Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Six Months Later

So it’s been nearly six months. And what a fast six months it’s been. I still feel a pull in my chest when I think about Denmark, but I can go days now without thinking about my exchange. A lot of times it doesn’t feel real, the people and the experiences are just figments of my imagination. I don’t look through my pictures as often anymore, my scrapbooks and journals are long since packed away. I am fully immersed in my life in Canada. I like to think that I’ve done a good job of moving on.

However, while I think I am finally in a place where I can say that I have moved on, I know that I will never move past Denmark. Because, how can I? My exchange is in the past, but the people I love will never be behind me.

To my host families, I know I am horrible at emailing. I told myself I wouldn’t be, but I am. But you wouldn’t believe how often I talk about you all. I cannot drink tea without thinking of my first host family. I don’t think I even drank tea that often in Denmark, but I now associate tea with a cozy evening with my first family. I’ll be talking, and I’ll hear myself saying, “My host mom this,” or “My counsellor that,” People ask me if I miss you guys, and I can never make them understand just how profound that yes that I reply with is.

I found that I had to distance myself though. Hanging on to something that is over was too sad. I aspire to reach a place in my life where I can look back on it all and smile, and be content. Right now I run between each extreme, wrapping myself in my flag looking at pictures and crying, or pretending that Denmark never happened. And in finding the happy medium, I feel like I have lost contact with the people from my exchange. I get so caught up in trying to remind myself that the experiences are over, that I need to remember that the people are still there, and we can still be a part of each others lives. My new years resolution for 2012 is to keep in better contact with everyone, because I don't think you will ever understand how much you all mean to me, and how sad it makes me to think of how long it's been since I've seen or spoken to most of you. This goes for my friends and my host families and everyone else from my exchange life.

But it doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten, or don’t love and miss you all. It doesn’t mean that at all.

While all of you are moving on with your lives, I am too. But life back in Canada is not what I had thought. I was honest in my blog all throughout my year, so I suppose I will be as well now.

Sometimes things happen in life that are so beyond your control. Sometimes things take over you to the point where you have lost all sense of what makes you, you. That’s what I am struggling with right now. I have lost myself and I don’t know how to get myself back.

I joined swim team at school because I wanted desperately to be in the yearbook, and swim team is the only school team that allows everyone on, no matter their ability. You’d be amazed just how calming it is to be under water. And I’m skiing again, which feels amazing. The kids I work with are so adorable, and it’s so fun for me to see their love for skiing develop.

The next few years are uncertain right now. Plans are changing and things aren’t the same anymore. And as someone who craves control over her life, the uncertainty is brutal.

I am at a new school, trying to recreate myself, although that is proving difficult. Moving schools, I've learnt, just like travelling far from home, does not change who you are. Where ever I go, there I am.

Sometimes keeping quiet and just blending in is the best way. I don't always need to be talking, just listening is okay now too. I still have the eye of an exchange student, seeing things in ways that my peers don’t. Sometimes I like to pretend that I’m just a tourist in the this city, another one of the inbounds, and that I’ll be going home to Denmark next summer.

People ask me if I knew way back then where I would be right now, what I would be facing, and the challenges I would be dealing with, if I would still have gone. At first I had to think really hard about it, if it was all worth it, but now I answer with a yes before they even finish the question.

Despite all of the difficulties now, I wouldn’t have stayed back in Canada. I wouldn’t have given up the experience that I had. I would never in a million years have given up meeting my host families and amazing friends. Sometimes I have to convince myself harder, but I know that it was worth it.

I left a part of me in Denmark, but I know that while I can’t see it today, and I might not be able to see it tomorrow, that all of the stuff I gained makes up for it. And maybe one day I'll realize that I did not in fact lose anything in Denmark, and that I came out of everything a stronger person. It's hard to see clearly now, but I have to believe that I'm going to come out of this not only okay, but better than I was before.

Because, this too shall pass. And once it does, I will once again be left with the amazing memories from what I still do believe was the best year of my life. Six months later it's still obvious that the friends I had in Denmark were the best friends I will ever have. The days and nights we spent together were some of the best in my life.

Despite all of this though, I do feel the need to add that generally speaking, I am doing well. School is hard, but I love it. I have some really good friends, and it's exciting to finally be grade 12 -- top of the school. I love being involved in school teams and clubs like swimming and other volunteer opportunities around the school. And despite being at a new school, I am so grateful that I am still close with all of my friends from before exchange. I like working again and earning money, and I love the freedom of being home and not having to feel guilty about hiding in my room, or going out with friends. I got my graduation photos taken last week, which I have to admit was beyond exciting. I felt SO grown up in my cap and gown. You'd think that all of these setbacks would have convinced me to take an extra year to graduate, but no sir! I am as determined as ever to walk the stage in May. I have my gown ordered and everything.

I still have my hedgehog, Chompy, and I love him to bits.

Last month I visited Emma and her family in Boston for Thanksgiving, and it was so amazing to see her again! I swear it was like we had never been apart. It proved to me that we really will be best friends forever! (Corny enough?)

So while yes, I am facing some pretty major challenges in my life, there are also good things. They may be small, but they motivate me to keep chugging through.

My exchange is long over, but life is still going on.

I learnt a lot, and I still am.


  1. Andrea, your writing is so... amazing! It's like you've taken the words straight out of my brain! I can't describe how much I could familiarize with you in this posts... I need to write one myself, but I don't know what to write. I still feel so torn between my life in the States and my life here in Denmark, because there is and will always be parts of my "American life" that I'll want back.
    I hope you manage to find that happy medium!

    Also, are you still planning on being an au pair next year?

  2. Andrea, just remember you can never run for your exchange year. It did happen, and that's good! The people you meet and the things you did overhere made you become what you are now = a proud rotary exchange student :)
    we miss you and we will never forget you.
    take care xoxoxx

  3. Brittany Bickford14 December 2011 at 13:36

    Andrea :D I miss you so much and the fun times we had, especially on Eurotour (like in Vienna ;) ) Reading this really helps me get an understanding of what might happen when I get home and for me to know that it's not weird to feel any of that. Already I am having to say goodbye to people and it rather sucks. I'm glad things are heading in the right direction at home and I know you will graduate in May with everyone else :D you're a smart cookie and you know it :) bec and I still talk about you and we tell our newbies about you guys too and the types of people they need to be for their newbies, and what we tell them is what you guys were like for us. We still think about you guys all the time. I will always miss you and love you dearly. I will visit you in Canada and my home is open in Aus as well :) Love you xxxooo

  4. Andrea, all i can say is no matter what, you will always be my oldie, and you will always mean the world to me. <3
    you dont have to keep in touch, i know its hard. but at any point in the future feel free to drop me a line. it will always be welcome.
    so much love,

  5. Just wow. Your whole blog is light-years beyond entertaining, detailed and importantly informational. Every post of your blog inspires me so so much to just have fun, cope the hard times and experience new things... stuff that I will do when I go for my exchange this summer. Thank you so much Andrea for taking your time sharing your story, and believe me, even if your exchange is long gone, this blog will continue to live your memories and will forever inspire the hearts of future exchange students.

  6. your writing is so good! I can't describe how much I could familiarize with you in this posts. I still feel so torn between my life in the States and my life here in Denmark, because there is and will always be parts of my "American life" that I'll wanna go there.
    I hope you manage to find that happy ending!

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