The most important decision I have ever made; is a decision that changed my life. It turned my life upside down and made me question everything I knew about myself. It was a choice of change. I was to leave everything behind and create a new life for myself in a small town thousands of miles away from my city life in Stockholm. In 10 months I was supposed to find a new family, make new friends and learn more things than I ever had before; and that is exactly what I did, although what I learned was not what I was expecting.
When becoming an exchange student you have a lot of expectations. Expectations of a high school that looked and acted exactly like in all the movies. There was supposed to be cheerleaders running around with their pompoms, there were supposed to be the band geeks that sat outside of the school during recess and played on their trumpets and of course the jocks playing American football. The school year was supposed to end with dance and music, just like in “high school musical” and everyone were supposed to be friends with each other. That is not exactly how my year turned out.
During the first two months of my exchange, I was amazed. Everything was new, undiscovered and interesting. I felt like curious George, my curiosity never ending. My beloved host mother would tell me time and time again that she could not understand my amazement of the smallest things in her day-to-day life, she would ask how my day was and my answer would always be “Awesome!”
But by the time those two wonderful months passed, things started to change. People who I thought were my friends, people who I trusted and who I valued, turned on me. I was no longer the exotic exchange student from a country far, far away and they lost their interest in me. By the time Christmas and New years came, I was left alone. Being alone made me feel insufficient and my curiosity was now long forgotten. I would go to bed crying almost every night and during the school days I could feel my tears burning on the inside of my eyes. I kept my feelings to myself; nobody knew how I really felt. I think both my American and my Swedish family noticed that there was something going on, but nobody knew what. Until one night when everything came to be too much, that’s the night I called my best friend and I finally found myself letting my walls down. I cried in the phone for hours on end and when we finally said goodbye, I kept crying. My host mother noticed and not long after that I told my real parent how I felt too. That is the lowest and darkest part of my life, never have I ever felt more ignored and forgotten.
The last few months of my exchange year I finally found I few girls that I became great friends with. All of them whom I still have regular contact with and like to one day meet up with again. Although my year abroad was not what I expected I believe I got so much more out of it. Sometimes you learn more things during times of trial and pain, and that is exactly what I did. I learned that I am stronger than I thought. I also found a lot of appreciation to my friends and family back home; never the less to my host family, with out them I would not count my exchange year a success.
So in the end, I did make a new life for myself, I did find new friends and I found a family that I will cherish and love as long as I am alive. My decision to go abroad was the right one and the memories and lessons from that year will always be with me.