Which is worse? To build 17 years of life and than leave it behind for a year or to build one year of life and leave it behind forever? A year ago I had to make the biggest decision of my life. I had to choose between staying home and finishing high school earlier with all my friends or to take a risk and follow my heart to an exchange year in America.
It was always my number one dream to attend high school in America. Ever since I was a little girl I dreamed about traveling. How someday I would have a normal life and a stable career while living in my dream country. My point is that I wanted to go to America badly. The one and only place you hear all the stories about.
I knew I would be taking a big risk and It wouldn’t be easy. Could a small girl like me survive such a thing? Could my parents survive it? What about all my friends? Would I lose them all? I wasn’t sure if I was mature enough. I told myself that it’s never going to happen. I thought it was one of those things you tell yourself maybe someday, without really thinking of actually doing it.
One day I was sitting in a bus and a young girl sat next to me. She seemed full of joy and excitement. I asked the girl what she was so happy about. She didn’t even hesitate. She started to explain me all about how she got accepted to be an exchange student in Spain. She told me everything about how she had always wanted to travel to Spain and now she gets to live there for an year. As she told me this I started to think that maybe I could do the same thing. The only problem was that I would have to convince my mom that it would be a good idea to send her youngest daughter to the other side of the world all alone. I spend months trying to come up with ideas to convince my parents that it would be a good idea for me to apply to be an exchange student. I started to watch a lot of blogs and youtubers what previous exchange students had written. I even shared couple of them with my parents so that they could see and hear about other people’s experiences of how fast you can actually learn the new language and the benefits of being exchange student later in life when it’s time to apply for a job. My friends would even describe me as being obsessed with reading and learning about other kids experiences.
When the time finally came I couldn’t wait to meet my new host parents and start the year. I was told before that I shouldn’t make any expectations for the year based on other people’s experiences, because every experience is different.
I got myself a new group of amazing people I get to call my friends, a new family in a completely different culture, and I got to learned a new language. Although I had had some classes of English language in Finland earlier I would still say that the language barrier was probably the hardest thing I have had to overcome. I remember being so frustrated everyday with having to think and talk everything in English. Overcoming the language barrier was what made America feel like home.
I am now eight months back home in Finland. A year in America gave me so much to appreciate and so many new amazing memories to remember. New perspectives of life and new ways of thinking. I learned how to be independent and how to take care of others as well as myself. I noticed a lot of differences in the culture and the people. I’m not scared to express my feelings anymore. I grew up physically and mentally. I learned to respect what I and what others have. I am very lucky to have this experience what a lot of people can only dream of. What I appreciate the most about this whole experience is the fact that I was able to rebuild a new life from a scratch.
Inka Lindström 18B