Exchange Student USA

Leaving home to go home to go back home again

I went into the airplane with a smile on my face. It was weird sitting there alone without anyone I knew to talk to – but hey, that’s the moment where we start to learn, right?

It was a 24 hour trip from Denmark to the States and on the plane from Washington D.C. to Detroit, I sat next to a guy who asked me where I was going to. I told him about the 6 airports I had to go through to get to my final destination and I remember he raised his eyebrows and made his eyes huge.

“That’s just insane!” he said.
“You’re doing this completely on your own?” he asked me.

I told him traveling alone doesn’t have to be scary and boring. It actually is fun and exciting if you just open your mind. Well, I mean if you really want to go somewhere – then go! Don’t always wait for family and friends to decide whether they want to come with you or not. Literally, just go.

I was sitting there thinking that in just hours I would come into town and see the familiar roads and buildings. I would see some of the people I had to fight the tears with and give hugs and goodbyes to 2 years ago. I would walk into my old house and my old bedroom. I would start speaking my second language again. Every emotion would pass through me. I would unpack my things and I would be around my second family again.

I now knew what I was going in to. I knew my American family and I knew my American friends. I was beyond excited to see all of them once again.
I arrived with a huge smile on my face and tears in my eyes when I as the first thing hugged my host dad. I can’t even explain how happy I was to see them again.

At the same time, I felt like I was an exchange student again. Nothing had changed, yet everything had changed.

I left a piece of my heart in Michigan. I left it to the people who have helped me find myself.
Missing someone isn’t about how long it has been since you’ve seen them, or the amount of time since you’ve talked. It’s about that very moment when you’re doing something and wishing they were right with you.

And saying goodbye is the hardest part of it all. I hugged my host parents, told them I love them and the very last thing I told them was: “I’ll be back very soon”.

Ida Kaergaard

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