It has been five months since I returned from Germany and five months since my last blog post. However, some pretty cool things have happened in the last five months that I think you prospectve exchange students should know about.
First: Once I returned home, it felt like I had never left...at first. Quite frankly, this upset me. I had been gone for a semester and had experienced some pretty important things, and it almost felt as if it had never happened. But then, I slowly started to realize small things that showed an everlasting impact my exchange experience had left. For example, I now eat with both a fork and a knife; I have Skype dates in another language; I have an abundance of stories to share with my friends; I will talk to myself in German for kicks and giggles; I am more willing to try different things; I can make friends easier; I have no problem asking a question or making a fool of myself; and I am more eager to learn about other cultures. I then came to realize that everything had changed because I had gone to Germany, and I wouldn't change a thing.
Second: As soon as I got home, (actually, before I even left Germany if I'm being honest) I knew I had to go back and visit. So that is exactly what I did. I left in May and spent the first month traveling with my sister and one of our best friends through Europe. While they flew home, I was enroute to my home away from home, LANGENFELD, GERMANY! I never thought three hours on a train could last any longer. As the train pulled in at the train station, I saw my host family waiting for me, and it felt exactly like before. The next day I went to school, and everything fell right back into place. Even though my German needed a little tuning up, I immediately felt comfortable with my friends and loved catching up on our lives. Going back showed me that I had made lifelong friends.
Third: My wonderful host sister, Lina, is currently sitting next to me in Wisconsin as I write this blog post. That's right! She is here visiting! We flew back together after I visited, and she is visiting for the next five weeks. I couldn't be more happy! She had done so, so much for me in Germany from explaining words, showing me around town, introducing me to friends, watching junk T.V., going shopping, and being an all-around amazing sister, I am just so happy that I can finally return the favor and be her tour guide for once.
Although I have been home for five months, I am still thankful everyday that I had such a wonderful opportunity and know I will carry my exchange semester with me for a lifetime.