It’s an incredibly weird feeling to be halfway through this adventure. I remember driving to my new house from Schipol Airport like it was yesterday, but at the same time, it feels like forever ago. When I think about everything that I have done in the past 5.5 months, it’s hard to grasp just how incredible this life is, and how incredibly grateful I am that it is mine.
When I think about my life 6 months ago, it is hard to imagine that I was the same person. Everyone can relate to looking back on something their 12-year-old self said or did and thinking, ‘wow, I’ve changed so much since then!’. However, it’s an incredibly weird feeling to be able to look back just a month or two and feel the exact same way. As an exchange student in a new culture and environment, it can feel like trying to cram a whole life into the span of a year. You learn how to speak, act, and experience all of the growing pains all over again. You have the freedom to be who you want while simultaneously incorporating everything you’ve learned into your character.
These past 5.5 months have without a doubt been the most exciting months of my life. I have traveled to all corners of the country and met the most incredible people. There are the other exchange students, from countries that I had never even fathomed having friends in. It can be hard to remember that I’ve only known these people for a couple of months. Since we are on this adventure together, some of these people have become my best friends. Visiting them in the future is all the more reason to travel, I guess! Then there are my Dutch friends. I cannot even begin to express how lucky I am to have been accepted into such a great group of girls. I’m surprised I don’t have a 6 pack from the sheer amount of time that I spend laughing.
Reaching important milestones such as this force you to think about your life, as cheesy as that sounds. For example, I’m currently sitting on the train, coming home from the opposite side of the country after visiting friends. Simple, everyday things such as this are the things that I find resonate with me the most. I am also frequently hit by a huge wave of awe. In these moments, I could almost cry due to how amazed I am. I like to call these my “wow” moments and I intend to start recording them on here because it is in these moments that I feel myself growing the most. They also put everything into perspective. I often have to take a step back and realize, holy moly, if I was at home right now I would probably be sitting at my desk doing homework, but right now I’m walking through an old Frisian city eating the best cheese ever.
It feels like I am much farther through the year than halfway, but I’m thankful that I still have 5.5 months to go. I can honestly say that I have no regrets over my time here, though I do have a plan for how I tackle these coming months. This year has taught me that if I want anything to happen or change, I’ve got to do it myself. I’m going to put myself out there a lot more and focus on not being so afraid of living because opportunities do not come knocking on your door, you have to knock on theirs. I’ve learned that people really don’t care about you as much as you think, so there’s no point in getting stuck on that. I need to spend the rest of this year living my life the way I want and without a care in the world, so that when I get home I can look back on this year incredibly proud of what I’ve accomplished.
Here are a couple lists of the monumental parts of my experience so far. Obviously, I can’t compile life into bullet points, but this is what I was able to come up with:
Things I’ve Learned:
People don’t care if you’re perfect, they care that you’re trying.
Eating a surplus of fries and bread WILL have an impact on your body.
People are more than willing to help you!
Kissing hello on the cheek isn’t creepy, it’s polite.
Everybody has their own opinion on your home country, and you can’t change them all.
Not everybody is going to like you, as hard as that is to accept.
Ask questions, always.
Things I’ve Done:
Embarrass myself countless times
Travel all over the country
Go camping in Belgium with my class
Cry ... a lot. Both happy and sad tears.
Hang out with friends!
Drink 27390362904827 cups of hot chocolate
Become a public transport pro
Get my ears pierced again
Sing cheesy Dutch songs
Get a 9 out of 10 on my Dutch language test
Visit Dutch music festivals
Bike in the pouring rain... and enjoy it.
Things I’m Going To Do:
Travel to Spain
Pass a test in every class
Speak more Dutch
Go on more adventures
Be more spontaneous
Actively leave my comfort zone