh and my pictures of course!
And I am getting ahead of myself here. I still have four months and another school to get accustomed to.
But while talking to the girl back in English class I realized just how special this year is. And it made me want to encourage more people, like her, to jump in to this and have a year abroad of their own.