Jun 17, 2011

I don't know if anyone's around to read this, but...

I'm feeling this urge to post. This is going to be entirely reflection, because clearly nothing more has happened seeing as my sejour in France has been over for about a year now.

For anyone who stumbles upon this from the AFS blog while attempting to decide whether or not to go on an exchange program, do it. And for any parent attempting to decide whether or not to let your child go away for a year (or a semester), let them. Going away like that was the best thing I've ever done, period.

10 months sounds like a long time when you're thinking about it, but it really does fly by. You may not notice it every day, but it builds up. You'll be thinking about how slowly this first week seems to be going, how it feels like you've been here for so much more than a month, and then all of the sudden you're having a going away party and getting on an airplane to go back to that place you left just 10 short months ago.

But in those 10 short months you learn more than you could ever learn in 10 months at high school. 10 months in France taught me how to be confident when confidence is far away. 10 months in France taught me how to blend in when I stood out more than anyone else. 10 months taught me how to fall in love with a culture, a landscape, a family.

Coming back, there was no more separation between who I was and who I wanted to be. I knew that I truly could become anyone I wanted to, and that I had already become someone I could be proud of and happy with. I knew that I was capable of amazing things, and I knew that I had already accomplished more than I could have ever dreamed of. I knew that no matter what life threw at me I could somehow manage to find my way.

I miss everyone there. They took me in, made me a part of their life, and in turn they became a part of mine. No matter how far away I go, no matter how long it takes me to see them again, I know that the impact they've had on my life will stay with me forever. In 10 months I made real friends, the kind I thought it took years and years to make. I gained brothers, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, when I thought I was far away from everyone I loved.

I plan on traveling the world. During my upcoming gap year I want to immerse myself again, in a totally different environment, and see more of this beautiful planet. I want to try new things, meet new people, and hopefully change my life (and the lives of those around me) for the better. AFS took my interest in world cultures and turned it into a passion, and now it's up to me to take that passion and turn it into a life. Who knows where it'll take me, but I can assure you that where ever it does I'll be diving in without hesitation.

Until we meet again,


  1. Okay.
    So I actually have no idea how I came across your blog but I happened to read this post and it feels so strange because that's exactly how I feel. I'm about to go on an AFS exchange to France in a couple of months and I am so excited!! I've wanted to do this ever since I was young and I can't wait! You've just instilled even more excitement, anxiety and nerves (but good nerves) into me. It's kind of odd how you didn't know if anyone would read this, yet here I am, the very next day after.
    Thanks for the assurance and advice :)
    - Tonya

  2. Hello!
    I have been following your blog since about half way through your exchange in France. Your posts were always amazing and gave me so much insight on exchange. Well, now I am here, in France, and I only have three weeks left, and I have to say reading this entry made me really happy. I love knowing that after my exchange is over, that I will still be affected by the events of this year. I also love that you are taking a gap year. It seems like lots of people think that it is a bad idea, but after this experience, I understand the need and importance to discover and travel.
    Thanks for posting this, even if it is one year after the fact!

  3. Hey :)
    I found your blog on the AFS website about a year ago and spent the next hour sitting at the computer, reading every post. Now I have been in France for five months and I can't believe how fast the time has gone. Your blog helped me so much. It was cool just knowing that someone else had felt the same as me and truly had a great year. I know that my last half of my exchange will go really fast but I will be making the most of every moment and enjoying everything I worked so hard for. Thank you so much for your amazing blog and all your stories, advice and inspiration :)

  4. J'ai suivi ton blog tout au long de son existence, en étant très étonnée par ce véritable conte de fées que tu racontais où tout le monde est chaleureux, sympathique accueillant. Comme cela est loin de ma vraie vie de française, en pleine crise où plus personne ne parle à personne, où la jeune fille que j'ai accueillie a fait la tête toute l'année, et n'a même pas eu la politesse d'envoyer une lettre depuis son retour chez elle.

    Après reflexions, j'ai compris que tu exprimes bien l'esprit américain, qui cherche d'abord le positif, et qui ne se plaindra jamais en public. Au final je pense que tu es une fille sympathique et courageuse, que tu as su positiver toutes les situations. La famille qui t'a acueillie a eu de la chance. J'ai beaucoup aimé tes photos

    Bonne continuation