As I try to finish the school year strong, while I am really incredibly burnt out and ready for the long summer nights with my closest friends, there is one more date my mind just loves to force all of its focus on. While I fight my way towards the freedom that June 6 will bring with a trip to San Francisco with my best friend, August 5 is about to bring even more freedom! I am eagerly counting down the 120 days until my departure to Washington DC, and then another 2 days until I will be flying across the ocean, all the way to Germany.
Everyday is a little different when it comes to how I feel about leaving everything and everyone I know for a full 10 months. I feel more excited than I’ve ever felt before, I feel hopeful and ready to bring a bunch of new people into my life. I’m eager to learn the language and the culture and to immerse myself in new experiences.
At the same time, I am terrified. As my friends point out, I’m not leaving forever, and that’s true. But still, ten entire months. I am going to miss every person so much. Or at least almost every. I’ve met some really great people this semester and we may not be best friends but I love them. I’ll come back for senior year and a lot of these people, who are juniors, won’t be there anymore. As for all the friends who will be there, I worry about how I will fit in after missing so much of their lives. In high school, relationships, friend groups, situations all change quickly and constantly and after missing 10 months of the dynamic lives of my friends, how easy will it really be to get back into the swing of things. I worry about how much I’ll miss them, and whether or not they’ll miss me as much. I think about how much my little sisters are going to change in the year I’m away. How will it be to be away from my parents for so long. I’m about to miss a couple dozen milestones and holidays and big family gatherings.
Don’t get me wrong, I want to go so badly! It just also comes with a good deal of anxiety about my future.
The greatest thing that has come through all of this is the connections I’ve been able to make with people who are going through the exact same experience at the exact same time as me. And for this, I’ve got to thank Mark Zuckerberg! As a member of a group on Facebook for the ASSE CBYX Finalists for this school year I’ve gotten to know, in a way, many of the students going to DC and Germany with me for our next school year. We are able to get practical advise from each other regarding credits, what to pack etc. And more than that, we are able to share our feelings of excitement and fear with each other. I now know that I am not the only person who can focus on nothing else.
So while the next year might prove difficult to keep the wonderful people I have in my life, I think that when I come back, things will prove to be just as great, if not better. And for those 10 months I’ll have the new community of foreign exchange students that I have found, supporting me just as much as I’ll support them.
We can do this.