Dear America

by | Maja Twerenbold



There is only one downside to an exchange year. It goes by way too fast and before you know it, everyone is already asking you about the return flight.

I have spent the last eight months meeting new people, exploring new places, and learning a lot about different cultures. Now that it is slowly coming to an end, I can‘t make up my mind regarding whether I want to go or not. The people I have met at MacArthur this semester have become so important to me in a very short time. Even though I miss Switzerland so much, I know that I will miss everything here a lot more. It is very bittersweet. On one hand, I can’t wait to see my family, friends and old life again, but on the other hand, I don’t want the experience of being an exchange student to turn into a memory, and I wish the weeks left would never end.

Something I have been thinking about is how I want to keep these ten months in my memory forever. I don’t feel like the thousands of pictures I took will make up for the feeling and the vibe that go with each individual picture. Already knowing what kind of questions I will get asked as soon as I get home doesn’t make that easier. “What was your favorite thing about your exchange year?” “What do you think you will remember in 30 years about your exchange year?” These questions are just not as simple as they sound.

One thing that I do know is that I will never stop encouraging others to do an exchange year. Not only have I learned a lot about other cultures, I have also learned more about myself this year than I have the rest of my life. Being “stranded” on the other side of the world without anyone or anything I know taught and sparked more interest in me about how humans work. I started people-watching at a very young age. That’s why it is still very interesting to me to see how different the people my age in the US grow up, treat each other, show affection, and handle problems. It is so different from what I was always used to, and I will definitely use a lot of what I have seen and heard when I return to Switzerland.

The list of reasons for an exchange year is not even close to an end. Of course, I met so many amazing people who sometimes grew so close to me that leaving them after just a few short months simply feels wrong. I also got used to a new family, a new house and different habits that definitely will be missed in my home country. There is so much more that makes the few moments where everything feels impossible worth it.

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