Laura, outbound to Greenland
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I’ve done so much these past few months, but what I’ve come to realize is the more that happens here, the harder it is to put into words. Greenland is no longer just my ‘host country’, it's my home. The place where I feel most content. Where everything is no longer new and days are in routine. Where I have family and friends that would do anything for me. Where I can come home, throw my backpack down, and fall onto my bed after a long day at school. Where I’ve had some of the best memories, but also where I experienced possibly the lowest point in my life. October was when homesickness really hit me. A few days after hitting my two months of being in Greenland I was really missing Florida. Missing my family, all of my friends, school, driving wherever and whenever I want, food that I’m used to, being familiar to where I live, and just Ponte Vedra in general. I was missing my normal life. Memories that I would d o anything in that moment to go back and relive just one more time. What you eventually learn on exchange is to not regret anything. I’m so grateful for everything that has happened here, the good and bad times. Having good memories that I will keep with me forever, and the difficult ones to help me learn and grow into an improved version of myself.
Days are going by quicker and quicker this time of year. Weeks no longer feel like a whole seven days. Crazy that 2017 is right around the corner; meaning that I will have been here for almost half a year. Don’t take things for granted; time is too precious to waste. Before going on exchange ten months seemed like such a long period of time for me. Long enough to build a brand new life for myself in a completely foreign country. Right now that is the complete opposite. I feel like time is slipping right from under my feet. The thought of leaving in June makes me sick to my stomach. I can’t begin to explain how fast a year goes by. Last November I got a call that changed my life. The call from Jeff telling me that I was accepted to be a Rotary Youth Exchange student in 2016/2017. The vivid memory of me crying on my bedroom floor with so many emotions running through my head feels like a whole lifetime away, but at the same time as if it was only months ago. I would'v e never expected what was to happen in the upcoming year. Now in math class in one of the coldest places on earth. A country where some don’t even know that society exists, sitting at a desk writing my RYE Florida journal. Some wish for more money, more love, I wish for more time. That’s the whole idea of going abroad though, you go in knowing that eventually you’ll have to go back and adjust to your old life. That may be the biggest challenge of exchange.
I could sit here and tell you every detail of what I have been up too since September, but that’s what any person that has gone abroad will do. Exchange students will always spill their life of ‘I did this’ and ‘I did that while I was away.’ They don’t always tell you what’s going on in their head, what they may be feeling at that exact moment. When I applied over a year ago, they asked me why I wanted to go on exchange. At the time I said because learning a new language and being immersed in a completely new culture sounded amazing and why would I pass up that opportunity. Being away from what is normal to you and starting somewhere completely new will help me grow as a person and become more mature. I knew I would change as a person, but the four months I’ve been here has completely altered the way I think and act. Meeting people that don’t share the same native tongue, same views and opinions, same experiences, same way of th inking is one of best things that you get to experience. Seeing the world through someone else’s eyes, breaking out of the bubble you live in and getting out to see the world; truly something to cherish. Don’t get me wrong, the culture here in Greenland is something beautiful. I love trying new foods and experiencing how they do things here, from different holiday traditions to the small details like how they eat food with a fork and knife at all times. Greenland’s culture is something I will always appreciate, but the biggest thing I’m going to treasure most is how my way of thinking has changed, how my way of living has changed, how I have grown as an individual. The person I was starting in August is different than who I am now in November.
Exchange has been a whole bunch of ups and downs, though I have learned to love both. I have come appreciate the happy moments here in Greenland; me and my friends laughing until we can’t breathe, or seeing my language slowly start to improve over time. As well as appreciating the times where I’m in my room crying from how much I miss my life in Florida; what I would do to be able to give everyone back home a big hug. From the beginning this hasn’t been easy. The anxiety of finishing my application in time to the stress of final interviews. The long waiting of hearing if I had been accepted, and then again to find out what country I got. Spending the next 7 months learning a completely new language that I have never seen before and waiting for the day I finally get to get on a plane and finally start my exchange that I have worked up to the past year has all been worth it. If exchange was easy, it wouldn’t be as valuable as it is. The crazy and amazing memori zes you'll have make all the difficult times worth it. All the hard moments you go through is what makes exchange exchange. I wouldn’t change anything about my life here or the things that lead up to it.
To my friends and family, I miss all you you so much and I’ll see you soon. To my fellow exchangers, I hope you’re all enjoying your countries and having the time of your life. To any future outbounds, I wish you the best of luck, this will be the best year of your life. To Rotary, words cannot express how grateful I am for you to give me this once in a lifetime opportunity, thank you for all your hard work.
Posted on Mon, December 5, 2016
by Terri Wescott