Fun? Adventure? New Discoveries? Doubts? Change?

Anna from Germany
Hi guys! Half of my time here is already over and I wanted to sum it up a little bit.

So, I have spent over 170 days here in the United States, my second home. I have been here for more than 23 weeks and five months. Of course, my English skills have improved since I came to the US but it is not perfect at all, I think it will never be which is totally fine. As Americans first started talking to me, I was a little shy and insecure because I thought that my English is not good enough. But this is not true! The more you speak, the more you will learn; my mom always said to me “learning by doing”. So I decided to step out of my comfort zone and enjoy being here because that’s one of the reasons I came. It’s not that I wasn’t enjoying my studying abroad at first – I was, and I definitely am enjoying it – but due to my habits and characteristics I felt a little uncomfortable at the beginning.

Anyway, during this period of time, I have learned to be more self independent and more confident in myself, to say “yes”, to not be so picky and such things. I have thought about how I would describe these months and concluded that I am not a hundred percent sure if that is even possible. Fun? Adventure? New discoveries? Doubts? Change? If I really had to explain the first five months of my “new life” in only a few words, I would say that the words you just read are the words I’d chose. Change is the one word that does fit a hundred percent, and it describes both positive and negative things. Luckily the first half of my year in the United States was positive despite the few moments of homesickness (which is totally normal and I would be more worried if I wasn’t homesick at all lol) and the change of host families. My relation to America has changed, my relation to my home country Germany and my relationship to the people in both countries. But I have changed in some way too.

I guess almost every international student does that, but before I started my exchange I had this image in my head. Imagine you would study abroad for a year. What would you expect? I read a lot of blogs before I came because I was wicked curious. Everyone was writing about their wonderful experience which I can support but no one told me about the “tough” time. I had my few difficulties but I now know that this is normal! It took me almost five months to figure that out. And this may seem like a long time and sound like I am naive but it is more complicated. The people talk about usual “downs” like homesickness and about how a few people have to change families at the preparation seminar. There are more problems for sure, but this is what makes the year valuable. The doubts and problems are normal and a part of an exchange year is to succeed in overcoming it. I haven’t completely made it yet but I’m working on it.

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